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Utterly Unbiased Top 25: All Fail, Big Ten

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Big10.jpg” alt=”The Big Ten certainly is creating a cartoonish impression for itself through the season’s first two weeks. ” class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-6285″ ]

HERE’S WHERE OUR little unbiased rankings experiment really starts to separate itself from the pollerazzi.

This is also where course corrections bring the Utterly Unbiased Top 25 into some resemblance to those mainstream polls.

At the heart of this week’s dilemma: Just how serious are we supposed to take the Big Ten?

The league’s top three teams (Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan) were smoked this past weekend and a fourth (Wisconsin) tripped down the season’s front porch stairs last week. Not that the Big Ten had itself in the talk for one of the four coveted playoff spots, but these losses virtually assure that fate.

Now, knowing this … should we be shocked and dole out massive awards for those teams who administered the beatings? Well, if you are a pollster who ponied up preseason picks, you have no choice but to rocket said winners up your rankings. All three victories this week are major, according to your pollster brethren.

But here at the UU 25, where we considered every team in America tied for first and last as the season began, we’re still all about how dominant a team was and where the game was played.

That’s why this week you will see Virginia Tech debuting in our ranks ahead of Oregon, which did move up seven spots, nonetheless. The Hokies went into the Horseshoe and shut down the Buckeyes in front of the largest crowd in Ohio State history. They did it with brilliant defensive calls, a new quarterback and a painfully young collection of skill players.

You just don’t do that. History was massively stacked against the Hokies, even if you take into account this Ohio State team was still trying to find its footing in the wake of Braxton Miller’s injury. It was this week’s most impressive victory.

A close second would be BYU’s romp at Texas. The Cougars were big gainers this week not only because of their 41-7 romp but because they did it in Austin against a Texas team that was spoiling to avenge last year’s shocking loss to BYU. Again, location, location, location.

That brings us to Oregon. Big home win against Michigan State this week definitely worthy of a climb in the UU 25. But was it more impressive than what Virginia Tech did? Considering the Beavers trailed in the second half, it’s hard to say it was.

Anyway, on to the rankings:

1. TEXAS A&M (2-0)

Defeated Lamar 73-3

No movement. This was one of those early season games where a head coach sets a snooze alarm for the mid-3rd quarter to remind him to remove the starters. When you’re the best, you are expected to whup pups by 70.

 

2. GEORGIA (1-0)

Did not play

No movement. Whoo boy … the Bulldogs get two weeks to prepare for a South Carolina team that is still trying to put itself back together? That has to be disheartening for Steve Spurrier and Company, knowing the Bulldogs were just kicking back and watching the Gamecocks get all they could handle from a game East Carolina squad.

 

3. BAYLOR (2-0)

Defeated Northwestern State 70-6

Baylor moves up one spot. This game actually contained some intrigue. The Bears are pretty beat up for so early in the season, missing some receivers and now fretting over the balky back of Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Petty. Showing that they now possess the kind of depth national title contenders must all have, the Bears scorched their overmatched visitors behind backup QB Seth Russell (438 passing yards) while (third string?) freshman receiver KD Cannon hauled in six passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns.

 

4. FLORIDA STATE (2-0)

Defeated The Citadel 37-12

Florida State drops one spot. The score might seem deceiving, but it’s right in line with what you would expect when a national champion very necessarily is overlooking an FCS opponent that runs an eccentric offense. The Seminoles will play host to Clemson next week in their ACC season opener.

 

5. ALABAMA (2-0)

Defeated FAU 41-0

No movement. Another robotic dismantling of an inconsequential opponent. Not much to say here except FAU probably is grateful weather conditions allowed them to pack up a tad earlier than expected. One thing that is clear after viewing this latest victory is Alabama’s new offense runs through Amari Cooper and not the Tide’s superb running back, T.J. Yeldon. What is Alabama going to do when facing an opponent that takes Cooper out of the game? That’s when we’ll see what the Tide is made of.

 

6. LSU (2-0)

Defeated Sam Houston State 56-0

No movement. Again, what we see in many of these overmatched gimme games is the evolution of the weapons teams will use down the road. In the case of LSU, it’s the burgeoning hookup of quarterback Anthony Jennings to receiver Travin Dural. The duo connected three times for 140 yards and three touchdowns. Being able to stretch the field the way these two did opens up the LSU offense for many other avenues of attack.

 

7. USC (2-0)

Defeated Stanford 13-10

USC moves up four spots. A ground-and-pound attack with strong defense and a kicking game? Is this what the Steve Sarkisian Trojans are all about? If so, good on them. Going into Stanford and coming out with a bruising victory – beating the home team at its own game – resets USC as Oregon’s primary nemesis for the Pac-12 title.

 

8. AUBURN (2-0)

Defeated San Jose State 59-13

No movement. OK, so the Tigers have a legit replacement for Tre Mason, it seems. Cameron Artis-Payne did pretty much whatever he wanted against the visiting Spartans, rumbling for 112 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. So much for opponents focusing solely on making Nick Marshall go away. The Tigers now have a week off to prepare for a roadtrip to Kansas State, a game that doesn’t look quite as daunting as it did in the preseason after K-State’s struggles at Iowa State.

 

9. BYU (2-0)

Defeated Texas 41-7

BYU moves up six spots. While we were busy questioning the Big Ten’s toughness, it’s only fair to begin wondering about the Big 12 race. Texas was expected to be at least a darkhorse threat to Baylor and Oklahoma. New head coach Charlie Strong said no way. Turns out he might be right. For the second consecutive season, quarterback Taysom Hill scorched the Longhorns. This time he ran for 99 yards and three touchdowns. Halftime adjustments were big – this game was 6-0 at the half and 34-7 by the start of the 4th quarter.

 

10. OLE MISS (2-0)

Ole Miss moves up two spots. This was a classic example of opening your conference season on the road against an inferior opponent and making certain the score reflected that. After Vandy fell flat in an embarrassing season-opening loss to Temple, it would have been easy for the Rebels to look past the Commodores. Instead, they cooly and efficiently blasted Vandy in the first half and cruised to victory. That’s what good teams do.

 

THE REST OF THE BEST

 

11. PITTSBURGH (2-0)

Defeated Boston College 30-20

Pittsburgh moves up three spots. Opens up ACC play with a win on the road at a perennially tough venue.

 

12. NOTRE DAME (2-0)

Defeated Michigan 31-0

Notre Dame moves up eight spots. Utterly dominating win in the final game of a rivalry that won’t be renewed any time soon.

 

13. VIRGINIA TECH (2-0)

Defeated Ohio State 35-21

Virginia Tech was unranked last week. In the preseason, five different teams received votes from the media as preseason favorite to win the Coastal Division. Do that vote now and one team likely would be a unanimous choice.

 

14. PENN STATE (2-0)

Defeated Akron 21-3

Penn State drops one spot. The Nittany Lions will be riding a rollercoaster this season if Christian Hackenberg cannot level out his play. Three touchdowns overcame his two interceptions. This week.

 

15. OREGON (2-0)

Defeated Michigan State 46-27

Oregon moves up seven spots. A big win, no doubt, but if you look past the score, this was a game that pivoted on one play. Oregon had squandered its 18-7 lead and was in a 27-18 hole when Marcus Mariota flipped the ball to Davon Allen on a funky TD play that opened the floodgates. The Spartans lost this game as much as Oregon won it.

 

16. OKLAHOMA (2-0)

Defeated Tulsa 52-7

Oklahoma was unranked last week. The Sooners’ offense is going to be just fine. It’s the defense that provided intrigue this week with its dominating performance. Tulsa managed just 9 yards rushing in the first half against Oklahoma’s first-stringers.

 

17. ARIZONA STATE (2-0)

Defeated New Mexico 58-23

Arizona State was unranked last week. This was an odd little proving ground game for Arizona State, traveling for a non-conference tilt. The Sun Devils made major strides from a week ago and showed they will be able to score points.

 

18. MISSOURI (2-0)

Defeated Toledo 49-24

Missouri was unranked last week. Don’t let the opponent’s name fool you. This was no easy road trip for a Tigers team that is replacing so many necessary parts. Defense still needs work, but Mizzou’s offense has a lot of potential to strike fear into unwitting SEC foes.

 

19. LOUISVILLE (2-0)

Defeated Murray State 66-21

Louisville was unranked last week. After an OK win against Miami last week, Louisville hit on all cylinders this time around, scoring on nine consecutive possessions and leading 59-7 at one point. Domination.

 

20. NEBRASKA (2-0)

Defeated McNeese State 31-24

Nebraska drops three spots. Only Ameer Abdullah and his nonsensical 58-yard touchdown catch and run separates Nebraska from this spot in the rankings and total obscurity.

 

21. TENNESSEE (2-0)

Defeated Arkansas State 34-19

Tennessee drops two spots. It wasn’t flashy, but it was a steady performance by the Volunteers’ offense. The defense didn’t really stand out in this game, though. It was rather pedestrian and that could mean trouble down the road.

 

22. MISSISSIPPI STATE

Defeated UAB 47-34

Mississippi State drops one spot. There are warning signs everywhere in this game. The Bulldogs surrendered a whopping 548 total yards of offense, including more than 400 allowed through the air. That will not win games in the SEC West.

 

23. FLORIDA (1-0)

Defeated Eastern Michigan 65-0

Florida was unranked last week. This is a remarkable sentence: Florida won for the first time in 11 months and ended a seven-game losing streak.

 

24. NORTH DAKOTA STATE

Defeated Weber State 24-7

North Dakota State drops 17 spots. So raise your hand if you knew that Weber State was capable of holding the Bison to fewer points than Iowa State.

 

25. KANSAS STATE (2-0)

Defeated Iowa State 32-28

Kansas State was unranked last week. Bill Snyder has always won 10 or more games when he has a returning starting quarterback. Jake Waters’ grit vs. Iowa State makes it seem possible that streak will continue. Auburn will have much to say on that topic a week from Thursday.

 

 

Cameron Artis-Payne 16 112 7.0 3 31

 

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Ralph Garcia

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