NGSC Sports

Utterly Unbiased Top 25: Week 6

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YOU KNOW, THE phrase “Separation Saturday” really only applies if those teams who are expected to win, do so.

Otherwise, you end up with “Soupy Saturday” and all one is left with is a very murky mix of pretenders and contenders with little idea who’s who.

Last week, we questioned whether Texas A&M would have the top spot in the Utterly Unbiased Top 25 for much longer. Its marquee wins were losing luster (thanks, Gamecocks!) while the schedule was stiffening. Two other teams we spotlighted in recent weeks – Kentucky and BYU for different reasons – both did exactly what we expected of them.

So, Kentucky debuts this week while BYU goes bye-bye. Four teams actually make their debuts this week due to their own big wins and the losses by others. The biggest climber was TCU, whose win against Oklahoma validated what had been a spotty unbeaten resume up until that victory and also validates the school’s marketing campaign (“Get with the Program”). BYU dropped from 11th all the way out of the rankings, while UCLA tumbled 10 spots after losing to a streaky Utah.

Arizona makes the highest debut at 16. Like TCU, the Wildcats’ resume lacked a marquee victory. Winning at Oregon on Thursday night certainly added the proper cachet. That said, the Upset Alert sign is flashing as a very angry USC comes to town this weekend.

Joining battered BYU on the train out of town were N.C. State (ugly, ugly loss at Clemson), Wisconsin (Northwestern!), USC and hard-luck Arkansas, which was victimized by Texas A&M’s loss and a bye week). There are a lot of other very intriguing matchups this week, which could make Week 7 even more crazy than this past weekend.

Teams on our watch list: Colorado State, Minnesota, Georgia Tech, Wyoming (stop laughing, their only losses were to top-10 opponents), Air Force (weak resume, but lone loss to aforementioned Wyoming), Utah (give us something to work with, guys), Rutgers, Oregon State (only loss is USC … is that good or bad?) and Penn State (that Northwestern loss suddenly doesn’t look so awful).

1. AUBURN (5-0)

Defeated LSU 41-7

Up four spots. With this win added to victories against Arkansas and rising Kansas State, the Tigers’ resume is just too good. For now. Upstart Mississippi State could be bucking for the top spot with a victory this week.

 2. FLORIDA STATE (5-0)

Defeated Wake Forest 43-3

No movement. Obviously not a surprising result against the Demon Deacons, but the resume is looking a touch frayed after Clemson devastated N.C. State. Oklahoma State’s continued strong play balances out N.C. State’s tumble, but only just barely. FSU will be staying put in this spot until the big showdown with Notre Dame next week.

3. MISSISSIPPI STATE (5-0)

Defeated Texas A&M 48-31

Up three spots. We’ve been bullish on the Bulldogs all season long and the rest of the pollerazzi are finally catching on. Their climb to the top spot in everyone’s rankings could be complete with a victory against Auburn this weekend in what should be considered the game of the season to date.

4. BAYLOR (5-0)

Won at Texas 28-7

No change. The Bears also have a resume showing some wear at tear. The non-conference schedule was very weak and the win against Iowa State loses what little luster it had with every passing week. Are we to be dazzled by the win at Texas? Yes and no. Baylor ran into its first legitimate defense and managed just 28 points. On the flip side, the Bears’ defense was impressive in permitting just the one touchdown. Surprising TCU will suss out the Bears this weekend.

5. OLE MISS (5-0)

Defeated Alabama 23-17

Up seven spots. Notre Dame fans likely are inflamed by the Rebels’ passing the Irish this week but the fact is this: Who has the most impressive marquee victory? We firmly believe that to be Ole Miss, whose win against Alabama opened the nation’s eyes to something we’ve been talking about here since the beginning of the season – Ole Miss is for real. They can stick a dagger in Texas A&M’s playoff hopes this weekend, but it will be a difficult road contest against a very angry foe.

 6. NOTRE DAME (5-0)

Defeated Stanford 17-14

Up two spots. No team’s schedule strength has fizzled as much as Notre Dame’s with each passing week and they sort of victimized themselves by handing Stanford its second loss of the season. At the moment, Stanford is the Irish’s biggest win. That looks bad when you consider Stanford’s other loss was to USC, which also is looking very bad.

 7. TEXAS A&M (5-1)

Lost at Mississippi State 48-31

Down six spots. The Aggies very nearly tumbled further than this. We had them on Upset Alert last weekend for what is now obvious reasons. They have a good shot at redeeming themselves because the SEC West offers big games every week, beginning with this weekend’s showdown with Ole Miss.

8. ALABAMA (4-1)

Lost at Ole Miss 23-17

Down five spots. Discovery: If Alabama’s offense has an off night, they are not a legitimate threat to the SEC West power structure. The Tide could be in serious trouble now. Traveling to dangerous Arkansas after the Razorbacks had a week off to get healthy and prepare screams Upset Alert. That said, it’s very difficult to imagine a scenario where a Nick Saban team loses two in a row. Not ruling it out, but we are saying the Tide’s eyes likely are wide open.

9. MICHIGAN STATE (4-1)

Defeated Nebraska 27-22

Up seven spots. Good news and bad news this week for the Spartans. The win against Nebraska bounces Michigan State all the way back from that loss at Oregon. But that loss at Oregon looks worse now that Arizona rode into town and trumped the Ducks on national television. Sparty gets a pass for now, but the resume will be among the more troubling of the Top-10 until a Nov. 8 showdown with Ohio State.

10. TEXAS CHRISTIAN (4-0)

Defeated Oklahoma 37-33

Up 14 spots. Outside of the SEC West, no other team in the country will get more of an opportunity to advance its cause than the Horned Frogs in coming weeks. Games against Baylor and Oklahoma State will go a long way toward vaulting TCU into playoff discussion … or eliminating it.

THE BEST OF THE REST

11. OKLAHOMA (4-1)

Lost at TCU 37-33

Down four spots. While trying to throttle Texas, the Sooners will be watching the outcome of TCU-Baylor, hoping for a Bears victory. Such a turn of events gives the Sooners one last chance to make a playoff impression by taking down an unbeaten Bears squad.

12. GEORGIA (4-1)

Defeated Vanderbilt 44-17

Up one spot. What’s all this talk about a muddled SEC East? Seems to us Georgia is the obvious favorite now. At win at Missouri will go a long way toward solidifying that view for everyone else.

 13. KANSAS STATE (4-1)

Defeated Texas Tech 45-13

Up eight spots. The Wildcats’ lone loss is to Auburn. They are getting ready for Oklahoma with a bye this week, but could take a hit (or rise) depending on the outcome of Auburn’s test against Mississippi State.

14. OKLAHOMA STATE (4-1)

Defeated Iowa State 37-20

Up six spots. Consider Oklahoma State and Kansas State in a virtual tie at the moment. OSU’s win against Iowa State was more impressive than KSU’s, but the Wildcats had the better win against Texas Tech and their lone loss (at the moment) is a better one than OSU’s.

15. ARIZONA STATE (4-1)

Won at USC 38-34

Up eight spots. Good win on the road this past week combined with a lot of other teams going down is what boosts the Sun Devils at the moment. However, the UCLA loss could start looking ugly as the weeks pass.

16. ARIZONA (5-0)

Won at Oregon 31-24

Not ranked. Because of our policy of ranking teams ahead of another based on head-to-head matchups, the Wildcats eke in front of Oregon for now. The resume outside the Oregon surprise is very sketchy, so the Ducks could easily prove to be an exception to the rule if all things remain equal.

17. OREGON (4-1)

Lost to Arizona 31-24

Down eight spots. We had to swallow hard to knock the Ducks down this far, but that says a lot about how bad we view the loss to Arizona. Michigan State keeps winning, so the Ducks’ marquee win is looking better each week. Question is this: How bad will this Arizona loss look in a couple of weeks?

18. NEBRASKA (4-1)

Lost at Michigan State 27-22

Down three spots. We suspect Nebraska of not being a very good team. That said, the evidence to this point does not entirely support that notion. It would have, had the Cornhuskers not furiously rallied from a 27-3 deficit after three quarters to make the final score look more respectable. A trip to surging Northwestern could send the Cornhuskers into Unrankedville.

19. EAST CAROLINA (4-1)

Defeated SMU 45-24

Down two spots. East Carolina will be suffering from what we’re calling the “BYU Syndrome” as the season wears on. The American Athletic Conference is a collection of mediocrity, so marauding unbeaten through it doesn’t necessarily raise the Pirates’ profile beyond what it is at the moment … but that loss to South Carolina could be devastating as the weeks pass.

20. UCLA (4-1)

Lost to Utah 30-28

Only the Utes’ horrible loss to Washington State followed by WSU’s ensuing weird loss to California keeps them from being in this spot. Otherwise, UCLA could have found itself even lower in the rankings. The win at Virginia continues to look good while defeating Texas is looking rather meh.

21. LSU (4-2)

Lost at Auburn 41-7

Down seven spots. We’ll just go ahead and laud the Tigers for being the only two-loss team in the rankings this week. We darned near dropped them completely in order to allow Missouri a return. Thankfully, USC stepped aside.

22. KENTUCKY (4-1)

Defeated South Carolina 45-38

Not ranked. The Wildcats’ lone loss is a triple-overtime whammy at Florida, which may or may not be an OK team. Winning at Columbia appears to be all the rage now. Steve Spurrier, what has gone wrong?

23. LOUISVILLE (5-1)

Won at Syracuse 28-6

Not ranked. Huh. A Bobby Petrino team defined by its defense. Didn’t see that coming. The Cardinals are somewhat indistinguishable from Ohio State at the moment with their lone loss coming to Virginia, which we rate as just narrowly better than Virginia Tech

24. OHIO STATE (4-1)

Defeated Maryland 52-24

Not ranked. This past week’s romp against a good Maryland team brings Ohio State all the way back from its Virginia Tech debacle. Topping Maryland rates as a slightly better marquee win than Louisville’s best effort in Week 1 against Miami.

25. MISSOURI (4-1)

Did not play

Not ranked. A flurry of activity all around the Tigers created this opening to return to the Top 25. Staying here will be very difficult, as a visit from Georgia awaits this weekend. We still can’t really figure out that loss to Indiana but for now, we’re willing to call it a fluke. For now.

 

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