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The UU Top 25: Mississippi Rising!

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MISSISSIPPI STATE HAS reached the mountaintop. With the 38-23 win against Auburn this past Saturday, the unbeaten Bulldogs boosted their resume more than enough to skip past Florida State and take Auburn’s vacated position atop the Utterly Unbiased Top 25.

Our biggest issue came with what comes next. Does Florida State deserve to remain No. 2, where it has been most of the season in the UU Top 25?

We could say yes. Here’s the argument:

There is some cachet in winning convincingly at Syracuse, even if the Orange is down. Also aiding the Seminoles is Oklahoma State hanging in the Big 12 race and Clemson holding a good Louisville team at bay while dealing with injuries. Clemson also offers another question mark, though, for FSU in that the Tigers destroyed a team the ‘Noles struggled with (N.C. State).

If Clemson really is a 10- or 11-win team this season, the Seminoles can point to their narrow win WITHOUT Jameis Winston as a marquee victory worthy of note among the nation’s top teams.

But we can quite emphatically say no. Here’s why:

The ACC is proving to be Conference USA with prettier campuses. Until Clemson actually does prove it is a 10- or 11-win team, they are just another OK squad with some good-looking wins against suspect competition. Oklahoma State could completely go poof over the next couple weeks in the Big 12, beginning with this week’s gut-check at an angry TCU. You have to give Florida State credit for remaining unbeaten, but so, too, is Ole Miss … and against clearly superior competition.

Who do you think would win a game between Ole Miss and Florida State? Our suspicion is Florida State would rise to the challenge.

BUT …

We deal with what has happened, not what will happen. Sorry, Florida State, you’re dropping to No. 4. For now.

That’s because we haven’t even discussed Baylor, which not only has been demolishing foes, but picked up their magic marquee, resume-building win in stunning fashion against a superb TCU. Put aside the final score (61-58) for a moment and just marvel at the fact the Bears put up 61 points against THAT DEFENSE.

Now you may be saying to yourself, “But Baylor gave up 58 points to TCU, a team not known for its offense, oh UU Top 25 gurus. What about that?”

We counter with one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Quarterback Trevone Boykin is a very good quarterback and the Horned Frogs (shockingly) boast the nation’s 12th-best passing attack. Boykin’s stats are not elite, but if you’ve seen TCU play, you know the junior might play with some of the best poise in the nation this side of Dak Prescott.

So it all comes down to that pesky schedule for FSU. Baylor’s TCU win is more impressive than FSU’s season-opening win against Oklahoma State. Until FSU shows out against Notre Dame (or in Notre Dame’s case, should the Irish show out against FSU), Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Baylor will remain in front while the threat of battle-tested one-loss teams from behind (Auburn and Alabama) will force FSU to fight hard to avoid the Non-AQ Syndrome (good team, terrible resume).

Playing around with formats this week. If you don’t like it, give us a holler and we can switch it back.

The Utterly Unbiased Top 25 for Week 7:

1. MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-0) … Defeated Auburn 38-23/Up 2 spots

2. OLE MISS (6-0) … Won at Texas A&M 35-20/Up 3 spots

3. BAYLOR (6-0) … Defeated TCU 61-58/Up 1 spot

4. FLORIDA STATE (6-0) … Won at Syracuse 38-20/Down 2 spots

5. AUBURN (5-1) … Lost at Mississippi State 38-23/Down 4 spots

We said all we said above to get to this – there is very, very little separation between the top four teams with the eye test. You may not have been dazzled by Florida State’s result at Syracuse, but that’s still a pretty sweet win. No matter what condition Syracuse is in, that is a tough, tough building to look good in and look good the Seminoles did. Everyone suddenly is writing off Auburn, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the defending SEC champs are right back in that perch come Week 13.

***

 

6. ALABAMA (5-1) … Won at Arkansas 14-13/Up 2 spots

7. NOTRE DAME (6-0) … Defeated North Carolina 50-43/Up 1 spot

8. GEORGIA (5-1) … Won at Missouri 34-0/Up 4 spots

9. MICHIGAN STATE (5-1) … Won at Purdue 45-31/No change

10. OKLAHOMA (5-1) … Defeated Texas 31-26/Up 1 spot

So just who among this bunch is actually the best team overall? The resume belongs to Alabama at the moment, thanks in large part to West Virginia proving to be no fluke. You might be scoffing at the Tide’s performance in Arkansas this past weekend, but the Razorbacks are a very, very good team that probably would easily win, say, the ACC’s Coastal Division. Or maybe even the SEC East. We say “maybe” because Georgia just thrashed Missouri on the road with one Todd Gurley tied behind its back. Notre Dame is on notice after that mediocre performance against North Carolina. Michigan State noses out Oklahoma at the moment due to the better loss.

 ***

11. TCU (5-1) … Lost to Baylor 61-58/Down 1 spot

12. OKLAHOMA STATE (5-1) … Defeated Kansas 27-20/Up 2 spots

13. KANSAS STATE (4-1) … Did not play/No change

14. OREGON (5-1) … Won at UCLA 42-30/Up 3 spots

15. TEXAS A&M (5-2) … Lost to Ole Miss 35-20/Down 8 spots

All hail Tyreek Hill, for without him Oklahoma State would be out of the UU Top 25. One miracle kickoff return is the difference this week between a still-worthy 5-1 resume and a potentially ugly, never-to-be-considered-again humiliation against one of the nation’s worst teams. Now, granted, every year Kansas shows up for exactly one game in the Big 12 slate and turns the league on its head. Perhaps this week was that chance and the Jayhawks – being even worse than usual – blew it. But for now (our favorite phrase here) Oklahoma State looks good with just the loss to FSU, which looks better than Kansas State’s lone loss to Auburn thanks to Auburn’s loss this week. Oregon’s good showing at UCLA puts the Arizona loss firmly in the fluke category.

***

16. ARIZONA STATE (4-1) … Did not play/Down 1 spot

17. NEBRASKA (5-1) … Did not play/Up 1 spots

18. LSU (5-2) … Won at Florida 30-27/Up 3 spots

19. ARIZONA (5-1) … Lost to USC 28-26/Down 3 spots

20. EAST CAROLINA (5-1) … Won at USF 28-17/Down 1 spot

The Pirates continue their soft free-fall despite piling up wins, thanks to not looking all that sharp and not looking all that sharp against meh competition. We can’t escape the uneasy feeling that Nebraska is flunking upward thanks to other action in the rankings, but for now that one tough loss to Michigan State makes the Cornhuskers look like they belong. Speaking of Fraud Alert: Arizona. Who are these guys? We have to consider the win at Oregon a fluke at this point, given this loss against USC, but then again, USC is capable of beating anyone in the Pac-12 if properly motivated. In other words, we can’t tell if the USC loss was a bad one or not.

 

***

21. KENTUCKY (5-1) … Defeated LA-Monroe 48-14/Up 1 spot

22. OHIO STATE (4-1) … Did not play/Up 2 spots

23. MARSHALL (6-0) … Defeated Middle Tenn. State 49-24/Unranked

24. CLEMSON (4-2) … Defeated Louisville 23-17/Unranked

25. MINNESOTA (5-1) … Defeated Northwestern 24-17

Marshall, you ask? What as the Herd done for us lately? Well, yes, the schedule is a trash heap, but the Herd has done what it must against said stink – their worst performance was a 42-27 romp against Miami of Ohio in the season-opener. The Herd ranks second nationally with 47.8 points per game, are eighth nationally with just over 17 points allowed and can be found in the Top 25 in just about every worthwhile category. There are no challenges on the schedule. They should finish 12-0 with ease … and completely out of the playoff picture. We can envision the Herd taking down at least half of this Top 25 given the right circumstances, and we bet you can, too. Clemson returns for the moment, but its injury issues could make its stay brief. Minnesota’s only loss is to TCU, a defeat that looks better even as the Horned Frogs lose. Knocking off the red-hot Wildcats – who had just pulled down the pants of Penn State and Wisconsin – was impressive.

THE OTHERS

Wisconsin (4-2) had a get-well game against Illinois. Are the Badgers ready to put that Northwestern loss behind them? … Iowa is now 5-1, but that loss is to Iowa State. We’ll need to see a little more from the Cyclones than a victory against Indiana. … Duke (5-1) put an end to the Georgia Tech feather dance. Thank you, Blue Devils, but we’re still not convinced by you, either. Boston College now has four strong wins to go with two ugly defeats. Colorado State could be the class of the Mountain West, improving to 5-1 with a gritty win at Nevada. … Is it time to discuss West Virginia yet? The Mountaineers improved to 4-2 by making one of the country’s longest in-conference road trips and winning at Texas Tech. … Washington’s five wins are meh, but the Huskies are gaining confidence. … Last but not least, the City of Angels. USC improved to 4-2 with than Arizona win. Some weeks they look like Top-10 material, other weeks they look like ACC Coastal also-rans. UCLA (4-2) dropped out with a second consecutive defeat and a continually disintegrating resume among the teams it defeated.

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