NGSC Sports

Utterly Unbiased Top 25: 1 & Done?

THE TIME HAS come to pause and assess the 2014 college football season here at the Utterly Unbiased Top 25 headquarters. There are a lot of teams receiving a lot of hype, some for good reason, others are overblown balloons on the verge of popping.

For example, let’s look at the SEC West, arguably the best collection of football teams in the country. In most rankings (including ours), four of the top five slots occupied by this one division of one conference.

But we all know it won’t stay that way. It can’t stay that way. They all play each other, and they all must play Texas A&M and Arkansas, two also-rans who themselves are much better than their records state.

No neck of the woods has had a greater half-season than the state of Mississippi. Both are unbeaten and both have the resume that makes them worthy of the top two spots for a second consecutive week. Florida State earned some cachet by notching a win over a Notre Dame team that clearly plays to the level of its competition, looking much better this past Saturday than they did during their wanderlust shootout against ACC nobody North Carolina.

But who’s next? In what order? There is a collection of 13 one-loss teams that follows those three clear leaders. In the mainstream rankings, a lot of teams are where they are because inertia. The climbers have been gradually moving up based mostly on when they lost. If it was early, their loss is on Redemption Road. If that loss happened this week, they are on the Road to Ruin.

We don’t play that game here at the UU Top 25. Once we get past the midseason hump, we toss out when the loss occurred. Rather, what we’ll look at is who that loss came against and among the wins, what victory stands out as the marquee romp?

When you look at it through these lenses, the list looks a little different than the big boy polls and somewhat different from last week’s UU Top 25. Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State saw the biggest adjustments, while a couple of team made their debuts. Here you go:

1. MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-0) … Did not play/No change

2. OLE MISS (7-0) … Defeated Tennessee 34-3/No change

3. FLORIDA STATE (7-0) … Defeated Notre Dame 31-27/Up one spot

4. AUBURN (5-1) … Did not play/Up one spot

5. ALABAMA (6-1) … Defeated Texas A&M 59-0/Up one spot

Most rankings have Alabama ahead of Auburn, but we’re looking beyond that shiny ‘Bama romp against Texas A&M. The two Alabama teams have lost to the two Mississippi teams. Auburn’s loss came against our top-ranked squad. Alabama’s came against Ole Miss. That’s the difference.

 

6. TEXAS CHRISTIAN (5-1) … Defeated Oklahoma State 42-9/Up five spots

7. OREGON (6-1) … Defeated Washington 45-20/Up seven spots

8. MICHIGAN STATE (6-1) … Won at Indiana 56-17/Up one spot

9. NOTRE DAME (6-1) … Lost at Florida State 31-27/Down two spots

10. KANSAS STATE (5-1) … Won at Oklahoma 31-30/Up three spots

So, what separates these five one-loss teams? Of this group, Notre Dame (FSU), Kansas State (Auburn) and Michigan State (Oregon) have the three most worthy losses. So what is TCU doing in front of all of them? Easy. Their wins. The Horned Frogs have wins over three ranked opponents in this week’s UU Top 25 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Minnesota). The loss isn’t all that shabby either, coming in that memorable shootout with Baylor. Oregon has the weakest loss of these five teams, but they have wins against UCLA and Michigan State. Better than anything Notre Dame, Kansas State and Michigan State can claim. From there, we look at that 8-9-10 group’s wins. Michigan State has a good win against Nebraska, Notre Dame has a victory against a not-as-good-as-we-thought Stanford and Kansas State’s victory is a flukey, but nonetheless solid road win at slumping Oklahoma. Because Kansas State has nothing else and because that win at Norman was thisclose to being a loss, that’s where we are at for this week.

 

11. BAYLOR (6-1) … Lost at West Virginia 41-27/Down eight spots

12. GEORGIA (6-1) … Won at Arkansas 45-32/Down four spots

13. ARIZONA (5-1) … Did not play/Up six spots

14. NEBRASKA (6-1) … Won at Northwestern/Up three spots

15. ARIZONA STATE (5-1) … Defeated Stanford 26-10/Up one spot

 

Two really big corrections occurred among this group. One is Georgia, dropping four spots despite a good win at Arkansas. The other is Arizona leaping in front of Arizona State. How odd, right? Well, take away the timeliness of their losses it all becomes clear. Georgia has three superb wins and, of the 13 teams in this logjam, it’s the third-best resume. HOWEVER … that loss to South Carolina is among the worst in the group. That led us to the conclusion that, while Georgia probably is better than 12th, speaking completely without the bias of timeliness, they have the 12th best overall resume at this point. In the other direction, Arizona has one of the best wins (at Oregon) and one of the better losses (USC). That collection nudges them in front of Arizona State, whose loss to UCLA is a wash compared to Arizona’s defeat, but the Wildcats lack a win as impressive as their rivals.

 

16. LSU (5-2) … Defeated Kentucky 41-3/Up two spots

17. OKLAHOMA STATE (5-2) … Lost at TCU 42-9/Down five spots

18. OKLAHOMA (5-2) … Lost to Kansas State 31-30/Down eight spots

19. OHIO STATE (5-1) … Defeated Rutgers 56-17/Up three spots

20. CLEMSON (5-2) … Won at Boston College 17-13/Up four spots

 

There is a dropoff among the one-loss teams after Arizona State that is rather precipitous, so this is where we consider the resumes of the two-loss squads. LSU’s two losses are to our No. 1 and No. 4 teams this week. Oklahoma State’s losses came against our Nos. 3 and 6. That leaves Clemson, who also has two impressive losses (to our Nos. 3 and 12) to cozy up behind one-loss Ohio State, who has looked very good in all games against teams not named Virginia Tech (HORRIBLE LOSS).

 

21. WEST VIRGINIA (5-2) … Defeated Baylor 41-27/Not ranked

22. MINNESOTA (6-1) … Defeated Purdue 39-38/Up three spots

23. MARSHALL (7-0) … Defeated FIU 45-13/No change

24. UTAH (5-1) … Won at Oregon State 29-23/Not ranked

25. EAST CAROLINA (5-1) … Did not play/Down five spots

 

Psst … have you checked out the Mountaineers lately? Losses to Florida State and Oklahoma, wins against Maryland and Baylor? That’s what we call a “resume” in the business. Minnesota is bereft of marquee wins, but they have taken care of business against everyone other than TCU. Marshall just keeps on, keepin’ on. We’ll have delve deeper into the Herd if they move to 8-0. Utah turtled against Washington State but own wins over UCLA and at Oregon State. That’s more than East Carolina can say.

 

 

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