Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.
With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.
AP Poll Coaches Poll Harris Poll BCS
(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)
Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12
Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Boise State
They don't play anybody is the familiar refrain when it comes to the Broncos but all they do win and win and win some more. They beat UNLV this week to remain undefeated ahead of their showdown against TCU. Their best win, Georgia, is set to win the SEC East and play in the SEC championship game and Boise State could have eight or more bowl teams on the schedule by the end of the year. I get that they'll always be the little guy but this year the little guy has a great team. If you can't recognize that, sorry.
Overrated: Virginia Tech
There are plenty of overrated teams in the top 25, but Virginia Tech at #10/#9 is right up there. They moved into the spot largely by default thanks to losses ahead of them. Their schedule is weak (non-conference games against Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State, Marshall) and they struggled to beat Duke in their last game. The close win over Miami looks better in retrospect but scoring just three points on Clemson's defense at home does not. If they beat Georgia Tech they'll solidify their place in the top 15 but they really don't have a signature win and won't get one unless they beat someone in a bowl game.
A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.
Going to run into Wilner this week, might tell him how I almost put him in this section but went with Wolf instead. Why Wolf? He's the only person in the country that has Boise State #1. I like the Broncos, but there's no reason to put them as the best team in the country given what LSU has done. He also has Wisconsin unranked, Houston 19th, Auburn ranked #13 and Michigan State 12th.
What were you thinking? Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant
The Coaches put Virginia Tech ahead of Clemson, even though the Tigers own the head-to-head win. Desmond Conner, or the 13 other AP voters who ranked the loser ahead of the winner, did the same thing. The case can't be made to rank one ahead of the other considering 1) Clemson beat Virginia Tech 2) Clemson has wins over Auburn and Florida State while Virginia Tech's best is probably over Miami. Conner managed to rank the Hokies EIGHT spots ahead of Clemson, who he had all the way down at 17th. Goodness.
Tags: ACC, AP Poll, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Clemson, Coaches Poll, Desmond Conner, Duke, East Carolina, Florida State, Gary Parrish, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Harris Poll, Houston, Marshall, Miami, Michigan State, Pac-12, Poll Attacks, Poll Attacks Week 10, Poll Reactions, Scott Wolf, SEC, TCU, The Poll Attacks, UNLV, Virginia Tech, Week 10, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 6, 2011 3:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Pac-12 fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
The Cardinal were one of two teams to take advantage of the Game of the Century in Tuscaloosa. Stanford moved up one spot in the AP poll, ahead of Alabama and behind Oklahoma State, and all the way up to second in the Coaches Poll. If they can beat Oregon in next week's huge match up, they will probably leapfrog the Cowboys. The defense showed improvement against Oregon State this week but injuries are continuing to mount, losing two of Andrew Luck's top targets in tight end Levine Toilolo and wide receiver Chris Owusu.
No movement in the polls for the Ducks but they have their chance to make a statement this Saturday in Palo Alto. They dispatched with rival Washington 34-17 thanks to an explosive third quarter. LaMichael James is looking like he's recovering from his elbow injury nicely, rushing for 156 yards and a touchdown against the porous Huskies defense. The best take away from last week's game was the play of the defense, a welcome sign the week before facing the best player in college football.
20/ N/A. USC
The Trojans rolled to an easy win against Colorado on national television Friday night and thanks to some losses by teams ahead of them on Saturday, moved up two spots in the AP Poll (they're not eligible for the Coaches Poll). Matt Barkley set a school-record for touchdown passes in a game with six and the running game has been a surprise the past few games as well despite some injuries. They face their old pal Steve Sarkisian back home and can rise even further in the polls with a convincing win.
Others receiving votes: Arizona State received 15 points in the AP and 49 from the Coaches, Washington 8/10.
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Posted on: November 6, 2011 2:48 pm
During its bye week, Penn State ascended to the highest spot of any Big Ten team in either poll -- mainly by dint of the Huskers' shocking upset. Meanwhile, the football program, athletic department, and school administration are embroiled in a scandal of potentially nightmarish proportion. So yeah, there isn't a ton of interest in poll rankings at Penn State right now -- nor ought there be.
13/13. Michigan State
It's a little difficult to differentiate between two-loss Big Ten teams this season; there's plenty of them. But there's a strong case to be made for Michigan State to be atop them all; the Spartans have navigated a brutal schedule this season, and it's only just now beginning to lighten. Oh, and Iowa hosts the Spartans this week. A win at Kinnick would justify a ranking around here, but another lackluster road performance from the Spartan offense will probably lead to loss number three -- and a general evaporation of the notion that MSU is anything better than the 20th best team in the nation or so.
Wisconsin is starting its climb back up the rankings after two straight last-minute losses to Michigan State and Ohio State sent them from No. 4 to No. 19 in the AP, a not-at-all-hyperbolic, totally reasonable reaction from pollsters. Unfortunately, road games with Minnesota and Illinois coming up aren't going to do much for the Badgers' standing in voters' eyes unless there's a bevy of losses in front of them. Fortunately, everybody outside the Top 7 or so right now is capable of losing on any given week, so we may yet see the Badgers come close to the Top 10 before bowl season.
This is Nebraska's lowest ranking of the season, and it's extremely hard to justify anything better than this after dropping a 28-25 contest to Northwestern on Saturday. Yes, the Huskers demolished Michigan State a week prior, so we're not going to call them a paper tiger or anything. Nebraska just needs to start playing at a high level consistently, and it needs to start now; Nebraska travels to Penn State this week, followed by a game at Michigan and the season finale against Iowa. Anything from 10-2 to 7-5 is possible; it's time to remove any doubt at long last whether Nebraska is a Top 20 team this year.
Another road game against a Big Ten team with a pulse, another loss for Michigan. Fortunately for the Wolverines, this week's contest at Illinois is the last away from the Big House for the rest of the year. This ranking seems too low for a two-loss Big Ten team, but Michigan's second-best win is, what, San Diego State? Western Michigan? Northwestern? Michigan needs a Big Ten win against a team with a winning record at some point, otherwise it'll be just another disappointing year in Ann Arbor.
Also receiving votes:
Ohio State (50 AP votes, 22 coaches votes), Iowa (4 AP votes, 8 coaches votes)
Posted on: November 6, 2011 4:15 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 12:04 pm
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
B1G B1G B1G WINNER: Chaos
How much wilder is the Big Ten after this 10th week of play than before? Consider, now, that four of the six Legends Division teams are still in plausible contention for that crown, or that Penn State could still find itself at 6-2 (or worse) in the conference, setting off a similar scramble in the Leaders Division. This year, Minnesota has beaten Iowa, Purdue has beaten Illinois, and now Northwestern has beaten Nebraska in Lincoln. Did you see that one coming? Yes? Liar.
Sure, some might note that the ACC already tried having everybody in the conference go 6-2 or worse, and the result is a shambolic title race -- and a sham BCS bowl participant. And yes, generally, it's better to have a conference champion in the BCS' Top 12, where they'd be eligible to participate in a BCS bowl even without the conference title, but still: a little madness never hurt anybody, and what better way to demonstrate to the Big Ten faithful how much drama a division race can add to a season?
LOSER: Penn State
This was supposed to be a peaceful week off for Joe Paterno and Penn State, who would be watching gleefully as losses by Nebraska and Michigan would leave PSU as the only one-loss team in the conference. Instead, nobody in State College is talking football today; instead, it's the litany of serious crimes facing Jerry Sandusky -- and what role PSU brass may have played in keeping Sandusky's alleged crimes under wraps.
We're not going to comment on Sandusky's charges; we trust our readers to form their own opinions at this point. We'll just say that it's beyond depressing that Penn State is 8-1 (5-0), Joe Paterno is the Division I's winningest coach of all time, and the Penn State president still needs to be issuing statements assuring people that his athletic director and treasurer didn't try to cover up a serial child molester in violation of Pennsylvania state law. But alas: here it is, and here we are. Ugh; back to football.
WINNER: Michigan State's division title hopes
On its face, Michigan State's performance today was, if anything, lackluster; the Spartans let lowly Minnesota take a lead into the fourth quarter in a game in East Lansing, and MSU only won by 7 points after letting Minnesota drive into Spartan territory in the game's final seconds. And yet, Michigan State still won, and that gives the Spartans sole possession of first place in the Legends Division after Michigan and Nebraska both dropped contests Saturday. Unlike every other contender in the conference, MSU has no games against ranked opponents left; there are, however, road tests at Iowa and Northwestern looming, so it's not exactly time to start booking hotel rooms in Pasadena quite yet. Still, this is as commanding a position as anybody's held in this division thus far.
LOSER: Michigan's division title hopes
It's getting to be difficult to imagine a scenario in which Michigan plays for the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis this December. The Wolverines dropped to 3-2 in the league, and while that's still just a game off the lead with three games yet to play, it's to whom Michigan has lost that should prove most problematic for the Wolverines. Iowa and Michigan State both hold head-to-head tiebreakers over Michigan and a non-division loss, so really, the only way Michigan takes this division is by winning it outright. There is a plausible path to that: MSU loses to Iowa and Northwestern, Iowa loses to Nebraska, and Nebraska loses to Michigan. But that's about it.
WINNER: Iowa's offensive stars
Iowa's numbers on offense weren't spectacular in the Hawkeyes' 24-16 win over Michigan; 302 total yards and 15 first downs were all the Hawkeyes managed in 56 offensive plays. Not bad, no, but not spectacular. Nonetheless, there were some very familiar faces responsible for the lion's share of that production -- Marcus Coker had 132 yards and two scores, James Vandenberg was 14-21 for 171 yards and a score, and Marvin McNutt (seen at right, divorcing J.T. Floyd from his helmet) caught nine passes, a career high, for 101 yards. Overall, that's a pattern that has put several Hawkeyes among the league leaders with three games left in the regular season.
Coker leads all Big Ten rushers with 1101 yards on the season; Montee Ball is a close second with 1076. In receiving, McNutt trails only A.J. Jenkins (1030 yards) with 959 yards, and his nine receiving touchdowns lead the league. Meanwhile, Vandenberg is third in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, with a 154.83 rating and 18 touchdowns to only four interceptions. Officially, Vandenberg is second only to I-A leader Russell Wilson in the NCAA's eyes, as Dan Persa hasn't played in 75% of Northwestern's games yet, but that doesn't seem totally fair to Persa, who meets the other qualification of 15 pass attempts per game even counting the games he missed. We see you, Dan.
LOSER: Any notion of Rex Burkhead as a Heisman candidate
For a little while, Rex Burkhead was starting to gain steam as a potential darkhorse candidate -- not a potential winner, but certainly someone that might at least score a free trip to New York in December. Nebraska would have to win out as a one-loss Big Ten champion, though, and Burkhead would have to keep coming up as big as he has all season long. Do all that, and it might be good enough to get some major national attention.
Well, that clearly didn't happen. Nebraska's rushing attack was bottled up by Northwestern, of all defenses; the Wildcats had been ranked 95th nationwide coming into Saturday's contest, ceding 194 rushing yards per game. And yet, Nebraska managed only 122 yards on the ground in the 28-25 loss, and Burkhead was particularly ineffective: 22 rushes, 69 yards, one score, and one costly fumble inside Northwestern's 5-yard line. Worse, only three of those 22 rushes gained first downs, while Burkhead converted for a score or first down on only two of six rushes on 3rd and 4th down. That? That's not good.
WINNER: Kain Colter
Say this about Pat Fitzgerald: he doesn't much care for traditional labels on players. How else to explain Kain Colter, who for the last four weeks has averaged 55 yards rushing, 55 yards passing, and 71 yards receiving per game in a QB/WR hybrid role in support of Dan Persa? This week, Colter's versatility was especially useful, as Persa would leave the game at the half after sustaining a shoulder injury; Colter responded by scoring three touchdowns in the second half of Northwestern's upset victory.
LOSER: Denard Robinson's legs
Last year, in the Gator Bowl blowout that would seal Rich Rodriguez's fate with Michigan, the Wolverines tried to go for it on five fourth downs. In each one, a pass play was called for Denard Robinson; in each one, Michigan failed to convert, as the pass fell harmlessly incomplete on each attempt. This week, Robinson had led Michigan to Iowa's 3-yard line with under 20 seconds to play and a first and goal. This time around, Brady Hoke called four straight passes for Robinson; in each one, Michigan failed to score, as the pass fell harmlessly incomplete on each attempt.
This is not to argue that Robinson should never pass or anything of that sort. It's just that Robinson is at his most dangerous on the move, and when a drive or a game's on the line, by and large, it's not smart to have him stand still and look to pass. Junior Hemingway came awfully close to making a great catch on 2nd down and Roy Roundtree may have had a legitimate gripe for pass interference on 4th down (though it was far less obvious in real time), but still: Denard Robinson is the most dynamic runner in the Big Ten; why not try a run-pass option? With deep apologies to ZZ Top, Robinson has legs, and he knows how to use them. Give him a chance to do that!
Tags: A.J. Jenkins, ACC, Adam Jacobi, Big Ten, Brady Hoke, Dan Persa, Dan Persa, Denard Robinson, Illinois, Iowa, J.T. Floyd, James Vandenberg, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Junior Hemingway, Kain Colter, Marcus Coker, Marvin McNutt, Michigan, Michigan State, Mike Kafka, Minnesota, Montee Ball, Nebraska, Northwestern, Pat Fitzgerald, Penn State, Purdue, Rex Burkhead, Rich Rodriguez, Roy Roundtree, Russell Wilson, Week 10, What I Learned, Winners and Losers
Posted on: November 6, 2011 2:13 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: Larry Scott
Both Oregon and Stanford were favored this week but upsets are a matter of life in the Pac-12. The Cardinal had to go into Reser Stadium - a place highly ranked opponents often leave with a loss - and dealt with several big injuries but pulled away from Oregon State with a big win. Likewise, the Ducks hit the road to take on one of their biggest rivals in a tough place to play in when it's rocking. Both came out with wins and set up the game of the season west of the Rockies and make commissioner Larry Scott extremely happy to have plenty of attention on the conference Saturday night.
LOSER: Husky Stadium
If you never got the chance to visit the Pacific Northwest and see a game at Husky Stadium, you missed out. A beautiful old venue right on the lake, there's no place quite like it when Washington is good and the place is rocking. The press box itself is attached to the trademark overhand and can sway noticeably when the fans are into the game. Starting a major renovation next week (UW is on the road the next two weeks and the Apple Cup is at CenturyLink Field), the loss to Oregon marked the final game for a while in a place that opened in 1920. There was talk of a big upset and the 1991 national championship team was honored but neither seemed to help, especially in the second half. The final play of the stadium? A Jesse Callier one yard rush from the two yard line to end a 34-17 loss.
WINNER: Rick Neuheisel
The embattled UCLA head coach came into the Rose Bowl Saturday afternoon needing a huge upset win over Arizona State and got one, knocking off the Sun Devils thanks to a missed field goal as time expired and putting the Bruins in the enviable position to control their own destiny. Win out and it's a spot in the Pac-12 title game and the best bowl trip in years. He probably isn't fully off the hot seat but the team has momentum heading into their final three games, two winnable ones at Utah and against Colorado before the annual crosstown rivalry game against USC.
WINNER: Matt Barkley
USC's had Heisman winners and some of the winningest quarterbacks in NCAA history wear the cardinal and gold but nobody has ever thrown six touchdowns in a game, as Barkley did against Colorado on Friday. Yes, the Buffs defense isn't that good but the blond-haired California kid was still sharp and had to deal with several drops from his receivers. At a historic program like USC, having your name in the record book is quite an accomplishment and given that, it's understandable why the contingent of Trojan fans that made their way to chilly Boulder kept chanting 'One more year!' as Barkley left the field Friday. If he does come back, he could have a team that is looking at making a run at a title and himself at with a Heisman campaign.
LOSER: Stanford training staff
All David Shaw wanted going into Stanford's game against Oregon State was an easy win and a chance to come home healthy. The easy win part seemed to happen but the latter didn't. Already missing Zach Ertz from the USC game, Andrew Luck lost another of his trio of big tight ends after Levine Toilolo went down and had to be taken to the locker room. He came back to the field later without pads and was nursing his shoulder/neck area. The Cardinal's top wide receiver Chris Owusu looks like he could be done for the year after taking a nasty hit that left him with a concussion and a ride in an ambulance. Safety Delano Howell could be back for next week's showdown but nothing is certain.
LOSER: Arizona's defense and special teams
The problem in the desert hasn't been offense, it's been the defense. Utah, a team that had been struggling to move the ball, didn't seem to meet much resistance against the Wildcats. Starting quarterback Jon Hays threw for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns while showing progress and running back John White topped the century mark on the ground once again. Special teams wasn't any help for Arizona either with two blocked punt and a terrible fake field goal.
WINNER: Cal's vacation plans
The Bears took another step toward bowl eligibility with a 30-7 home (well, at AT&T Park) win over Washington State that put them at 5-4 on the season with another winnable game against Oregon State coming up. There's still the possibility, perhaps even a likely one, that they'll stay home for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl but the chances of postseason play certainly improved after taking care of business.
LOSER: Paul Wulff
Perhaps it was an omen that a small earthquake shook the Bay Area right before Saturday's game. After a promising start to the season and signs of life in the Palouse, Washington State has slid back to the bottom with five straight losses and put Wulff on a very, very hot seat. The offense only scored a late touchdown and the team allowed 30 points for the fifth time this season, not exactly hallmarks of a turnaround. The schedule doesn't exactly lighten up either and if the losing streak stretches to seven, Wulff will be out looking for a new job.
WINNER: LaMichael James' elbow pad
Oregon came out in white and "carbon" uniforms against Washington and it was James who had a bulky elbow pad on his right arm that seemed to stick out despite the tame (by Ducks' standards) look. No matter how big or ugly it looked though, the pad seemed to do the trick in James' second week back in action after dislocating the elbow. It wasn't a huge performance by his standards but James rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown.
LOSER: Arizona State visors
Dennis Erickson always seems to lose a game on the road with the Sun Devils that he's favored to win by more than a touchdown. Despite this being ASU's year with the team in position to win the division, Erickson and the coaching staff saw it all slip away at the Rose Bowl against UCLA. There were plenty of bad plays and questionable officiating calls that had to leave a few of the staff's hats slammed to the ground at the end of a frustrating Saturday night.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Apple Cup, Arizona, Arizona State, Arizona State, AT&T Park, Cal, California, CenturyLink Field, Chris Owusu, Colorado, David Shaw, Delano Howell, Dennis Erickson, Heisman Trophy, Husky Stadium, Jesse Callier, John White, Jon Hays, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, LaMichael James, Larry Scott, Levine Toilolo, Matt Barkley, NCAA, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Pac-12 Winners and Losers, Paul Wulff, Rick Neuheisel, Rose Bowl, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Week 10, Winners and Losers, Winners and Losers Week 10, Zach Ertz