This week featured the most shake up in the top 10 that we have seen all year. A couple fell out while the names that moved in have a good chance at staying in the top 10.
1) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Kentucky Wildcats 48-7 at Lexington)
Is it possible that Alabama has moved under the radar this season? Except for their vengeance game against A&M this year, no one has really been focused on Alabama. A big reason for that is that they have been dispatching the dregs of the SEC for most of this season and will for the remainder of the season. McCarron is starting to get more time to throw which will help the Tide, but as is usually the case the story is really all about the running game and defense. Yeldon and Drake combined for 240 yards and four touchdowns while the defense held the Wildcats to just 170 total yards and one offensive touchdown. This team won't be challenged for another three weeks when LSU comes to town.
2) Ohio State Buckeyes (idle this week; next week home against Iowa Hawkeyes)
3) Clemson Tigers (beat Boston College 24-14 at home)
I don't really know how to rationalize this close of a win. Despite outgaining BC by almost 300 yards, Clemson only managed to beat the Eagles by ten points. Tajh Boyd played great, completing 70% of his passes for 330 yards and a touchdown. The running backs were also able to get going for Clemson, and they didn't have any turn overs. They just simply could not finish drives. The points they allowed are a little concerning. Boston College scored on plays of 40 and 70 yards but other than that really couldn't manage any sustained drives. That could spell trouble for Clemson who takes on Florida State at home next week. The Seminoles have exponentially more talent than Boston College, and that could mean playing a lot of catching up for the Tigers.
4) Oregon Ducks (beat Washington Huskies 45-24 in Seattle)
This was one of the more complete games we've seen Oregon play all year. Washington has a very talented squad this year and took Stanford to the wire in Palo Alto. But Oregon was able to do too much with all the speed they have. Mariota takes center stage here, as he lead the Ducks by throwing for 3 touchdowns and 366 yards on 24 completions. Bralon Addison and Josh Huff received all three of those touchdowns and 14 of the catches. They were able to get all kinds of separation from Washington's defensive backs, giving Mariota a huge window to throw into. What impressed me most about Oregon was the play of their defensive backs. They held Keith Price to under 200 yards and while they did allow a touchdown, they forced him into an interception. They did allow Bishop Sankey to rush for 160 yards and two touchdowns on them, but keeping Price limited allowed them to get the ball back more often. With Stanford losing at Utah this weekend, Oregon is now in first place of the PAC 12 North where they will most likely stay for the rest of the year.
5) Florida State Seminoles (idle this week; next week at Clemson)
6) Louisville Cardinals (beat Rutgers Scarlet Knights 24-10 at home)
Definitely not the best game for the Cardinals or for Bridgewater, but you can't win every game by four touchdowns. Rutgers has built a strong program over the past few years and do have some talent to keep up with Louisville. Bridgewater was intercepted once in the endzone, but other than that was what you'd expect. He added two more touchdowns to his season total to go with 310 yards. The real focus here should be on the defense for Louisville which forced 4 turnovers on the day. Quarterback Gary Nova for Rutgers was forced into three interceptions on the day. Louisville's secondary was able to blanket receivers and stepped in front of routes often to disrupt the pass. If the defensive line can get the kind of pressure on quarterbacks and continue to plug the lanes like they did last night, Louisville could survive a bad night for Bridgewater if that ever happens.
7) LSU Tigers (beat Florida Gators 17-6 at home)
Interesting stat a friend of mine showed me before this game: Florida's secondary had held opposing quarterbacks to the lowest QBR (quarterback rating) in the SEC while LSU QB Zach Mettenberger had the highest QBR in the SEC entering the game. So something had to give. And while it did, it didn't really affect the game all that much. The dangerous trio of Louchiez Purifoy, Marcus Roberson, and Vernon Hargreaves III held Mettenberger to only 9-17 and 152 yards. However, Florida's defense was no match for the power run game of the Bayou Bengals. Jeremy Hill averaged 6.4 yards per on his way to 121 yards. Mettenberger guided the Tigers to the goal line twice and then turned it over to JC Copeland and Anthony Jennings to punch it in. Florida's offense is still trying to find its rhythm by working in redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy at quarterback, so the challenge for the Tiger's defense wasn't that overwhelming this week. They were pretty much able to gear towards stopping the run with seven guys in the box while playing prevent with the secondary. This was a solid midseason evaluation for LSU just a few weeks before travelling to Tuscaloosa.
8) Texas A&M Aggies (beat Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels 41-38 at Oxford)
I'm starting to think that this team has no chance of winning in Death Valley a few weeks from now. Manziel put in a very good game this week, but I think the LSU game will be another example of where he can't do it all. He was the epitome of duel threat this week (passing: 31-39, 346, 1 INT; rushing: 19 for 124, 2 TDs) and got more receivers than just Mike Evans involved. But other than that, it kind of stops there for the Aggies. Other than Manziel, no rusher was that effective against Ole Miss. But the biggest issue continues to be the defense which looks like it misses being in the Big 12 after one year in the SEC. Ole Miss is a team on the rise in the SEC, but they did whatever they wanted to the Aggies's defense. The second string QB completed two touchdown passes on only four attempts against them for Christ's sake. We've already seen what will happen to the Aggies when they can't outgun someone. They better get their act together or they will not be in a BCS game this year.
9) Miami Hurricanes (idle this week; next week at North Carolina Tar Heels)
10) UCLA Bruins (beat Cal Golden Bears 37-10 at home)
Meet the new kings of LA. While USC wallows in its own incompetence, UCLA and head coach Jim Mora Jr have been created a very strong program. It all starts with redshirt sophomore Brett Hundley, a smart and athletic pocket passer who could be the second QB taken off the board this upcoming draft. He showcased his abilities against Cal, throwing for a whopping 410 yards and three touchdowns on 31 of 41 passing. He has a great duo to throw to in Shaq Evans and Devon Fuller, who combined for 12 catches, 168 yards and two touchdowns against Cal. Evans is the taller target while Fuller is the speedy receiver who can beat safeties downfield and corners across the middle. On defense, UCLA has one of the most disruptive players in Athony Barr, a converted fullback who now plays outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. He has so much speed and agility with so little experience that some pro teams are grading him over Clowney for top pass rusher. This could be the only time UCLA cracks the top 10 though. They get limited play out of their running backs and have a suspect secondary. We will learn a lot about this team over the next couple of weeks as they take on Stanford and Oregon, both on the road.