Monday, October 21, 2013

Top 10 for 10/20

This week is going to have even more shake up in the top ten than last week did. Of the Top 10 from last week, six of them lost a game and five of them moved out of the top 10.

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Arkansas Razorbacks 52-0 at home)
What a joke of a schedule for playing in the SEC. Compare their schedule to LSU. As was the usual case this year, Alabama wasn't even challenged. They clearly overmatched the Razorbacks who are still breaking in sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen who only completed 7 of 25 passes. The Tide's rush attack clearly overwhelmed Arkansas on its way to 352 yards and 4 touchdowns while McCarron just needed to be serviceable. Considering that LSU just loss to Ole Miss this past week and the disarray of the SEC East, Alabama has a clear shot to the national championship game barring some sort of divine intervention.

2) Florida State Seminoles (beat No. 3 Clemson Tigers 51-14 in Clemson)
I'm rolling with the BCS rankings and putting the Seminoles at 2 after their bludgeoning of the Tigers in Death Valley. It all starts with redshirt freshman Jameis (Jame-iss) Winston who has a very realistic chance of being the second freshman to win the Heisman this year. For being so young, he has such a command of the playbook and the pocket. He doesn't have run first instincts but instead prefers to stand in the pocket and keep his eyes down field when the play breaks down. That helped him rack up 444 passing yards and three touchdowns against one pick on Saturday in prime time. Winston is getting a ton of help from his receivers Rashad Greene, a midsize receiver with very good speed, and Kelvin Benjamin, a 6-5 sophomore with incredible hands and a ridiculous vertical leap. Just as exceptional is the defense which is suffocating opponents, holding them to under 12 points a game. DE Mario Edwards Jr and LB Christian Jones lead a squad that is looking as dominant as Alabama's this year. This team could very easily end up playing in Pasadena at the end of the season.

3) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat Iowa Hawkeyes 34-24 at home)
At this rate, OSU is probably going to find itself on the outside looking in when it comes to the national title in January. The rest of the conference is pedestrian which is going to affect their strength of schedule while the team hasn't been able to handle the competition as easily as they should. Iowa is not a bad team but this game was way to close when the line on the game was 17.5 points. The defense is the most concerning component, especially the secondary which continues to allow quarterbacks to look phenomenal. As if they weren't hurting with Christian Bryant out for the season, Bradley Roby was ejected on a targeting call. Yet the team seems to be making plays when they need to, but one has to wonder when that luck will eventually run out. Fortunately the offense continues to hum along. Carlos Hyde bullied his way to 150 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries while Braxton added another 102. He also passed for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 of 27, one of his best statistical days in his career. The combination of Philly Brown and Devon Smith is giving the Buckeyes a great tandem for Miller to work with. But at this point, surviving may not be enough for Ohio State who desperately needs to start crushing teams.

4) Oregon Ducks (beat Washington State Cougars 62-38 at home)
More of the same for the Ducks. I hate writing about them because they've gotten so commonplace now. They have such an explosive offense that it is almost detrimental to their team since the defense needs to be on the field for so long. The defense definitely had its hands full this week as the Cougar's quarterback threw the ball an insane 89 times in an effort to keep up with the Duck's high flying offense. While the secondary did allow four touchdowns in this fashion, they also came up with four turnovers which helped stave the Cougar's hopes for a historic upset. Oregon will get a tougher game from the Bruins this week, but they should be able to outscore UCLA after the Bruins troubles in Palo Alto.

5) Missouri Tigers (beat No. 22 Florida Gators 36-17 at home)
The Tigers have made the biggest leap over the past two weeks thanks to two huge wins against division opponents. After stunning Georgia in Athens and losing their starting quarterback in the process, Mizzou went up against the best defense in the nation and took it to them. Freshman Maty Mauk completed only half his passes, but it equated to 295 yards and a touchdown with some crucial plays to move the chains. Just as impressive was Henry Josey who averaged 7.6 yards per carry on his way to 136 yards on the ground. The Tiger's offense put the Gator's defense on its heels for the first time this year on every drive. Missouri's defense also looked very capable, holding Florida to just 151 yards. They forced Tyler Murphy to throw underneath and limited big plays. No one saw this coming, but Missouri seriously looks like a team that could finish the regular season undefeated.

6) Miami Hurricanes (beat UNC Tar Heels 27-23 in Chapel Hill)
Despite a terrible night by Canes's quarterback Stephen Morris (19-35, 322 yards, 4 INTs) Miami managed to pull this one out and is in the driver's seat for the ACC Coastal. Morris's performance was good enough to move the Canes down field when it mattered most, especially in the last few minutes for what turned out to be the game winning drive. Duke Johnson was on his way to another productive night before leaving the game before the half. But second stringer Dallas Crawford quickly rose to the challenge, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns on a grueling 33 carry day. Crawford picked up the slack and was able to move the chains and get in the endzone when Morris struggled. Johnson's injury doesn't appear to have any impact next week, but the Hurricanes did lose one of their better receivers in Philip Dorsett who has a partial MCL tear. Miami has to travel to Tallahassee in two weeks which could mark their only loss of the season, but other than that they should be in a great position to represent the Coastal. If the defense can keep opponents to only 17 points per game, Miami should have little trouble riding the tandem of Johnson and Crawford until Dorsett returns from injury.

7) Baylor Bears (beat Iowa State Cyclones 71-7 at home)
Baylor might not be your normal Big 12 team that is in the Top 10. This team can score on command. They are first in the nation in points per game at an insane 64.7 points. Oregon is second in the nation and trails them by a touchdown. Bears head coach Art Briles has done an insane job of building an offensive system and recruiting the players who might not be ranked high but who will have an immediate impact in his system. His system allows him to plug in a quarterback to sling it around to receivers who appear to be miles away from the nearest defender. Bryce Petty has been great for them so far, throwing for over 2000 yards and 15 touchdowns against one pick. Rarely does Petty struggle, but if he does, Briles can just have him hand the ball to Lache Seastrunk. An Oregon transfer, Seastrunk is a solid sized running back with ridiculous elusiveness and a great burst. It has only taken him 83 carries to amass 760 yards (9.2 per carry) and 10 touchdowns. If he were carrying the ball more than his current average of 13 times a game, he would be a serious Heisman candidate given Baylor's current ranking. The biggest question will be whether or not the defense can keep holding opponents to 16 points a game. That has been many Big 12 teams' downfall before, but if Baylor can buck that trend they could see themselves in the Fiesta Bowl.

8) Stanford Cardinal (beat No. 9 UCLA Bruins 24-10 at home)
Stanford got itself back on track after last week's demoralizing loss at Utah. This was more of what the Cardinal is good at. They controlled the ball for 37 minutes and were able to greatly limit what the Bruins did. Bruins quarterback was forced into two interceptions and didn't look as comfortable as he has all year against the Bruins' pass rush. Stanford was able to get its running game back against UCLA, rushing for over 170 yards which was crucial to keeping the time of possession in their favor. Stanford needed a strong rebound after last week with Oregon looming and they got one. If they can have another solid performance against Oregon State, it should put them in a good position to to take on Oregon at home.

9) Clemson Tigers (lost to Florida State Seminoles 51-14 at home)
There really wasn't anything positive to come out of this game for Clemson. They were embarrassed at home, plain and simple. Tajh Boyd was limited to barely over 150 yards and threw two interceptions. Sammy Watkins was held in check save for a touchdown and no one in the run game could ever get into a rhythm. Its unfair to criticize the defense in this game since they were put in bad positions all night. Clemson had four total turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown for Seminole DE Mario Edwards. Unfortunately for Clemson, this loss puts them out of title contention for the year. Florida State now has sole possession of first place in the division and conference and will own the tie breaker even if they drop an ACC game. At this point, Clemson needs to hope that Florida State either drops two ACC games or goes to the national championship game so they can go to the Orange Bowl.

10) Texas Tech Red Raiders (beat West Virginia Mountaineers 37-27 in Morgantown)
I'm just as surprised as you. But with all these other teams in the top ten falling out, someone had to round out the new rankings. Texas Tech is doing what it always does: throw the ball a trillion times a game. And so far it is working. They are second in the NCAA in passing offense and 15th in scoring offense at just over 41 points per game. I really haven't gotten much of a chance to watch this team, so I don't really know what more to tell you than that. The Big 12 race is wide open at this point but we should know a lot more about the Red Raiders after they travel to Norman next week to take on the Sooners. If they win that, it will set up a very intriguing game in November against Baylor.

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