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Making sense of a wild Week 5

College Football Recap: Week 5

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Sept. 30, 2007

By Brian Curtis

CSTV Senior Editor



Brian Curtis is a CSTV football and basketball analyst and a regular CSTV.com writer.
E-mail here!

For those of you just realizing what happened yesterday in college football, I've been up all night trying to make sense of it.  We haven't seen a weekend like this, since, well, never?  Why did so many Top 10 teams fall in one fell swoop?  There are only two logical conclusions: poll voters have no clue or parity is here.


The Polls.  There is no point in rehashing the old arguments about why polls don't work.  There are the lazy voters, on both the media and coaches' sides, the reliance on history or last year or the name of the head coach, a feeling that traditional powers should get the benefit of the doubt and that new ones are feel good stories.  (Before continuing, let me point out that last year, I was an AP voter but declined to participate this season.)  All these play a role into who gets ranked where and when, and what happens when teams above teams lose.  Here's how the AP poll looked headed into this weekend:




1.       USC

2.       LSU

3.       Oklahoma

4.       Florida

5.       West Virginia

6.       California

7.       Texas

8.       Ohio State

9.       Wisconsin

10.    Rutgers


On first glance, it is tough to argue with the top three, as they have looked impressive most of the time.  And it's hard to argue that Florida wasn't deserving of a Top Five ranking.  But clearly, West Virginia`s defense was not Top Five and they shouldn't have been ranked that high.  Texas?  The Longhorns have defeated no one of note.  Wisconsin?  Struggled to get by UNLV, the Citadel and Iowa.  Rutgers?  The Scarlet Knights' toughest opponent so far was their bye week.


If you want to make the argument that many of teams haven't faced the toughest schedules but hey, at least they've won, then tell me where do you see undefeated Purdue or unbeaten Connecticut or, at least before Saturday, Michigan State and Kansas?  And how come one-loss Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia Tech are ahead of unbeatens in the Top 25?  Look, I know it's not easy to rank the teams, and I speak from experience.  Too often, voters go with what's hot or what's trendy or who the coach is or which schools are football powers, and I am not sure if that's good or bad. 


But here is what is bad.  You will see a shake-up in the rankings this afternoon unlike any we have ever seen, and that's not a good thing.  By default, teams who have not been impressive like Boston College, Wisconsin and yes, Kentucky, will be Top 10 teams.  (UK is a Top 25 teams but Top 10?)  Despite their losses, I would still have Oklahoma and Florida in my first 10 and wouldn't drop Oregon very far either.  The feel-good story of USF?  The Bulls have two very good wins over Auburn and West Virginia and very likely could jump from No. 18 into the Top 10.  Hello?  Did you watch their win over West Virginia?  That is not a Top 10 team.  But then again, who really is?  I mean, is there any team who has distinguished itself on a consistent basis?  The best is LSU and perhaps USC, and you can argue for California, too.


The bottom line when it comes to polls is an idea you probably don't want to hear: leave it to the computers.  I have been proposing the idea for years.  There are simply too many judgments, assumptions, biases and the like for media members and coaches to vote.  I say, input scores, and let the computers figure out strength of schedule and who really is the best.  I think you might find fewer shake-ups in the rankings.


Parity.  After Appalachian State upset Michigan the opening weekend of the season, columnists and television pundits were talking about parity and how parity has arrived and how parity allows an FCS school to beat Michigan.  At the time, I railed against such knee-jerk assumptions.  Parity had not arrived.  Play that game nine more times and Michigan wins eight of them.  What got lost by those insisting parity had arrived were all of the other lopsided losses by FCS and smaller school teams the first few weekends.  Did you see some of the scores?  No, parity is not here in college football.  If you think there is parity just look at the teams who were winless heading into this weekend.  Five were teams from the Sun Belt, who kept getting stomped by BCS teams.  That is not parity.


However, I am beginning to believe that parity may just have arrived for the BCS conference schools.  On any given Saturday, there is a growing chance that either team can win on the field.  Maybe not on a regular basis, but more times than in the past.  That's why Oklahoma can lose to 2-2 Colorado and Kansas State can beat Texas (again) and Auburn with two losses sticks it to Florida and Clemson goes down to Georgia Tech and Illinois skyrockets to 4-1.  In the six major conferences, plus Notre Dame, I can count three teams, maybe four, who clearly, well, have little or no chance against their brethren.  That's not bad out of 66 teams. 


Look at the conference standings this morning. In the ACC, Boston College and Virginia are starting to pull away. Virginia? Yes, the same team that got blown out by Wyoming to start the season. In the Big Ten, yes, Ohio State and Wisconsin are there but look out, here come Purdue, Indiana and Illinois. In the SEC, don't count out South Carolina or Kentucky. The Big 12?  Looks like Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas State and Colorado could win it. Out west, Arizona State is undefeated and may beat either USC or Cal.  As for the Big East? Let's just say UConn and USF are leading the pack.


So yes, I will admit, parity is here within the BCS conferences, but that's still leaving a whole lot of teams out of the mix.


So, we can blame the polls and we can blame parity but I caution voters and fans alike not to jump to conclusions about what we saw. Bob Stoops is still a heck of a football coach and Oklahoma can still win the national title. Oregon may yet end up winning the Pac-10. Kentucky could very well lose its next three games against South Carolina, LSU and Florida. West Virginia can still finish 11-1 and go to the BCS.  Don't think for a minute that Urban Meyer isn't already gunning for LSU.


For those power teams who lost this weekend, there is still hope. We have seen two teams in the BCS era that have won the title with one loss, and more who've made it to the national title game without going undefeated.  Heck, LSU lost midseason in 2003 and was ranked No. 13 in the polls and ended up beating Oklahoma for the national title later that year.



One or Two Final Notes...


We assumed that when Florida State's Bobby Bowden stood by as his offensive coordinator son, Jeff, resigned last year that the Seminole offense would be better.  hey lured Jimbo Fisher from LSU with a huge sum of money and added the best offensive line coach in the country, Rick Trickett, for a cool $300,000.  And what happened to our assumption?  Well, it took four and a half games before we saw some semblance of offense from FSU. Against Alabama yesterday, Fisher used three different quarterbacks and couldn't score a point in the first half. Things will improve but how fast?


It is hard to think of a team that has fallen further off the national radar than Virginia Tech, and honestly, you can't really blame the media. Leading up to the season, not only was Tech picked as a national title contender and ACC champion, but they were America's team because of the tragic events of April 16.  Well, Tech looked bad against East Carolina, got crushed by LSU in the national television showdown, and has looked uninspired at times in wins over Ohio, William & Mary and North Carolina.  Maybe Tech is just lurking or maybe we wanted them to be better.


Speaking of lurking...has anyone noticed Ohio State?  They are 5-0 and very well could run the table.  Quick, name their starting quarterback.