DudeYouCrazy Top 25 – September 18: Georgia Checks In at No. 3, Ohio State Jumps Big, Auburn Crashes and Wisconsin Craters
At this juncture, you could probably break any Top 25 poll into 5 tiers:
- Undefeated teams with multiple wins vs. Top 25 opponents.
- Undefeated teams with one win vs. Top 25 opponent.
- Undefeated teams with no wins vs. Top 25 opponents.
- Teams with a single quality loss vs. the Top 25, but otherwise unblemished records or a Top 25 win paired with a bad loss.
- Teams who are ranked (because polls need 25 spots) despite losses to unranked teams.
For this week’s edition of the DYC Top 25, I’m going to use those tiers. Understand, that my methodology has not changed in terms of evaluating each team. But, I think adding those frameworks will make things interesting.
Also, I’m moving my Playoff Predictions to a second post. That will go live Wednesday morning.
THE MONSTERS: UNDEFEATED TEAMS WITH MULTIPLE TOP-25 WINS
1. LSU (Previous Ranking: 1)
If you pretend to care about resumes, I don’t know how the hell you could have anyone else at the top of your poll. LSU is the only team in the country with more than one Top 25 win, and that only tells part of the story. Both of LSU’s opponents were actually ranked in the Top 10 when they played. Both teams are still ranked and are likely to remain ranked for some time (Miami won’t play another ranked team until October 26, assuming Boston College remains ranked. Auburn seems built to stay relevant). Further, both big wins came away from the cozy confines of Death Valley. No one can touch that! These are literally the two best wins in the country so far. What would be the Tigers’ greatest threat (four more ranked opponents on tap during the regular season) could be a real quill in the cap so long as they keep winning. And for now, the Tigers get a bit of a breather (LA Tech, Ole Miss and Florida) before taking on Georgia in what should be a matchup between undefeated Top 5 teams. Oh, and that game is at home for LSU.
THE ESTABLISHED CONTENDERS: UNDEFEATED TEAMS WITH ONE TOP-25 WIN
If you had to start a pool of College Football Playoff Contenders, you’d want to look at two things: 1. Who has accomplished a lot already? and 2. Who hasn’t eliminated themselves and still have upside based on schedule strength? I would argue that the first two tiers of this analysis (LSU above and the teams below in this section) have established good enough track records through three weeks (remember, that’s 25% of the season) to tout established track records and answer the first call based on the first prompt: Who has accomplished a lot already? After all, these are teams on track for 12-0 seasons with 3-4 wins over quality opponents. Obviously, much of that will change, but for now all we can go off of is the season’s first three weeks.
2. Ohio State (Previous Ranking: 11)
There are a number of rankings here that seem to justify my stance that this poll is unbiased. Ohio State is the first one of them. I hate Ohio State. But I can’t argue with the quality of their win over TCU. Saturday’s victory (at a neutral site) was probably the best non-LSU win of the year. I’m not going to sing a sad song for Urban Meyer or pat the program on the back for overcoming adversity that was self-created and not adverse enough, but the team kept on trucking without Meyer and there’s something to be said for that (as it relates to the players).
3. Georgia (Previous Ranking: 3)
Georgia should have jumped Clemson in the AP Poll after Week 2 but somehow there was a lag there. Either way, I still think Georgia’s win vs. then-ranked South Carolina on the road was the fourth most impressive win of the season by a currently-undefeated team. Stanford’s win vs. USC looks devalued based on the Trojans’ collapsing as does VA Tech’s win over Florida State. Notre Dame’s win over Michigan wasn’t more valuable than Georgia’s win over South Carolina in my poll last week, and the Irish aren’t getting helped by a narrow win over Vandy. The fifth-best win this year by an undefeated team is actually OK State over Boise State, but the home-field advantage there slightly cheapened it compared to UGA’s win on the road.
4. Oklahoma State (Previous Ranking: 15)
At this juncture, all Oklahoma State has done is beat Boise State. But the Cowboys absolutely demolished the Murder Smurfs. A 44-21 win vs. Boise State just doesn’t happen. That’s the sole reason why the Cowboys propelled so high. This win could be cheapened if Boise State falls out of the Top 25 or fails to pan out, but the Broncos have a very manageable schedule and I think this game will look even better (if BSU keeps winning as expected) before it looks worse. Further, the Cowboys are in a good spot until November when they finally play another ranked team. They’re only going to go down as a result of other teams’ wins. That’s an OK spot to be in if you’re already in the Top 5. Make other teams work to supplant you.
5. Stanford (Previous Ranking: 4)
Look, it doesn’t help that USC is trash and that win has been devalued. But the real reason Stanford fell this week was because OK State had a better win. The Oregon game this week could vault Stanford into elite company with LSU as the Cardinal could be one of just two teams with two Top 25 wins.
6. Notre Dame (Previous Ranking: 5)
The close game to Vandy didn’t help, but again, this was about OK State moving up more than it was about the Irish falling.
7. Virginia Tech (Previous Ranking: 6)
Same thing as ND. This is less about the FSU win looking like nothing of note and more about OK State putting up a huge win.
POISED CONTENDERS: UNDEFEATED TEAMS WITH NO TOP-25 WINS
So far we’ve hit on seven contenders for the College Football Playoff. Through 25% of the season, those seven teams have two things in common: 1. Undefeated Records and 2. Top 25 wins. These teams hit on one of those qualifications: undefeated records. All of them, with the exception of #16 UCF, should be considered CFP contenders because they have enough Top 25 meat on their bones down the line.
8. Alabama (Previous Ranking: 9)
Bama’s thrashing of Ole Miss was impressive, but is not ultimately a tie-breaker or a reason why the Crimson Tide is at the top of this list. In reality, the Tide was at the top of this list last week too. Nick Saban’s squad is just up a spot because two teams (Auburn and Arizona State) lost and one team (Oklahoma State) jumped up a category. The Tide is in a perfect spot right now with a damn-good team (duh!) and a sweetspot of 4 ranked opponents lurking (all from the SEC West). Bama controls its own destiny in every way.
9. Oklahoma (Previous Ranking: 8)
Bama has done more than OU this season. It’s just that simple. There’s not a discernible spread between where either team would ultimately end up if they both balled out from here on out, but Bama has the tougher schedule ahead. Further, Bama’s best win (Ole Miss) is probably better than OU’s best win (UCLA) and Bama’s worst win (either the 50-point route of Ark. State or the 37-point win vs. Louisville) is better than OU’s worst win (10 points vs. Iowa State).
10. West Virginia (Previous Ranking: 10)
Coincidentally, West Virginia didn’t play last week and the Mountaineers didn’t move in the rankings. That’s not by design but it worked out that way.
11. Penn State (Previous Ranking: 12)
The Nittany Lions move up solely on the basis of other teams’ losses. What a terribly Big Ten thing to do.
12. Mississippi State (Previous Ranking: 16)
This is another one where my own personal views are not reflected. Do I think Mississippi State should have moved up this week? Hell no. Do I think Miss State is a Top 12 team? No way. But here they are. And they’ll probably hover around here (or higher) until they lost to Auburn on October 6.
13. Boston College (Previous Ranking: NR)
Do I think BC is a Top 15 team? Nope. But to the Eagles’ credit, they’re 3-0 and actually have a schedule that could support them if they somehow win against #21 Miami, #13 VA Tech and #3 Clemson. My gut is Boston College goes no better than 1-2 in those games and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose to an unranked team and disappear altogether. This week’s game vs. Purdue is only a 7-point line, which isn’t all that broad and NC State seems like a game to circle on October 6. But for the time being, the process puts BC here and I can’t argue with it,
14. Oregon (Previous Ranking: 20)
This seems a little bit high to me, but not offensively so. ESPN’s FPI gives the Ducks a 43.5% shot at upsetting Stanford and the spread is somewhere between a pick-em and 1 point in favor of Stanford. So if that bears out, Oregon could potentially jump to a Top 5 spot next week. That’s a lot of conjecture, but if Oregon is a stretch as a Top 15 team at this point, I’d argue that Stanford is an even bigger stretch to be in the Top 5. So both resumes seem a bit inflated.
15. Clemson (Previous Ranking: 19)
Why is Clemson below Oregon? Well, that Texas A&M win (and it was a win) just doesn’t help Clemson. A&M was unranked at the time Clemson won by two points. Hell, A&M was unranked the week after. Oregon has thrashed un-ranked opposition and the same can’t be said for Clemson at this juncture. The best thing that happened to Clemson this week is that Boston College moved into the Top 25. So now, Clemson could play a ranked team this regular season. Yes, just one. And no, it doesn’t seem likely that BC will remain ranked into mid-November.
16. UCF (Previous Ranking: 20)
At this point, UCF can still move up in the rankings because other teams can still lose games without beating a Top 25 team and remain in the Top 25. It happened to Wisconsin and TCU this week. It previously happened to Michigan State, Michigan, Washington and Miami. As mentioned before, Texas A&M has no Top 25 win and has a loss and somehow moved into the Top 25 this week. As long as teams with losses and no quality wins can remain ranked, they will continue to be ranked below undefeated teams in my poll. But as soon as those teams start getting some Top 25 wins, UCF will fall again. Why? Because UCF still has zero ranked opponents on its schedule this year. And if you think that’s everyone else’s problem and not UCF’s, ask yourself which programs were scared to schedule UCF after the Kinghts posted a 6-19 record from 2015-2016? And remember most games are scheduled 2-3 years out. Or just read my thoughts from last week.
THE GOOD LOSERS: TEAMS WITH TOP-25 LOSSES or TOP 25 WINS PAIRED WITH NON-TOP 25 LOSSES
17. Auburn (Previous Ranking: 2)
Auburn fell hard, but the Tigers have to based on my methodology. That being said, this poll is proving to be much more agile than the standard AP Poll and Auburn remains in a really good spot for three reasons. First, the Tigers’ win over Washington remains one of the best wins in the country. Secondly, the Tigers loss to LSU is the single-best loss in the nation — it was a one-point loss to the top team in my poll, the team that was ranked 12th at the time by the AP and the team currently ranked 6th by the AP. Third, Auburn has a slew of big games that can make up ground and the Mississippi State matchup looks incredibly winable in a few weeks. Auburn is a contender still in the real world, just not right now in this poll.
18. BYU (Previous Ranking: NR)
Auburn sits atop this group because its loss wasn’t that bad. BYU sits atop this group despite a bad loss (21-18 to Cal). They’re here, though, because the beat an allegedly elite Wisconsin team. That’s not a shot at BYU. The Cougars deserved that win. Stats are a mixed bag from the contest (Wisconsin led in total yardage and time of possession), but these three things are true: 1. The best running back in this game was not Jonathan Taylor (26 carries for 117 yards); it was Squally Canada (11 carries for 118 yards and 2 TDs). 2. BYU was more clutch on the road: fewer turnovers, fewer penalty yards, better kicking. 3. ESPN is fake news. First, the network tried to tell me that BYU hoped to be Wisconsin someday as the clock ticked down on a BYU win over Wisconsin. Now, ESPN.com says Rafael Gaglianone didn’t miss any field goals against BYU. I saw it happen. He. Missed.
19. Texas A&M (Previous Ranking: NR)
Yeah. Sure. The Aggies should have been ranked after the close loss to Clemson IMO but I guess that win over Louisiana-Monroe put voters over the top. Either way, what A&M lacks in quality of wins (hence, trailing BYU) it has in spades in terms of quality losses (the Clemson loss is the second-best loss this year behind only Auburn’s loss to LSU).
20. Miami (Previous Ranking: 23)
A loss to LSU is increasingly excusable. The Hurricanes are above Washington simply because LSU is so far (disproportionately at this juncture) above Auburn (the team that beat Washington).
21. Washington (Previous Ranking: 21)
The BYU game looks a little bit more interesting now, assuming BYU keeps it together against McNeese State. So the Huskies should bounce back up. The win over Utah was half-way respectable.
22. Michigan (Previous Ranking: 22)
I really don’t have anything to say. This is right for what the Wolverines have and have not accomplished. They can prove a lot of haters (myself included) wrong if they win some games against some good football teams. But they won’t play a ranked team for four more weeks.
23. TCU (Previous Ranking: 14)
I think TCU is a better football team than Michigan, but a 12-point loss to Ohio State (my #2 and the AP’s #4) is slightly worse than a seven-point loss to Notre Dame (my number six and AP number seven). Further, Michigan has more shots (four games vs. ranked teams as opposed to three for TCU) to make up ground sooner (next ranked foe for TCU is 10/20).
GOTTA HAVE SOMEBODIES:
Somebody has to be ranked. In fact, 25 somebodies have to be ranked. Based on year-to-date performance that is the only reason these teams are in the Top 25.
24. Wisconsin (Previous Ranking: 13)
The loss to BYU was ugly. Period. Ranked teams, particularly teams ranked 6th by the AP, should not lose home games to unranked teams who were .500 heading into the contest. Wisconsin was favored by 23 points. This loss all but eliminates Wisconsin from the playoff in my opinion. That may seem harsh, but I’d bet anything that BYU doesn’t end the year ranked above where they currently are, and I think the Cougars will drop out of the Top 25 with a loss to Washington in two weeks. This loss will damage Wisconsin the way the Iowa loss damaged Ohio State last year. Sure, the Buckeye loss to the Hawkeyes was by a wider margin, but that game was on the road against a team that was 6-3 and went on to win eight games, and Ohio State had three quality wins over Top 25 foes. Wisconsin lost at home to a team that is 2-1 and BYU plays a distinctly non-Power 5 schedule. Based on current rankings, Wisconsin would need to run the table and win the Big Ten to have three Top 25 wins. Why on earth would anyone expect that?
25. Michigan State (Previous Ranking: 25)
The Spartans still have the worst track record of any team in the Top 25. The loss to Arizona State looks even dumber now that the Sun Devils are unranked again.
Here’s the poll summary:
|AP Rank||Team||Dude’s Rank||Previous Week|
That’s all I got/