It was not the 50-point shellacking all the talking heads were predicting, but the Gators took care of business against SEC rival Tennessee, 23-13. Urban Meyer’s offense does not look quite as explosive as it did a year ago, but they still have more talent across the board than any other team in the country. Tim Tebow needs to make good decisions every week throwing the football, and Florida will end up right where they want to be: in Pasadena playing for the BCS title.
The Crimson Tide make the leap in the rankings this week for a few reasons. First of all, Texas did not dominate an unranked Texas Tech team the way the second-best team should. Also, Greg McElroy has had a few weeks to develop within the offense, and it looks like he has all the weapons around him he needs to compete with Florida. Roy Upchurch, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, and company is as good of a group as any. As other top-ranked teams seem to be failing to step up as big-time players in the national race, Alabama is looking more like the cream of the crop every week.
Like Florida, Texas looked anything but invincible Saturday night against Texas Tech. Colt McCoy did not perform like I had expected him to in his first big game of the season. The Heisman runner-up in 2008 threw one touchdown against two interceptions. He will have to be more accurate the rest of the way for the Longhorns to claim the Big 12 title. The Longhorns defense shut down the high-octane Red Raiders offense for the first half, before allowing them to get back into the game late. Solid performances are always good, but if Texas wants to win a second national title in four years, they will need to be spectacular.
4. Penn State
Business as usual again for Joe Paterno and his boys. The Nittany Lions easily disposed of Temple, and keep moving towards a memorable run through the Big Ten. While other teams fall by the wayside, Penn State should quietly move up through the rankings until they falter.
News flash: Jahvid Best is disgustingly good. The darkhorse Heisman candidate blasted Minnesota for five touchdowns in the Bears 35-21 road victory. Quarterback Kevin Riley is also a capable quarterback, and Best’s backup Shane Vereen has been touted as Best’s equal in terms of pure talent. Most of the attention has fallen on Best so far this season, but if the Bears keep racking up wins, the name on the front of the Bears’ jerseys will be just as notable.
The Tigers once again looked solid against an inferior opponent, beating Louisiana-Lafayette 31-3. The Tigers much-hyped running back Charles Scott still is failing to live up to his reputation. Despite leading the team in rushing, he only mustered 63 yards and did not find the end zone. Right now LSU is winning, just like you are supposed to do, but they will have to become a little more explosive when the rest of the SEC comes calling.
7. Boise State
The Broncos torched Fresno State for 51 points on Friday night. That’s the good news. The bad news: Bulldogs running back Ryan Matthews broke the Broncos’ tacklers all night long, running for 234 yards.
Matthews is one of the best runners Boise State will face all season, but nevertheless, no BCS-worthy team would allow so many yards on the ground. If Chris Peterson can patch up his defense, the Broncos could be making a strong case for a spot in the BCS title game come season’s end.
On a sour note, running back D.J. Harper will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. In his absence, the Broncos will look to Jeremy Avery to shoulder the load. Avery ran for 186 yards on 11 carries Friday night. If he can keep that up, Harper might become a distant memory in Boise.
I am keeping the Trojans ranked so high for a few reasons. For one, Aaron Corp showed us on Saturday why he lost the starting quarterback job to a true freshman. Second, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, and defensive coordinator Nick Holt know the Trojan’s playbook inside and out. There was no better coaching staff in America to prepare for Pete Carroll and company. Third, Washington is not as bad as people thought they were. Jake Locker, the Huskies’ quarterback, is back from injury and looks very good.
When USC has Matt Barkley and Taylor Mays back this week, it will be back to normal for the Trojans, and they will be a handful for each opponent.
Wasn’t it a few weeks ago when people left the Sooners up for dead? Landry Jones struggled against BYU in the upset loss. Star tight end Jermaine Gresham was lost for the season due to injury. The Prodigal Son of Norman, Sam Bradford, was out at least a month. After a 45-0 disposing of a good Tulsa team, where Jones threw for six touchdowns, people will begin to creep back on the Sooners’ bandwagon.
Bob Stoops gets a week off to prepare for Miami, which all of a sudden looks like it could be a top-10 showdown in south Florida. Bradford’s return is questionable for that game. If he is still out when October 3 rolls around, Sooner fans can feel a little safer than they first thought.
As high as they are ranked here, I still don’t believe “The U” is “back”. They are very good, leaps and bounds better than in recent years, but I hesitate to make them the class of the ACC just yet. Jacory Harris is a legitimate superstar-in-waiting, and Graig Cooper might be the best running back in the conference. But they beat an overrated Georgia Tech team at home and were one dropped touchdown pass away from losing to Florida State. If they can go into Lane Stadium this week and beat the Hokies, I’ll be ready to proclaim them a national threat.
11. Virginia Tech
13. Ohio State
16. Oklahoma State
18. Florida State
21. North Carolina
23. Notre Dame
25. Texas Tech