Deace's Top 25 College Football Rankings

Each week our publisher, Steve Deace, publishes his top 25 college football rankings based on how he thinks the teams should be rated at this moment. In addition, he offers up five thoughts on the season thus far.

1.  USC (4-0)…Survived again on the road after another sloppy first half.  Sooner or later that's going to catch up to them, but it won't be this week against Arizona.


2.  Texas (4-0)…Looked impressive in focusing on Missouri and not looking ahead to this week's showdown with Oklahoma.  The Longhorns will finally get the monkey off their back.


3.  Virginia Tech (4-0)…Marcus Vick is gaining confidence each week, and the Hokies certainly have the look of a national championship-caliber defense. 


4.  Ohio State (2-1)…Buckeyes had a week off to scout the resurgent Nittany Lions in advance of their road trip to Happy Valley this Saturday night.


5.  Alabama (5-0)…Huge win for Mike Shula over the Gators, but what price victory?  Losing big-play specialist Tommy Prothro for the season is a heavy price to pay.


6.  Florida State (4-0)…The young Seminoles just keep getting it done, and keep grooming a still growing defense for tougher games later on this season. 


7.  Georgia (3-0)…The Bulldogs head to Knoxville and with the Gators losing a win would certainly give them the leg up on the rest of their breathren in the SEC East. 


8.  Florida (4-1)…So much for the legend of Urban Meyer.  The Gators were obliterated in his first SEC road game, but should have little trouble bouncing back against Mississippi State this week. 


9.  Tennessee (3-1)…The Gators' loss was the Volunteers' gain.  Still, at the end of the year Tennessee may be kicking itself that it didn't settle on Rick Clausen at quarterback before the Florida loss.


10. Miami, Fla. (3-1)…The offense still isn't there and that touted defensive line isn't pressuring the quarterback.  Maybe this week's scrimmage with Duke will help this team jell?


11. LSU (2-1)…Don't count the Tigers out just yet.  They still have a favorable schedule and could win out and get right back in the Rose Bowl hunt by winning the SEC.


12. Michigan State (4-1)…The Spartans' high-octane offense was stalled in the second half by the Wolverines and left to ponder what might have been for two weeks now thanks to the bye.


13. Notre Dame (4-1)…The Irish have already won four road games this season, and they were underdogs in three of those.  They now get the chance to make history by ending the Trojans' run in South Bend two weeks from now.


14. UCLA (4-0)…It was more a struggle than it should've been with Washington because the Bruins were caught looking ahead to this week's date with the Golden Bears. 


15. Wisconsin (5-0)…The Badgers remain undefeated, setting up what could be quite a swan song for Barry Alvarez, but beware of this week's game at Northwestern. 


16. Penn State (5-0)…Wide-open offense and freshmen playing key roles, what's happened to the Nittany Lions?  We'll find out if they're for real this week when the Buckeyes come calling.


17. California (5-0)…The Bears still haven't really played anybody, but they are playing well.  They'll have a severe road test this week at UCLA in the Rose Bowl.  


19. Boston College (4-1)…After a warm-up with Ball State the Eagles will host a smarting Virginia club this week.  They're still in the hunt for the ACC championship game with some help.


20. Texas Tech (4-0)…The Red Raiders defeated Kansas at home, and will play their first road game of the season this week in Lincoln.  Beating the Huskers on the road is still not easy, just ask Iowa State.


21. Georgia Tech (3-1)…The Yellow Jackets had a week to rest ailing quarterback Reggie Ball after a hideous loss at Virginia Tech.  He'll be tested immediately by that quick N.C. State defense. 

22. Arizona State (3-2)…Not really sure how good the Sun Devils are, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt after two tough home losses to LSU and USC. 


23. Michigan (3-2)…Two heartbreaking losses for the Wolverines left them for dead, but now their season is suddenly saved by a win few saw coming in East Lansing. 


24. Louisville (3-1)…Dangerous game at home for the Cardinals this week with underrated North Carolina, because the following week's road trip to West Virginia will decide the Big East title.


25. Nebraska (4-0)…The defensive front seven is legitimate, but still not entirely sure about that offense.  Beating Texas Tech at home this week would make a statement. 


Honorable Mention: 26. Auburn (4-1), 27. TCU (4-1), 28. Colorado (3-1), 29 .Oregon (4-1), 30. Iowa State (3-1).



Five Thoughts


1.      After four games it still tough to evaluate these Cyclones.  However, it is apparent that with the exception of a few improving players – like DeAndre Jackson, Tim Dobbins, and Austin Flynn – this is pretty much the same team it was last year.  Plus it's minus a great playmaker like Ellis Hobbs.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that winning the North Division is still very possible, but so is finishing 6-5 again. 


2.      At the end of the year, if the Cyclones head to the Houston or Champs Sports Bowl instead of one of the upper tier postseason destinations, this loss at Nebraska will be looked at as the one that got away.  Just like Colorado was last year.   


3.      Beware of Baylor.  This will not be an easy game this week.  The Bears are good on defense, and if the Cyclones aren't sharp and lose the turnover battle they could very well lose.  You have to think they'll struggle to get up emotionally for this one after the loss in Lincoln.


4.      If you want to be a championship team you have to make championship plays.  If you're Todd Blythe you have to catch those two balls, as tough as they would've been.  If you're Aaron Brant you have to be a road-grater.  If you're Nick Leaders you have to hold on to that interception in overtime.  If you're John Skladany you have to call for more aggressive coverages in the secondary.  If you're Bret Meyer you don't run out of bounds for a nine-yard loss on the potential game-winning drive when just throwing the ball out of bounds would've left a far more makeable 3rd-and-10.  If you're DeAndre Jackson, you have to scoop up that fumble and return it for the game-winning touchdown.  Those types of plays are the difference between being invited to Shreveport or San Antonio/San Diego at the end of the year. 


5.      Schedule-wise Nebraska is still a long shot to win the North Division.  The Huskers figure to be an underdog at home to Texas Tech and then have consecutive road games at Baylor and Missouri before coming home to play Oklahoma.  Plus they have Kansas and Colorado on the road. 

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