If I had a vote in the AP Poll, this is how I would rank them. Keep in mind these rankings are based on how good I think these teams are right now.
1. USC (1-0)…The Trojans disappointed bettors by not covering the 49-point spread against Idaho on Saturday.
3. California (1-0)…The Bears extracted revenge on primetime television for last season's embarrassment in Knoxville.
5. Virginia Tech (1-0)…That win against East Carolina was better then it looked. The Pirates were a bowl team last year and all the emotion surrounding the first game after the tragic shootings had to be a distraction for the Hokies.
10. Rutgers (1-0)…I'm telling you, the Scarlet Knights are no fluke and will prove it again this year.
13. Louisville (1-0)…Okay, they put up 73 points against Murray State, but unless it's the NCAA Tournament beating the Racers means little.
15. Nebraska (1-0)…I thought the Huskers put forth one of the more dominant and impressive showings of Week One.
16. TCU (1-0)…The question should be asked, where would the Horned Frogs finish if they were in the Big 12?
17. Ohio State (1-0)…The Buckeyes did what they were supposed to do against a I-AA opponent, unlike their rivals from that school up north.
19. Miami, Fla. (1-0)…The running game and defense are there to make a run, but the Hurricanes still don't have a quarterback.
20. Clemson (1-0)…The youngest team in the ACC was an underdog at home in the opener, but a got a big, big win over the Seminoles.
23. Texas A&M (1-0)…This is a top-15 team on paper, but the schedule is probably too treacherous for anyone to notice.
24. Tennessee (0-1)…I'm not going to penalize the Volunteers to much for the loss in Berkley because that was a tough spot for them in the opener.
Five Thoughts on the Cyclones
1. Gene Chizik went Norman Dale on Thursday night. Sure, ISU could have won that game despite the sloppiness by going Meyer-to-Blythe the way they did early in the third quarter to retake the lead. So why did they get away from it? Because a new coach with an ironclad contract is coaching next year's team, and the 2009 team, already. He's sending a message that ISU football will be played his way from day one, whether or not everyone buys in. If they don't want to buy in, they can suffer through a crappy senior year, because he's going to be here long after they're gone.
Between receivers not blocking for anybody downfield and half-arsed route running when they're not the primary targets, to the lack of tempo and leadership in the huddle, to linebackers free-lancing all over the field and being out of position – Chizik has had already had enough.
That's why notice was served this week that the clock is ticking and folks have until the non-conference season to get with the program. The erratic play at quarterback was particularly disconcerting when you consider ISU got decent pass protection and a solid running game on the same day for the first time since the end of the 2005 season.
As much as he wanted to win this game, I believe Chizik wanted to play it his
way. He's establishing a foundation now that they will recruit to later on.
That's exactly what Kirk Ferentz did in Iowa City. This is a weeding out process
right now to find out who is on board.
This is a coach that told the team in his first meeting, "I'm not here to win 6 games a year," and told them at the start of fall practice, "I'm not coming down to your level." He's also a coach that told me, "I'm not here to win the Cy-Hawk Trophy."
Norman Dale is sending a message. Hopefully, everyone is finally listening.
2. J.J. Bass is the truth. I liked his explosiveness and vision, and he ran with some surprising power as well. But I also noticed he did a pretty decent job in pass protection for his first Division I-A game. He seems to have the vision of an Ennis Haywood and the explosiveness of a healthy Hiawatha Rutland – which is a pretty good combination. Hopefully he's not soaking up the props and keeps improving heading into week two.
3. I don't get the Phillip Bates thing so far. The package put together for the talented youngster from Nebraska was underwhelming from my view, and considering the depth at wide receiver like many fans I was wondering about the decision to burn his redshirt. But it's only week one, and there's no reason not to trust the coaches on this one at this point.
4. Lack of defensive depth hurts. I actually thought the starting defensive unit played about as well as you could expect for the first two-thirds of the game. The reality is that aside from a few players ISU is not overly talented and deep on that side of the ball, especially in the front seven. Yet they kept the Cyclones in the game while the offense was stuck in neutral. That's why the offense must pick up the tempo, for the 2007 Cyclones the best defense is a great offense.
5. It hurts to see Bret Culbertson miss those kicks. He's a standup guy, one of the most accurate kickers in ISU history, and he's a local. That's why I just can't bring myself to rip Bret like we would most normal kickers. But there's clearly a mental block there when it comes to making pressure kicks, and we need him to overcome it.