This is how I would rank the top teams in college football this week if I had a vote in the AP Poll:
1. USC (2-0)…Trojans gave up some points in garbage time but they clearly outclassed the Huskers in Lincoln to reclaim the to spot.
2. LSU (3-0)…Scary, frightening, intimidating, fast, aggressive—those are just a few words that come to mind when describing their defense.
3. Oklahoma (3-0)…The Sooners continue to roll, but they still haven't put on the white jerseys yet in a hostile environment.
4. Florida (3-0)…Scary, frightening, fast, aggressive—those are just a few words that come to mind when describing their offense.
6. Boston College (3-0)…A quirky opening schedule and a new head coach hasn't stopped the Eagles from being the class of the ACC thus far.
9. Ohio State (3-0)…So far the Buckeyes again look like the best team a very mediocre Big Ten has to offer.
10. Rutgers (3-0)…The Scarlet Knights are effectively using their soft early-season schedule as a testing ground for their improved passing game.
12. South Carolina (3-0)…The two best defenses in the SEC will collide when the Gamecocks visit Baton Rouge this week.
14. Wisconsin (3-0)…I don't know where to rank this team because they're better on paper then they've looked on the field.
15. South Florida (2-0)…Remember when I told you the Bulls were the most underrated team heading into the season?
16. Kentucky (3-0)…The Wildcats and their explosive offense just beat a top 10 team for the first time since 1977.
18. Georgia Tech (2-1)…I guess it was too early to label the Yellow Jackets as the class of the always-balanced ACC.
19. Louisville (2-1)…Heartbreaking loss in Lexington and a soft defense already has the locals missing Bobby Petrino.
20. Nebraska (2-1)…What was once an elite program just didn't look like it even belonged on the same field with the Trojans in primetime.
21. Missouri (3-0)…Defense still needs some help, but man oh man that offense is a sight to see when it's clicking.
22. Clemson (3-0)…Another fast start for Tommy Bowden, but can he finally keep this team together for an entire season?
23. Texas A&M (3-0)…We'll find out if the Aggies are for real on Thursday night when they play Miami (Fla.) in the Orange Bowl.
25. Cincinnati (3-0)…The "other" finalist to replace Dan McCarney is off to a great start in his new job.
Five Thoughts on the Cyclones
1. It wasn't so much that the Cyclones humbled the overhyped by the oddsmakers (again) Hawkeyes for the seventh time in the last 10 meetings that should be exciting for Iowa Staters, but it was the way they did it that should pay huge dividends down the road. They did it by playing Gene Chizik's preferred style – being physical with a ball-control offense and an attacking defense. It doesn't appear as if the Cyclones did much differently than they did the first two games, with the exception of a few more multiple receiver sets. They just did it better. Now Chizik has some results to go along with his rhetoric, and that should bring anyone that had yet to buy what the new coach was selling into the fold from here on out. Expect the Cyclones to get markedly better as the season progresses, and for the coaches to increasingly be on the same page as well. I don't know how many games ISU can win, but if they can play that efficient and physical the rest of the way they'll beat Toledo next week and will at the very least be competitive in most of their Big 12 games as well.
2. I know the stat about Bret Culbertson being "the most accurate kicker in ISU history" has been a bit misleading considering the few big kicks he's missed over the years. Nevertheless, how could you not be happy for that young man after he became the first Cyclone kicker since Ty Stewart against Rice in 1991 to win a game with a last-second field goal? Few youngsters – let alone grown men –would've handled colossal disappointment with the grace and forthrightness that Culbertson has exhibited over the years. Plus he's a solid Christian man whose married with a baby on the way. I don't know if he'll have a future in football beyond ISU but I'm guessing the life lessons he's learned here are going to make him successful no matter what destiny holds.
3. Some idiot on this website a couple of weeks ago was questioning the coaches' decision to burn Phillip Bates' redshirt so he could play wide receiver. Any idea who that was? If you find out slap that guy for me, will you? Oh, and tell him to shut his mouth when he doesn't know what he's talking about, too.
4. Another player I was happy for on an individual level was Bret Meyer, whose been a record-setter at quarterback and has won some of the biggest games ISU has ever won during his career. Nonetheless, until he finally stepped up and played with the poise (sans that third quarter fumble that gave the Hawkeyes life), polish, and passion you would expect from a four-year starter at quarterback, he was in danger of being replaced by Austen Arnaud—perhaps for good. Now his legacy is secure no matter what happens the rest of the way. He's beaten Iowa twice, he's notched one of the two bowl wins in school history, he's been a bowl game MVP, he's beaten Nebraska, won ISU's first game at Texas A&M, and has rewritten the ISU records book. I know it hasn't always been pretty and that he sometimes makes poor decisions with the ball when he's pressured, but he'll go down as one of the best to ever play here—bottom line.
5. And last, but certainly not least, give it up for an ISU defense that has played well enough for this team to be 3-0, despite being undermanned from a talent and depth standpoint. These guys bought into what Chizik and Wayne Bolt were selling from day one, and if they can play defense like this with workmanlike depth and athleticism, how good will they be when these coaches have two or three recruiting classes under their belts?