The Sweep: Week Six

Auburn loses to Arkansas. Oregon drops a stinker in Berkeley. Mack Brown wins (again) against Oklahoma. A shootout in the SEC. As Peter Venkman would say: "Cats and dogs, living together - mass hysteria!" It's a wonderful week to scrutinize the college football landscape in 'The Sweep'... while Daniel reminds us that he alone had the Hawgs in his rankings pre-Tigers taming.

NATIONAL TOP 25

(Note: This is not a talent ranking of how good these teams are, but rather a look at how they'll perform against their remaining schedules and where they'll be ranked on January 9.)

1. Ohio State (6-0, Last: 1)
Last: Won vs. Bowling Green, 35-7
Next: at Michigan State

Troy Smith will win the Heisman because of ridiculous highlights, but he is in my opinion really not that good of an all-around quarterback.  Same with Brady Quinn for that matter.  Michigan State sure looks easier than three weeks ago.

2. USC (5-0, Last: 2)
Last: Won vs. Washington, 26-20
Next: vs. Arizona State

Hung on versus Washington in a near-identical score and performance to Washington State last week.  My take on the clock thing: Washington got screwed; there should have been five seconds on the clock; and that is the type of scenario college football needs to review.  If not, why do we have instant replay?  Ultimately, though, when the officials decided (albeit after a way-too-long pause) to resume the play, it was on the Huskies to have the ball ready to snap.

3. Florida (6-0, Last: 5)
Last: Won vs. LSU, 23-10
Next: at Auburn

One Bootie must be pretty happy, as these Gators are halfway to regular-season perfection, and with a win this week, halfway to a perfect season plus SEC Title plus national title.  After the one close call at Tennessee, the Gators are making absolute mincemeat of the toughest schedule in the nation.

4. Michigan (6-0, Last: 6)
Last: Won vs. Michigan State, 31-13
Next: at Penn State

This Bootie is pretty happy, as Michigan has just two more weeks of toughies (Iowa visits on the 21st), and then Ball State, Indiana and Northwestern are all that separate the boys in blue from the showdown of a lifetime in Columbus.  The dual run/pass threat offensively is just grinding up the bottom half of the Big 10 - whatever they choose to defend (the Spartans picked Michael Hart), the other half of the game just explodes.

5. Louisville (5-0, Last: 4)
Last: Won vs. Middle Tennessee State, 44-17 (Oct. 6)
Next: vs. Cincinnati

Given these six weeks to roll over creampuffs and prepare for West Virginia, Louisville better come out with the Pete Carroll of big-game gameplans.  West Virginia is as overrated as blogging (so 2005), but Rich Rodriguez is still the better coach.

6. Texas (5-1, Last: 8)
Last: Won vs. Oklahoma (Dallas), 28-10
Next: vs. Baylor

Mack Brown just got the "choke artist, except for Vince Young" monkey off his back.  I know the win at Ohio State galvanized the team last year, but if the Buckeyes were not on the schedule this season, Texas would be the top-ranked team in the nation right now.

7. West Virginia (5-0, Last: 10)
Last: Won at Mississippi State, 42-14
Next: vs. Syracuse

The offense is golden, but questions still remain with a defense that gave up 35 the last time it was seriously tested (versus Georgia in the Sugar Bowl).

8. Auburn (5-1, Last: 3)
Last: Lost vs. Arkansas, 27-10
Next: vs. Florida

If the Worldwide Leader is to be believed, these guys had a hard time focusing to preserve their perfect season versus Arkansas.  How, then, should we expect Auburn to play with their season shot this week against the Gators?

9. Notre Dame (5-1, Last: 13)
Last: Won vs. Stanford, 31-10
Next: vs. UCLA (October 23)

If your team is going to have a weakness, make it in the secondary, where solid defensive line play can prevent all but 10 other teams from exploiting it.  Trent Edwards did not come close, throwing for just 23 yards after Stanford's initial drive.

10. Tennessee (5-1, Last: 18)
Last: Won vs. Georgia, 51-33
Next: vs. Alabama (October 23)

The near-win versus Florida and rout at the hands of Cal are each looking better by the week, and the quarterback situation is (finally) settling down.  A Florida loss to LSU and a win over Georgia, and Rocky Top will be rocking and on top (of the SEC East, provided another Florida loss) again.

11. California

Tennessee's receivers did the same thing to Georgia, and the last team to handle Oregon like the Bears last Saturday was USC.  With both the offense and defense clicking, this squad might be an odds-on favorite against the Trojans.

12. Boise State

The win over Utah is a better victory than a lot of power conference teams have.  If they can avoid pulling an Auburn, Boise State looks to be the first beneficiary of the newly-expanded, mid-major friendly BCS.

13. Iowa

The weather is nicer in Palo Alto, but Bob Bowlsby must be longing for Stanford to taste a semblance of the football success that Iowa is currently enjoying.  This program has emerged out of nowhere to become one of the most consistent in the nation.

14. Arkansas

Find me another poll/ranking outside of "The Sweep" that had this team ranked last week - I dare you.  After an impressive rushing day, the ‘Hogs are playing with a two-game lead in the SEC West and an easy remaining schedule.  Bonus points for the fumblerooski – the first time I have ever since that play run.

15. Oregon

Yes, it was an ugly loss to Cal, but who else on the schedule – other than USC – do you see playing on the same field as the Ducks?  A quiet 10-2 could be cause for a second-straight BCS snub... likely (again) to Notre Dame.

16. Oklahoma

No controversial calls on this one, just a plain old stinker against Texas.  Give Oklahoma credit for playing the Horns close for three quarters, and I think they have enough in the tank to win the rest of their games.

17. Georgia

Georgia allowed over 50 at home for only the second time ever in a game that was actually fairly close before Tennessee ran away with it in the closing minutes.  But two SEC teams combining for 84 points?  Is hell freezing over?

18. Clemson

Arkansas grabbed the headlines, but here is another team that made a big statement this past weekend in a hostile environment.  On talent, this might honestly be the best team in the ACC this year.  We shall see, as the meat of the schedule still remains.

19. LSU

LSU has the talent to run the table the rest of the way, but where are their heads now that they trail Arkansas by two games for the SEC West title?  At this point, running the table would probably put LSU in the Peach Bowl.

20. Virginia Tech

Many times before, Virginia Tech has played its best when written off entirely – winning the ACC last year, as well as going all the way to the national title in 1999.  Even so, color me skeptical for this season with the Hokies' struggles at quarterback.

21. Missouri

I am not yet a believer, which is why I have them down at #21, but based upon on-the-field results thus far, Missouri should be in the Top 15: all they do is beat everyone on the schedule by two touchdowns.  Down the road is what is shaping up to be the biggest Missouri-Nebraska game since 1997, when Nebraska kept alive its undefeated season and share of the national title.

22. Georgia Tech

That close loss to Notre Dame looks increasingly solid for yet another team that could push to fill the vacuum created by the simultaneous implosion of Virginia Tech, Florida State and Miami atop the ACC.

23. Nebraska

I am still waiting for the "improved" part of the new-and-improved Nebraska offense.  Even so, the defense is quietly one of the best in the country, and with the state of the Big 12 North, look for Nebraska to win the right to be Texas' sacrificial lamb.

24. Wake Forest

If Clemson is the best team in the ACC, how can you fault Wake Forest for playing them tough?  With the ACC down, a one- or two-loss season is far from inconceivable – there is no one left on the schedule these guys could not beat.

25. Wisconsin

The Big 10 is watered down enough after Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa that the Badgers could well go 9-3 in their first year under a new head coach.  Looks like a continuation of the always good, but never great days of Barry Alvarez.

Dropped: Texas Tech, Florida State
On the Bubble: Pittsburgh, Washington

RAMBLINGS 'ROUND THE COUNTRY

Pursuing Imperfection -- 36%

Stanford last went winless in 1960, but the odds are three percent higher than last week's. After putting together their best all-around performance of the year, and still losing by three touchdowns (is that cause for optimism or pessimism?), here is my latest guess as the rest of the Pac-10 also starts to come into focus.

Opponent Stanford's odds of victory
Arizona 25%
@ Arizona State 15%
USC 3% (last week 2%)
@ Washington 25% (last week 20%)
Oregon State 30%
@ Cal 3%

Feel free to agree or disagree with the numbers (and plug in your own if you like), but using the above odds I estimate and update each week, Stanford now has a 36% chance of running the table the wrong way.

BCS Logjam?

Not so much anymore, as Cal, Arkansas and Tennesee all did their part this past weekend.  The only remaining drama would come with an undefeated Ohio State/Michigan winner, Florida and USC.  I think USC would get the short end of the stick, but that win at Arkansas is looking more impressive by the week.

Weekly BCS Projection:

ACC: Clemson
Big East: Louisville
Big 10: Ohio State
Big 12: Texas
Pac-10: USC
SEC: Florida
At-large: Michigan
At-large: Boise State
At-large: Louisville
At-large: Notre Dame (money makes the world go ‘round…)

Projected Heisman finalists, and order of finish:

1. Troy Smith, Ohio State – Overrated.
2. Steve Slaton, West Virginia – Give it to this guy!
3. Michael Hart / Mario Manningham, Michigan
– Whoever gets anointed as the media darling; hard to go wrong either way.
4. Chris Leak, Florida – Would be higher if not for this Tebow kid.
5. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame – At least we have been spared the sight of his sister.

BIG GAMES ON TAP

Season: 11-7 ATS, 11-7 SU.
Last week: Tennessee and Florida rolled, while my attempt to be creative with Oklahoma backfired.  Still, if can I stay over 60 percent against the spread, I am dropping out of Stanford, moving to the Barbados and setting up a 900 hotline.  Do not worry, though; Booties will still get free picks.

1. Florida at Auburn – We have to wonder about Auburn's motivation after blowing a perfect season, as well as their rush defense after laying a "Stanford" against Arkansas.  As long as Florida does not overlook these guys, I like them here, and with a win here, I like them to run the regular season.  Florida 27, Auburn 13.

2. Virginia Tech at Boston College Boston College is not that tough of a place to play, and though Virginia Tech is probably worse at the quarterback position, it is better everywhere else.  Look for the Hokies in a defensive slugfest.  Virginia Tech 20, Boson College 6.

3. UCLA at Oregon – A stinker of a week allows this game to be among the best three of the nation.  Oregon should not have any of the problems running the ball that they did against Cal, and should be able to set whatever score they like.  Oregon 42, UCLA 24.


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