1. Ohio State
(Change from last week: 0)
2. Oklahoma (Change: 0)
3. USC (Change: 0)
4. Florida (Change: 0)
5. West Virginia (Change: +1)
6. Georgia (Change: +1)
7. Missouri (Change: -2)
8. Texas Tech (Change: 0)
9. LSU (Change: +4)
10. USF (Change: -1)
11. Auburn (Change: -1)
12. Texas (Change: +3)
13. Penn St. (Change: -1)
14. Wisconsin (Change: -3)
15. Alabama (Change: +5)
16. Utah (Change: +1)
17. Cal (Change: +1)
18. Clemson (Change: -4).
19. Notre Dame (Change: +2)
20. BYU (Change: +2)
21. Oregon (Change: +2)
22. Virginia Tech (Change: -7)
23. Kansas (Change: +3)
24. Arizona State (Change: +2)
25. Wake Forest (Change: +1)
Dropped: Michigan, Pitt, Tennessee
Added: Kansas, Arizona State, Wake Forest
Rising and falling:
Missouri, I had to drop you. You gave up over 400 yards passing to JUICE WILLIAMS. It felt like he completed 39% of his passes last year. But Saturday night in St. Louis, it looked like Juice was throwing to Usain Bolt.
Virginia Tech's drop really needs no explanation. Losing to East Carolina, I should drop you out of the poll, but sadly, no one else deserves to be included.
Alabama's rise follows their royal beatdown of O-VER-RA-TED Clemson. More on 'Bama below.
There's just no way I can keep LSU out of the top ten right now. Their overall talent level is staggering and it looks like they've plugged in the equivalent of a "bend-but-don't-break" option at QB.
Finally, Michigan and Pitt fall out. More on Pitt below. Michigan had an up and down game against Utah that they just couldn't pull out. In the words of former Card coach Denny Green, "they are who we thought they are."
The Lucky Seven: Key Takeaways from Week One
Injuries tick me off and make college football less fun to watch: So during the first weekend of the season, we've already seen a rash of injuries, including WR Jeremy Maclin (Missouri), RB Beanie Wells (Ohio State), and Georgia's DT Owens, OL Trindon Sturdivant and RB Knowshon Moreno's cramps. I can't remember an opening weekend with more high-profile injuries. This is unfortunate not only for their respective teams (Ouch Georgia, AP preseason No. 1), but also for college football fans. College football just isn't as fun to watch without its high profile stars. I know this is selfish, but I'd still like to see the best players on the field (as would their respective coaches, no doubt).
Pitt still stinks...: I hesitated to include Pitt in my top 25 preseason. Wannstedt has never made a believer out of me. Yes, he has talent, see LeSean McCoy. But he appears to be the stereotypical NFL-to-college head coach. We've seen zero talent development out of him during his years at Pitt. I wouldn't' be surprised if he's fired by the end of the season. I believe it's a hopeless situation there.
...as does the entire ACC: Also, while we're on the topic of ineptitude, let's not forget the ACC as a whole. Of all the ACC teams in action Saturday, only Wake Forest and Duke won. Read that sentence again. Wake Forest and Duke. This isn't the NCAA lacrosse championships. That conference is so abysmal, it's like the inverse SEC. Inept coaches and big-time flops, instead of brilliant coaches and big-time performances. Leading into my next point….
Saban is the man: Nick Saban should be being paid in gallons of gasoline, because at today's prices, they'd be worth more than his current contract. That's how strong he's been through one game this season. Alabama just straight up kicked the snot out of Clemson. They blew Clemson off the line in impressive fashion. QB JP Wilson, who I've never heard anyone get excited over, massively outperformed preseason ACC Offensive POY Cullen Harper. The most telling stat: Clemson's offense, featuring the duo of James Davis and CJ Spiller, was held to ZERO yards rushing. If you give Saban enough time, he'll figure out how to beat you. Alabama fans should be thrilled: he's improved the overall talent level, the gameplanning is ruthlessly effective, and they are fundamentally sound. I will drive this Nick Saban bandwagon for the time being.
LSU might still be really, really good: The talent stockpiled there is staggering, as I said before. Les Miles appears to be a more-than-capable coach and they may have found another serviceable QB. Facing a 10 a.m. (!) kickoff, they mauled Appalachian State, building a 31-0 halftime lead. Despite Alabama and Auburn's impressive showings, LSU will gel and has to be the odds-on-favorite in the SEC West with their lethal combination of attributes.
If Beanie really is hurt, expect to hear "Fight On!" about 72 times: Ohio State won their game this weekend, but it could almost be counted as a loss. Losing Beanie Wells for any stretch could prove disastrous. He gives them an undeniable edge in terms of controlling the clock and game tempo; he truly is a back that can wear down a defense. On the other hand, USC was nothing but impressive going to Charlottesville and absolutely embarrassing Virginia. Most importantly, Mark Sanchez looks like the next great USC QB, the real heir apparent of the Palmer-Leinart legacy (Sorry John David Booty, you don't count. Beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl isn't that impressive anymore). His long TD toss traveled around 55 to 60 yards in the air, quite impressive. If Wells is truly hurt, I'm ready to swap OSU and USC at 1 and 3 and switch my prediction for the Sept 13th game.
Illinois might be pretty good, and the Big Ten might not be a one-team league: Okay, Illinois lost and their defense did give up 52 points. It wasn't my first reaction either. However, they allowed all of those TDs to one of the nation's most prolific offenses and probably the second-best QB in the nation. It would be more surprising if Mizzou hadn't put up 52 points. So the fact that Illinois and Juice Williams could keep their offense on the lead lap, especially without Rashard Mendenhall, bodes well for them. Williams will be really tested during conference play, but if they can build on this performance, they may be in the mix with Wisconsin and Penn State for second place in the Big Ten. They sure don't see another offense at the level of Mizzou's during conference play.
And finally, for my favorite part of the Sweep….
Stick to your day job:
I'm calling my big game predictions that, because humility has pleased the college football gods in the past. I was 24-15 last year, both straight up and against the spread, which is 61.5 percent winners. But, worry not, deities of the pigskin, I am indeed sticking to my day job, and have not started that tout-service 900 line yet.
1. Pac-10 Game of the Week: Oregon State (+16.5) at Penn State
Joe Paterno probably didn't make too many Stanford fans happy with this bit on the Card's season opener: "Oregon State was the better team. They just blew it. They made a couple of mistakes and took themselves out of the football game." I still have to go with The Fighting Octogenarians here, because Oregon State simply could not run the ball against Stanford (86 ground yards). Penn State will run for about 400 yards against Oregon State, which has to mean they're in the 40s. Meanwhile, the Lion secondary is too good for OSU to score much more than 21.
Penn State 45, Oregon State 20
2. Miami (+21) at Florida
The most novice mistake in handicapping is to always take the prohibitive favorite, no matter the odds, and I've learnt my lesson. Florida will win, but I think their weak secondary is the difference, and allows the Canes a late touchdown or two and a backdoor cover.
Pick: Florida 45, Miami 31
3. East Carolina (+8) at West
Las Vegas must be giving us an early Christmas bonus with this line. One week a season does not make, East Carolina. (And, if anything, teams that pull a huge upset often lose the next week, such as Stanford after last year's USC win.) The average guy on West Virginia played for a high school team that beat the ECU guys' teams by 30. Thirty sounds about right at the college level too.
Pick: West Virginia 45, East Carolina 14
Last year: 24-15 straight up, 24-15 against the spread
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