The Sweep: Back to the Future

Who's new in the Sweep's Top 10 for week nine? We don't stop there though -- who does the Sweep have in its way-too-early 2010 top 10, why, and where might Stanford be in two years? What tough games do the top teams in the country have left, and who does the Sweep like this weekend? Read on!

Week 9 Poll

1. Penn State (Change: 0)
Best win:
Ohio State
Toughest remaining opponent: Michigan State
Projected final record: 12-0

2. USC (0)
Best win:
Ohio State
Toughest remaining opponent: Cal
Projected final record: 11-1

3. Texas (0)
Best win:
Toughest remaining opponent: Texas Tech, Big 12 Title?
Projected final record: 12-1

4. Florida (0)
Best win:
Toughest remaining opponent: Georgia, SEC Title?
Projected final record: 12-1

5. Oklahoma (0)
Best win:
Toughest remaining opponent: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State
Projected final record: 11-1

6. Alabama (0)
Best win:
Toughest remaining opponent: LSU, SEC Title?
Projected final record: 11-2

7. Texas Tech (+1)
Best win:
Toughest remaining opponent: Texas, Oklahoma
Projected final record: 10-2

8. Georgia  (-1)
Best win:
Toughest remaining opponent: Florida, SEC Title?
Projected final record: 12-1

9. Oklahoma State (+2)
Best win:
Toughest remaining opponent: Oklahoma, Texas Tech
Projected final record: 9-3

10. Utah  (+2)
Best win:
Toughest remaining opponent: TCU
Projected final record: 12-0

11. Ohio State (-1)
12. Boise State (+1)
13. TCU (+1)
14. LSU (-5)
15. Missouri (0)
16. BYU  (0)
17. Florida State (+7)
18. Oregon (+1)
19. Ball State (+2)
20. South Florida (0)
21. Cal (+5)
22. Tulsa (+4)
23. Michigan State (+3)
24. North Carolina (+2)
25. Minnesota (+1)

IN: Michigan State, North Carolina, Cal, Minnesota, Tulsa
OUT:  Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Northwestern, Kansas
ON DECK: West Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut

Revolving door

There just aren't that many good teams in college football, and so we keep cycling through the so-so ones. Of the five teams falling out of our poll this week, four were new to the poll last week -- Pittsburgh, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Northwestern. (The one team to stick was Florida State, and how. More on them in a bit.) Of the five new teams in this week's poll, three had fallen out the week before -- Michigan State, North Carolina and Cal.

You know the talent pool is shallow when the Sweep is throwing its hands up and ranking Minnesota, who would be a 20-point underdog to a top-five team and has beaten absolutely no one. The Sweep is guardedly optimistic that West Virginia (who looked great demolishing Auburn Thursday night) and Maryland will keep winning, lockdown two poll spots and reduce the turnover.

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Way too early Top 10

When it's quite possible that neither of your teams (Stanford, Michigan) will make a bowl, it's only natural to dream of brighter days. And for the Sweep, the catalyst was reading on that Florida State starts three freshman -- on their offensive line. Plus, they committed seven turnovers in their one loss of the season, 12-3 to Wake Forest. They are some incredibly bad luck from being undefeated, yet they're one of the quietest top-20 teams in the country right now. Their division stinks, their recruiting is great and my goodness, they're going to be good in two years. Naturally, that got us thinking about a 2010 top-10:

1. USC (Current BCS rank: 5, 2008 recruiting rank: 9, 2007: 2)
I know what the rankings say, but USC's recruiting continues to blow the rest of the country's out of the water. Plus, what's the last time they lost to a football team that was actually better than them? I'd say Vince Young's Texas. That was three seasons ago.

2. Oklahoma (Current rank: 4, 2008 recruiting rank: 13, 2007: 30)
Texas-Oklahoma winner should be a national title shoo-in, like this year.

3. Florida State (Current rank: 15, 2008 recruiting rank: 8, 2007: 33)
Three freshmen start on the OL and there's no one else in the ACC.

4. Michigan
(Current rank: NR, 2008 recruiting rank: 6, 2007: 10)
The current QB is a sophomore, the leading RB and WR are freshmen, the secondary should be great and new coaches always seem to break out in their third year.

5. Florida (Current rank: 8, 2008 recruiting rank: 12, 2007: 1)
The biggest question is whether the Gators will be able to find a replacement for Tim Tebow.

6. Texas (Current rank: 1, 2008 recruiting rank: 16, 2007: 3)
'Horns have to shore up their defense, but they should have the personnel to do it.

7. Ohio State (Current rank: 12, 2008 recruiting rank: 4, 2007: 16)
Terrelle Pryor as a junior is a scary thought for the rest of the Big 10.

8. LSU (Current rank: 19, 2008 recruiting rank: 7, 2007: 5)
LSU would be top five this year with a good quarterback. Here's betting they find one in the next two seasons.

9. Georgia (Current rank: 6, 2008 recruiting rank: 5, 2007: 17)
Yeah, we're SEC-heavy, but this perennial SEC runner-up is overdue for a breakthrough season.

10. Auburn (Current rank: NR, 2008 recruiting rank: 18, 2007: 6)
Between this season and their No. 1 recruiting class, Alabama's getting all the hype, but it's the Tigers who have out-recruited relative to their national prestige more than anyone in the SEC.

Sleeper: Texas A&M (Current rank: NR, 2008 recruiting rank: 15, 2007: 26)

Stanford, by the way, doesn't crack the top 10, but should be fighting for a top-25 spot. I'd call it fourth in the Pac-10, behind USC, Oregon and Cal.

Notice the lack of Alabama, Notre Dame and Miami, despite their 1-2-3 finish in last year's recruiting rankings. Alabama signed 33 players -- sorry, you only get to keep 25. Guess we should devalue your rating by 25 percent. Miami and, most of all, Notre Dame, we've been hearing about the upcoming return to glory for ten years now. Wake me up when it comes. Your recruits are ranked so high not on the merits, but largely because of your name brand.

Notice also that there's a big window of opportunity in the ACC, Big East and, after USC, the Pac-10. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.

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We close with our picks section, also known as Don't Quit Your Day Job:

Last week:   Oklahoma State covered, and Georgia and Penn State won big enough for the rare perfect week.
3-0 straight-up, 3-0 against the spread.

17-7 against the spread, 19-5 straight-up.

Texas (-6) at Texas Tech
The six-point line is like a three-point line in most other contests, because these teams should both score 30 without breaking a sweat. Texas Tech's spread attack perfectly attacks Texas' weak pass defense, but the Sweep's strategy the whole year has been to pick conservatively, and it's not altering now. Texas is the better team this year, Texas has the better track record the past five years and Texas should be able to run the ball at will.
Texas 40, Texas Tech 30

Florida (-5.5) vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Any doubt which team has the better offense? I don't know how in the world Georgia cracked 50 against LSU last week -- that feels like their total the past three weeks combined. There's no way that offense and overrated QB Matthew Stafford can keep pace with Florida.
Florida 24, Georgia 17

Oregon (+3) at Cal
Preseason, Cal was my pick for No. 2 in the Pac-10, while conventional wisdom said Arizona State. I don't mistake the Bears for flashy, but I think they can be successful with the same formula Stanford's used this season -- solid enough line play to make up for glaring deficiencies elsewhere.
Cal 27, Oregon 23 

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