The Sweep: Ranking Time

This week, the biggest winners from USC's and BYU's tumbles? Cal and TCU, respectively. Their rankings might not have changed much, but the path to a national title looks a lot clearer for two teams Stanford has done extensive battle with in years past. Plus, we rank the conferences and games thus far -- where does the Pac-10 check in?

As always, we begin the Sweep with a Top 25. These are our best guess as to where all the teams will end up ranked, not power rankings that attempt to actually rank said teams on strength, as there are plenty of preexisting sources for that.

This week, the biggest winners from USC's and BYU's tumbles? Cal and TCU, respectively. Their rankings might not have changed much, but the path to a national title looks a lot clearer for two teams Stanford has done extensive battle with in years past. We keep Texas ahead of Florida after the Gators looked flat against Tennessee and welcome two Rust Belt and two Sun Belt schools to the poll.

2009 Week 1 Top 25
1. Texas (0)
2. Florida (+1)
3. Penn State (+1)
4. Ole Miss (+2)
5. Alabama (+4)
6. Boise State (+1)
7. USC (-5)
8. California (0)
9. TCU (+1)
10. LSU (+3)
11. Notre Dame (+1)
12. Ohio State (-1)
13. Oklahoma (+2)
14. Miami (+12)
15. Florida State (+11)
16. BYU (-11)
17. Virginia Tech (+2)
18. Utah (0)
19. Pittsburgh (-2)
20. Oklahoma State (+5)
21. Georgia (0)
22. Michigan (+3)
23. Wisconsin (+1)
24. Cincinnati (+2)
25. Georgia Tech (-11)

Just missed: Houston, Washington, North Carolina, Nebraska
Dropped: West Virginia, Boston College, Michigan State, Oregon State
Added: Miami, Florida State, Michigan, Cincinnati

Explanations of note

Florida State and Miami – I'm a believer now. I'm still a better QB than Miami's Jacoby Harris, but both teams have had stellar defenses for five years; now they've figured out how to score a ton of points to go with it. I think one of these two teams wins the ACC, which is why they're my No. 1 and No. 2 ACC squads.
Similarly, Georgia and Michigan have explosive offenses for the first time in far too long. However, they languish toward the bottom of the poll for their inability to stop anyone, the Bulldogs most egregiously. 24, 37 and 41 points allowed thus far. Not going to win the SEC with an accuracy-challenged QB and those numbers.

Questions, comments, concerns? Dannovi on this site or dannovi@gmail.com.

Fun with Rankings

With out-of-conference play done and in-conference play about to commence for most schools (okay, give or take a Washington State and Notre Dame), the national picture is far clearer than it was mere weeks ago. As such, crystal balling was fool's gold back in August (and why the Sweep eschewed its traditional preseason BCS picks), but now, hey, let's see if we can't take a shot at it:

Conferences
1. SEC
2. ACC
3. Big 10
4. Pac-10
5. Big 12
6. Big East

No. 1 and No. 6 are obvious, so any and all debate is in the middle. I think the sleeping giants of the ACC, Miami, Florida State and, to a lesser extent, Virginia Tech, are ready to emerge – all three have notched head-turning victories -- and the placeholders, Clemson, Boston College, North Carolina State, Maryland and Georgia Tech, are ready to fade – all have suffered embarrassing losses this year. The conference has been underrrespected for years because there was too much parity. No longer. Florida State and Miami, welcome back. The game wasn't the same without you.

Big 12 is my obvious No. 5 because it's a two-team league (Texas and Oklahoma most years, this year just Texas, with the Oklahoma schools each counting half) with horrible depth in the middle, not to mention at the bottom. Texas Tech was a nice story, Nebraska's been trying without success to return to glory for the better part of a dozen years now and both Oklahoma schools lost to non-BCS teams. When Missouri might be the second-best team in your conference, forget it. And learn to play defense, middle America.

Biggest debate for me, therefore, was the No. 3 slot, and the Big 10 takes this one by default. Faceplants by Oregon, Oregon State, USC (I know, the loss was in-conference, but USC ALWAYS blows games to bad Pac-10 teams so the game speaks more to USC's deficiencies than it does Washington's greatness) mean that after Arizona State gets demolished next week, Cal and (cough, cough, giggle, giggle, because you know this won't last) UCLA will be the conference's only unbeatens. I know the Pac-10 plays a marginally harder schedule on the whole, but we haven't reached that extra conference game yet, and the Big Ten still has five unbeatens. Take away Indiana as a fluke, but Iowa, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin all could make some noise come October and November (not to mention Ohio State).

Best Games of 2009, thus far:

1. Miami 38, Florida State 34 (Game-winning touchdown with 1:53 left, potential GW TD with time expired video-reviewed before being ruled incomplete. Potential national-title implications…)
2. Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34 (GW TD with 0:11 left; keeps alive Daniel's no-shaving-until-Michgan-and-Stanford-both-have-lost streak)
3. USC 18, Ohio State 15 (GW TD with 1:05 left, but lost some luster with USC's loss this week)
4. Virginia Tech 16, Nebraska 15 (GW TD with 0:21 left)
5. BYU 14, Oklahoma 13 (GW TD with 3:03 left, potential GW FG missed with 1:23 left, but BYU just crashed and burned against Florida State)
6. Georgia 41, South Carolina 37 (SC 4th-and-goal from the UGA 7 broken up with 0:22 left; UGA had led by 15 in the late third)

Games had to be nationally significant (at a minimum, involving ranked teams) to be considered. The Michigan and Miami wins will stand as among the best games of the year; I imagine the rest of these will be replaced.

Way-too-early, ahem, scratch that, slightly-too-early BCS Guesstimate:

National Title: Texas-Florida
Rose: Penn State-Cal (sorry)
Orange: Cincinnati-Miami
Fiesta: TCU-Boise State (probably won't happen, but wouldn't it be fun?)
Sugar: Oklahoma-Ohio State (again, unlikely, but the two biggest chokers of the BCS-era, head-to-head? Imagine the possibilities.)

And finally, my four most underrated teams nationally/biggest darkhorse national title contenders right now: TCU, Penn State, Cal and Miami. Remember, you heard it here first.


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