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Top Teams 2008

After Week Seven

  1. Alabama
  2. Penn State
  3. Texas
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Florida
  6. USC
  7. Georgia
  8. LSU
  9. BYU
  10. Missouri
  11. Ohio State
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. Texas Tech
  14. Utah
  15. Kansas
  16. USF
  17. North Carolina
  18. Miami
  19. Boise State
  20. Georgia Tech
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« CFR's Top Teams List: Week Five | Main | Saturday LIVE Blog: Week Five »
Sunday
Oct012006

Where We're At

Five weeks into the 2006 season, that's where!  Given that college football is but a fleeting fourteen weeks of regular season games, everyone's very much on the clock.

After a lot of early-season hand-wringing about a defense that lost nine starters from the previous season, Ohio State is now your clear-cut No. 1 team.  The defense hasn't been a world beater, but it's held up and made new stars out of James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins.  The Buckeye offense has also worked its magic and they've won unconventionally by passing the football.

Not far up the road, the Michigan Wolverines have been a surprise.  They have a ways to go, but after the offseason departures of long-time coordinators both the offense and defense have perked up.  LaMarr Woodley and Shawn Crable have been playing out of their minds so far and are leading one of the nation's finest defenses.  Same goes for receiver Mario Manningham who is making at least one highlight-reel long touchdown catch every weekend.

Don't be surprised if this year's Michigan/Ohio State game emerges as a No. 1 against No. 2 hype-fest.

There's been a lot of talk in the last few weeks about "who's No. 2?"  It's an interesting discussion without a reliable answer.  I can only say wait a few weeks for some contenders to sort themselves out.  In the last two weeks few contenders have done anything to distinguish themselves, either playing too-soft opponents or playing down to competition.  As an unintended consequence, Ohio State has swiftly solidified their once-soft top ranking.

I don't feel the Buckeyes are an upstoppable force of nature at the top as we've seen in recent years with Texas and USC, but they've more than held serve and looked good against a tough slate of opponents.

A positive of this season is that the drama is alive.  As much as I love a runaway train No. 1 team, it's good for college football for so many disparate teams to remain contenders.  West Virginia and Louisville are looking strong out of the Big East, the Pac-10 has USC and Oregon, the SEC has Auburn, Florida and LSU, the Big 12 has Texas, the Big Ten has Ohio State and Michigan.

Sadly for the ACC, they don't have anyone.  Clemson's doing well, but Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech have atrophied.  That league is experiencing a terrible year, which is probably a cyclical thing and partly due to a handful of once-hot coaches losing their grip on success.  Chuck Amato is now a walking parody, Al Groh has inspired a rash of transfers, Ralph Friedgen's lost that vigor that led him to three ten win seasons and Tom O'Brien simply cannot lift B.C. into the top ten.

The league will rebound eventually, but in the meantime they get to look enviously at the Big East and its two contenders and improving teams with good vibes like Pittsburgh, Rutgers and South Florida.

The OMG OMG OMG Notre Dame train has derailed, souring their national title hopes and Brady Quinn's Heisman chances.  That's what happens when you get beatdown at your home stadium by Michigan and the 'genius' meme gets applied to your coach.  Resentment's a bitch and the Irish get to take their lumps when they lose games.

Ever-so-quietly, the Pac-10 has an enviable three-headed monster of USC, California and Oregon.  Few will forget Cal's beatdown at Tennessee, but since then they've been lights-out and are looking like a top 10 team.  Oregon escaped Oklahoma thanks to the officials, but they also played a great game and showed that they can run and play defense and not get spooked by a raucous road venue.  USC's been less impressive, but they also own a road thumping against Arkansas and have the most talented team in D-I.  The head-to-head games between these teams should be incredible.

Same goes for the SEC, with the Florida/LSU/Auburn troika.  The skeptics have their eyes on Chris Leak and Florida, but all three teams have distinguished themselves from the rest of the league.  Much like the Pac-10, I don't anticipate a single undefeated team to come out of this league.

Individually, Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe has been incredible.  He's at 1181 yards just five games into the season and is set to eclipse Barry Sanders' single-season rushing mark.  Just last weekend he ran for 364 yards against Ball State.  He's no pretender, either, having gained over 100 yards both rushing and receiving against Ohio State.  Hopefully he's carved his own legacy beyond those of former NIU yardage-warriors Michael Turner and the immortal LeShon Johnson.

Anyhoo, that's what's up, nothing fancy but an early freeze-frame here felt appropriate at this point in the season.

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Reader Comments (10)

Sorry, but I (as well as the football know-it-alls aka pollsters) will have to disagree with your comments on the ACC. How can a conference have five teams in the polls and catch this kind of flack from CFR? I would say the ACC lacks a definitive top team, but the balance is exceptional in the middle. This year's ACC reminds me of so many years of the Big 10 - no amazing standout, but great competition within the top five to six teams.
October 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKevin @ Fanblogs
NC State, Maryland, Duke, UVA and UNC are all bad, bad teams.

Wake isn't much better.

Miami and FSU are way down and far from contenders.

FSU has no business being ranked, BC is 25th in one poll and unranked in the other. They've been scraping by some average teams and then lost to NC State.

Virginia Tech should barely be ranked, and as it stands they're 20th and 21st.

Georgia Tech is a quality team but then again Chan Gailey's the coach so things are bound to turn south.

That leaves Clemson as the league's marquee program right now. I like Clemson this year, but there's just nothing in the ACC anywhere near them and they're only in the 10th to 15th range right now in my book (15th and 16th in the polls).

Do the math, that's four/five ranked teams, and really it should only be three:

Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech

Hardly impressive.

The middle is basically FSU, Miami and BC, teams struggling to get by Troy, Houston, Central Michigan and North Carolina State.

Bad year.
October 2, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
An increase in the level of competition - top to bottom - is not, in my opinion, indicitive of a conference in decline. I'm saying that there isn't a top 10 team in the ACC (and possibly won't be this year), but there are six programs that will be #10-30 all year. Does the ACC *want* an elite program to step up? Could any of the middle six jump up and beat, say, Florida or Auburn, absolutely.

I still believe your "terrible year" comment is off the mark.
October 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKevin @ Fanblogs
If Tennessee lost by 1 to Florida, and LSU scored but a field goal at Auburn, how is it that LSU has distinguished themselves from Tennessee?
October 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFerrari
Terrible for the ACC, Kevin.

Could you envision a worse year for the ACC?

It's not like Miami and FSU are going to be bottom 50 teams anytime soon, but this is as bad as we've seen both of them in at least a decade.

For once, the conference has no contender, so that's strike two.

And then its best teams are pretty shaky at the top.

Normally six teams in the top 30 sounds good but most of them are bunched together in that 20-30 range and there's little help from the bottom six teams.

It's good and it's bad, I can concede some of that 'middle pack's good' reasoning, but it's an uninspiring group, down years for probably 2/3 of the teams.
October 2, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Ferrari,

Just watching the games LSU looks a notch better.

We shall see...
October 2, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Kevin -- Your reasoning is the same that has been used by many to defend the Pac-10 in recent years, and we've been laughed out of the building. One powerhouse in USC, a few solid but not great teams from among Oregon, Cal, UCLA, ASU, and Oregon St, and then a few hopeless bottomfeeders in Arizona, WSU, Stanford and Washington. (And even the bottomfeeders have jumped up and bit people at the top, or at least made them work a hell of a lot harder than anyone thought they would.) I'm not saying your defense of the ACC is totally invalid, cause like I said us Pac-10 folks have been touting it for awhile, but for the most part it doesn't seem to hold water among most of the "OMG SEC is teh best EVAH!1!11!" crowd.
October 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMark
by saying you don't think an sec will come out undefeated...would you give a legit one or two vote to a team that did? just curious...
October 3, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick
Good debate, guys. You're bringing me around. Definitely a down year for the ACC, but I don't see them in the cellar of big-time football.
October 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKevin @ Fanblogs
Id give a one or two vote to whoever I thought was one or two.

I'm a content of character guy, I'm more forgiving of a loss than most, just want to ensure the two best teams are able to lock horns at the end.
October 4, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR

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