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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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Tuesday Mishmash

So, what to make of last weekend?

I found it entirely compelling.

There was Notre Dame's drama against Michigan State, the struggles of nearly the entirety of the top ten in definitively putting away pesky foes and crazy individual feats like Garrett Wolfe's continued yardage assault and Sidney Rice's five touchdown catches.  Georgia barely escaped Colorado and both Arkansas and Alabama did everything they could to bungle their matchup with missed field goals, extra points and interceptions galore.

Ivan Maisel did the math and determined that 22 of the top 25 teams won, and by an average of 25 points.  Anecdotally it looked like many of the games were closer than that.  USC won by 17 but it wasn't the greatest effort we'll see from them.  Ohio State won by 22 points but led just 7-3 heading into the fourth quarter.  Auburn led Buffalo just 10-0 at the half.  Michigan led Wisconsin 17-10 heading into the fourth quarter.  All of these were four quarter games.

The byproduct is a tightly packed top ten with little distinction beteween Ohio State, USC, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, LSU, Louisvillle, Texas and West Virginia.  Eventually they'll sort themselves out (they always do), but it's interesting to note this moment almost a third the way through the season with things so knotted up.

---An interesting note from the SEC: Georgia's receivers have stone hands.  No surprise, really.  The same problem plagued Auburn receivers for many years---and then they switched to an offense that put at least some kind of emphasis on passing the ball.  Just like that, the dropsies went away.

I've had this discussion before with several football people, and the explanation's pretty simple: legitimate passing offenses don't have this problem.  Receivers need reps and need to know the ball's coming at them in practice and in games.  With option offenses, with run-based offenses, with much of what's run in the SEC, drops are a common occurrence.

But if you look at schools like Texas Tech, like Florida, like California, who all have developed passing games, there is no such problem.

I'm not saying advanced pass offenses are the way to go---simply that there's a threshold of passing emphasis and aptitude where drops suddenly are no longer an issue.  The latter schools have figured that out, the former have chosen a different path.

Now, to play nice for a moment, I'm tickled to see that three of the top five individual receiving yardage leaders in the NCAA are SEC receivers.  Tennessee's Robert Meachem checks in at third with 420 yards, followed by Alabama's Keith Brown (410) and Florida's Dallas Baker Touchdown Maker (406).

---Notre Dame/Michigan State is the gift that keeps on giving.  Michigan State coach John L. Smith, clearly one of the most tactful coaches in D-I *cough*, is kinda sorta you decide calling Notre Dame Charlie Weis a liar.

Weis claimed he was slapped on the sidelines during a scuffle between Notre Dame players, staff and Michigan State players.  Smith offers up video evidence that no such slap happens.

Whatever the truth, who slaps people in football?  What a completely bizarre week this has been.

---Finally, I leave you with this to debate: Washington and Missouri---are they legit or are they paper tigers? 

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Reader Comments (22)

If you seriously think Georgia has an "option" or "run-based offense," you haven't been paying attention to they way they've played the last five years. Mark Richt runs a chuck-and-duck, run only-when-you-have to offense. His biggest drawback as a coach is his unwillingness to commit to developing a running game, and without a dependable quarterback, that's coming back to haunt Richt this year.

Incidentally, the only SEC team that runs anything remotely resembling the option in 2006 is... Florida.
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFlibbetigibbet
"with much of what's run in the SEC" I wasn't saying Georgia was option etc., only that it's not a well developed passing offense.

As for Florida, they also throw the ball all over the field with consistency to go with the spread look they have and the rare run option. They have crossed that invisible threshold that Georgia hasn't. Thus, the non-issue of WR drops for the Gators.
September 26, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Curious, how do you know that drop passes are a common occurence in the SEC and, any more common in the SEC than any other conference? Is this what you think is true or do you have some facts?
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDawgy1
It's anecdotal, obviously, but Georgia's suffered from the dropsies for a while now, Auburn did before they made their switch.

I watched a good handful of old SEC games over the summer replaying on the various TV channels here, same issues with the teams with less developed pass offenses.

It isn't solely relegated to the SEC, far from, we can look to late 80's/early 90's Notre Dame and all the dropped passes they had, or Nebraska for many years.

The actual threshold is hard to define but it exists and affects what teams suffer most from dropped passes.
September 26, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
keep droppin au in your poll there..and when we spank Florida..what are you going to do then? Move Michigan ahead of us? PS..can you find one game where USC will not be a double digit favorite this year?
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick
First of all, Georgia under Richt runs a balanced offense, philosophically trying to mix the run and the pass equally. Whether it is an "advanced passing offense" is a matter of opinion, but it is certainly not a primitive run-based offense like the one Vince Dooley ran in the '80s.

Secondly, from the Macon Telegraph article that originated this discussion comes this: "Coaches at Florida State, Washington and Texas Tech have all complained in the last two weeks about their receivers' inability to catch passes. Red Raiders coach Mike Leach told media members that his players dropped nine passes in a 12-3 loss to TCU two weeks ago."

So contrary to your assertion, apparently even "advanced" offenses like Texas Tech's are not immune to having drops.
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCorrections

I agree with your point that USC is just so good that they will be favored by at least 10 points in every game. Good post, very astute observation on how great USC is.
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterg-man's homeboy
Or how terrible their level of competition is...don't sell me cal or ucla...
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick
better yet..find me two teams that will be in the top 15...
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick
4 possibilities for top 15 teams (3 if you summarily reject Cal): 1) Nebraska 2) Oregon 3) ND. Of course, each of these teams will likely have an additional loss on their records due to playing SC, but nonetheless, it is distinctly possible that all 3 will be in the top 15 when all is said and done. Unless ND really really chokes, they'll be in the top 15 (likely top 10) coming into their game against SC.
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterg-man's homeboy
Funny...only one of those opponents if from the pac 10.
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick
Florida State's pass offense is rudimentary at best.

Even in the Richt days they were becoming a pop-up throwing game, nothing fancy. Luckily they threw the ball a million times which was enough to condition their receivers to not have the dropsies.

Now? Their pass offense is a sad joke. Thus, the drops. That problem started in the Rix years, in fact.

Texas Tech's issues are addressed here:


Washington has a running quarterback, hybrid offense going on that has stunted their WRs' development, similar to what happened with Willingham at Notre Dame when he was playing Carlyle Holiday and transitioning away from Davies' lousy pass attack that also held the WR's back. Lots of WR drops there.

The difference is Stanbeck's finally emerging as a thrower after four years but the offense needs him to run around a lot. They shouldn't have a WR drops issue despite that, but it's one explanation.

Bottom line---the point being made here---is there's a threshold to where this is generally an issue. That threshold has to do with an offense's emphasis on passing the ball, getting the ball to its receivers. It's not so simple as pass attempts or scheme, but there is some delineation between programs having this issue and not having it. Anecdotally Auburn's improvement was brought up, and why Georgia is having the issue and has had the issue.

As usual the 'SEC can do no wrong' gang has come out and defended their turf for whatever it's worth, but the concept isn't about the SEC. The SEC simply gives some good recent examples of the concept at work.

It's not a situation where shooting tennis balls at a receivers' hands for an hour a day is going to fix the problem. It goes beyond that.

In other words, I doubt Mohammed Massaquoi would have a drop issue if he were at say, Michigan State. There's a psychological factor involved where receivers are more tuned into their play perhaps when they're in a particular offense that plays to whatever motivates a receiver to concentrate and catch balls.

Whatever that factor is, it is less prevalent at Georgia or pre-Borges Auburn or Pre-Callahan Nebraska etc. than other places.
September 26, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Where have I dropped Auburn?

They've been in my top five all year.

As always, I'll continue to rank teams based on aptitude, it is a power ranking, not a X loses to Y so therefore they must be ranked Z.

That's not how I do things. A team can lose and stay in its place or rise depending on the situations of the teams around it. I follow no set formula, and do not play to the notions you guys think I have.

Why are there two SEC teams in my top four? Why is an SEC team at No. 2? For such a hater I'm sure being kind, right? Each week is different, every team evolves and improves or declines over the course of a season.

I do my best to evaluate where they're at and then rank them. A loss bothers me less than the pollsters (perhaps a team just had a bad week, or maybe the opponent is simply superior---I try to think those things out and oftentimes play later in the season provides that answer), I just want to see what a team is doing, how they're doing it, what they're not doing, etc. That's important to me, not notions about their conference or region or a million other things that say nothing about the actual team's ability.
September 26, 2006 | Registered CommenterCFR
Well don't forget you ruled out Cal and UCLA. Wouldn't be surprised to see at least one of those teams in the top 15 at the end of the year. Add Oregon to that along with SC, and you get 3 top 15 teams from a 10 team conference. Not too bad really. Probably about like what will happen in the SEC with UF, Auburn, LSU and then maybe UGA or Tenn. I'm guessing maybe 4 of those teams (out of 12 in the conference) will end up in the top 15.

So to recap, that's 33% of SEC teams in the top 15, and 30% of Pac-10 teams. Pretty similar really. Oh, except of course that in the Pac-10, all of the potential top 15 teams play each other, gauranteeing a loss for one of them each time they play, as opposed to the SEC, where, for example, Auburn and Tennessee won't meet unless they both make the title game. Same with Georgia and LSU.

That means SC plays two Pac-10 potential top 15 teams and two OOC potential top 15 teams, for a total of 4 potential top 15 teams. That seems to match or surpass the schedules of each of the SEC potential top 15 teams (i.e. LSU plays only 3 potential top 15 teams - unless they make the SEC championship game).

Yet, as you astutely pointed out, SC will likely be favored by double digits in each game this year. They must be really freakin' good.
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterg-man's homeboy
ucla is terrible..so they are out. Cal got destroyed at tennessee. That was my resoning. Anyway, I actually enjoy this site..it makes me laugh. Auburn plays uga, lsu, and florida. In the SEC you play a 12 games schedule this year, not including the championship game. At the time they play..Au could face 4 top ten teams. Like in 04 when they played 5..which was more than usc and oklahoma combined. We will see how AU looks aginst an inferior South carolina this thursday.

btw..don't get all hurt b/c i questioned your rankings..i am an auburn fan..it is what we do post 04,when clearly the best two teams did not play...
September 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick
CFR, "anecdotal"? It's just plain and simple SEC bashing, something that's a common thread of yours. No facts, no data, just what you wish were true. Why not use an pac(1)0 team as your example? Duh!

"Auburn did before they made their switch" Whatever the hell that means. The facts say that Tennessee, Alabama, and LSU pass the ball better. See CFBStats passing ratings.

BTW, on average the SEC has a better passing rating than the pac(1)0.

Mohammed Massaquoi was Georgia's most sure-handed receiver last year with about 40 catches as a true Freshman. This year he has been credited with (3) drops. So, your "undeveloped pass offense" theory sounds like a bunch of BS to me. Mo Mass was in the same system last year. Duh!
September 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDawgy1
goooo dawgs, sick 'em woof woof woof
September 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick
Arkansas did nothing to win, Alabama did everything to win(expect ocmpletely shut down the run).

Alabama did everything to lose. So despite Mitch having 3 Ints 2 of them forced by the pressure/good coverage combination.

11 penlaties, 3-4 in crucial redzone situation that took away TDs.

SHula needs to run Darby outside, throw more, and tell Christensen groin to stop playing tricks....
September 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterThe Spirit of Bill Oliver
Cal receivers ar epuny and were dominated. Their lineman on D and O were decimated. Their back mediocre to above average. At QB AWFUL!!!

They could have won 52-0 if they don't shut it down mid way through the 3RD QUARTER!!!

Jarret got shut down by Ark's corners, yet KB jsut tossed that joker of a CB they have aside.

See whereas in the WAC-10 bad-horrific defense and gutless football reign supreme. Most teams have one good to very good athlete, they stick them at WR and throw to them every down.

In the SEC you have GREAT athletes AND DEPTH.

Take AU's WR corps last year. Or UF's this year.

LSU also. Georgia with Reggie Brown and Fred Gibson etc...

USC with Sidney Rice resembles a WAC-10 team with a bit of an upgrad ein offensive talent and A TREMENDOUS UPGRADE ON DEFENSE.

USC would go 9-3 10-2 no problem in the WAC-10

In the SEC they will go probably 6-6 or 7-5.
September 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterThe Spirit of Bill Oliver
"So to recap, that's 33% of SEC teams in the top 15, and 30% of Pac-10 teams. Pretty similar really. Oh, except of course that in the Pac-10, all of the potential top 15 teams play each other, gauranteeing a loss for one of them each time they play, as opposed to the SEC, where, for example, Auburn and Tennessee won't meet unless they both make the title game. Same with Georgia and LSU"

More ignorance.

Cal should be no where near the Top 25. Typical crap.

Fact LSU, AU, Georgia, UT, and UF are all in the Top 15.

40% dumbell compared to 20% or better yet 10%

CFR's stupidity not withstanding.
September 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterThe Spirit of Bill Oliver

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