Monday, October 24, 2011

HTR's Top 25: Week 9

The bye week came and went, but the world didn't stop while the Wolverines licked their wounds and prepared for Purdue. In addition to the national implications of a Wisconsin defeat, the Spartans coming through against a game conference foe for the second week in a row makes it that much more difficult for the Wolverines to win the division. I can't say that I'm really disappointed given that I never expected to win the division in the first place, but after Michigan started 6-0 and the Spartans, Huskers, and Hawkeyes all looked extremely vulnerable and/or incompetent at various points in that stretch, a division title didn't seem like a ridiculous notion to entertain. Sadly, I don't think we really have much of a shot unless the Spartans completely collapse because I don't think we win out and I don't think they lose more than one game the rest of the way. However, the Spartan genome has that potentially fatal Clemson gene in it, so anything can happen.

Zooming out a bit, Stanford, LSU, and Alabama all did what they tend to do (although Alabama did sort of struggle for a while against the Vols before eventually blowing things open), and Oklahoma State continues to be the no-loss version of Oklahoma. Also, insert the weekly "Clemson still hasn't lost yet" disbelief here. Not only did they not lose, they crushed the Tar Heels. After UNC returned a kickoff for a TD to narrow the deficit to 14, I changed the channel for a while and checked back later to find the score "Clemson 59, UNC 24" on my television. I'm still on "inexplicable Clemson loss" watch, but looks like they're actually pretty good. They're not LSU or Bama good (and maybe not even Oklahoma State or Stanford good), but either way this is a huge step up for that program. As for Oklahoma...the following hasn't been this apropos since maybe the OU-USC BCS title game:


The weekend started with a viewing of the derpfest that was the WVU-Syracuse on Friday night and ended with me laughing at the hilariously Hawaiian announcers of the Hawaii-NMSU game as I tried to ride out the "oh my God did that just happen" waves from the Oklahoma-Texas Tech and Wisconsin-MSU it's safe to say that I'm ready for Michigan to be back on the field this week. 

Oklahoma State
Boise State
Kansas State
Michigan State
Virginia Tech
Texas A&M
South Carolina
Texas Tech
Penn State
Arizona State
West Virginia

  • Oklahoma and Wisconsin both took an enormous hit this past weekend, with the former easily suffering the more inexplicable loss. Oklahoma hadn't lost a conference home game since the Les Miles era in Stillwater. That's ridiculous. We all knew that OU had a somewhat shaky defense, but Texas Tech's generic spread quarterback guy (this time it's Seth Poege) absolutely eviscerated an OU defense that definitely has more than enough talent to at least be adequate. Seriously, just lost to Tommy Tuberville, a man who, while at Auburn, viewed each halfback dive and each field goal as a small incremental step toward the attainment of nirvana. You gave up eleventy billion points to TOMMY TUBERVILLE, Oklahoma. As for Wisconsin, there's not much to say...they played about as poor of a game as they could have, with a blocked field goal and blocked punt right before the end of the first half resulting in a Spartan TD. Russell Wilson looked very average for most of the game until the final two touchdown drives; obviously Wisconsin will not be in the BCS title game picture. It's easy to criticize in hindsight, but Bielema's timeout at the end was about as Zookian as it gets. Despite it all, Wisconsin will probably still win that division, and a rematch against the Spartans in Indy is looking pretty likely. 

  • Illinois and Notre Dame, put your hands down. I asked for good teams to raise their hands. You are not good teams. Michigan needs to win in Champaign, period (and, for the record, that loss says more about Illinois than it does Purdue, IMO...after all, Purdue did lose to Rice and barely beat MTSU). As for ND, I just don't know what to say. I was flipping between a number of games and ND-USC was about third string or so, but there's really no excuse for them to lose that game to the most meh then 5-1 team ever. So yeah, our only win of note is pretty much worth nothing. 

  • I don't know why, but I'm really enjoying Kansas State being endows the top 25 with a retro 90s-ish feel, a much happier time in college football as far as I'm concerned. Sure, Snyder's OOC scheduling is pathetic and basically assures 4 wins regardless, but KSU has a nice little throwback thing going for them this year. I'm not sure that they beat OU this week but hey, people have said that about OU-KSU matchups before haven't they, Jason White?

  • Going back to the WVU-Syracuse game: a) I don't know why I watched it and b) seriously? As bad as the Big Ten is, the Big East is at least ten times worse. I figured that WVU was executing their usual "play horribly in the first half then dominate in the second READY BREAK" plan but they completely forgot to do the second part. Don't tell me that Syracuse is good because they are not by any objective standard. Nassib is a decent pro-style quarterback who'll probably get drafted in the 5th round or something, but come on Holgo. Get it together. 

  • Penn State had a veritable offensive explosion in Evanston this past Saturday, dropping 34 on a scrappy/gritty/other backhanded compliment Wildcats team. Are they a threat to Wisconsin in the division? I'd still say no, but PSU has done well to be where they are at this point. That early loss to the Crimson Tide doesn't look so bad anymore (on the other hand, it's starting to look like a pretty good win for Alabama). 

  • The Spartans are in my top 10...for now. Views on Dantonio aside, this is a pretty good football team, even if opinions of Wisconsin's quality were clearly over-inflated by weak competition. They've got a huge game on the road at Nebraska this week...if they win that one I'd have to think that winning out is probable, although you can never completely dismiss the chance of them derping away a road game Iowa or Northwestern. 
  • Last but not least, the quasi national championship game that is LSU-Alabama is almost upon us, but both LSU and Bama have a bye this week so we'll have to wait just one more week for the game of the year. This game is going to be epic. Having experienced college football culture in the state of Alabama, I know that Bryant-Denny will be rocking for this 8 PM start. I think I'm going to start doing a weekly predictions post again just to have something to put up later in the week, but for now I'll just say that I'm sort of puzzled by the fact that it seems most people think LSU will without a doubt win this game. Needless to say, I'm not so sure that that is the case. 

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