The ranks of the twice-beaten were joined by Tennessee, knocking them out of the G-Poll Top 10. Pity for them. LSU got the better of them last Saturday, which does clean things up a bit for me–moving Arkansas up next to Florida, which makes sense to me as they are the current SEC division leaders (yes, even the SEC is sticky because their losses are awkwardly placed to one another). The conference races are grinding on and shaping things up for showdowns in the next couple of weeks in final games for the Big East, Big Ten, and Pac-10 conferences and for the championship games in the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 conferences.
But the biggest news tonight is the tough, come-from-behind win of Rutgers over Louisville. They went down 25-7 in the first half before scoring 21 unanswered points and holding the Cardinals scoreless in the second half. Brilliant stuff. BCS implications and further fueling the Big East vs. the other BSC conferences debate…plenty to sort out this weekend as we watch the rest of the NCAA story unfold. The Rutgers-WVU match-up in Morgantown is now looming as a huge game if both teams continue to win going into that game. For how maligned the Big East has been, the drama that conference race has given us has been as compelling as any in the country and better than most.
In this mid-week report: the Week 11 G-Poll, Making the case for teams looking for a shot at the NCAA championship game, and Games I’m keeping tabs on Saturday. I’ll be enjoying the Texas A&M vs. Nebraska game at Kyle Field this weekend. Hope you’re catching some live action with your alma mater or a favorite team sometime this fall–nothing like it!
Week 11 G-Poll Top 10
1. Ohio State (10-0)
2. Michigan (10-0)
3. Texas (9-1)
4. California (8-1)
5. Florida (8-1)
6. Arkansas (8-1)
7. Auburn (9-1)
8. USC (7-1)
9. Notre Dame (8-1)
10. Rutgers (9-0)
On the bubble: Louisville, West Virginia, Boise State, SEC 2-loss teams, ACC division leaders…
Making the Case
Assuming that Ohio State and Michigan continue unbeaten going into the Nov 18 collision in Columbus, the winner will be playing for the national title. As single games go at the end of the season, it doesn’t get any better. But for everyone else, we’re well into “making the case” season. Here’s my take on the cases that these teams will need to make, assuming they take care of their own business.
Texas – For: Won the Big 12 convincingly, allowing only two teams within 2 1/2 TDs, Frosh QB…What Frosh QB–McCoy developing well after OSU loss, speaking of which…only loss to #1 Ohio State in second week of season. Against: Big 12 not what it has been–weak North division and weakened South division. And loss to the Buckeyes was by 17 in Austin–looked much like the rest of Ohio State’s competition this year in that one. Grade: Lost at the best time of year–early. Since then, has had a couple of close ones, but all-in-all solidifies top 5 ranking each week. Running the Big 12 table and winning the championship game would still make a strong statement. Good shot at the big game, especially if SEC teams all end up with 2 losses or if Arkansas wins the conference.
Florida, Arkansas, Auburn – For: Winning the SEC with only 1 loss is a great feat, noting that the 1 loss was to a top 10 opponent (for AU, Arkansas has risen to that level though not ranked at the time of the loss), beat more ranked teams and tougher teams than non-SEC contenders. Against: Dropped the ball in big losses at inopportune times, “We’re in the SEC” not an automatic cover for mistakes. Grade: Key is for one of these to end the regular season with only 1 loss. For the Razorbacks, that would mean an impressive undefeated run the SEC–but they are far from out of the woods with UT and LSU on the horizon. Auburn needs significant help, even ending with 1 loss, since the Tigers won’t make the conference title game on their own. Florida have the best path schedule-wise, having already clinched a spot in the SEC title game and playing 3 unranked teams to finish the regular schedule. To remain in national contention, however, Gators must avoid let-downs against South Carolina this weekend and FSU in 2 weeks.
Cal – For: Dethroning USC (if) in route to becoming Pac-10 champs, early loss to Tennessee not too bad considering the success of the Vols this year. Against: Lost to a good SEC team, but not a division winner. USC lost to Oregon State too… Grade: Tennessee loss is costly for national title consideration. Needs a 2-loss SEC champ, a Longhorn collapse against A&M or North Division champ, and maybe a Notre Dame loss to USC. Too many stars must align to bet on their hopes.
USC – For: Winning Pac-10, again. Beating a top-10 Notre Dame team. Against: Loss to Oregon State was as much a result of playing with fire and playing too many 2nd-tier Pac-10 teams close for too many weeks as it was a mental let-down in a single game. These aren’t the same Trojans, Pac-10 champs and ND game winners or not. Grade: Like Cal, USC needs too much help in the form of losses for Big 12 and SEC champs. Stranger things have certainly happened, especially in college football, but that doesn’t make the grade at this point.
Notre Dame – For: If Georgia Tech wins the ACC and USC wins the Pac-10, ND can boast wins over two conference champs en route to a 1-loss season with a victory over the Trojans. May or may not happen, but both Ga. Tech and USC control their own fate. Against: Losing big at home to Michigan, weak schedule in the middle of the season too much to overcome, even with impressive won/loss record. Grade: ND has looked good enough in wins to be taken seriously if they beat USC in LA to complete the regular schedule. But, like Cal and USC, they depend a good deal on others, since they’re standing further back in line.
Big East Champ – I’ll have to do more thinking on this one. The Rutgers win tonight and the reevaluation of the Big East conference strength demands more reflection before knowing exactly what to say here.
Games I’m Watching This Weekend
Tennessee at Arkansas – First of two big hurdles for Arkansas. Chance to bounce back from LSU loss for Tennessee.
Oregon at USC – Tough November gauntlet begins with the Ducks this Saturday for USC. For Oregon, chance to improve bowl game placement at end of year.
Coming in future GMW NCAA mid-week: Cases for and against conference championship games. Got a take? Email me: gmw (dot) ncaa (at) gmail (dot) com.
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