Power Rankings (Week 9)  

Posted by Walter

#1 Ohio State

Walter: For those of you who don't read the website collegefootballnews.com you should. One of it's writers Peter Fiutak wrote a fascinating article on why Ohio State may not be be the real number 1. You should read it yourself but his bottom line is that the Buckeye's schedule hasn't really been all that difficult this season. True the Texas win at Austin was impressive, but Colt McCoy (who was starting his 2nd game ever against OSU), and accordingly the entire UT offense, is much improved from that game. Iowa has proved to be thoroughly mediocre, and Michigan State.....well what else is there to say about them. On the flip side, Michigan absolutely destroyed Notre Dame in South Bend and beat up on the next best team in the Big 10, Wisconsin, in Madison. While it's hard to argue with Ohio State's dominance this season, Fiutak raises some interesting points nonetheless.

Frazier - In turns of who has beat whom, well Ohio St. might not be the consensus #1, but they would be hard pressed to be any more impressive than they have been so far. They haven't been merely beating teams, they have been dominating them. Fiutak makes some interesting points, but having watched Ohio St. play, it's nearly impossible to deny them the top spot.

#2 Michigan

Walter: If I make continue Mr. Fiutak's thought as referenced in the previous paragraph, unlike Ohio State, like a fine wine Michigan's two signature wins (at Notre Dame and at Wisconsin) keep getting better with age. Both teams would boast perfect records if not for the Michigan blemish, and it is completely conceivable, if not likely, that the same could be said at season's end. If Notre Dame goes into LA and beats USC, and Michigan loses by a field goal to Ohio State in Columbus, assuming all of the Big East teams have at least one loss couldn't the argument be made that Michigan (they of the 47-21 blowout of Notre Dame) should be the one-loss team to go to the BCS title game?

Frazier - They are going to need Manningham and the restoration of the vertical passing game. The offense has stagnated recently, and while Henne, Hart and company have continued to make plays and grind out victories, they are playing it awful close to the vest recently. On the other hand, their defense has been embarrassing opponents. Other teams act like a 14 point margin to these guys is game over. And you know what, they're probably right.

#3 West Virginia, #4 Louisville

Walter: Well it's finally here. Both the Moutaineers and the Cardinals held up their respective end of the bargain and now we have the showdown we all wanted. While I was Louisville's biggest proponent at the start of the season, I may be their biggest detractor right now. Sure both teams have their own questions (like how West Virginia will handle the first team they have played with a pulse all season, or how Louisville is going to handle the Mountaineers when they have struggled with the likes of Syracuse and Cincinatti recently), but something just seems to be a bit "off" about Louisville lately. But we here at the323 are all about answers so here are my two observations: (1) Bush's injury - As faithful readers already know I do believe that not having Mike Bush has hurt the Cardinals as of late. This late in the season opposing coaches have gathered enough tape and information that they can adequately scheme against even the most brilliant offensive mind (which is an apt description of Bobby Petrino). What you can never scheme against is great players, and have George Stripling instead of Mike Bush is a huge downgrade. (2) Brohm's injury - This may seem like an odd explanation since (i) Brohm is healthy enough to play in this game, and (ii) he has had two full games to shake the rust off. Well, while those are true that point of view ignores one crucual fact. Football teams are like teenagers and the season is like adolescence. Teams are constantly developing, shaping and reshaping themselves. West Virginia is not the same team we saw opening night. Their offense has become crisper as Steve Slaton and Pat White have grown together. Louisville's offense is way behind because their growth was interrupted for 4 weeks (2 when Brohm was out, 2 when he was shaking off the rust). The bottom line is that this Louisville team is presently where it should have been a month ago. All that said, the game should be nothing short of spectacular as it features a bevy of talent and two of the best coaches on the planet.

Frazier - I can't wait. Both teams held up their end of the bargain, and we're all getting the game we hoped for. WVU is ahead of Louisville right now because they seem to be steadily improving, while the Cardinals' have not shown significant growth recently. Not much to say about these guys since they both had byes last week to gear up for this one (fantastic scheduling by the Big East this year, really keeping the conference in the headlines the last third of the season). I'll preview the game, and predict the winner (poorly, since it's a Thursday tilt) tomorrow.

#5 Auburn

Walter: Like with Louisville I have fallen off the Auburn bandwagon somewhat. Just when you think something is about to change, the more it stays the same. Auburn under Tommy Tubberville has always had the knock that they perform worse the more that is expected of them. This year was a perfect example, when all they had to do was hold serve at home while the rest of the SEC beat the hell out of each other. Auburn lost to a solid yet unspectacular Arkansas team starting a true freshman quarterback. Now the Tigers are sleepwalking through the rest of their schedule, trying to hold on for a chance at the SEC title game. Also, is it me or has Kenny Irons been thoroughly unimpressive this year? Could we be looking at a mirror image of what happened three seasons ago when the Jason Campbell/Caddilac Williams/Ronnie Brown/Karlos Dansby Tigers looked like a #1 team only to lose two games and have the next year's team come out of nowhere to go 11-0? With Brandon Cox and most of the defense back next season, perhaps.

Frazier - The only reason Auburn remains at these lofty heights is their victory over Florida. Last week's performance was hardly impressive, and they haven't really regained the form they were showing before the Arkansas loss, and really, before the close call to South Carolina. Even in the Florida game they looked like they were a play or two away from getting run out of the stadium.

#6 Florida

Walter: Ugh talk about sleepwalking. Florida is lucky they didn't lose to Mark Richt and his pathetic Georgia team or they would be getting absolutely killed heading into their biggest game of the season. Make no mistake, the Auburn game was huge, but this Florida team absolutely HAS TO BEAT SPURRIER when he comes to the swamp in two weeks. More than anything, Urban Meyer needs to beat him to justify his hiring (which seems silly but is 100% true) when Florida could have easily buried the hatchet and rehired the Ole Ball Coach. Anyways, this Gator team just doesn't have the look of a champion, but they do have huge potential for next season with Tim Tebow (who reminds me of a modern day Ken Stabler) taking over for the ever underachieving Chris Leak.

Frazier - Was Chris Leak concussed? Or just mediocre? These are the kinds of questions floating around Gator-land. It seems like the clock is ticking before Mayer busts Tebow out for some more playing time. I was convinced that would come against Georgia, but maybe he's saving it for the Spurrier gang in a couple of weeks. Is there something in the water down there? I remember when Spurriers teams were labeled as being "soft" (something they proved to be accurate when Nebraska ran all over them, and Tommie Frazier broke through every defensive player on their team to bust a long touchdown run). Well, that label is back, and it's looking every bit as accurate these days. They need to add some big nasties to all the athletes.

#7 Texas

Walter: The win against Texas Tech was very impressive. Falling behind by 21 points to a team that scored 6 points agianst Colorado and 3 against TCU is not impressive. Texas is winning, and looking good doing so, but I wonder just how good they really are. I mean the Big 12 is totally watered down this season, and the Longhorns failed their only real test (OSU) miserably. More worrisome to the Austin faithful has to be the Longhorn's inability to stop opposing passing games. They have given up 519, 302, and 320 passing yard respecively to Texas Tech, Nebraska, and Baylor (not exactly Hawaii, Houston, and New Mexico State by the way!). I have been trying to pimp this Oklahoma State offense the past few weeks but if they light up Texas the way they are capable of doing, they may finally get their props.

Frazier - There is something fishy with the pass defense in Austin this year. I'd definitely be sweating with Oklahoma St. coming up if I were a Longhorn fan (I definitely am not). On the other hand, the Cowboys have a history of being a streaky team, and since they've been peaking, well, it might be time for another let-down. We'll see. A nice comeback victory, but I still haven't seen a whole lot from this team. Nebraska is looking very mediocre, and their only real win was against an Oklahoma team that underperformed. Another glacier-slow start this weekend, and we WILL know who this Texas team is: a mediocre team with a pair of losses.

#8 Rutgers

Walter: The Knights remain where they started after a thoroughly uninspired performance at home against a UConn team that West Virginia absolutely annihilated on the road. Rutgers will get their chance to prove they belong higher than this when they play both Louisville and West Virginia later this season. The bottom line is that the game against Rutgers will be the biggest remaining game of the season for whoever wins Thursday's showdown. One more note, however: After watching Navy shred Notre Dame for over 200 yards rushing and 14 points int he first half of their game Saturday, what the Rutgers defense did to the Midshipmen in Annapolis is all the more impressive (holding them to 113 yards rushing on 50 carries). Maybe this Knights team does have the defensive ability to shut down Steve Slaton, Pat White, and Co.

Frazier - I thought this was a little too high for the Scarlet Knights last week, so imagine how I'm feeling today. Got my best look of the year at this squad, and they looked totally uninspiring against UConn. They caught a couple of breaks in that one, and it saved their skins (and the Big East's) from a total catastrophe. Um, I am not going to buy that Navy game, especially since their quarterback went down in the first half. Instead I am going to focus on the freshman, third-string running back from UConn who shredded Rutgers for 200 yards on the ground. Steve Slaton must have been practically drooling watching that outing. Oh, and seeing Rice hobbling was not what we would normally call "a good sign".

#9 Tennessee

Walter: Ugh, I hate to do it but you have to give credit to Phil Fulmer for taking care of his old nemesis Steve Spurrier. Though he was aided by some poor decisions and some blind luck (it seemed like every tipped pass went over, around, and through South Carolina players to find the one Tennessee guy in the area) a win is a win, and I don't want to seem bitter. Still, the Vols have huge games coming up against LSU and Arkansas that will really prove their mettle. I still think Erik Ainge folds up like oragami paper at least once against these two great defenses. Hey a guy can hope can't he?

Frazier - The Vols have been taking care of business. The 323 doesn't buy them, but they have a single loss, by a single point all season. And they have played some pretty decent teams, and had a nice comeback against Fulmer's personal nemesis last week. Look, Ainge is garbage, it's going to happen. I predicted them to handle the one that everyone thought they would lose. Now, I think they really ARE in trouble. Of course, maybe I've just been drinking too much of that Kool-Aid the big man has been handing around.

#10 Arkansas

Walter: To be honest, the Boise State Broncos probably deserve this spot more, but we have been avoiding putting them in the dreaded 10 spot the whole season, so why start now. Choosing Arkansas to be here is more of an achievment award than anything else. With their murderous stretch of schedule upcoming (at South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU) this may be the last opportunity we have to get them into the power 10. The 7-1 record has to be a surprise for the Razorbacks. Both myself and Frazier picked Arkansas as one of our preseason underrated teams, but I'd be lying if I thought they'd compete for the SEC title this season. This team is very young, very talented, and has their best years ahead of them. They deserve recognition for what they have accomplished so far.

Frazier - Time to give the Hogs some love. They have a huge win over Auburn, and have been thoroughly dominating teams for a couple of weeks now. No longer are they slipping past, they are slapping lesser teams around. Their only loss was an incredibly tough game for a freshman quarterback against a USC team with a lot to prove. We both like what this team has been bringing to the table, so it's time to give them some credit.


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