Posted by Walter
#1 Ohio State
Walter: Well there really isn't anymore debate on this one. Ohio State's offense proved just how dominant they can be in dropping 40+ on the vaunted Michigan defense last Saturday. The most impressive thing, though: Ohio State scored 5 touchdowns, each by a different player. As I opined earlier this week, the way you win in college football is to shut down your opponent's best players. Well, when your opponent has the depth and talent at all the skill positions that the Buckeye's do it is impossible to do that.
Frazier - They should probably be both one AND two. Or the next team should be ranked third or something, because they are head and shoulders above everyone else right now. They thoroughly outplayed the Wolverines, and were a couple of self-inflicted turnovers from breaking the game wide open. The best football team in the land, bar-none.
Walter: Whether Michigan would beat Ohio State in a rematch is immaterial. Given the system we have they are the most deserving team for the final spot in the BCS championship game (for more on this see the Quick Hitch debate). As for their game against Ohio State, Michigan lost for one reason: Chad Henne just isn't as good as Troy Smith. Smith made plays when his team needed him too, while Henne kept audibling and confusing everyone. One more note: Mike Hart is a lot better than people think. He and Smith were the two best players on the field Saturday, and frankly it wasn't close.
Frazier - Michigan lost because its' vaunted defense gave up 42 points, allowed multiple big plays, and failed to make enough big plays of their own. Henne didn't help, but if you'd told me that the Wolverines would score 39 points AT Ohio St. I would have bet my life savings on them winning the game. Michigan hangs around here because of the one-loss teams there's is least devestating, but this does not change my position regarding the title game. Furthermore, there are plenty of huge games to go before anyone has to make that decision.
Walter: If USC runs the gamut of California, Notre Dame, and UCLA unscathed they will have earned the right to play in the title game and I won't be too upset about it. While I maintain that Michigan is he more deserving team, USC has really been impressive this season. If healthy (which they presumably would be with 40 days to rest before a showdown in Glendale), the Trojans are the only team in the nation that can match OSU's offensive firepower. The Buckeyes have Troy Smith, Tedd Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, and Antonio Pittman. The Trojans have John David Booty, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, and a whose who of Parade All Americans in their backfield. If they do make the title game, USC will have done so, however, becuase of their defense. This unit has made huge strides this season since being embarrassed by Vince Young in the Rose Bowl. With nearly a month and a half to prepare for the Buckeyes I bet that Pete Carroll could come up with something to make it a game!
Frazier - A completely confusing team. Like many of Carroll's squads in SoCal, they have enormous talent, and yet disappear for whole stretches of games. They routinely took quarters or whole halves off against opponents last year, and they haven't really kicked the habit. After doing nothing for an entire half against Cal they decided to focus for a minute, reeled off a couple of quick touchdowns on incredibly impressive drives, and then sort of zoned out again until they discovered the game was over. Honestly, if they are able to maintain a consistent effort on both sides of the ball for the rest of the year, they are going to be a very, very, very dangerous bunch.
Walter: Arkansas has been somewhat of a revelation this year. They arrived on the scene a season earlier than expected and should be nearly unstoppable next year. Lost in the shuffle has been the amazing job done by Razorback offensive coordinator Gus Mahlzan. Many assumed that Mahlzan was brought in simply as leverage to get super recruit Mitch Mustain. While that may be true, it turns out that Mahlzan is a fantastic offensive mind. Mahlzan has proven to be one of the most creative coaches in the nation in finding ways to get the ball to his playmakers Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and Marcus Monk. He has used everything from Wing T motion to single wing formations (with McFadden at QB) and it has all worked. If Arkansas beats LSU this Saturday and then takes care of business against Florida in the SEC title game, they, not USC, may find themselves in Glendale playing Ohio State.
Frazier - Even with their vaunted running attack slowed down, they found a way to win. I love how they have kept defenses guessing, and are finding ways to have McFadden make a difference. He is a physical freak! As long as Dick (or whoever is at quarterback) doesn't go all Teel on them, they have an excellent chance to run off a pair of very impressive victories.
Walter: Ugh, if the football gods are paying any attention this week they will let the Gators lost to the Seminoles and end this charade that may end up with Florida in the national title game. Trust me, if they end up in Glendale over Michigan we could be looking at Miami-Nebraska all over again! And that's all I really have to say about that.
Frazier - I hate that the big man invoked my beloved 'Huskers to denigrate the Gators, but he has a point. That title game was so disgusting that while I made arrangements to watch the game at my girlfriends house on a trip to California (even though her parents didn't understand football and thought I was nuts) I also made a back-up plan for around halftime if things started going disastrously. Needless to say, the back-up was invoked and I ended up having a blast at some random party. If that Gators end up in the title game I will once again have to develop an emergency escape plan in case of a blowout. Oh, and blowing out Western Carolina is not going to get me to change my mind, not even a little.
#6 Notre Dame
Walter: Notre Dame needs a win, and a huge one at that, against USC to have any chance at making the title game. And even if they get it I still have a hard time forgetting that they got blown out by Michigan in South Bend. Still, even though Notre Dame hasn't played anyone with a pulse since Michigan, I have a sneaking feeling that they are going to give USC all they can handle and possibly win the game. As great as Brady Quinn has been at Notre Dame he still lacks a signature win. The defense is still nothing special, but with Quinn, McKnight and Samardzjia the Irish should be able to hang with anyone.
Frazier - While I still believe that Notre Dame is terrible, I also believe that USC doesn't always exactly "show up". My only solace is the fact that there is no way in hell Notre Dame is jumping in front of Michigan in the title picture. As much as I don't want a rematch, I don't want a replay of the Buckeyes running all over the Irish in the desert. What can you say about this team? They won the Commander-in-Chiefs trophy handily, and managed to not suffer any significant injuries. If Boise St. had switched uniforms with this crowd at the beginning of the year, would you expect the record to be any different given this schedule? Probably not. Who the fuck are these guys?
#7 Boise State
Walter: They have an absolutely huge game this weekend at Nevada, one that will, in all reality, make or break this program. First under Dirk Koetter, then under Dan Hawkins, and now under Chris Peterson, Boise State has long been on the cusp of national relevance. Boise was supposed to be the first non BCS conference team to make a major bowl, but that title now belongs to Utah. With a win over Nevada, Boise St. all but guarantees themselves an at large bid to the big show. Then all they have to do is prove they belong with a win (like Utah). With Ian Johnson (assuming he's healthy) and Jared Zabransky in the backfield, this team can compete with anyone.
Frazier - Note that my esteemed co-blogger failed to mention John L. Smith's work up in Boise. Oh yeah, he won there too. Anyways, my boys from the beginning of the year are on the verge, and are playing probably the biggest game in school history against Nevada this week. I love how they have morphed was a crazy passing attack to a potent running game with the advent of Johnson (Zabransky can make plenty of plays with his feet, too). This team's consistency has put them in this position, and they have to hope that their talent will bring them to the promised land of the BCS.
Walter: Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you the chic team for 2007. As huge a season as Wisconsin has had this year, they are going to be even better next year. PJ Hill has been a revelation, and in the past two games Tyler Donovan has proved that he is more than capable of taking over for John Stocco (who seems like he has been in college forever!). The defense was young but effective this season, especially in the secondary where they have 3 players coming back. This is truly one of the underrated programs in the nation (remember their bowl domination of Auburn last season?), but they won't ever take the next step until they play for a national title. The Badgers look to have the talent and certainly the coaching (assuming they can keep Bret Beilema) to take the next step in 2007 or 2008.
Frazier - I have to quickly concur regarding Stocco. Wow, he's been around forever. Are you sure he didn't suit up with Brent Moss in that 1993 Rose Bowl? Anyways, once again I have to praise consistency, since they haven't actually beaten anybody. Still, they set a record for wins at a school with a strong history, and they won the games they were supposed to. The future is certainly bright. I, for one, can't wait to learn a little bit more about them when they suit up in a bowl game.
Walter: Well the laws of attrition cause the Tigers to rise a spot even though they struggled to beat an SEC cellar dweller this past weekend. LSU has been somewhat of an enigma under Les Miles. They always have top tier talent but they never really perform up to it. Offensively this team has been one sided all season, with Jamarcus Russell carrying both the passing and running games. We all know I love Russell's ability and if he chooses to return to Baton Rouge next season (word is he is planning on coming out early, but if you ask me he'd be wise to stay) they are going to be my early pick for the SEC title over a Florida team that will be completely overrated heading into next season. Still a win over Arkansas on Saturday and then a bowl win would do wonders for the confidence of this team, and would probably vault them into the final poll top 5.
Frazier - We may have an addiction problem with the Bayou Bengals. Honestly, we keep moving them into the rankings, even when we're not totally sold. The fact that they get credit this week after surviving Ole Miss is not unlike Boise St. getting a boost after a close scrape against San Jose St. It's all about the attrition, baybee! LSU has plenty of talent, their losses were to good schools in difficult environments, and they have some pretty nice wins. Basically, they are less flawed than the schools that follow them. One more loss, however, and I'm going cold turkey on these guys.
Walter: OK let me explain how we ended up with the Cardinals here: First I had WVU because of their impressive second half over Pitt. Then Frazier pointed out that we really couldn't put WVU over Louisville because of the head to head. I didn't want Louisville so I tried Oklahoma who is one terrible call away from being a one loss team and easily in the top 10. But then Frazier once again correctly pointed out that we couldn't put Oklahoma in over a 2 loss Texas team that beat them. So then it came down to Louisville and Texas. They both played at Kansas State, one team won handily, the other lost. And there you have it folks, Louisville.
Frazier - The big man pretty much stole my thunder with his explanation here. His comparison between Texas and Louisville was very apt, and probably more objective than my "I just can't stand Texas, they're total shit" argument. So thanks for that one, buddy. I am willing to say that they just had a bad half against Rutgers, and really are a better team than they showed that night. Still, the 323 came extremely close to just debuting our first "Power 9" so we didn't have to deal with them.
This is a new feature and one we should have been doing all season. In this spot we recognize a team that is not in the power 10 but has really played well. This week we choose Hawaii.
Walter: Hawaii has really been impressive this season and June Jones deserves a ton of credit. The program was in absolute shambles when he took over, but his high octaned run and shoot offense has infused the island with so much excitement. QB Colt Brennan and WR Davone Bess are arguably the two top NFL prospects in the history of the school, and they have produced as such. What is most impressive is that Hawaii has put up prolific numbers against top competition this year. Though they lost to Alabama and Boise State, they still put up a ton of offense. With Oregon State and Purdue coming to Hawaii in the next two weeks, look for the Warriors to make a major statement with some aerial fireworks against these two BCS teams.
Frazier - I am thrilled about this new feature to the 323, and am excited that our first team to be so honored are the boys from the islands. Jones has really done something with this team, and I just lament the fact that they chose to stay home and play some weak sister opponent in the Hawaii bowl. But I guess we'll just have to enjoy the next couple of weeks when schools from BCS conferences say aloha to the run and shoot, and find out what a passing game is really all about. It's also nice to see that Brennan has bounced back from some poor choices he made at Colorado. Now he has his sights set on multiple passing records. Like his coach, Colt has managed to find redemption on the island.