Before I begin, I just wanted to toss out a little more fodder for the Dalton haters. It appears that none other than SI.com has caught on to the sporadic greatness of the Rooster and has actually included him in their latest edition of the Heisman Watch. No commentary necessary here.
As for this post, I think it’s clear that we’re all a little disappointed that we’re ranked 5th in the initial BCS standings. Or, not so much that we’re ranked 5th, but that we were jumped by OU and Auburn and that we’re still a considerable margin behind Boise. Success makes you a glass half empty kind of person and while normally being ranked this high halfway through the season would be a cause for celebration, right now it just plain sucks. But, fear not because there is still plenty of room to move up for the Frogs… it’ll just take some major help from some unexpected places. Here’s a look at the BCS Top Ten and what we can expect from these teams the rest of the season. All rankings reflect current BCS standings.
#1 Oklahoma Sooners.
Key Wins: vs. #17 Florida State, vs. #19 Texas.
Key Losses: None.
Potential Stumbling Blocks: 10/23 @ #11 Missouri, 10/27 @ #14 Oklahoma State, Big 12 Championship.
Thoughts: The win against Florida State is looking better and better as the Seminoles have continued to roll since their thrashing in Norman. Texas beating Nebraska this weekend helped their schedule strength considerably as well. TCU does have the advantage of comparing head to head home games against Air Force with OU – the Sooners scraped that one out 27-24 last month, so the margin shouldn’t be too hard to best – but Air Force losing to San Diego State last weekend isn’t good business for anyone. The Sooners still have to play Big 12 South foes Baylor, Tech and aggy, but the two games listed above are the only remaining ones on the schedule against ranked teams. Having them both on the road helps, but OU rarely loses to little brother Oklahoma State, so our hopes very much rest on the Tigers this weekend in Columbia. Or could Frog favorite Robert Griffin the turd give Baylor the biggest win in their history in Waco next month? Probably not.
Bottom Line: If the Sooners survive this weekend, there’s a very good chance they run the tables and face the winner of Missouri/Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship for the right to give Stoops another loss in a major bowl game.
#2 Oregon Ducks.
Key Wins: vs. #12 Stanford.
Key Losses: None.
Potential Stumbling Blocks: 10/21 vs. UCLA, 10/30 @ USC, 11/26 vs. #18 Arizona, 12/4 @ Oregon State.
Thoughts: The bad news about Oregon is that they have already jumped TCU and looked poised to stay there until they lose, and they’ve already played the toughest game on their schedule and won. The good news about Oregon is that they still have the bulk of their schedule remaining and have some tough games to close things out, including two on the road. With 10 days to prepare, they likely don’t lose to UCLA, also known as the loopiest team in college football, this Thursday night, but USC showed some serious signs of life last weekend and you know they want to kick the crap out of the Ducks and quiet the rumbling that the King is dead. Arizona was overrated when they were in the top ten, but they’re still a very good football team and Oregon State, despite the 1 point loss this past weekend in Spokane and the loss of James Rodgers, is still a very solid football team and would love nothing more than to spoil their snooty neighbor’s Rose Bowl or national title game chances.
Bottom Line: There’s still a lot of time for Oregon to screw this thing up.
#3 Boise State Broncos.
Key Wins: @#25 Virginia Tech, vs. Oregon State.
Potential Stumbling Blocks: 11/6 vs. Hawaii, 11/26 @ Nevada.
Key Losses: None.
Thoughts: Boise’s remaining strength of schedule took a SIGNIFICANT hit when Hawaii knocked off Nevada Saturday night. Even if the Wolfpack run the schedule the rest of the way, they’ll be very hard pressed to crack the Top 25 again this season; It very well may be another 400 years until they do it again. But still, Nevada remains a very dangerous team and come November 27th there’s a chance the country could be talking about the Hawaii loss as an unfortunate blemish on a magical season. I included Hawaii on here simply because they can score points and they beat Nevada, but I don’t expect them to pull the upset in an early game – 2:00PM Boise which is like 10 or 11 AM Hawaii – on the road.
Bottom Line: Boise will probably run the regular season table for the third consecutive year, but as long as Utah keeps winning, combined with comparable wins over Oregon State, TCU’s SOS will likely push us over the top. Cheer like hell against Virginia Tech, though.
#4 Auburn Tigers.
Key Wins: @ #24 Mississippi State, vs. #21 South Carolina, vs. #23 Arkansas.
Key Losses: None.
Potential Stumbling Blocks: 10/23 vs. #6 LSU, 11/26 @ #8 Alabama.
Thoughts: Think there are some grumpy and uncomfortable folks in Tuscaloosa right now? Probably not as grumpy as Iowa State fans still angry with Gene Chizik, thought. Cam Newton is the real deal – think Denard Robinson but with an arm and durability – and Auburn has already racked up some significant victories and sits firmly as the favorite as the SEC entrant in the national championship. HUGE game this weekend against LSU, but they get them at home and Les Miles’ game management futility has to backfire eventually, right? Win this weekend and it’s pretty smooth sailing until the Iron Bowl, which would be the most meaningful matchup between the two schools in recent memory.
Bottom Line: I full expect 11-0 Auburn to head to 10-1 Alabama on Thanksgiving weekend for the Hate Fest to end all Hate Fests. And if Auburn runs the SEC for the second time, there’s no chance in hell they’re kept out of the big dance – and I wouldn’t argue with them by any means.
#6 LSU Tigers.
Key Wins: vs. #23 Mississippi State, vs #20 West Virginia, @ Florida.
Key Losses: Jesus, HOW is this none?!?
Potential Stumbling Blocks: 10/23 @ #4 Auburn, 11/6 vs. #8 Alabama.
Thoughts: You’re all surely well aware the LSU is the luckiest team in any sport across the world right now, so I don’t need to go into that. But, things get a little too real over the next 3 weeks as the Tigers face the state of Alabama gauntlet, although the luck continues with an off week between games. Their destruction of Mississippi State looks pretty good right now, although I question the validity of beating West Virginia. We’ll see how that plays out. Florida are clearly frauds, but it’s still Florida and it’s still a road win in the Swamp. Much like Auburn, if they run their schedule, give them the trophy.
Bottom Line: No chance they survive against both Auburn and Alabama.
#7 Michigan State Spartans.
Key Wins: vs. #13 Wisconsin
Key Losses: None.
Potential Stumbling Blocks: 10/30 @ #15 Iowa.
Thoughts: Michigan State does have a relatively famous win over Notre Dame and knocked off Michigan last weekend, but both of those teams are quickly fizzling into also-ran status, so I’m not sure how much weight they hold going forward. The scariest thing about the Spartans schedule is that they have already played and defeated Wisconsin and they avoid Ohio State altogether. Iowa could be a tricky matchup, especially on the road, and the winner of that one will likely be in the drivers’ seat for the Rose Bowl or better.
Bottom Line: Michigan State is one of those teams that typically crashes back down to earth eventually in conference play, as are all Big Ten teams for that matter, but the schedule sets up very favorably for the rest of the season. Besides, their coach is apparently immortal so someone clearly has cast a helpful gaze on them this season. They don’t jump an undefeated Oklahoma, Oregon or Auburn, but they will definitely catch us and Boise eventually if they don't lose.
Key Wins: vs. Florida, @ #23 Arkansas
Key Losses @ #21 South Carolina.
Potential Stumbling Blocks: 11/6 @ #6 LSU, 11/26 vs. #4 Auburn.
Thoughts: Now that South Carolina has lost two games, that slip up for the Tide looks even more humiliating. Still, the computers and voters clearly have respect for them as they remain #8 in the polls despite not dominating Ole Miss this past weekend. The Tide could end up being a serious conundrum for the BCS committee if they are able to run the tables the rest of the year and Michigan State, Oklahoma and/or Oregon do as well because you know they want to include the SEC Champion in the good Fiesta Bowl no matter what. They’ll be an interesting team to keep an eye on the rest of the season.
Bottom Line: I think they definitely stay clean until the Iron Bowl and then that one will be a free for all for the SEC West.
#9 Utah Utes.
Key Wins: None.
Key Losses: None.
Potential Stumbling Blocks: Duh.
Thoughts: It may be a little harsh to not give Utah any credit for shutting down Pitt and dismantling Iowa State… but those teams are garbage garbage garbage and will hurt their SOS as much as they will help it by the time this thing is over. This is why they’re ranked #9 despite being undefeated rather than in the top 5. The Utes do have to travel to Notre Dame the week after our game against them, but that matchup has lost a TON of luster with Notre Dame’s continued failings. Besides, their season will be in hand one way or the other by that point. Hard to imagine that Utah/TCU could actually trump Alabama/LSU on the same day as far as the national landscape is concerned.
Bottom Line: This game cannot get here fast enough… and I am so terrified of that day arriving. So terrified in fact that I’ll be hunting that afternoon in South Dakota without television access, which may actually turn out for the better. My nerves, they be frazzled.
#10 Ohio State.
Key Wins: None.
Key Losses: @ #13 Wisconsin.
Potential Stumbling Blocks: 11/20 @ #15 Iowa.
Thoughts: The worst part about OSU losing this past weekend? It likely takes the Rose Bowl out of play for the non-BCS participant in a major bowl unless Michigan State and Oregon both defy the odds. I sense a conspiracy here... The best part? Everything else. This team is SO overrated and it’s such a breath of fresh air to finally have them out of the top spot. They would’ve been a tragic participant in the national title game once again. I hate Ohio State with an unnatural passion.
Bottom Line: They may run the tables, but an undefeated TCU stays ahead of the one loss Buckeyes.
So, lots of things have to happen to get TCU into the National Title game as you can see. I’m personally not holding my breath, but I also didn’t think our participation last year would’ve come down to Colt McCoy’s clock management skills, either. In other words, hope is still alive. If I had to make a prediction, I'd say that OU runs the tables and gets one of the spots, and that the other will probably go to Oregon. I don't think Michigan State will finish the year without a loss, and I think all of the SEC teams will have one as well - LSU to Auburn or Bama, and then Auburn to Bama. I then think an undefeated TCU jumps Boise for the automatic bid, and in this case it'd actually end up being the Rose Bowl against Ohio State, Michigan State or Iowa. It's not the national championship, but it's not a bad consolation either.
Also, this will probably serve as your Movement Preview for the week. Hope you kids can manage.