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Rating College Football’s Top 25 After the First Month of the 2011 Season

Posted on September 26, 2011 by Anderson Melvin

The LSU Tigers have had plenty to shout about during the first month of the 2011 college football season.

Isn’t it hard to believe that something that takes so long to get here, can already be going by this fast? If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that drinking beer and watching football passes the time like no other. The good news is it’s only the first third, and plenty of exciting football remains.

People often say that the polls don’t matter this early. But ascending your way through the rankings and ultimately being crowned #1 is what it’s all about. Seeing as how we are now one-third of the way through the regular season, it seemed like the perfect time to do a special breakdown of what we’ve seen so far from each team. Top 25

1. LSU Tigers (42) (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
So far LSU has been the most impressive team of the season, and are deserving of their new #1 ranking. Three of their four wins have come on the road and have come in dominant fashion. All three against ranked opponents, including last years runner-ups and #3 ranked Oregon. The Tigers may look like the best now, but the daunting SEC West may be too hard to make it out alive. If they keep up their winning ways, they will without a doubt be making a short trip to New Orleans in January.

2. Oklahoma Sooners (12) (3-0, 1-0 Big 12)
The Sooners were jumped by LSU this week despite being alloted top spot to begin the season. With an impressive road victory over the #5 Florida State Seminoles already, the Sooners sit at 3-0 with an easy Ball State opponent coming to Norman. Oklahoma’s next test comes in two weeks when they travel to Austin to face the Longhorns.

Which Team Will Finish Number One in College Football?

  • LSU Tigers (33%, 7 Votes)
  • Wisconsin Badgers (24%, 5 Votes)
  • Alabama Crimson Tide (14%, 3 Votes)
  • Boise State Broncos (10%, 2 Votes)
  • Oklahoma Sooners (10%, 2 Votes)
  • Stanford Cardinal (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Someone else (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Oklahoma State Cowboys (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 21

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3. Alabama Crimson Tide (5) (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
There were a lot of question marks coming into the season for the Tide after they lost 4 starters to the NFL, in the first round alone, along with quarterback Greg McElroy. It was obvious that the defense was going to have to step up for Alabama if they wanted to win. So far the defense has been superb and the offense, to much surprise, has held it’s own. Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy continue the two-back, 1-2-punch, thunder and lightning combo we saw a lot of last year with Ingram and Richardson. Only this time with size being the force, it’s more of a thunder and thunder haymaker. The Tide get their first SEC road test this week when they head to The Swamp.

4. Boise State Broncos (1) (3-0, 0-0 MWC)

Kellen Moore made the trip to the Georgia Dome worth it for Bronco fans, taking down an SEC opponent while doing so. The Broncos impressive Week 1 win might be the only chance they have to impress voters this year. Well they made it count. The big question for Boise is whether it will be enough or not. If they can avoid disaster and make it through the rest of the season unscathed, the Broncos may finally get their chance to play in the championship. Look for Moore to be on a lot of Heisman ballots too.

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)

The Cowboys showed resiliency in a 2nd half comeback win Saturday vs #8 Texas A&M. Perhaps more impressive was that the win came on the road in College Station, which is known for its hostile crowd. The passing attack Oklahoma St. has shown thus far ranks 2nd among FBS teams and Cowboy fans are hopeful their unblemished record is still intact when foe #2 Oklahoma visit. Cowboys are off this week.

6. Stanford Cardinal (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12)

Andrew Luck has been solid to start the 2011 season.

The Cardinal may be without Jim Harbaugh, but that hasn’t stopped top NFL prospect Andrew Luck from putting up big numbers. With a relatively easy PAC-12 schedule, Stanford is another team that not only should have a shot at the national championship, but a shot at a potential Heisman winner.

7. Wisconsin Badgers (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
NC State transfer Russell Wilson, like Luck, is leading the Badgers to a huge offensive season. While the opponents may be less than stellar, the Badger defense is allowing just 8.5 points per game. That strong defense will need to show up this Saturday when #8 Nebraska comes stomping into Camp Randall.

8. Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

The long-time member of the Big 12 shifted gears in the off-season and made the move to the Big 10. So far they have fit right in. Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez isn’t putting up stunning passing numbers, but leads the Huskers in rushing. Nebraska’s biggest test of the year comes Saturday when they head into Camp Randall for a top-10, Big 10 showdown.

9. Oregon Ducks (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12)

Oregon had hopes of returning to the BCS National Championship game and righting last years loss to Auburn. Those hopes were abruptly stopped by the #1 LSU Tigers in Week 1. Oregon may have lost their championship dreams, but still have a great shot at a 10-win season and a great shot to take home a Heisman trophy. Heisman candidates Darron Thomas and LaMichael James hope one of them can bring the hardware home to Eugene. Oregon is off this week.

10. South Carolina Gamecocks (4-0, 2-0 SEC)

To me there hasn’t been a bigger disappointment in football than the Gamecocks. Despite being undefeated, coming off a statement year last year they were primed to dominate every opponent they saw in 2011. That has not been the case so far. Stephen Garcia has been either a hero or an achilles heel throughout his career, and it’s much of the same story his senior season. Luckily for Garcia and the Gamecocks, Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey remain two of the premier players in college football. Melvin Ingram has also emerged as a defensive star. An undefeated season and national championship is not out of the question if USC can get it turned around.

11. Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0, 0-0 ACC)

VT has very quietly started off the year with an undefeated record. While they haven’t played any formidable opponents or defeated them with ease, you have to imagine Frank Beamer likes where his team quietly sits at #11. The weekend of great top-25 match-ups continues as they play host to the red hot Clemson Tigers.

12. Florida Gators (4-0,2-0 SEC)
There may not be a faster team in the country than the Gators. They have two backs with world class speed and so far this season they’re in the top 10 in the FBS in rushing yards. Florida has maybe the hardest remaining schedule starting with back-to-back meetings with top 5 teams, Alabama and LSU. They then have Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State. I see them taking two out of the five games, but they must first focus on this weekend as #2 Alabama comes to town. If you like hard nosed defense, this SEC game is a must watch.

13. Clemson Tigers (4-0, 1-0 ACC)

After surviving Florida State, Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Tigers will look to keep it rolling at Virginia Tech.

Clemson had a lot of people raising their eyebrows after a scary week 2 win over Wofford. But the Tigers haven’t looked back. Dabo Sweeney has his team believing they can beat anyone, and I think experts are starting to believe as well. With wins over defending champion Auburn and ACC nemesis FSU, Clemson has suddenly risen all the way up to #13. Freshman Sammy Watkins has been an easy target to throw to so far, and has proven himself a playmaker. Watkins has the hands of AJ Green mixed with the physicality of Julio Jones, a scary combination for any corner to go up against. The Tigers will head to Blacksburg this weekend to take on the Hokies.

14. Texas A&M Aggies (2-1)
Ohhhh Aggies. You had ‘em but lost ‘em. Falling out of the top 10, TAMU probably had one of the most heart-breaking losses in recent Aggie history on Saturday. Blundering a big 2nd half lead to Big 12 rival Oklahoma State. The Aggies need to bounce back big if they want to save their season. Doing so won’t be easy as they head into Arkansas. Both schools are coming off of tough losses. If you’re looking for a fun shootout of a football game to watch this weekend, this is your matchup.

15. Baylor Bears (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)

Robert Griffin III has Baylor on the rise and might be the frontrunner for the Heisman so far. He is putting up video game statistics and has started the Bears off 3-0 including a Week 1 victory over #14 TCU. Finding out if the Baylor is the real deal comes next. They go on the road to play Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, and then have Texas and Oklahoma at home. If RG3 can keep it up, he could have the Bears playing for a Big 12 championship, and himself playing for a Heisman.

16. South Florida Bulls (4-0, 0-0 Big East)

With a statement win over Notre Dame to start the year, South Florida continues to climb the polls year after year. Just four games in and they are on the brink of breaking the top-15. Skip Holtz has done a tremendous job as the head ball coach at USF. A light schedule could lead to a 10 win season for the Bulls, and maybe a BCS bowl. Yes, a BCS bowl for the South Florida Bulls.

17. Texas Longhorns (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)

Texas, aside from a narrow escape against BYU, has been impressive in the early goings. Little brother of Texas legend Colt McCoy, Case, has won over the starting job and is giving Longhorn fans a year to look forward to. While they are still a ways away from getting back to championship form, they are certainly on the right path. Two of the Longhorns next three games come against top 5 ranked opponents. The good news is they are both at home.

18. Arkansas Razorbacks (3-1, 0-1 SEC)

A shaky victory over Troy paired with a rough loss at #3 Alabama has Razorback fans worried about 2011. Arkansas has probably the best quartet of receivers in college football with a solid junior quarterback in Tyler Wilson throwing to them. They face another tough test this weekend when they face Texas A&M in Fayetteville. Look for this one to be a high scoring game as both teams are looking to bounce back.

19. Michigan Wolverines (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Denard Robinson and Michigan have looked good so far, but they still have the meat of their schedule remaining.

Denard Robinson may not be the best passing quarterback, but he can certainly run. He’s averaging just under 8 yards a carry so far this season, leading the Wolverines to a great 4-0 start. Not only does he lead the team in rushing, but he has 11 total touchdowns, and led his team down the field late in an instant classic victory over Notre Dame. My prediction for Michigan’s season: 8-4.

20. TCU Horned Frogs (3-1, 1-0 MWC)
TCU fell victim to RG3 and the Baylor Bears in week 1, losing a high-scoring heart-breaker 50-48. The Horned Frogs have responded well winning their last three games. They have a breeze of a schedule until they meet much anticipated #4 Boise State. TCU may find themselves back in the top 10 by that time, and we all know they would love to wreck the Broncos dreams of a championship.

21. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-0, 1-0 ACC)

Holy offense! To maybe a lot of peoples surprise, the Yellow Jackets lead the nation in scoring at a whopping 53.3 points a game. Doing much of the scoring is their ground game, where they rank 2nd overall with just under 400 yards per game. Georgia Tech might find themselves undefeated when #13 Clemson comes to town in four weeks. The defense is the big question mark for the Jackets.

22. West Virginia Mountaineers (3-1, 0-0 Bis East)

West Virginia was looking forward to showing the country what they could do vs the LSU Tigers and had a lot of people believing they could pull the upset. Despite an attempted comeback by the Mountaineers, the Tigers proved to be too much and won in a blowout. Make no mistake about it, this is a good WVU team with a lot of playmakers. With a light Big East schedule, they have a great shot at an 11-1 season.

23. Florida State Seminoles (2-2, 0-1 ACC)

Just when everyone thought the Florida State of old was back, the top-ranked Sooners came to Tallahassee and ruined the party. Now with back-to-back losses, after a surprisingly good Clemson team gave Seminoles more than they could handle, FSU has dropped all the way to #23. It could only get worse if EJ Manuel was hurt, and he was in the Oklahoma game. Florida State is still a great team and has a good shot of finishing with 10 wins and getting to a BCS bowl. Hopefully they will be led by a healthy Manuel if they do. If not, FSU fans should be excited with what the future holds. This is still a young team with a young backup quarterback getting a lot of forced, yet quality playing time. Seminoles will be a force to be reckoned with not only for the rest of the season, but for years to come. FSU gets a much needed bye week this week.

24. Illinois Fighting Illini (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Is Illinois a Big Ten sleeper? So far the answer has been yes. Despite being 4-0, the Illini have only won their last two games by a total of 6 points. I don’t know how many people think Illinois can keep it up, but they’re making their impressions slowly. My prediction for Illinois’ season: 7-5

25. Arizona State Sun Devils (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12)

Rounding out the top-25 is the Sun Devils. With a very impressive defensive effort Saturday vs Southern California, Arizona State once again hopes to get back into their winning form. The Devils have one of the best unknown quarterbacks in the country in Brock Osweiler, along with weapons on defense, they may be a force in the Pac-12.

You can read more from Anderson on his blog: Anderson Sports.


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