NCAA TOP 10 REPORT; WEEK 11
by Wayne Allyn Root
There was not much shake up at the top after reveling the second week of rankings by the Bowl Selection Committee. Mississippi State, Florida St and Auburn lead the top 3 while Oregon moved ahead of Alabama after their win over Stanford and Bama’s bye week. The SEC West looks like it will dismantle itself this month as it beats itself up with Ole Miss, LSU and Arkansas playing the spoiler role. The Big 10 has one shot in that Michigan St has to beat Ohio St and then beat Nebraska for the Title. The Big 12 deserves representation by TCU if they can get by Kansas St this week and run out. In the PAC 12, Oregon is in the drivers seat but must get by a dangerous Utah team this week in Salt Lake City. I like this years format of 4 teams so that teams 5-8 have to play and win in addition to having cases where the top 4 can tumble and fall. Just look where Ole Miss was 2 weeks ago. If it was a playoff of 8 teams, our enjoyment would not come until the end of the season and would be short lived for that one week of 4 extra games. For now, let see what’s ahead.
1) MISSISSIPPI ST—The Bulldogs look tired and beat up. Maybe it’s the pressure of playing at a level they’ve never had to play. After-all, this is the first team ever to go from unranked to the Number 1 in the nation position. Last week, Arkansas gave them all they’d ever want and Miss St won 17-10. Dak Prescott continued to look good with 331 yards thrown downfield. They’ll remain undefeated this week as they are gifted with a schedule that has them playing UT Martin. The following week is a calendar event at Alabama. This would be a nice week for rest and a pre-Bama walk thru.
2) FLORIDA ST—On the field, Jameis Winston is great. Trailing 21-0, at Louisville, he brought them back in an incredible comeback. He threw for 401 yards but the most impressive observation was seeing him go after the defensive back after an interception and tackle him. That was inspirational to his team; thus the 42-31 win. This week may be the week they fall as they’re at Virginia but as an 18 point favorite. OK, maybe they won’t fall. They still have Miami, Boston College and Florida this month so one never knows.
3) AUBURN—The Tigers played well and got out of town with a 35-31 win over the Ole Miss Rebels. With the passing and running of QB Wallace and the rushing of Artis-Payne, these Tiger are for real. They average 277 rushing yards per game but it is a fast and bruising style of play that makes them so effective. They are scoring 39 ppg in the difficult SEC West and look for the Tigers to run it up this week as they play A&M on the road. They need eye-test points for the selection Committee.
4) OREGON—The Ducks finally got the Cardinal off their wings. They not only won, they did it smashmouth style as they destroyed Stanford 45-16 and moved into the much cherished Top 4. Mariota looked graceful putting it all together with 258 yards and was the Ducks leading rusher with 85 yards. Now it’s off to the Beehive State to take on Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah leads the nation with a 5 sacks per game average so Mariota will have to be up to high Duckie speed or they could tumble, waddle and fall.
5) ALABAMA—The Crimson Tide is exactly where they want to be. They are the best “one-loss” team in the Country and will get a chance to prove it on the field in the upcoming month as they play LSU, Miss St and Auburn. So it doesn’t matter this week that they are ranked just outside of the top 4. Saturday night, where Les Mills teams have dropped just 3 night games under him, Bama will go into Baton Rouge a 6 point favorite with both teams running the ball against each others great defense. I wish I was at the game. On a side note: Bama QB Sims leads the Country on 3rd down completions so that may be a difference maker.
6) TCU—The Horned Frogs did what many others have failed to do; get out of West Virginia with a win. And it was a “barely” as both teams fought till the bitter end with TCU hanging on to a 31-30 W. TCU QB Boykin had a terrible passing day as the Horned Frog average of 335 yards per game saw only 166 yards completed. TCU gets their biggest test this week as Kansas St comes to Ft. Worth to make the Big 12 relevant to the Selection Committee in a must win game for both teams. TCU opened as a 5.5 betting chalk. The fans in Amon G. Carter Stadium will be treated to two fine teams, two great veteran coaches and two superb college quarterbacks.
7) KANSAS STATE—Kansas St chose not to look ahead to this weeks match-up with TCU and instead went and buried Oklahoma St 48-14 last Saturday. This week it’s off to Texas to play TCU as two one loss teams (7-1) meet and control their own destiny. Coach Bill Snyder has his offense perfectly balanced as Lockett and Sexton both have 49 receptions apiece. As for rushing, Jones and Waters have rushed 92 and 95 times each. This makes it hard for defenses to key on any one player and gives QB Waters many choices in executing the game plan. Should be a great game this week.
8) MICHIGAN STATE— The lone consideration for the Committee from the Big 10 may be Michigan St. If Ohio St or Nebraska runs the table, there’s still no chance a Big 10 team will be in the playoffs. The only representative posssible is Michigan St but they have to win every game. It begins this week at home as Ohio St comes calling them out for a key battle. Ohio St has all it need to defeat Michigan St so Sparty better be ready. This is their biggest meaningful football game in some time. It will erase the loss from earlier this year at Oregon. It will negate years and years of playing in the Ohio St and U Michigan shadows. It is Huge!!
9) ARIZONA ST—The Sun Devils got the scare of their season last week as they had to go to overtime to walk away with a win over Utah, 19-16. The Devils met their match on the defensive side of the ball as that is what Utah is all about. They have been looking to improve in that area as they are ranked 50th allowing 24 ppg. This week is a big game. I’m not sure who it is bigger for though. Notre dame hits the desert and needs this win. This is their last chance as USC upcoming game means less this year and ASU is higher ranked. Both team have one goal to get to the next level and the Oddsmakers think it may be the best game of the week as the Sun Devils were installed as a tiny 2 point favorite.
10) NOTRE DAME—The Fighting Irish continue to fight. But last week Navy almost sunk them. They played horribly but managed to win 49-39. Their defense was exposed by a military team and the Committee will not miss that. Their play erased out the bitterness of the Florida St ending. QB Golson and RB Folston did their jobs. The question was all on the defensive side of the ball. Maybe Navy’s 3-headed pitchout offense got to them this one week. Maybe they were looking ahead to the match in the desert this week. Whatever it was, they better be ready to play the biggest game of their lives this week as they take on Arizona St.