Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015-16 NCAA Football Top 25 Rankings (Week 8)

The best laid-plans of mice and men often go awry 

By: Jimbo X

The Associated Press? The USA Today's Coaches Poll? Whatever jibber-jabber is being puked out over at ESPN and Bleacher Report? Puh-leeze, we all know those alleged "Top 25" countdowns are pathetic jokes penned by homers, Power Five loyalists and Notre Dame nuthuggers. That's why I decided to release my own weekly rundown of the best FBS college football squads in the States, completely devoid of all the usual fanboyism and corporate malarkey that makes lists of the like elsewhere so unbelievably annoying. 

Throughout the regular season, a new installment will go up every Wednesday morning, so you may want to bookmark this sucker for future reference ... and to show to all of your fellow NCAA football lovin' chums, so they can know that -- at least somewhere out in the tangled, endlessly frustrating World Wide Web -- there's someone on the Internet with some goddamn horse sense when it comes to ranking college 'ball teams. 

Ohio State (8-0)
Next Opponent: Minnesota (Nov. 7)

The defending National Champs had their most dominant win of the year last Saturday, crushing the helpless and hapless Rutgers Scarlet Knights 49-7. J.T. Barrett continues to impress: this weekend, he was 14 for 18 for 223 yards and three touchdown passes, additionally racking up another 101 yards scrambling for another two touchdowns on the ground. Toss in Ezekiel Elliot's excellent play (two TDs, 142 yards) and a defense that limited Rutgers to less than 300 total yards on the day and you have yourselves a Buckeyes squad that, after a few questionable performances, finally looks like the playoff contender we saw last season. 

LSU (7-0)
Next Opponent: Alabama (Nov. 7)

While Brandon Doughty was able to accumulate 325 yards and three touchdowns against the Tigers' D, LSU's offense did more than enough to balance it out into lopsided 48-20 win. Brandon Harris had three TD passes for 286 yards, while LSU's running back corps (led by Leonard, of course, with 150 yards) combined for three touchdown rushes and 211 yards on the day. 

Baylor (7-0)
Next Opponent: Kansas State (Nov. 5)

Seth Russell had one of his worst showings of the year on Saturday, lobbing the rock for just two touchdowns and less than 200 yards...and then he got hurt, putting the rest of Baylor's season in serious jeopardy. That said, the Bears still manhandled Iowa State, besting them 45-27, largely on the back of Shock Linwood and Corey Coleman's combined four touchdowns.

TCU (7-0)
Next Opponent: West Virginia (Oct. 29)

The Horned Frogs had the week off, as they anxiously await a Thursday night tilt against an unranked (but by no means not dangerous) Mountaineers squad. Averaging 50.1 points per game, only one team in Division I college ball is posting better numbers than TCU ... and wouldn't you know it, it just so happens to be their conference arch rivals (and fellow unbeatens) Baylor.

Clemson (7-0)
Next Opponent: NC State (Oct. 31)

Clemson put on the beat-down of the year on Saturday, obliterating conference foes Miami 58-0. The Tigers defense limited the Hurricanes to slightly more than 150 all-purpose yards, while the Canes let them literally run all over the field, accumulating 416 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. 

Michigan State (8-0)
Next Opponent: Nebraska (Nov. 7)

Indiana posed little threat to the Spartans, as still undefeated Michigan State pounded the Hoosiers 52-26. Connor Cook amassed four touchdowns and almost 400 yards on the day, while no less than three different Spartans backs were able to hit the endzone. The run defense also looked pretty good, too, limiting Indiana to just 81 yards on the ground all afternoon. 

Oklahoma State (7-0)
Next Opponent: Texas Tech (Oct. 31)

The winless Jayhawks got throttled Saturday, as the Cowboys pounded 'em 58-10. Even in victory, however, you have to wonder if there isn't a quarterback controversy brewing between Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh, who, with two touchdown passes and three TD rushes, clearly outplayed the Cowboys starter over the weekend. 

Iowa (7-0)
Next Opponent: Maryland (Oct. 31)

Iowa had a bye this week, as they next match up against a fairly lackluster Maryland squad on Halloween. Right now, the Hawkeyes rank 25th in rushing yards per game and 86th in passing yards per game. Defensively, Iowa is a bit more impressive, especially standout defensive back Desmond King, who has the second-most interceptions of any player in Division I ball. 

Memphis (7-0)
Next Opponent: Tulane (Oct. 31)

The Tigers won a barn burner against Tulsa, besting the Golden Hurricane (yes, it is supposed to be singular) 66-42 on Thursday night. Paxton Lynch looked great, throwing four TD passes for 447 yards and rushing for a fifth score. The downside? Memphis' non-existent defense also let Tulsa's no-name QB Dane Evans toss the same number of TDS, for almost as many yards. 

Temple (7-0)
Next Opponent: Notre Dame (Oct. 31)

It was a tough one, but the Owls were nonetheless able to overcome a tough East Carolina squad over the weekend, besting the Pirates 24-14. Interestingly enough, ECU outpassed and outran Temple during the match-up, but ultimately, it was Temple's grit in the red zone that won 'em this contest: MVP honors go to back Jahad Thomas, who ripped off two TDs for 66 yards on 20 carries. 

Houston (7-0)
Next Opponent: Vanderbilt (Oct. 31)

The Knights didn't have a prayer against Houston, as the Cougars steamrolled UCF 59-10. The running game was clearly the decisive factor here: Houston racked up 366 yards and FIVE touchdowns on the ground, with Kenneth Farrow responsible for 167 of them and three rushing TDs

Toledo (7-0)
Next Opponent: Northern Illinois (Nov. 3)

The Rockets' 51-35 win over UMASS was a mess, but hey, a "W" is still a "W," ain't it? Although Toledo QB Phillip Ely tossed five touchdown passes for 355 yards, he also lobbed three costly interceptions. Despite letting the Minutemen accumulate four TD passes by air, the Rockets were able to close the gap thanks to a potent rushing attack, which saw Toledo double their opponents yardage on the ground. Give props to standout back Terry Swanson, whose 118 yards and solo TD run was really the buffer facilitating the victory. 

Alabama (7-1)
Next Opponent: LSU (Nov. 7)

Alabama struggled against Tennessee, but they still survived a tough one 19-14. Although Jake Coker had 247 yards, he threw no touchdowns and had an interception; with his two touchdown, 143-yard day, Derrick Henry was certainly the key variable in the Tide's hard fought victory.

Stanford (6-1)
Next Opponent: Washington State (Oct. 31)

With Utah's loss to USC over the weekend, the hard-hitting Cardinal (singular) jump out into pole position in the Pac-12. Stanford really showed their versatility offensively in their 31-14 weekend win over Washington, capped off by Christian MacAffery's 221-yard, two TD performance -- which included 100 plus yards receiving and rushing. 

Notre Dame (6-1)
Next Opponent: Temple (Oct. 31)

Who'd thunk at the beginning of the season that heading into week nine, the Notre Dame/Temple tilt would be the most significant game of the weekend? At this juncture in the season, the Fighting Irish own the 26th best offense in Division I football; they rank 32nd in passing yards per game and 15th in rushing yards per game. 

Utah (6-1)
Next Opponent: Oregon State (Oct. 31)

The Utes finally tasted defeat this season, dropping Saturday's showdown against USC 42-24. While Travis Wilson's four interceptions certainly didn't make things any easier for Utah, the real dagger in the heart was the team's lackluster run defense, as they allowed no less than four different Trojans to hit endzone. 

Florida State (6-1)
Next Opponent: Syracuse (Oct. 31)

Just a week after a special teams disaster gave Michigan State a nigh-impossible, last-second, come from behind defensive TD win against Michigan, an eerily similar fate befell Florida State, who lost their first game of the season against Georgia Tech via what will forever be known as the "Miracle on Techwood Drive." Fluke or no fluke, that very well could cost the Seminoles a spot in the ACC Championship game ... and most certainly put an end to their 2016 Playoffs aspirations. 

Florida (6-1)
Next Opponent: Georgia (Oct. 31)

The Gators, with a backup QB, still came about as close as any team has this season to slowing down the emerging LSU juggernaut. Taking a bye this week, they reemerge for their annual showdown with UGA this weekend, in what should be an excellent opportunity for Florida to return to top form. 

Oklahoma (6-1)
Next Opponent: Kansas (Oct. 31)

Following a shocking loss to a lowly Texas squad, the Sooners made Texas Tech pay, pounding the Red Raiders 63-27 on Saturday. The rushing game was outstanding, as Oklahoma had SEVEN touchdowns on the ground for 405 yards, with Samaje Perine alone reeling in four touchdown hauls for over 200 yards. The defense looked boss as well, intercepting hapless Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes four times.


Pittsburgh (6-1)
Next Opponent: North Carolina (Oct. 29)

The Panthers had their hands full against Syracuse, but they still managed to earn the "W" 23-20. Qadree Ollison, with two TD rushes for 103 yards, was certainly the highlight for Pittsburgh, who despite using three different quarterbacks, couldn't register a single passing touchdown all day.

Duke  (6-1)
Next Opponent: Miami (Oct. 31)

The Blue Devils continued their winning ways over the weekend, beating the Hokies 45-43 in a shootout. With four touchdown passes and 270 yards overall, QB Thomas Sirk definitely did his part to propel Duke to a win -- especially when you factor in the extra 109 yards he put up scrambling. 

North Carolina (6-1)
Next Opponent: Pittsburgh (Oct. 29)

The Tar Heels got another victory on Saturday, besting Virginia 26-13. Marquise Williams had 226 yards on the day and no touchdowns, while Elijah Hood ran for two touchdowns and 101 yards. The defense also played quite well, intercepting the Cavaliers four times. 

Ole Miss (6-2)
Next Opponent: Auburn (Oct. 31)

Despite Chad Kelly's iffy day -- two touchdowns, 241 yards and three touchdowns -- the Rebels still had no trouble getting past the Aggies, beating A&M 20-3 over the weekend. The rushing game was a big variable in this one: Ole Miss finished the game with 230 yards, while the Aggies could only muster 58.

UCLA (5-2)
Next Opponent: Colorado (Oct. 31)

Josh Rosen was straight up spectacular in the Bruins' 40-24 win over UCLA, throwing three touchdowns for 399 yards. Thomas Duarte finished the game with a solo TD and over 100 yards, while Soso Jamabo kept things moving on the ground, racking up 79 yards and a solo touchdown.

California (5-2)
Next Opponent: USC (Oct. 31)

Jared Goff did his best, but his three touchdown, 295-yard day wasn't enough to give the Golden Bears any wiggle room in their 12 point loss to the Bruins. After a hot start, it looks like Cal is beginning to fade; if they drop this Halloween's tilt against the Trojans, their chances of playing for the Pac-12 championship are all but out the window. 


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