Monday, December 7, 2015

2015-16 NCAA Football Top 25 Rankings (Week 14)

We're going bowling!

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. 

Clemson (13-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Oklahoma (Dec. 31)

It was a close one, but the Tigers walked out of the regular season with Division I's only unblemished record and the ACC Championship following their 45-37 win over North Carolina. Deshaun Watson - who finished the championship game with three aerial touchdowns for 289 yards and two rushing touchdowns and 131 ground yards overall - will certainly face tougher defensive restraints when his Clemson squad matches up against Bob Stoops' venerable Sooners on New Year's Eve. 

Alabama (12-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Michigan State (Dec. 31)

It wasn't the most dramatic of SEC finales, but the Crimson Tide definitely proved their worth in Saturday's 29-15 win oeuvre Florida. Jake Coker and Derrick Henry - who tag-teamed for about two hundred yards throwing and two hundred yards runnin' in their win over the Gators - next turn their attention towards Michigan State for what should be an interesting little skirmish on 12/31.

Oklahoma (11-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Clemson (Dec. 31)

With no pesky championship games to fret about, the Sooners had the easiest path of any team in the NCAA (football) Final Four. Baker Mayfield has played tremendously all season, but there is no denying the dynamic Clemson Tigers' defense will prove quite the challenge ... or mayhap, it will be the other way around on New Year's Eve?

Michigan State (12-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Alabama (Dec. 31)

The Spartans took a low-scoring championship win over Iowa over the weekend, winning the Big 10 crown 16-13. Alas, with the Hawkeyes' relatively weak defense giving them so many problems, will Connor Cook and LJ Scott collapse under the enormous pressure of the Crimson Tide defense? We will find out when 12/31 rolls ... pun, most definitely intended ... around. 

Ohio State (11-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Notre Dame (Jan. 1)

The first team out of the final four gets an opportunity to show the playoff committee they erred on New Year's Day, as the Buckeyes go toe-to-toe with a two-loss Fighting Irish squad in Tempe. Expect Ezekiel Elliot to rack up a lot of yards ... you gotta' do something to increase that draft stock, you now. 

Iowa (12-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Stanford (Jan. 1)

Following a narrow 16-13 loss to the Spartans, Iowa travels to SoCal for  a match-up against the (singular) Cardinal on New Year's Day. Now this one is really interesting; can Iowa's stingy defense work their magic on Christian McCaffrey, or will running the ball be a bed of, ahem, roses, for Stanford's Heisman-caliber rusher? 

Houston (12-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Florida State (Dec. 31)

The Cougars didn't really need a passing attack to top the Temple Owls, 24-13, for the AAC Championship. Despite posting no aerial scores and just 106 passing yards, Houston outran Temple by a considerable margin - 233 yards to 98, to be precise. Needless to say, things are going to be interesting when Houston's potent offense encounters a Seminoles squad last scene holding the SEC East Champ Gators to only two points. 

North Carolina (11-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Baylor (Dec. 29)

Give the Tar Heels some credit, they made Clemson sweat buckets before ceding the ACC Championship Game to them over the weekend. In the 45-37 loss, Marquise Williams still looked solid, lobbing three touchdown passes for 224 yards and rushing another 81 for a ground TD. Expect plenty of deep throws when NC takes on Baylor later this December, in what should be a high-scoring, offensive showcase. 

Stanford (11-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Iowa (Jan. 1)

In a 41-22 drubbing, the Cardinal steamrolled USC  to take home the Pac-12 Championship. Heisman contender Christian McCaffrey finished the game with 207 yards on 32 carries, with his longest run covering half the surface area of the field. Needless to say, the Hawkeyes will have to put a lot of elbow grease into stopping him in the Rose Bowl. 

Florida State (11-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Houston (Dec. 31)

If it wasn't for a fluky last second loss to Georgia Tech, there is a strong possibility the Seminoles could have wound up in the hunt for a playoff berth. Alas, that upset loss - in tandem with a lackluster performance against eventual ACC Champs Clemson - has relegated FSU to a New Year's Eve contest against AAC Champs Houston. Sure, FSU ought to have no trouble handling Division I's top non-power five team not named Notre Dame, but crazier things have happened, y'know...

Notre Dame (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Ohio State (Jan. 1)

The Irish have themselves a Fiesta on the first day of 2016, as Notre Dame travels to Arizona for a tough battle against Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. It certainly presents an interesting quarterback dual - DeShone Kizer vs. J.T. Barrett ought to be a whole hell of a lot of fun to watch. 

TCU (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Oregon (Jan. 2)

A late season injury to Trevone Boykin really sunk the Horned Frogs' playoffs aspirations, but they get an opportunity to set a nice tempo for their 2016 campaign with a Jan. 2 bowl battle against the surging Oregon Ducks. If you like high-scoring, pass-happy football, you will DEFINITELY want to have the Tivo set for this one. Uh, people still use Tivos, right? 

Oklahoma State (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Ole Miss (Jan. 1)

The Cowboys went 10-0 to begin the season, before spinning out and dropping their last two contests of the year. While watching Oklahoma contend for the National Championship is going to be painful, no doubt, OK State can gain some measure of pride with a 01/01/16 win over a disappointing 9-3 Ole Miss Rebels squad. 

Northwestern (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Tennessee (Jan. 1)

The winners of five in a row, the Wildcats have been playing some of the best defensive football in Division I. Alas, their underwhelming O has kept them from being a serious contender throughout the regular season; fittingly enough, they wrap up their 2015-16 campaign with a New Year's Day contest against a team with the exact opposite problem - an underwhelming Tennessee Vols squad that's all O and no D. 

Western Kentucky (11-2)
Next Opponent: vs. USF (Dec. 21)

The Hilltoppers biggest claim to fame is having a mascot that looks like a blood soaked cousin of the McDonalds mascot Grimace. Seeing as how they've won five in a row - with their only losses of the season coming to very good LSU and Indiana squads - Western K. has all the makings of a Cinderella squad for the 2016-17 season. Pending you have some free time on the 21st, you can catch yourself a glimmer of things to (possibly) come when W.K. takes on USF in Miami. 

Appalachian State (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Ohio (Dec. 19)

I have no earthly clue what the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl is, but it should provide a stellar opportunity for the Mountaineers - riding a three game win streak with sole 2015 losses coming against Clemson and, uh, Arkansas State - as they lock horns with THE Ohio Bobcats at the Cramton Bowl. And yes, your guess is as good as mine as to which city that one will take place in. 

Navy (9-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Army (Dec. 12)

The Midshipmen were one of the biggest surprise success stories of the college football year. Alas, while they won't be making an appearance at any of the "big six" bowls, they do get an opportunity to pad their win-loss record with a facile contest against the Army Black Knights this weekend. 

Toledo (9-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Temple (Dec. 22)

Are you ready for THE greatest Marmot Boca Raton Bowl game EVER? Well, you better be, as the two-loss Toledo Rockets have an opportunity to prove their worth against the three-loss Temple Owls in what should most certainly be A game that takes place on Dec. 22. But seriously though, these two teams are a lot better than you think, so it might be worth watching ... or at least YouTubing the highlights the next day. 

Oregon (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. TCU (Jan. 2)

Don't look now, but the Horned Frogs have won six games in a row, concluding the regular season with only two conference losses. While they weren't good enough for Pasadena, they do get a nice opportunity to prove their worthiness against the Horned Frogs on Jan. 2, in a game with an over/under that will probably be in the triple digits.  

San Diego State (10-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Cincinnati (Dec. 24)

After winning their first conference title since 1986, the Aztecs - currently riding a nine-game win streak - turn their attention towards Honolulu, where they will go head-to-head against the Bearcats in the Hawai'i Bowl ... which, yeah, I'd say is a much sweeter plum than landing a spot in the GoDaddy Bowl or, Christ help you, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Michigan (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Florida (Jan. 1)

After getting blown out by Ohio State in the last week of regular season play, the Wolverines now set their eyes on a showdown against Florida on New Year's Day '16. The Orlando contest should be quite interesting, seeing as how both teams finished their campaigns with disastrous losses to their arch rivals.

Baylor (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. North Carolina (Dec. 29)

Texas has sucked all year long, but they didn't suck nearly as much as the Bears did over the weekend. In an embarrassing 23-17 loss, Baylor outran the Longhorns 395 yards to 156, but with Lynx Hawthorne behind center, they couldn't do diddly with the passing attack. Granted, Baylor had nothing to play for, but if they put in an effort THAT lethargic against North Carolina, they are going to be ran - and passed - out of the stadium on Dec. 29. 

Florida (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Michigan (Jan. 1)

Following a disappointing outing against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game (and before that, an even more disastrous showing against Florida State a week earlier), the Gators face off against fellow 9-3 finisher Michigan on New Year's Day. If nothing else, it ought to be a decent defensive contest. 

Memphis (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Auburn (Dec. 30)

After starting the season 80, the Tigers wound up dropping three out of their last four, including three consecutive AAC in-conference tilts. Alas, Memphis gets one last shot at redemption on Dec. 30, as they take on the Auburn Tigers in Birmingham. And to think ... there were actually some people dense enough to pick THOSE Tigers to win the National Championship back in August

Georgia (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Penn State (Jan. 2)

When the Bulldogs begin their 2016-17 campaign, they will have a new head coach - current Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart - calling the shots. Before then, however, UGA will have one final Richt-era contest - a meaningless Jan. 2 skirmish against the Nittany Lions in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville - which, if nothing else, is a considerable step up from playing in the Belk Bowl, or heaven forbid, the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.


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