Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 NCAA Football Rankings (Week Two Update!)

Tell the Associated Press to take a hike ... these are the only college pigskin rankings you ought to pay any attention to.

By: Jimbo X

This Week's Episode:
When the school you root for beats the crap out of the school you actually attended

The A.P.? 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.

Alabama (2-0)
Next Opponent: Ole Miss (Sept. 17)

In a 38-10 win over Western Kentucky, Alabama showcased their two most dangerous offensive and defensive attributes. While traditionally considered  a rushing-based attack, this year's Alabama squad appears to be much more aerial-minded, with QB Jalen Hurts and back-up Blake Barnett teaming up for two touchdown strikes and 351 passing yards on the day. Then, there's the Tide's bruising defense; holding the Hilltoppers to only 216 aerial yards is  something to brag about on its own, but holding the same team to just 23 rushing yards on the day? Yeah, this is definitely a team most SEC squads - or squads from any conference, for that matter - desperately do not want to see on their schedule. The big question now? Can the Tide head into Oxford this Saturday and get their biggest elephant of the last two seasons off their own backs? 

Houston (2-0)
Next Opponent: Cincinnati (Sept. 15)

In  42-0 blowout that was delayed for about an hour due to lightning, the Cougars absolutely ran Lamar off the field, with no less than three Houston players (Kevrin Justice, Mulbah Car and backup QB Kyle Postma) racking up at least 100 rushing yards on the day and collectively assembling five of the team's six total running touchdowns. And if you think that's impressive, just wait until you look at the team's defensive stats: not only did they prevent Lamar from sniffing the endzone once, they held the Cardinals to an insanely low 58 yards passing and an almost impossibly meager 15 yards rushing throughout the one-sided drubbing.

Wisconsin (2-0)
Next Opponent: Georgia State (Sept. 17)

The Badgers, as expected, battered the Akron Zips over the weekend, pummeling the hopeless, hapless and helpless Mid-American Conference team to the tune of 54-10. Bart Houston looked solid with two touchdown passes and and 231 yards on 15 completions (with receivers Jazz Peavy and Robert Wheelwright teaming up for 199 yards and two scores) while Wisconsin's running game was downright superb: Corey Clement had 111 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and Bradrick Shaw had one trip to the end zone and 74 total yards on nine carries. Wisconsin's defense also shine, holding the Zip to a scant 136 receiving yards and only 88 yards rushing. 

Florida State (2-0)
Next Opponent: Louisville (Sept. 17)

In a game that saw Charleston Southern bench 10 starters for a bizarre book store violation, the Seminoles made short work of the Buccaneers, skewering the team 52-8. The triple threat of Deondre Francois (3 TDs, 262 passing yards), Dalvin Cook (2 TDs, 73 yards) and Travis Rudolph (2 TDs, 105 receiving yards) definitely proved their mettle on the field, with special teams wunderkind Jesus Wilson recording a stellar 89-yard punt return for six on the board. FSU now turns its attention toward Louisville, in what should be one of the most intriguing ... and impactful ... games of week three. 

Texas (2-0)
Next Opponent: California (Sept. 17)

The Longhorns steamrolled UTEP 41-7 over the weekend, with QB Shane Buechele tossing four touchdowns and collecting 244 yards on 22 completions. The bigger story? Just how good Texas' defense is. They limited the Miners to just 135 rushing yards on 40 carries and an extremely low 73 passing yards. And just like that, the long-faltering 'horns, all of a sudden, are once again relevant in the Big 12 championship discussion, for what seems like the first time since Barack Obama was elected. 

Texas A&M (2-0)
Next Opponent: Auburn (Sept. 17)

The Aggies had no problems at all with Prairie View A&M, absolutely crushing the Panthers in a 67-0 anti-contest. Trevor Knight lobbed three touchdown passes in the blowout, ultimately accumulating 344 yards on 21 completions (just for the lulz, he also ran the ball for 78 yards and collected another score with his feet.) Receiver Christian Kirk also had a solid showing, reeling in the ball five times for 106 yards and two trips to the end zone. Defensively, A&M also looked quite spiffy; at the end of the fourth quarter, they had allowed Prairie View to rack up 173 aerial yards and a minute 32 yards on the ground. 

Ohio State (2-0)
Next Opponent: Oklahoma (Sept. 17)

J.T. Barrett had no aerial touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 48-3 win over Tulsa. Then again, seeing as how Ohio State's run game accounted for four touchdowns and 268 yards overall, you can probably overlook his lackluster 149-yard passing day. Also: Ohio State's defense was positively killer, limiting the Golden Hurricanes to just 127 passing yards and only 61 yards rushing. Next stop for Ohio State? A much ballyhooed inter-conference tilt against Bob Stoops' Sooners this Saturday, which naturally, is going to be taxing as fuck tryingto figure out whose uniforms are whose. 

Michigan (2-0)
Next Opponent: Colorado (Sept. 17)

Central Florida was no match for the Wolverines, as Harbaugh's boys blasted the Knights 51-14. Wilton Speight lobbed the rock to the end zone four times, ultimately collecting 312 aerial yards on 25 completions. Wide receivers Amarh Dorbah (111 yards on five catches) and Jake Butt (86 yards on seven receptions) posted two touchdowns a piece, while the defense limited UCF to just 56 aerial yards on the day. The downside for the Michigan faithful? They only put up 119 rushing yards of their own, while allowing the Knights to put up 275 on the ground. 

Louisville (2-0)
Next Opponent: Florida State (Sept. 17)

The Heisman race is over, folks: just two games into the 2016 NCAA football season, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson has already posted 13 touchdowns. Oh, and by the way ... he sat out the entire second half of the Cardinals first game of the season. The phenom continued to impress with a 62-28 win over Syracuse, in which he racked up one aerial TD and 411 yards on 20 completions and scrambled for an additional four touchdowns and 199 yards ... including one facilitated by some straight up NFL Street level hurdling. Up next, Louisville hosts Florida State in their first truly competitive match-up of the year ... and needless to say, the outcome of this one is going to reverberate throughout the ACC landscape throughout the remainder of the season. 

Baylor (2-0)
Next Opponent: Rice (Sept. 16)

OK, it may be in poor taste to bring up all of the unfortunate extracurricular activities swirling around Waco in the offseason, but let's face it; Southern Methodist was practically begging Baylor to pound them out 40-13. I mean, look at how they were dressed for the game! Yeah, Seth Russell had two touchdowns and 226 passing yards, but SMU's defenders never told him to stop. I mean, if the contest wasn't consensual, then how come Baylor's defense let SMU rack up 229 passing yards on the day? My thoughts, exactly

Washington (2-0)
Next Opponent: Portland State (Sept. 17)

All you really need to know about the Huskies' 59-14 win over Idaho? Quarterback Jake Browning tossed the ball for 294 yards, collecting five touchdowns on 23 completions. No less than four Washington receivers had end zone visits, with Dante Pettis (88 yards, six catches) and John Ross (67 yards, seven catches) each punching it in two times a piece. Alas, even in a win so dominant, there are some obvious chinks in the Huskies' proverbial armor; most notably, Washington's run defense allowing the Vandals' underpowered backs to chalk up 218 yards on the ground. 

Clemson (2-0) 
Next Opponent: South Carolina State (Sept. 17)

If you are a Tigers fan, you have really got to be worried about Clemson. After an unexpectedly close call against Auburn, they follow up that underwhelming performance with yet another far more competitive than it ever should have been contest against a super-irrelevant Troy team. While Deshaun Watson did indeed engineer a lot of fourth quarter scoring drives to give Clemson the 30-24 win, the rest of the offense sputtered, with Clemson's running back corps accumulating a relatively meager 122 yards and no end zone visitations throughout the contest. The Tigers' D was likewise unimpressive, somehow allowing the Trojans to air it out for 245 yards. 

Iowa (2-0)
Next Opponent: North Dakota State (Sept. 17)

The Hawkeyes don't play the most exciting game of college ball - eschewing the flashy aerials, they simply go in there, week in and week out, and grind the pigskin into bacon salt en route to another rough and tough W. In Iowa's 42-3 throttling of Iowa State, QB CJ Beathard tossed the rock for three scores and 235 yards, as receiver Matt VandeBerg collected 129 yards and a TD on seven receptions. Meanwhile, Iowa's running back corps posted 198 yards on the day, with no less than three scramblers ... including Beathard himself ... dancing his way into enemy end zone. 

Oregon (2-0)
Next Opponent: Nebraska (Sept. 17)

There's no denying who the two biggest stars in the Ducks'44-26 win over Virginia were. Quarterback Dakota Prukop launched three touchdowns and finished the game with 331 yards on 21 completions, while running back hero Royce Freeman churned up the field for 207 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. What is effectively Nike University faces their first real test of the season this weekend, when they go toe-to-toe with unbeaten Nebraska in a game that could have big repercussions throughout the Pac-12 and Big-10.

Florida (2-0)
Next Opponent: North Texas (Sept. 17)

The Gators never took their feet off the throat of Kentucky, as they absolutely creamed the Wildcats 45-7. Luke Del Rio - who is related to Jack, but to the best of my knowledge not Alberto - had a field day against the perennial SEC East bottom-dweller, chalking up 320 yards and four touchdown passes, with top target Antonio Callaway registering 129 yards and a solo TD on five receptions. Florida's defense, believe it or not, was even more impressive: they held Kentucky to only 94 yards passing and a scant 55 rushing. 

Stanford (1-0)
Next Opponent: USC (Sept. 17)

The always singular Cardinal took a breather over the weekend, emerging this Saturday to go toe-to-toe with arch rivals Southern Cal in a prime-time throwdown. For those wondering, Stanford has pretty much owned the Trojans over the last decade, having won seven out of the last 10 match-ups (including last December's Pac-12 championshp game.)

Michigan State (1-0)
Next Opponent: Notre Dame (Sept. 17)

After a bye, the Spartans travel to South Bend for a Saturday night contest against the Fighting Irish. The longstanding rivalry was broken up by conference realignment in 2014, so this will be the first time Michigan State and Notre Dame trade blows since 2013. In case you were curious, Notre Dame won the last three meetings, and leads the all-time series 48-28-1.

Miami (2-0)
Next Opponent: Appalachian State (Sept. 17)

Despite quarterback Brad Kaaya playing like shit (in his 191 yard day, he lobbed two interceptions and no touchdowns), the Hurricanes nonetheless had no problems breezing past Florida Atlantic, as the "U" steamrolled their in-state rivals 38-10. You can thank Miami's run game for that, in particular back Mark Walton, who finished the game with 155 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Alas, the good times for Mark Richt and company may be short lived: this Saturday, they travel to Appalachian State's home turf for a noon match-up that already has many insiders clanging the "upset" bells.

Tennessee (2-0)
Next Opponent: Ohio (Sept. 17)

After a disastrous near-loss against App State in week one, the Vols somewhat redeemed themselves with a solid showing against West Virginia under the lights of Bristol Motor Speedway. In Tennessee's 45-24 victory, QB Joshua Dobbs looked much improved, lobbing the rock for three touchdowns on 10 completions (uh, just overlook the fact that he only had 91 passing yards on the day) plus another 146 rushing yards and two scrambling scores. Still, the Vols D looks porous as fuck; they let the generally offense-averse Mountaineers collect 214 aerial yards and another 186 on the ground. 

Georgia (2-0)
Next Opponent: Missouri (Sept. 17)

The Bulldogs almost incurred one of the most shocking upsets in recent college football history over the weekend, as they just barely got past Nicholls State (which I believe is in the college football tier reserved exclusively for special ed players) 26-24. Special teams errors cost Georgia dearly, with return specialist Isaiah McKenzie muffing the ball several times. Furthermore, UGA still hasn't resolved its quarterbacking dilemma, with starter Jacob Easmon, despite his 204 yard day, going a subpar 11 for 20 on pass attempts throughout the contest. 

Arizona State (2-0)
Next Opponent: UTSA (Sept. 16)

Don't look now, but the Sun Devils appear to have pieced together one of the most explosive offenses in all of college football. Look no further than standout running back Kalen Ballage, who set a new NCAA record with eight motherfucking touchdowns in their 68-55 win over Texas Tech. Oh, and their quarterback Manny Wilkins (358 yards and two touchdowns on 28 completions) ain't too shabby, neither. Granted, their passing defense is all kinds of terrible (they allowed the Raiders to accumulate 540 aerial yards and five touchdowns over the weekend), but hey - as long as you keep putting up NFL Blitz 2000 offensive numbers, I reckon you can overlook putting up the NFL Blitz 2000 defensive numbers.

Boise State (2-0)
Next Opponent: Oregon State (Sept. 24)

It wasn't easy, but the Broncos nonetheless managed to walk away from their weekend clash with Washington State victorious. In the razor thin 31-28 win, Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien (yes, the son of the former Redskins QB) played like utter dog shit, lobbing three interceptions and wrapping up the game with a cruddy 55.5 QBR (yeah, he got 299 yards, but come on, they always do.) Thankfully, the Broncos' defense managed to negate the Cougars run game, holding them to just 40 yards rushing, as BSU hero Jeremy McNichols collected 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. As for the bad news? This team's secondary sucks about as much as any secondary could ever possibly suck, as they allowed Washington State to rack up an absurd 480 aerial yards and four passing touchdowns in the contest. 

Navy (2-0)
Next Opponent:Tulane (Sept. 17)

The Midshipmen didn't rely on quarterback Will Worth's passing to save the day in their 28-24 win over UConn. Indeed, their QB only had 130 aerial yards on the day and no touchdown passes. Rather, Navy let their run game do all the talking (and scoring), with Worth scrambling into the end zone twice while regular running backs Dishan Romine (76 yards, nine carries) and Chris High (44 yards and a TD on seven carries) did the rest of the legwork. As impressive as Navy's 243 rushing yard day was, however, their defense shows some serious flaws - as apparent by Connecticut's 254 passing yard final tally.  

Army (2-0)
Next Opponent: UTEP (Sept. 17)

The Black Knights' run game absolutely murder death killed Rice, as Army racked up 348 yards on the ground en route to their blowout 31-14 victory. Running back Andy Davidson looked especially good, collecting three touchdowns in his 23-carry, 107-yard day. Army's upcoming game against Texas-El Paso will be an especially heart-wrenching one, as starting cornerback Brandon Jackson died in a car accident just hours after the team's pummeling of the Owls. 

Pittsburgh (2-0)
Next Opponent: Oklahoma State (Sept. 17)

In their first meeting in years, the Panthers bumped off in-state foes (and child rapist sanctuary since the 1970s) Penn State in a thrilling 42-39 finish. There's not much to say about Pittsburgh's aerial game (they had just 91 receiving yards all game), but there running attack is quite potent: by the final whistler, the Panthers had accumulated 341 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground. In a suddenly interesting match-up, the Panthers have a big opportunity to raise their stock this weekend, as they go toe-to-toe with an Oklahoma State team that is still fuming over their bullshit loss to Central Michigan last Saturday. 


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