Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2016 NCAA Football Top 25 Rankings (Week 11!)

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:

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 (10-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Chattanooga (Nov. 19)

With an effortless 51-3 win over Mississippi State, the only thing stopping the Crimson Tide from going undefeated are two contests against clearly inferior teams (non-power-five sacrifice to Moloch Chattanooga and a totally deflated Auburn squad more or less playing without an aerial attack), plus a one-and-done against whoever wins the SEC East (I'm still guesstimating it's going to be the offense-averse Florida Gators, but stranger things have happened down the stretch.) It's a trite, overused cliche, to be sure, but Alabama definitely controls its own destiny over the next three weeks - and if I were a betting man, I'd bet the house (hell, my neighbor's house, too), that the Tide doesn't just run the table - they completely steamroll it. 

Western Michigan (10-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Buffalo (Nov. 19)

Oh, no, I am *NOT* kidding. Sure, the Broncos may not fare all that well against, say, an Ohio State or even a Boise State, but you can't help but be impressed by the team's consistency. Indeed, they have one of the best orchestrated rushing attacks in NCAA ball, Power Five or not - just take one gander at the 329 yards and four touchdowns the racked up in last Saturday's 37-21 over Kent State and try to tell me otherwise. Even if Alabama slips up and they remain the only unbeaten team in the nation, it's pretty much a guarantee the "Committee" won't even mull the possibility of putting Western Michigan in the playoffs, but at this point, it seems like they at least are owed an appearance in one of the the other big bowl games. And if they just so happen to defeat a top-ranked PAC-12 or Big 10 team on New Year's Day, will we finally admit they deserve just a teeny-tiny little bit of respect?

Clemson (9-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Wake Forest (Nov. 19)

We've been waiting for the shit storm to hit all season, and the fecal vortex finally struck last weekend. Clemson was one of three formerly unbeaten Power Fivers to taste defeat Saturday, and perhaps their loss - a 43-42 last-second heartbreaker against Pittsburgh - was the absolute most devastating of them all. Still, their win over Louisville earlier in the year should keep them fairly safe from being bumped out of the playoff picture. You know, just as long as they don't loss any more game from here on out, which - at this juncture in the season - is certainly anything but a guarantee anymore. 

Michigan (9-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Indiana (Nov. 19)

A 33-yard Keith Duncan field goal as time expired may have just sunk the Wolverines' national playoff hopes. The 14-13 loss to Iowa is a real backbreaker, but the blue and gold (I don't know about you, but it always looked more yellow to me) do have a shot at redemption against Ohio State two weeks from now. Of course, even a victory there brings up an interesting little dilemma - after what will surely be a hardfought slugfest, would they even have enough tank in their gas to fend off a Wisconsin or a Nebraska or maybe even a return engagement against the Hawkeyes?

Ohio State (9-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Michigan State (Nov. 19)

The Wolverines' loss to Iowa definitely gives Ohio State a little pep in their step heading into two back-to-back conference slugfests. The Michigan State engagement will not be easy, and you know the Michigan tilt is going to be the definition of a slobberknocker. That raises the same intriguing storyline as Michigan; even if the Buckeyes DO manage to best their arch rivals, is it really a guarantee they can eke out a "W" in the Big 10 Championships game just a couple of days later?

Louisville (9-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Houston (Nov. 19)

Lamar Jackson is going to win the Heisman - there is no doubt about that, whatsoever. That said, does his comparatively weak performance against Wake Forest (in which he posted only one aerial touchdown and 145 passing yards along with 153 rushing yards but no scrambling scores) an indication that he's slowing down in the stretch? Eh, even if that was the case, I wouldn't be sweating it too much, Cardinals fans - especially when you've got a dude in the backfield like Brandon Radcliff recording three touchdowns and 141 yards on just eleven carries, you keep outrunning teams by a 346-73 yard margin and you're still beating top-tier conference rivals 44-12.

Washington (9-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Arizona State (Nov. 19)

As the fourth team in in a four-team playoff race, Washington's 26-13 loss to USC definitely hurts their post-season prospects, especially with fellow one-loss teams Louisville and Ohio State on the precipice of making championship runs in conferences that - in all sincerity - are much better than the PAC-12. Hate to be pessimistic, Huskies fans, but the only way your team is getting into the brackets now is if they win every single game from here on out (no small task, to be sure) and Alabama, Louisville, Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson and West Virginia all finish the regular season with at least two losses on their record. Hey, speaking of the Mountaineers...

West Virginia (8-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Oklahoma (Nov. 19)

With Baylor shitting the bed and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State basically cancelling one another out, WVU actually has a pretty good shot of winning the Big 12 this year ... and pending enough fluky stuff happens in the other power conferences, maybe - just maybe - even sneaking into the four-team finals. That said, the road to the hypothetical playoffs ain't going to be easy, but if they can get past the Sooners this weekend, I reckon they'd have at least a 75 percent chance of winning the championship game-less championship. 

Boise State (9-1)
Next Opponent: vs. UNLV (Nov. 18)

Even after slapping Hawaii around to the tune of 52-16, there's no way the Broncos are making the playoffs this year. However, pending they run the table from here on out, methinks they very well could find themselves in a pretty big bowl game - hell, maybe even a New Year's affair against Broncos of an entirely different kind of non-power-five persuasion that, if nothing else, would be an absolute hoot and a half to sit through. 

San Diego State (9-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Wyoming (Nov. 19)

Of course, the Aztecs have no shot at making the playoffs. That said, with a couple of more wins - which, naturally, would include a MAC title clincher against the Blue Turfers - it's pretty hard to argue against SDSU making an appearance in a big bowl game - hell, maybe even one nationally televised and against a university whose endowment consists of more than a couple of Ritz crackers and old-ass textbooks, at that. 

Troy (8-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Arkansas State (Nov. 17)

Yeah, the Trojans are in probably the worst conference in division uno, but still, even in competition with pigskin paintywaists like Georgia Southern and Arkansas State, it means something to finish the season with only one loss on your record (which, by the way, was a super close six point loss to a team that may very well could be playing for the National Championship.) Give 'em time, but if they can keep up the solid on-the-field production like this, we might just have ourselves a bona fide non-power five powerhouse on our hands in about four or five years. 

Florida (7-2)
Next Opponent: vs. LSU (Nov. 19)

At this point in the season, the Gators have to be considered a lock for the SEC East crown. Still, with games against LSU and FSU still to be decided, there is an outside chance Florida drops both of its remaining games, which - as amazing as it may seem - could propel Tennessee or Georgia to a conference championship hootenanny with Alabama. 

Oklahoma (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. West Virginia (Nov. 19)

Baker Mayfield had a solid day in the Sooners' 45-24 win over Baylor, finishing the contest 20 for 25 for 300 yards and two touchdown passes. That said, the only thing anybody will remember the game for is Seth Russell's gruesome - and perhaps career-ending injury - which you can relive right here. Oh well: at least he has that free college education to fall back on, right?

Oklahoma State (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. TCU (Nov. 19)

In an oblique nod to NFL Blitz, the Cowboys beat the Red Raiders 45-44 in a game that saw OK State drop 605 total yards on Texas Tech (who, in turn, dropped 518 total yards on the Cowboys.) The Dec. 3 showdown with Oklahoma very well could determine the technically non-existent champion of the Big 12 - well, that is, unless the Mountaineers remain just a one-loss team at the end of that same Saturday.

Washington State (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Colorado (Nov. 19)

Believe it or not, the Cougars are the only team in the PAC-12 sans a conference loss. Their final two games of the regular season - against Colorado and Washington - will not be easy, but they're not automatic losses either. Indeed, the way Washington State has been playing lately, I wouldn't write them off as legitimate conference champions at this point - which, really, tells you everything you need to know about just how much "power" the weakest Power Five in college ball actually has in it these days. 

Colorado (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Washington State (Nov. 19)

Don't look now, but the Buffaloes very well could find themselves playing for the PAC-12 Championship a couple of weeks from now. You can see the things that make them a surprisingly dangerous squad in their 49-24 win over Arizona State - chiefly, a mobile quarterback who can rack up four touchdowns a game, plus a direly underrated halfback who can post three scores all by his damn self. Of course, you can also see the team's big deficiencies - namely, a rushing defense that allowed the Wildcats to record 257 yards on the ground. 

Utah (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Oregon (Nov. 19)

You know a football player nobody's talking about who very well could be a downright tremendous QB in the NFL? The Utes' Troy Williams. Just take a look at his performance in last Saturday's 49-26 win over Arizona State - dude finished the outing with 296 yards and four touchdowns on just 21 completions. Attention, currently shitty pro football teams in dire need of a new signal-caller: this is an off-the-beaten-path prospect I definitely wouldn't overlook.

Penn State (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Rutgers (Nov. 19)

Does Penn State actually have a shot at winning the Big 10 Championship? Well, with a big win over Ohio State, they would have a tie-breaker over the Buckeyes pending they lose at least one more game in the regular season. And what if Michigan gets upset by Indiana this Saturday? Granted, these are all highly unlikely scenarios, but as we should all know by now, don't ever say "never," especially in the final two weeks of the regular season. 

Wisconsin (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Purdue (Nov. 19)

The Badgers pretty much stuck it in Illinois, 48-3, over the weekend. With very, very winnable games against Purdue and Minnesota, there is a fairly decent chance Wisconsin ends up winning their division - and with a rivalry-game-bruised Michigan or Ohio State looking at them on the other side of the Conference Championship game, who is to say the Badgers wouldn't have at least a halfway decent shot at nailing the upset?

Nebraska (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Maryland (Nov. 19)

Yes, Nebraska's shot at the playoffs is very, very slim. However, with a pretty facile schedule for the remainder of the year, they are quite likely to run the table and win their division; and with a very banged up Michigan or Ohio State awaiting them a week later, who's to say the Cornhuskers don't have one more major upset in 'em this year?

Houston (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Louisville (Nov. 17)

Houston may be out of the playoff picture, but an upset win over Louisville could go a long way in propping up the Cougars for a real National Championship bid next year. Well, as long as their head coach doesn't bolt for a Power Five head coach opening - which, yeah, he almost certainly will. 

Navy (7-2)
Next Opponent: vs. East Carolina (Nov. 19)

If you like rush-heavy football, the Midshipmen are playing your kind of game. Averaging 309.6 rushing yards per game, only three division one college football programs are putting up more running production per contest - and strangely enough, two of them are fellow military installations Army and Air Force.

Toledo (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Ball State (Nov. 16)

What ya'll know about the Rockets? Here's one thing you probably weren't aware of concerning Toledo: averaging 540 yards a contest, they have the fifth most productive offense in all of NCAA football. And there, it's a pretty good split between passing and rushing, with the team averaging 339.5 aerial yards and 200.2 running yards each and every outing.

South Florida (8-2)
Next Opponent: vs. SMU (Nov. 19)

The USF currently possesses the seventh ranked offense in division I football, with the tenth best points per game average in the land. Alas, their defense is one of the absolute worst, allowing 481 yards per game and 31.4 points per contest. 

USC (7-3)
Next Opponent: vs. UCLA (Nov. 19)

The season was a lost cause a long time ago, but at least the Trojans can take a little bit of pride in bumping off the formerly undefeated Huskies last Saturday. It's going to sound like a backhanded compliment, for sure, but at this late phase in the season, USC really is the best three-loss team in the country. And if they can keep up their winning ways, who knows? With a little bit of luck, they might even find themselves finishing third - hell, maybe even second - within their respective division. 


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