Official Rant Sports College Football Top 25: Week 7
Rant Sports College Football Top 25
It’s time once again for the Official Rant Sports College Football Top 25 for Week 7, as determined by the Rant Sports college football writing team.
It was an exciting weekend for college football with a pair of top 10 throw downs and plenty of action all over the Top 25. What did we learn this week?
Well, the balance of power is shifting back east in the SEC. While the Alabama Crimson Tide remains a unanimous number one pick this week while on bye, the SEC East is moving up the charts in a big, big way.
Geno Smith and Braxton Miller put in their official high light reels for the Heisman Trophy as they led their teams to big wins in conference play and pushed their teams further up the rankings.
Falling out of the Top 25 this week is the Northwestern Wildcats, Boise State Broncos, and Nebraska Cornhuskers. Northwestern suffered a bad loss when the Penn State Nittany Lions rallied late to win in Beaver Stadium. The Cornhuskers were embarrassed on the road by the Ohio State Buckeyes, giving up over 60 points at The Horseshoe. Boise State dropped despite a commanding win over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles due to the impressive showing of other teams this week.
Taking their spots in the Top 25 are the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Texas A&M Aggies, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Bulldogs jump into the rankings after extending their perfect record over the UNLV Rebels. Texas A&M got their second SEC conference win over the Ole Miss Rebels. The Cowboys rose while taking the week off.
So where does everyone shake out? Let’s count them down in the Rant Sports Official Top 25.
25. TCU Horned Frogs
The TCU Horned Frogs lost starting quarterback Casey Pachall during to a suspension stemming from yet another off the field incident. That left backup Trevone Boykin with a short week to get ready for a stout Iowa State Cyclones rush defense.
Boykin’s biggest asset is his legs, but the Cyclones forced him to use his arm in this game, and it hurt TCU. Boykin finished with three interceptions as part of a five-turnover day for the Frogs. Credit goes to the Iowa State defense who stepped up and took advantage of their opportunities.
TCU hasn’t been that impressive to begin with this season, and if Boykin can’t step up his learning curve in a hurry, the Frogs are going to fall even further in their inaugural Big 12 season.
24. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
The only mid-major program to make the Top 25 this week, the Bulldogs have been on the radar for a while, steadily climbing in the Rant Sports Mid-Major Power Rankings over the last few weeks. They handled business against UNLV at home, impressing many of our voters in the process.
La Tech is representing the WAC with pride, extending their perfect record this season to 5-0 with wins over major conference foes like the Illinois Fighting Illini and Virginia Cavaliers, so they’ve made noise on the national scene already this season.
The Bulldogs are paced by a stellar offensive attack that uses balance between the run and the pass to rack up points in a hurry. They’re averaging better than 50 points per game and rank third in the nation in scoring offense.
23. Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies got off to a rough start in their SEC debut, surrendering a late lead to the visiting Florida Gators. But it turns out, those Gators are pretty good, and so are the Aggies, as they rallied late on Saturday to overtake Ole Miss.
At 4-1, and 2-1 in the SEC, the Aggies find themselves right in the thick of things in the daunting SEC West. They’re led by their All-Everything quarterback Johnny Manziel, who has been as dangerous a dual-threat as there is in the country.
The Aggies showed they can get it done when things aren’t going as planned, too, this weekend. With the passing game struggling, Texas A&M turned to the running game to fuel a late rally and get College Station back into the Top 25 this week.
22. Cincinnati Bearcats
The Cincinnati Bearcats are representing for the Big East, extending their perfect record with a dominating win over their rival Miami (Ohio) Redhawks, 52-14. They jumped up early, leading 24-14 at halftime, before putting their foot to the floor in the second half and pulling away.
Cincinnati has ridden their running game and stingy defense to their fast start, which is a recipe that will serve them well as the season goes along.
While not many people give the Big East much respect, the Bearcats are looking like a team that’s ready to give a lot of people a tough game the rest of this season.
21. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Pokes of Stillwater were off this week, but their last performance against the Texas Longhorns resonated with some of our voters.
OSU went toe-to-toe with Texas in Week 5, 41-36, and as people watched Texas match points with the high-powered West Virginia Mountaineers made some people reconsider how damaging a loss it was.
20. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Another Big East club carrying the banner of the conference with pride, Rutgers, “won ugly” 19-3 over the Connecticut Huskies. They extended their perfect record to 5-0 despite just one offensive touchdown in the game.
Once again, it was the defense of Rutgers that was the difference, which allowed just a second quarter field goal, supporting their claim as a top-ten scoring defense as they are giving up just 10 points per game. They even added onto the scoreboard with a pick-six in the fourth quarter to seal the game by Wayne Warren.
19. Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs traveled to Lexington and dispatched the Kentucky Wildcats with ease. They jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead after the first quarter, which they rode all the way to the end to a 27-14 win.
LaDarius Perkins paced the Bulldogs’ offense out of the backfield, rushing for 110 yards on 25 carries, scoring once. Quarterback Tyler Russell added 269 yards passing with a pair of touchdowns. The Bulldogs defense had a strong showing, holding Kentucky to less than 230 yards of offense and just 5-for-15 on third down conversions.
The Bulldogs are a surprisingly stout team in the SEC East that will be ready to give the big guys in the conference a tough game each week. If taken lightly, they could even steal a couple.
18. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville was off this week, but stay in the Top 25 as the highest ranked member of the Big East. Charlie Strong has his team playing well, finishing their non-conference schedule at 5-0 as they head into Big East play.
The Cardinals have had to survive a few scares, though, in the early going, and will need to play more complete games if they hope to make through the Big East without tripping up.
17. Stanford Cardinal
Stanford was left with questions that needed to be answered after their loss to the Washington Huskies, and when the Arizona Wildcats took a 14-point lead deep into the fourth quarter, it looked like those questions were going to get louder and more uncomfortable to answer. But a late rally forced overtime and the Cardinal escaped at home 54-48.
Josh Nunes showed remarkable resolve coming back after many people were asking for his job as starting quarterback. He threw for a career-high 360 yards with two touchdowns through the air, while rushing for another three, as he put the Cardinal on his back and bailed out a rare poor performance from the Stanford defense. Stepfan Taylor finished the day with 142 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime to save the Cardinal from slipping further down the Pac 12 ladder.
Stanford got back to what works for them on offense and it saved them. If they can get that production when the defense is on like it normally is, the Cardinal are far from out of it in the Pac 12 race.
16. Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners were reeling from their first home loss to a ranked opponent under Bob Stoops as they boarded the plane for Lubbock. They were able to pull together, however, and continue their impressive streak of not losing back-to-back games as they cruised over the Texas Tech Red Raiders 41-20.
Landry Jones bounced back in this game, throwing for 259 yards on 25-of-40 passing with two touchdowns. The defense stifled the Red Raider offense with three interceptions as the Sooners rode a 34-6 run in the second and third quarters for the easy win.
This win was crucial for the Sooners to stay in the conversation for a Big 12 Championship, and their ability to bounce back will serve them well with big games coming down the stretch.
15. Clemson Tigers
Clemson went up against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who gave them fits for most of the contest. But an explosive offensive performance, capped by 17 fourth-quarter points made the difference as the Tigers distanced themselves for a comfortable 47-31 win.
The Tigers offense racked up more than 600 yards of total offense, led by quarterback Tahj Boyd’s 397 yards passing to go along with his 63 rushing yards. He finished the day with three total touchdowns. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a big day as well, finishing the game with seven catches for 173 yards and was on the receiving end of both of Boyd’s passing touchdowns.
The Tigers had a setback in their hunt for the ACC title with their loss to Florida State, but have new life now and look to take advantage of it with a dynamic offensive attack.
14. Texas Longhorns
Texas hosted the West Virginia Mountaineers in a shootout in Austin where it looked like the team with the ball last was going to end up winning the game. It was back and forth all night long, but Texas had the ball with a chance to tie late in the game, but couldn’t convert it and fell 48-45.
David Ash was impressive, throwing for 269 yards on 22-of-29 passing with a touchdown. The Horns spread the ball around on offense, but it was Joe Bergeron they turned to when they got close as the running back finished the game with 45 yards on 17 carries, but four touchdowns. The Longhorns defense was hopeful it could slow down the Mountaineers’ offense, but they weren’t able to make the plays when they needed them.
Texas is back as a major player in the Big 12, but they’ll need some help from the rest of the conference if they hope to overtake West Virginia now in the conference standings.
13. Florida State Seminoles
National title hopes, Heisman Trophy aspirations, ACC Championship favorites. Those were all things that described the Florida State season heading into Saturday. You can cross all of them out after a disappointing effort in the second half left the Noles on the wrong end of a NC State Wolfpack rally, 17-16.
E.J. Manuel took a major hit to his Heisman campaign, finishing the day 17-for-29 for 218 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Chris Thompson was his usual electric self, rushing for 141 yards on 25 carries, but failed to find the end zone. The whole Seminole offense failed to find paydirt in the second half, getting outscored 17-0 by the Wolfpack and ending FSU’s chances of running the table.
People were quick to announce that FSU was back, but it will be up to Jimbo Fisher to regroup this team after a major disappointment. They still have a very good chance to make a run for the ACC Championship, which would give them a BCS berth, even if not the one they were hoping for.
12. Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs had high hopes this season with the depth of running back in Mark Richt’s backfield and quarterback Aaron Murray under center. Those hopes took a pretty big hit on the Dawgs trip to South Carolina as they were dismantled by the Gamecocks 35-7.
Murray finished the day a dismal 11-for-31 passing for just 109 yards and an interception. The stable of running backs failed to have a single player rush for more than 50 yards, and the defense was gutted by the Gamecocks rushing attack.
Richt will need to regroup his Bulldogs in a hurry as they won’t get much time to feel sorry for themselves in the incredibly tough SEC East.
11. Oregon State Beavers
It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. The Beavers hosted the Washington State Cougars and extended their perfect record to 4-0 with a 19-6 win. The offense struggled to find its footing for most of the day, but the defense picked up the slack by keeping the Cougars out of the end zone for four quarters.
Sean Mannion reverted to his 2011 self, throwing three interceptions while completing 25-of-42 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown. Storm Woods was off his normal pace as well, rushing for just 54 yards on 15 carries. The defense made sure the offensive struggles didn’t come back to hurt the Beavers as they forced five turnovers, including four interceptions, while holding WSU to just 2-for-10 on third down conversion and allowing just 20 yards of rushing.
The Beavers have won close all season, and as Woods admitted after the game, they haven’t put together a complete game yet. When they do, the Beavers will be a dangerous team in the Pac 12.
10. LSU Tigers
The Tigers’ offense cost them a national championship last season, and came back to bite them again on Saturday. Only able to muster a pair of field goals, the Tigers could not keep pace with Florida and fell in the Swamp 14-6.
Zach Mettenberg was tagged as the answer in Baton Rouge this season, but he’s given fans more questions with his play. He finished the game just 11-for-25 for 158 yards and a touchdown, and the running game disappeared behind him. The leading rusher for the Tigers, Spencer Ware, finished with just 21 yards on eight carries.
The defense is good enough to win games, but the offense hasn’t shown an ability to hang with the tougher defenses in the SEC. Answers will be needed if they want to keep pace and stay relevant in the SEC race.
9. USC Trojans
The Trojans played an early Thursday game this week, heading to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Utes. They stumbled out of the blocks, spotting Utah a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before rallying and taking control of the game. 17 second-quarter points gave USC a three-point lead at half, and 14 fourth-quarter points sealed the deal.
Matt Barkley came out and reminded people he’s not so bad at this quarterback thing, throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Silas Redd paced the running game with 77 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown, while Marqise Lee proved once again how special he is in the receiving game. He finished the night with 12 catches for 192 and a touchdown.
While the Trojans have stumbled a few times this year and let doubt creep in about how good they are, they came out and reminded people that they can be very, very good when they want to be.
8. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes welcomed in conference-foe Nebraska and acted like the worst hosts in history, hanging 63-points on the proud Cornhusker defense. Ohio State scored 28 in the second quarter to secure the lead for good, and kept on rolling after halftime.
Braxton Miller showed off his arm and his leg, throwing for 127 yards and touchdown while rushing for 186 yards and another score. Carlos Hyde added his contribution, as well, rushing for 140 yards on 28 carries and four touchdowns.
The Buckeyes may not be able to go to a bowl game this year, but they’re sending a message for next year, and it’s coming through loud and clear.
7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Irish unveiled some new uniforms for their renewed rivalry game against the Miami Hurricanes in Solider Field. And while the look was questionable, the result was outstanding. Notre Dame continued to play exceptional defense and held opponents without a touchdown for a second straight game in a 41-3 rout of the Canes.
Notre Dame went to the running game to churn out this impressive win, with two rushers finishing the game with more than 100 yards. George Atkinson III led the way with 123 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown while Cierre Wood finished with 118 yards on 18 carries with two touchdown runs. The defense held Miami under 300 yards of total offense, who finished the day just 4-for-12 on third downs.
The Irish are getting back to basics to fuel their run to the Top 10 by building around Manti Te’o and a stifling defense. Watch for this Irish team to make serious noise in some big rivalry games down the stretch.
6. West Virginia Mountaineers
The Mountaineers have proven they can score points, and they needed all of them against the Texas Longhorns on Saturday. 14 fourth-quarter points for the Mountaineers proved to be the difference as they hung on and escaped Austin with the 48-45 win.
Geno Smith added another stellar game to his Heisman Trophy resume, throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns. The running game came up huge as well, as Andrew Buie rushed for 207 yards on 31 carries, scoring twice.
The defense hasn’t shown up much for West Virginia this year, but they haven’t needed to as the Mountaineers’ offense continues to light up scoreboards at a scary pace.
5. Florida Gators
The Gators got back to their SEC roots on Saturday, using stingy defense and an effective running game to rally past the LSU Tigers in the Swamp. Trailing 6-0 at the half, the Gators got down to business in the second half, out-scoring Les Miles’ squad 14-0 for the win.
Mike Gillislee put the team on his back in this win, rushing 34 times for 146 yards and scoring both of the Gator touchdowns. Florida’s defense was swarming in the Swamp, as well, forcing three Tiger turnovers and holding LSU to just 1-for-13 on third down conversions.
With the impressive win, Florida announced to the country that winning ways are back in Gainesville. Are we in store for another classic Florida-Alabama clash in the SEC Championship?
4. Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats squared off with their in-state rival, the Kansas Jayhawks, and summarily squashed them over four quarters. The Jayhawks hung within a score up through halftime, but 28 third quarter points for K-State slammed the door on the game emphatically.
Collin Klein continued his strong 2012, throwing for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 7-of-14 passing while rushing for 116 yards on 10 carries, adding another pair of touchdowns. John Hubert added a dominant performance on the ground, gaining 101 yards on 10 carries and scoring four touchdowns of his own.
They may not be flashy or exciting, but Klein and the Cats are doing damage in the Big 12 and are going to be a major factor in the BCS race.
3. South Carolina Gamecocks
The Gamecocks dismantled Georgia on Saturday and staked their claim as the best team in the SEC East. They still have to discuss that with Florida, but the Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, may have his best team ever in Columbia.
The Gamecocks jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead after one quarter and were able to ride their running game and defense the rest of the way. Connor Shaw attempted just 10 passes the whole game, throwing two touchdowns in the process. Marcus Lattimore paved the way on the ground, rushing for 109 yards on 24 carries, scoring once.
The explosiveness of the offense combined with the stinginess of the defense is going to make South Carolina a player in January.
2. Oregon Ducks
The Ducks took care of business in a big way in their rivalry game against the Washington Huskies. They extended their winning streak in the series to nine games and continued the impressive streak of winning the games by at least 24 points.
Marcus Mariota was opportunistic through the air, passing for four touchdowns despite throwing for less than 200 yards. Kenjon Barner continues to quietly drive this offense, rushing for 122 yards and a score.
The Ducks dispatched a pretty good Pac 12 team on Saturday, and look ready to make a push for the BCS with upcoming games against Stanford and USC.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
The Tide got to sit back and watch as three of the four Top 5 teams chasing them fell on Saturday. Nick Saban won’t let his team rest on their laurels, however, despite the week off.
Alabama remains the cream of the SEC crop, and while the balance of power may be shifting east with Florida and South Carolina rising, the road to an SEC Championship still runs through Tuscaloosa.
Expect fireworks down south as the contenders start coming for Alabama’s crown.