Here are the insights gained after calculating the last five weeks of the College Football Rankings:
- Wanna guess who was #1 after Week 3? It was a Pac-10 school, but it wasn’t high-scoring Oregon: it was Stanford. Alabama was #2, with Arizona #3, and Oregon all the way at #13 thanks to a weak schedule. Florida leapfrogged them all Week 4 by beating previously unbeaten Kentucky, and Oregon shot up to #6 after a relatively close win over Arizona State.
- I didn’t like all the praise being heaped on to Boise before the season; it was like people wanted them to break into the BCS Title Game. And in the first rankings they’re #17. TCU, on the other hand, is #4, and moved to third behind Florida and Stanford the following week. Boise isn’t even the best team in their own conference after Week 3; that’s #11 Nevada. Beating Oregon State didn’t help them in the short term; they actually dropped to #22, behind Virginia Tech! Only in Week 5 did they climb ahead of Nevada to #15, and in week 6 they shot up to #5.
- Looking at the Week 4 rankings, you’re probably thinking that, far from explaining many of this year’s upsets, if my rankings ruled there would actually be more of them; Florida was ranked ahead of Alabama, Stanford ahead of Oregon. That actually resulted in TCU shooting to #1 Week 5, followed by Alabama and Oregon, with Florida staying high at #4. Despite losing to Arizona earlier in the year, Iowa was at #5, followed by Oklahoma, Ohio State, Stanford, Nebraska, dropping-for-idle-hands Arizona, and Michigan. And the upsets predicted by the humans but not by me continued: Michigan State was #24 beating #11 on the road, South Carolina had been at #17 before beating Alabama.
- Nebraska held the top spot after six weeks after a beatdown of previously-unbeaten Kansas State sent them shooting up the rankings. TCU, Ohio State, and Oregon rounded out the top five, with Oklahoma #6.
- No one has led the rankings two weeks in a row. Oklahoma beating up on Iowa State explains why they’re now #1, but not in the BCS where margin of victory doesn’t matter. Did Texas handing Nebraska their first loss give the Sooners an SoS boost? The two major non-BCS schools, TCU and Boise State, file in at #2 and #3. 6-0 Missouri can boast of wins over first-page teams San Diego State, Texas A&M and Illinois, two of them by decent scores; #5 Oregon has beaten up on teams, but Stanford and Arizona State – an 11-point squeaker and a home win where they allowed as many points as they did against Arizona State – are their only first-page wins, and some of those wins (Tennessee, New Mexico) remain awful. Oklahoma should be on upset alert with the game in Columbia. Nebraska falls to 7th after the loss to Texas; Ohio State, unbeaten Auburn, and unbeaten Oklahoma State round out the top ten, with Michigan State at #11. (Don’t overreact to a loss!)
- Next come unbeaten LSU, Stanford, unbeaten Utah, and Alabama to round out the top 15. Virginia Tech is 16th, and creeping back into the polls as well; non-bowl-eligible USC has been hovering around the middle of the rankings all year, and come in at #17 this week. South Carolina, Arizona, and Florida State round out the top 20, and NC State, Nevada, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Florida round out the Top 25 (of those five, only West Virginia and Wisconsin are ranked in the BCS). North Carolina, Mississippi State, Baylor, Iowa, Northwestern, Navy, Air Force, Michigan, and Oregon State make up the watch list (yes, Iowa is 15th in the BCS standings and 29th in the C Ratings – blame a pedestrian slate of opponents and a Penn State team now in the bottom half), with Arkansas, San Diego State, Clemson, Miami (FL), Troy, and UCF making up the rest of the positive B Point crowd.
- The Big 12 appears to be the best conference, followed by the Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-10. Despite only one team in positive B Points the Big East is still ahead of the ACC. The WAC is surprisingly ahead of the Mountain West, which is the last year that’ll ever happen; in fact the Mountain West is only barely ahead of C-USA. The Sun Belt is actually ahead of the MAC. Kentucky is the lowest-ranked Princeton-Yale Titleholder I can think of in the time I’ve been tracking both, at #74 in the back half of FBS, with teams like UCLA and Toledo. Their opponent, Georgia, is at least 50th and can get on to the first page if they take the title.
- Best game of week: #1 Oklahoma @ #4 Missouri, 8pm ET, ABC, for the 2006 Boise State title – and possible pole position on the road to the national championship game.