September 17, 2014

Notre Dame and Ohio State Complete Undefeated Regular Seasons, But With Decidedly Different Outlooks

Notre Dame virtually assured they will remain the #1 team in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16 when the regular season comes to a close this weekend (well, not counting Army-Navy). Their fourth quarter goal-line stand versus the disappointing USC Trojans secured a 22-13 victory, their 12th against zero losses, and a spot in the BCS title game on January 7.

#2 Alabama had an easier time with their rivalry weekend matchup, shutting out longstanding rival Auburn 49-0 and setting up their SEC championship and BCS semi-final showdown with #4 Georgia. The Bulldogs had little difficulty knocking off their interstate “rival” Georgia Tech in a 42-10 victory.

#3 Ohio State finished their undefeated season by holding Michigan scoreless in the second half of a 26-21 win. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes likely have zero chance to win the national championship as they’ll sit out the Big Ten championship and bowl season due to their NCAA probation status.

#5 Oregon staked their too-little-too-late case for inclusion in the BCS title game by proving Oregon State an inferior rival in their 48-24 Civil War triumph. The loss drops Oregon State out of the Leatherheads Top 16, but the Beavers’ season remains one of the biggest surprises in major college football this year.

Speaking of “too little too late,” #6 Florida outscored then #8 Florida State 24-6 in the 4th quarter of their battle for Sunshine State supremacy. The 37-26 Gators win is their fourth this season versus teams in the Leatherheads Top 16, but their one loss–to #4 Georgia–remains their season-defining moment, costing them a shot at Alabama in the SEC championship and a chance to play in the BCS title game. At #13 following the loss, FSU ranks the worst of those four impressive victories.

In other action, Texas A&M climbs from #9 to #7 on the strength of a 59-29 win over Missouri; LSU jumps from #10 to #9 after a too-close-for-comfort 20-13 decision versus Arkansas; Stanford earns a spot in our top 10 and in the Pac-12 championship with an impressive 35-17 defeat of UCLA; South Carolina (up from #13 to #11) practically swaps places with Clemson (down from #11 to #15) with their 27-17 road victory over the Tigers; #12 Oklahoma pulled out a 51-48 overtime win over Oklahoma State; and #14 Nebraska advanced to the Big Ten title game–versus a Wisconsin team who finished 4-4 in the conference, but is the benefactor of Ohio State and Penn State being on probation–with a 13-7 squeaker over Iowa.

Last, but certainly not least, 11-1 Kent State joins the ranks of the Leatherheads Top 16, but will have to defeat Northern Illinois in Friday night’s Mid-American Conference championship, as the 11-1 Huskies sit poised to wrest that spot away from the Golden Flashes.

While most of college football’s eyes will be focused on Alabama-Georgia in the SEC championship in Atlanta, there’s still a lot of important action this weekend, heading into bowl season. Other games not previously mentioned that could affect the poll’s standings include Texas at #8 Kansas State, #12 Oklahoma at TCU, and #13 Florida State vs. Georgia Tech in the ACC championship.

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Notre Dame (10)   12-0    175        1
   2 Alabama   11-1    160        2
   3 Ohio State (1)   12-0    148        3
   4 Georgia   11-1    142        4
   5 Oregon   11-1    131        5
   6 Florida   11-1    121        6
   7 Texas A&M   10-2    103        9
   8 Kansas State   10-1    102        7
   9 LSU   10-2      91      10
 10 Stanford   10-2      89      12
 11 South Carolina   10-2      64      13
 12 Oklahoma     9-2      49      14
 13 Florida State   10-2      41        8
 14 Nebraska   10-2      40      15
 15 Clemson   10-2      21      11
 16 Kent State   11-1        9      NR


Others receiving votes
: Northern Illinois – 3, Oregon State – 3, Boise State – 1, Michigan – 1, UCLA  – 1, Utah State  – 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob SwickJoe Williams, Tony Williams.

Big Shakeup in Leatherheads Poll as Three of Top Five Teams Fall

As Leatherheads pollster Andrew McKillop insightfully points out, this weekend was the first time since 2002 that the AP’s no. 3, 4 and 5 teams all lost on the same day, and that misfortune applies to the teams occupying those spots in the Leatherheads’ rankings as well.

#3 Florida State drops to #12 following their second-half letdown versus North Carolina State, who erased a 16-0 halftime deficit and scored a game-winning touchdown with 0:16 left for a 17-16 upset victory at home.

The offensively-challenged #4 LSU fell to #9 as they couldn’t get the job done in the second half against Florida, who used their 14-6 victory to vault from #11 to #7 in our poll.

#5 Georgia nearly plummets out of the top 16 after a 35-7 thrashing at the hands of now #3 South Carolina, leaving the Bulldogs at #15. The Gamecocks’ impressive victory leads us to wonder if they belong in the discussion with the two teams who have established themselves as clearly the class of college football, #1 Alabama and #2 Oregon.

Joining South Carolina as new members of the Leatherheads top five are #4 Kansas State, 56-16 winners over Kansas, and #5 West Virginia, 48-45 road victors at Texas, who slipped from #10 to #13 in the process.

The Brandon Williams quote of the week addresses the issue of the team that perhaps is the biggest surprise of this young season: “Three words the Pac-12 should heed. Fear. The. Beavers.” Tied with LSU for #9 in our poll, Oregon State is one of three teams from that conference in the top 11 following their 19-6 win against Washington State. That doesn’t quite match the SEC’s four, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

I may have spoken too soon when I referred to Oregon State as the most surprising team in college football this year, because Notre Dame may have something to say about that. The sixth-ranked Fighting Irish manhandled Miami 41-3, and they have an important date with Stanford coming up next weekend. As Brandon Williams says, “(Are) the Irish for real? Talk to me next Saturday night.”

Another of this past weekend’s most impressive wins came from #8 Ohio State, who may very well be the Big Ten’s only really competitive team according to David Boyce. The Buckeyes took down a pretty good Nebraska team with ease, 63-38.

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (12)    5-0    192        1
   2 Oregon    6-0    180        2
   3 South Carolina    6-0    164        6
   4 Kansas State    5-0    147        7 (Tie)
   5 West Virginia    5-0    144        7 (Tie)
   6 Notre Dame    5-0    128        9
   7 Florida    5-0    124      11
   8 Ohio State    6-0    105      12
   9 (Tie) LSU    5-1      72        4
   9 (Tie) Oregon State    4-0      72      14
 11 USC    4-1      63      15
 12 Florida State    5-1      60        3
 13 Texas    4-1      34      10
 14 Oklahoma    3-1      31      NR
 15 Georgia    5-1      29        5
 16 Clemson    5-1      22      16


Others receiving votes
: Mississippi State – 21, Stanford – 18, Louisville – 15, Rutgers – 7, Northwestern – 3, Iowa State – 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Alabama Leaves No Doubt

Going into last night’s BCS championship game between LSU and Alabama, it was possible to envision a scenario where the Crimson Tide didn’t win convincingly enough for some voters, opening up the possibility some would rank Oklahoma State, or even leave LSU, at the top of the poll. [Read more...]

Leatherheads National Championship

The Leatherheads National Playoffs are our mythical national championship tournament in which our regular pollsters pick the winners of a bracket consisting of the teams in our regular season final top 16. Each pollster is allocated a fixed number of votes to spread across all the games, thus allowing them to place a heavier weight on the winners they have more confidence in. [Read more...]

Leatherheads National Playoffs: Semi-Finals

The Leatherheads National Playoffs are our mythical national championship tournament in which our regular pollsters pick the winners of a bracket consisting of the teams in our final top 16. Each pollster is allocated a fixed number of votes to spread across all the games, thus allowing them to place a heavier weight on the winners they have more confidence in. [Read more...]

Leatherheads National Playoffs (Round of 8)

The Leatherheads National Playoffs are our mythical national championship tournament in which our regular pollsters pick the winners of a bracket consisting of the teams in our final top 16. Each pollster is allocated a fixed number of votes to spread across all the games, thus allowing them to place a heavier weight on the winners they have more confidence in. [Read more...]

Leatherheads National Playoffs (Round of 16)

The Leatherheads National Playoffs are our mythical national championship tournament in which our regular pollsters pick the winners of a bracket consisting of the teams in our final top 16. Each pollster is allocated a fixed number of votes to spread across all the games, thus allowing them to place a heavier weight on the winners they have more confidence in. [Read more...]

Oklahoma, Georgia Tumble from Leatherheads Top 16 Following Blowout Losses

The formula for falling out of the Leatherheads Top 16 appears to be losing a third game of the season in blowout fashion. That’s what happened to Oklahoma, 44-10 losers to #3 Oklahoma State, and Georgia, who fell 42-10 to #1 LSU in the SEC championship. [Read more...]

LSU and Alabama Unanimous at #1 and #2 in Leatherheads Poll

LSU has been a unanimous #1 in the Leatherheads poll for four consecutive weeks now, since knocking off Alabama in Tuscaloosa on November 5. It didn’t take long, however, for ‘Bama to climb back into the #2 spot, and this week they’re unanimous in that position. [Read more...]

…And Then There Were Three

Two of major college football’s five unbeatens were defeated on Saturday, leaving #1 LSU, #2 Oklahoma State and #8 Houston as the only teams in the esteemed category of those without a loss. [Read more...]