September 24, 2017

Here We Go Again! Alabama is #1 in the Leatherheads Top 16

After two straight national championships, the Alabama Crimson Tide are undefeated and again sitting at the top of the national rankings as the best college football team. The results of the first Leatherheads Top 16 poll are not a surprise with Alabama ranked #1.

Bama will play Ole Miss this weekend to try to hold on to the top ranking. The Rebels are 3-0 after beating Vanderbilt, Southeast Missouri State and Texas. The A.J. McCarron-led Crimson Tide are also 3-0 after beating Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and the Rams of Colorado State.

The Aggies are ranked #9 and are the highest ranked team with a lost, joining Georgia and South Carolina as the three teams with losses in the Top 16. Of course, A&M lost to Bama in that classic game on September 14 as the Tide escaped getting Manzieled for the second year in a row. Texas A&M play Arkansas this week. The Razorbacks are coming off a loss to Rutgers. Johnny Football is having another great year. Leatherhead Terry Keshner calls him the James Franco of college football and Leatherhead Tony Williams calls A&M an offensive-MACHINE – so true!

In the #2 spot we have the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks are 3-0 and will be playing a 1-2 California Golden Bears team. Although the Ducks have tough matchups coming up with games against Washington, Washington State and UCLA, the big match will be against Stanford on November 7. The Cardinal play at Washington State on Saturday.

There is a tight race for the #3 spot with just seven points separating Clemson, Ohio State and Stanford with two 4-0 teams slightly behind in LSU and Louisville. Clemson currently holds that #3 spot but like Leatherhead Dave Boyce said to me: “If NC State makes you look beatable, you are beatable.”

LSU plays at Georgia in Week 5. If the Bulldogs lose, it is likely they will drop out of the Top 16 but could run the table the rest of the way with only one AP-ranked team left to play this year in Florida. LSU on the other hand has yet to play Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and the Aggies.

Michigan sits at the bottom of the poll after barely beating a UConn team that looked pitiful the first two games of the season. A late pick led to a score and allowed the Wolverines to win the game and stay undefeated.

A game to watch this weekend is Oklahoma at Notre Dame. Can the Irish find last year’s regular season magic and top a very good Sooners team? The Irish are 3-1 with their loss coming against Michigan on September 7. Meanwhile, linebacker Manti Te’o will be making his NFL debut for the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

An interesting team on the verge of joining the Top 16 is the Northwestern Wildcats. The 4-0 Wildcats have the week off but play Ohio State in Week 6. Leatherhead Bob Swick thinks they are the sleeper team of this season while Keshner told me “If the Wildcats can beat Ohio State, they’ll be that much closer of realizing their dream of getting embarrassed in January.”

Here are the first rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron for the 2013 season:

Rank Team Record Points
   1 Alabama (11)    3-0   176
   2 Oregon    3-0   162
   3 Clemson    3-0   141
   4 Ohio State    4-0   139
   5 Stanford    3-0   134
   6 LSU    4-0   122
   7 Louisville    4-0   116
   8 Florida State    3-0     89
   9 Texas A&M    3-1     73
 10 Oklahoma State    3-0     72
 11 Georgia    2-1     70
 12 Oklahoma    3-0     47
 13 UCLA    3-0     41
 14 South Carolina    2-1     28
 15 Miami    3-0     21
 16 Michigan    4-0     15


Others receiving votes
: Baylor – 13, Northwestern – 13, Washington – 11, Ole Miss – 5, Florida – 4, Texas Tech – 2, Michigan State – 2, Notre Dame – 1.

Participating voters: Jon Blayne, David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Chris Garbarino, RUFANJerry, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Alabama Repeats and Finishes #1 in the Leatherheads Top 16

Alabama took care of business and beat an undefeated team for the second year in a row to claim college football’s crystal ball. Bama came out of the starting gate at top speed and took control of the game, ultimately winning 42-14. The matchup was over by the second quarter and the Fighting Irish showed no fight. Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te’o missed more tackles in the game than he did all season, possibly hurting his bank account when the NFL Draft happens later this year. On the other side of the line of scrimmage, the Crimson Tide rolled as Eddie Lacy rushed for 140 yards and A.J. McCarron passed for 264 yards and four touchdowns, both showing that they may one day star at the next level. Lacy, a junior, stated yesterday that he will enter this year’s NFL Draft along with cornerback Dee Milliner and tackle D.J. Fluker.

It has been five days since the BCS National Championship Game so most Crimson Tide fans should be over their celebratory hang over by now and Notre Dame fans are coming to grips that it wasn’t meant to be but that the season was still a magical one. As Leatherhead Tex Noel said to me, “When Alabama and Notre Dame met, it was history vs. history and dynasty won.” I would have to agree with that statement. The two most successful schools in college football history met and Bama won, earning their third championship in four years. Alabama joins Nebraska, who won in 1994, 1995 and 1997, as the only schools to accomplish the feat. Alabama also won their tenth national championship, breaking a tie with Notre Dame at nine. Alabama also won championships in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009 and 2011.

Since Alabama was victorious, it is no surprise that the Crimson Tide finished #1 in the Leatherheads Top 16 for the second year in a row. Heading into the game we had them ranked #2 after Notre Dame who now sits at the #4 position. The Oregon Ducks finished #2 after beating Kansas State 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl. Oops! I mean the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Wildcats fell in the poll from the sixth spot to the twelfth spot, the second biggest drop in the rankings. Topping Kansas State’s drop was Florida who lost 33-23 to the surprising Louisville Cardinals. The Gators fell from being tied for fourth with the idle Ohio State Buckeyes (now #3) to eleventh, down seven spots. Didn’t the UConn Huskies beat Louisville a few weeks back? The Cardinals moved back into the poll and finish the year at #13.

Johnny Football showed why he won the Heisman Trophy by leading the Texas A&M Aggies to a dominant 41-13 victory over Oklahoma. Johnny Manziel ran and passed for two touchdowns apiece to become the fourth player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to run and pass for 20 touchdowns each in a season, joining Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. You know I have to mention Tebow. Manziel also had a Cotton Bowl-record 516 total yards, 229 rushing and 287 passing. Crazy! A&M finished fifth in the Top 16, moving up four spots. Leatherhead Terry Keshner relayed to me his thoughts on the game: “Watching Johnny Football destroy Oklahoma was like watching Forrest Gump after six shots of Five-Hour Energy.” Oklahoma manged to stay in the Top 16 despite being crushed. They finished the season ranked #15.

Georgia and Stanford both won their bowl games to finish sixth and seventh in the poll, respectively. Stanford beat Wisconsin 20-14 in the Rose Bowl while Georgia beat Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl. South Carolina beat Michigan 33-28 in the Outback Bowl to finish #8. Rounding out the top ten is Orange Bowl winner Florida State at nine and Chick-fil-A BOWL victor Clemson at ten. In the battle of the Tigers, Clemson beat LSU who dropped from tenth to fourteenth.

Boise State, spending most of the season outside of the Top 16, beat Washington in the MAACO Bowl to complete our rankings at #16. Utah State (11-2) and Northwestern (10-3) received support but fell just short of being ranked. Utah State beat Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl by the score of 41-15. Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl to win their first bowl game since 1949. Nice!  Mississippi State at one time was 7-0 on the season but finished with just an 8-5 record. Ouch!

On behalf of Leatherheads of the Gridiron and all our pollsters, thanks for following us all season and we look forward to doing it all over again next season.

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
   1 Alabama (11)   13-1    176        2
   2 Oregon   12-1    158        3
   3 Ohio State   12-0    151        4 (Tie)
   4 Notre Dame   12-1    136        1
   5 Texas A&M   11-2    130        9
   6 Georgia   12-2    128        7
   7 Stanford   12-2    108        8
   8 South Carolina   11-2      99      11
   9 Florida State   12-2      74      13
 10 Clemson   11-2      73      14
 11 Florida   11-2      70        4 (Tie)
 12 Kansas State   11-2      65        6
 13 Louisville   11-2      51      NR
 14 LSU   10-3      29      10
 15 Oklahoma   10-3      16      12
 16 Boise State   11-2      15      NR


Others receiving votes
: Utah State – 13, Northwestern – 4.

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