Sunday, September 28, 2008

Who Should Be the New #1?

On Thursday night, when Oregon State knocked off the top-ranked college football team in the land (Southern Cal), it became official that a new #1 team would emerge following the release of the next football polls.

Shortly, those polls will be released. But, since USC's loss, we've also seen third-ranked Georgia lose to eighth-ranked Alabama and fourth-ranked Florida lose to unranked Ole Miss.

So three of the top five teams went down to defeat within a couple of days of each other — including two teams (USC and Florida) who lost to unranked teams.

Does that mean that second-ranked Oklahoma should ascend to the top spot, following the Sooners' triumph over #24 TCU?

Should fifth-ranked (and defending national champion) LSU leap to the top spot after defeating unranked Mississippi State by 10 points at home?

Or should Texas move up to #1, after whipping my alma mater, Arkansas, 52-10, in spite of the fact that this is clearly a rebuilding year for the Razorbacks?

If you're a college football fan, there was a lot going on Saturday.'s Stewart Mandel said it was a "virtual potpourri of badly played football," but, from a viewer's perspective, it's hard to beat a day in which so many ranked teams lose to so many unranked ones. In addition to USC's and Florida's stunning losses, #9 Wisconsin lost to unranked Michigan, unranked Navy defeated #16 Wake Forest, unranked Maryland upset #20 Clemson and unranked Houston humiliated #23 East Carolina.

No doubt many schools will have cases to make for being recognized as the top team in the country. And the new rankings probably will provoke many arguments.

But, honestly, does the ranking really matter in September?

For some schools, yes, it does.

Those are the schools that haven't been on football's national championship radar frequently (if at all) — including unbeaten Missouri, which had the day off yesterday.

Programs that have built reputations as football powers don't really need to be ranked #1 at this stage of the season.

But someone's going to be #1 when the votes are tabulated.

And my choice is Alabama. The final score in the Crimson Tide's 41-30 victory over #3 Georgia was misleadingly close — Alabama was ahead, 31-0, by halftime and "toyed" with the Bulldogs the rest of the way, reports the Kansas City Star.

Next up for Alabama is a home game against 4-0 Kentucky at 2:30 p.m. (Central) on Saturday. CBS plans to televise it. The sight of 90,000 delirious Tide fans in Bryant-Denny Stadium should make for compelling television.

Don't look now, but the Tide fans have a lot to be excited about. Alabama is 5-0 and has put up 90 points against two SEC opponents thus far.

Even so, coach Lou Saban, who has restored the Tide to its powerhouse status, isn't buying the talk that Alabama is a contender for the national title.

"After five games?" he asked after Saturday night's win in Athens, Ga. "Let's see when we get a full body of work at the end of the season."

Seems like the kind of thing Paul "Bear" Bryant would have said.

1 comment:

Kyle said...

I agree, the Tide should be No. 1. They manhandled a very solid Georgia team.

What puzzles me is how did USC stay ahead of Georgia in the polls? The Trojans lost to an unranked team, and not a very good one at that, whereas Georgia lost to one of the best teams in the country. And while the score was deceivingly close, the Bulldogs showed a lot of heart in putting up 30 points in the second half.

My take is that sportswriters just don't want to admit they are wrong and that football west of Texas is pretty weak.

Go Mizzou!!!