Wednesday, January 10, 2007

THE RANKS: The Final List

First of all, a look at what's coming up. For the rest of the week, it'll be season in review stuff, starting with this. On Monday, C&F will switch to offseason mode, which will still consist of at least one post per day, but few days of four or five posts.

And now, to the ranks:

1 (2) Florida: def. Ohio State, 41-14. The national championship goes to the Gators. Because I had them in the title game at No. 2, I'll rate this as the best of my preseason ranks. I just needed to be willing to take the plunge and move them up one more spot. (Preseason ranking: 2)
2 (5) LSU: def. Notre Dame, 41-14. Yeah. Go ahead and call me an SEC homer. Go ahead and say there's no way that a two-loss team could be the second-best in the nation. Then give me a cogent scenario where LSU loses to anybody other than Florida the way the Bengals are playing right now. (5)
3 (7) Southern California: def. Michigan, 32-18. I underestimated Pete Carroll at the beginning of the year. The pounding the Trojans put on Michigan proves they were among the elite and puts them in a position to make a run next year. (14)
4 (1) Ohio State: lost to Florida, 41-14. That was bad. It was sloppy. And it makes you wonder -- was the Big Ten just really bad and that make a good Ohio State look better than it was. I don't know. We may never truly know. (3)
5 (15) Boise State: def. Oklahoma, 43-42 (OT). "I will give this team a Top 10 spot if they manage to win the bowl game." Well, well. That settles that. This is a good football team. Don't think they could beat anybody in the Top 4, but that's about the only ceiling I see. (NR)
6 (6) Wisconsin: def. Arkansas, 17-14. Talk about a team that came out of nowhere. The only loss? To Michigan. The wins? Eh, it was the Big Ten. Beating Arkansas? Maybe not so impressive, if you look at the Hogs late season slide. But I still think this was a good, gutsy team. (NR)
7 (10) Louisville: def. Wake Forest, 24-13. Let's not go crazy here. They still lost to a good-but-overhyped Rutgers. Their bowl game was an 11-point triumph over Wake Forest -- which could win ten ACC championships but would still be Wake Forest. And what is Louisville without Petrino? We're about to find out. (9)
8 (3) Michigan: lost to Southern Cal, 32-18. Again, the Ohio State problem. Did a weak Big Ten make them look good, only to be blown up in the last two games? Still, this is a lot higher than most people expected Michigan to be. Admit it, Wolverine fans: If someone had told you this at the beginning of the year, you'd have taken it. (13)
9 (18) California: def. Texas A&M, 45-10. One last drubbing of an overmatched opponent to boost their numbers. Who can tell with California? It's up one week, down another. But despite the hype that didn't pan out, they won a share of the Pac-10 title. That's worth something. (21)
10 (9) Auburn: def. Nebraska, 17-14. Not an overwhelming win, and certainly not one to blot out the disaster against Georgia. But Auburn still has Top 10 bona fides and a good chance at being back next year -- if Cox can ever get his head screwed on straight. (11)
11 (4) Oklahoma: lost to Boise State, 43-42 (OT). Ah, Oklahoma. Wrong team in the wrong place at the wrong time. All that talk about, "If we hadn't gotten jobbed by the refs, we could have been in the title game." Uh...not so much. But at least you'll always be remembered. Granted, that's as the team that lost to Boise. But you'll always be remembered. (NR)
12 (11) Texas: def. Iowa, 26-24. Somewhat disappointing, but part of the problem with Texas is the collapse that included losses to Kansas State and Texas A&M at the end of the season. Could Colt McCoy key another NC run next year? (7)
13 (8) Arkansas: lost to Wisconsin, 17-14. I admit: I was wrong. I didn't believe that Arkansas was SEC West champ stuff. Heck, I didn't believe they were better than 7-5 or 6-6 stuff. Another very, very dangerous team next year if they can get the QB situation worked out. (NR)
14 (16) Rutgers: def. Kansas State, 37-10. The surprise of the year. Yeah, it would have been great if they had been in the Orange Bowl, or even the Fiesta Bowl. But these things are done one step at a time, and the next step might be next year. (NR)
15 (14) West Virginia: def. Georgia Tech, 38-35. What do you think about this team, this team that lost to Louisville but scraped by Rutgers. This team that lost to South Florida and had to stage an enormous rally to beat the Jackets? I think they're inconsistent. Lord help us if they're consistent next year. (4)
16 (22) BYU: def. Oregon, 38-8. Too bad I only use "def." in describing the outcome. Pounded, throttled, destroyed, humiliated, embarassed -- all could have also been used. In a year of Cinderellas, BYU was the quietest of the bunch. (NR)
17 (12) Tennessee: lost to Penn State, 20-10. Give me a neutral field and, six times out of ten, the Vols beat the Nittany Lions. But I think the loss and some still erratic play by Erik Ainge makes it easy to ask if 2005 was the exception in a continued run of success -- or if 2006 was the last gasp of a sliding team. (NR)
18 (17) Wake Forest: lost to Louisville, 24-13. Don't pound them too hard. They hung with Louisville a lot longer than most people thought. And theyre' still the ACC champs. (NR)
19 (25) Hawaii: def. Arizona State, 41-24. Absolutely no defense. None at all. But look at all those points. Those are pretty. And so shiny... (NR)
20 (13) Notre Dame: lost to Notre Dame, 41-14. You have to wonder if there has ever been a more overrated team. And I was right there along with the masses -- if not at the head of the line. If Florida was the best pick, this was easily the worst. (1)
21 (24) Oregon State: def. Missouri, 39-38. Oh, by the way, they won 10 games. Can't blame you if you didn't hear that. Hmmm. Beat Southern Cal. Hmmm. How many starters do they have coming back? (NR)
22 (23) Nebraska: lost to Auburn, 17-14. Still the Big XII runner-up. Still a pretty decent team. But is this really what the Huskers expected when they hired Callahan? (22)
23 (21) Boston College: def. Navy, 25-24. A one-point win over Navy? Navy? Gotta do better than that. (NR)
24 (NR) Kentucky: def. Clemson, 28-20. If that was a 28-20 game, I'm Bear Bryant. And, no, Alabama, I won't come back to coach. The Wildcats dominated this game. (One phrase I never thought I'd use in relation to Kentucky.) They will be back next year. (NR)
25 (NR) Penn State: def. Tennessee, 20-10. A solid win over the Vols puts them back in the Top 25. But it was still a blah year over all. (6)

FALLING OUT: (19) Virginia Tech: lost to Georgia, 31-24, and (20) Texas A&M: lost to Cal, 45-10.

RANKED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR: Iowa (8), Georgia (10), Clemson (12), Miami (15), TCU (16), Florida State (17), Alabama (18), South Carolina (19), Georgia Tech (20), Oregon (24), Texas Tech (25)

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