This week's BON Top 25:
119. John L. Smith --
1. Ohio State - The Buckeyes are still our #1 team, and they're getting better as the season goes on, as expected. The defense is solid, if unspectacular, while the offense is pretty ridiculous. As odd as it sounds, if the season ended today, I'm not so sure you could make a better case for a national championship matchup than Ohio State versus...
...2. Michigan - Right? I mean, the only thing you can really argue against Michigan right now is "Lloyd Carr will blow one somehow." And that's the same stupid crap that people said about Mack Brown. I don't think there's any defense in the country playing better than Michigan's, with the possible exception of Southern Cal?s.
3. Auburn - Hmm. Over at the excellent Braves & Birds blog, Michael raises an interesting point: Tommy Tubberville may be playing things too tight offensively. One of the things we?re trying to hammer on here at BON is that playing conservatively against teams with inferior talent makes sense. Doing so when the talent edge is minimal, or non-existent, does not. Auburn?s asking for too many close games by not exploiting their talent edge. Or, alternative theory: their wide receivers aren?t any good. They need to get going on offense, though. This isn?t the 2004 Tiger defense.
4. Southern California - Jarrett?s not expected to miss a lot of time, and the Trojans better hope that?s true. Without him, the offense isn?t the same. Steve Smith was heroic this past Saturday, but he?s best suited as a complimentary receiver. Jarrett can change a defensive gameplan. The Trojans need him.
5. Florida - Chris Leak=Chris Simms? They?re more similar than you might think at first glance. I?ll have more on this sometime soon, but the similarities are eerie. It takes a certain kind of player to perform really, really well and still get booed. Chris Simms was one such player. Anyway, he was great again versus Alabama. Florida can?t afford many more injuries, though.
6. Texas - After much thought and careful deliberation, we bumped both Louisville and West Virginia below Texas. I just don?t think either team could beat us. The offense has come far enough along, Louisville is sufficiently injured, and the Mountaineers rely on beating you with their speed ? something Chizik would have no trouble containing (White can?t pass). That?s our theory, anyway. The biggest game of the season is this Saturday. Texas can make a statement, or start looking to 2007.
7. West Virginia and 8. Louisville - The Mountaineers are healthier and have a better offensive line. That?s the only real separation.
9. LSU - They missed an extra point that would have pushed the spread against Mississippi State. That + Les Miles = dingage in our ballot.
10. Oregon - Another team that?s really only improving as the season goes on. Dixon-Stewart is the new White-Slaton. Except Dixon?s a better passer.
Notes on 11-25 We believe the Big 12 is a conference that?s going to play significantly tougher with each passing week. As the various newcomers at quarterback continue their development, the quality of play will continue to improve. Nebraska is fortunate to remain in the Top 25, but we?ll give their second half snooze a pass this time. Texas Tech is on the rise, and one of the teams that?s only going to get better and better. Missouri?s upward trend continues with a solid win over Colorado. And the Sooners have every chance to make a big time national statement with a win over Texas.
Elsewhere, we?re keeping a close eye on Clemson, a team which is one inexplicable loss to Boston College from being in our Top 10. Boise State appears to be your best mid-major this season, though BYU?s on the radar there, as well. We?re still not in love with Notre Dame, but they can make a big push up the ladder with wins against UCLA and Southern Cal. Finally, Georgia and Tennessee square off this Saturday for the chance to impress voters in a big way and return to the Top 10.