I really dislike power rankings in sports because often times they are relative to who’s played who, preseason hype, tradition, and a plethora of other factors that just seem arbitrary. I hate ranking teams before the season because there is no sample. Regardless of who you are, what you have access to, and how you see things preseason, it is impossible to rank teams. I like to wait until a week or two into the season to evaluate teams and players because it is implausible to get a true feel for a football team without seeing them play multiple games. Week 4 has come and gone and I think I can finally judge who are the top tier programs in the country. So without further adieu, I submit to you the Week 4 Sports Voice Power Rankings.
25. Michigan Wolverines (2-2) Yes, Brady Hoke’s team is .500 thus far. They have a very tough dynamic going forward because although Denard Robinson is still the playmaker, they don’t have anybody emerging as a second on the offense. Notre Dame seems to be the real deal in 2012, and Michigan played them tough on the road. They are the best 2 loss team and there just really isn’t team that should be here ahead of them yet.
24. Ohio Bobcats (4-0) Tyler Tettleton has a golden arm for the Bobcats. I am always leery to put a MAC team in the top 25, but Ohio has earned a spot in the polls after going 4-0 in impressive fashion. Ohio is the best team in the MAC.
23. Iowa State Cyclones (3-0) This is the best Iowa State team in my lifetime. Paul Rhoads is doing a heck of a job in Ames with a veteran linebacking core and they have looked impressive thus far. The biggest issue going forward is their schedule is a gauntlet to say the least and they will be a .500 team, but they are one of the top 25 squads in the country currently.
22. Northwestern Wildcats (4-0) Pat Fitzgerald has arguably the best team in Evanston that he has had in his entire career at the helm. One of the only teams in the land that has played and beat 4 FBS teams. They haven’t been the most impressive victories, but they are showing tremendous resolve and Cain Kolter seems like the real deal for the Wildcats.
21. Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-1) Nebraska may very well be the best team in the B1G that is actually eligible for playing in the postseason. Taylor Martinez was an exceptional QB in the Big 12 before Nebraska aligned themselves with their new conference. Ameer Abdullah has stepped up big for the Huskers in the absence of Rex Burkhead, but Burkhead comes back this week and Nebraska has a legitimate chance to win a B1G Title in only its 2nd season in the league.
20. Rutgers Scarlett Knights (4-0) Jawan Jamison & Gary Nova are the best playmakers for Rutgers since Ray Rice graduated. They have had the best defense in the Big East over the past 3 seasons and that rings just as true this year.
19. Oregon State Beavers (2-0) The Beavers have only played twice, but they’ve looked exceptional in those two victories. Although they beat Wisconsin & UCLA in their first two match-ups, those could prove to be less than stellar victories. They shouldn’t be true-tested until November when they get Stanford and Oregon, but they are still a very young offense.
18. Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-0) As a middle-tier SEC squad they have done every thing right thus far. Auburn was a tough task for Clemson as well as LSU and the Bulldogs handled them nicely in week 2. Tyler Russell is in his first season at the helm of the offense and he has looked impressive. The defense has also looked good and right now Mississippi State has as bright a season ahead of it as anybody right now with every game, but the LSU or Alabama match-ups being winnable games.
17. Oklahoma Sooners (2-1) Boomer Sooner ran into the buzzsaw that was Colin Klein and his Kansas State offense as well as Bill Snider’s defense for the Wildcats this weekend and Oklahoma looked sloppy. Landry Jones is one of the best NFL caliber Quarterbacks in the league, but he is really missing Ryan Broyles this year and Oklahoma has a ton of work to do in their bye week this week before Big 12 play begins.
16. USC Trojans (3-1) USC was my favorite to win the National Championship this year. I was dead wrong. Lane Kiffin’s guys didn’t pull away from Syracuse & then fell to an underrated Stanford team. The Trojans have Matt Barkley and a potent offense, but the defense is not the NFL caliber defense that they are used to at the Coliseum. Bouncing back for USC is mandatory if they want to prove to be a top 15 team again.
15. TCU Horned Frogs (3-0) Casey Pachall could very well be the best QB in the Big 12 and that is really saying something with an incredible stable of field generals in the conference. TCU has a tough road ahead, but starting 3-0 (probably 4-0 after beating SMU this weekend) the Frogs are in a good spot going forward.
14. Clemson Tigers (3-1) Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins are the best play-making combination in the country this year. Clemson beat by a tough Florida State team on the road this week, and I am still convinced that if that game is played in Death Valley Clemson has a great shot at being victorious. It’s imperative to be skeptical of Clemson because they practically never perform up the hype, but Clemson still have a nice shot to win the conference if FSU slips.
13. Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) Braxton Miller is an incredible football player. Ohio State may be ineligible to play in the postseason this year, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t the best team in the conference. Miller has as good a shot as anybody to win the Heisman Trophy, if not this season, next.
12. Texas Longhorns (3-0) David Ash is the starting QB and the controversy that everyone was talking about is nixed. Everyone said that if Texas could figure that spot out they could be a Big 12 Title contender. They are.
11. Kansas State Wildcats (4-0) Many out there have Kansas State in the top 10 and I see where they are coming from, but there are a lot of red flags and caution that I see in Kansas State. I like Colin Klein and it’s not secret that he is their superstar, but right now Kansas State hasn’t had the passing attack that many expected to see. The rushing game for Kansas State has ben sparkling thus far with John Hubert who has rushed for over 100 yards in 3 of his 4 games and he has really been good. Tough schedule and lots to still prove, but K-State is on the up and up.
10. Florida Gators (4-0) I wasn’t a believer in Will Muschamps Gators going into the season and even after the first 2 close ones, but Florida emerged in the second half of the Tennessee games and demolished Kentucky. It was only a matter of time before Florida got back to the top and they are well on their way if not already there.
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish(4-0) After a poor showing in a victory in South Bend against Purdue in week 2 Notre Dame beat Michigan State and Michigan in great fashion. Great defense has been the theme in South Bend in 2012. The Irish have a bye week this week, the should have a nice easy win at home against Miami, but they will be looking forward to the Stanford game coming up. Are they for real for the first time in a long time? It’s much too early to tell now, but it appears to be so.
8. South Carolina Gamecocks (4-0) Marcus Lattimore is the best tailback in the land. He has only rushed for over 100 yards once thus far, but he is a freak. Simply a freak. I question whether South Carolina’s defense can continue the success that they’ve had so far when as they get further into SEC play.
7. LSU Tigers (4-0) LSU does an incredible job of playing absolutely no offense and still edging out victories on their incredible defense. Auburn is not a very good team and they nearly beat LSU. I don’t think it’s a two team race in the SEC any longer and LSU is down this year compared to years past. Yes, ranked 7th in my rankings is down for Les Miles’ team.
6. Georgia Bulldogs (4-0) Mark Richt is constantly on the hot seat in Athens even though his teams continually win 9+ games. Georgia has a solid defense. Again. The offense is the real story for the Bulldogs this season though. 6’1 Junior Quarterback Aaron Murray has 10 touchdowns to 2 interceptions on the year as a 3rd year starter. I hate the analysis based on “I beat them and they beat you or they struggled against you, so I’m better” but Georgia slaughtered Vanderbilt. South Carolina barely squeaked out against Vandy in week 1. Georgia is exceptional this year and has the best chance to overthrow Alabama in the SEC.
5. West Virginia Mountaineers (4-0) Geno Smith has the college football world at his fingertips at this point. West Virginia is the best team right now in the Big 12. Geno Smith may very well be the best college player in 2012 and the Mountaineers have a very good chance to win its brand new conference. They will probably lose a game, maybe two, but that could happen to every team in the Big 12 because it’s so tough.
4. Florida State Seminoles (4-0) Florida State is ranked higher and higher every season by the “experts.” 2 of the 3 so-called “experts” on College Gameday picked this Florida State team to be in the national title game. EJ Manuel is exceptional and the Noles defense is one of the best in the land, but they got lit up by Clemson this week. I think Florida State is the best team in the ACC and should have an easy road ahead with a soft schedule, but I have the Gators coming into the final game of the year against FSU circled on my calender.
3. Stanford Cardinal (3-0) Stanford was a team without an identity coming into this season. After a very tough victory against San Jose State, who has proven to be pretty good since, the Cardinal have gone above and beyond expectations. The name of the game is defense and they play it very well. Right now Stanford has a tough schedule ahead, but if they can get past Notre Dame in 2 weeks and come up with an impressive win against Washington this weekend, they are in a great position to build some confidence before Oregon State and the Ducks in Autzen on November 17.
2. Oregon Ducks (4-0)Marcus Mariota is a true freshman QB on the biggest stage in college football and he has been awesome. Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas make up the best backfield combo around and surprisingly enough the Ducks play some defense. After the blowout of Rich Rod’s Arizona team it is no question that Oregon is the second best team in the land and they have been pulling the foot off the gas through the beginning of the season. I have a feeling that taking it easy on opponents is dont and overwith for Chip Kelly.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0)Can you argue against it? Didn’t think so.
Lots of football to be played, and conference play for many teams gets going in the coming weeks. It’s been a fun 4 weeks and we have a heck of an exciting few months coming up for us in the world of College Football!