College football fans have started to expect weeks like this, weeks in which 4 of the top 10 lose and the landscape is irrevocably changed. Parity began rearing its ugly head in earnest a few years ago when non-BCS Utah played and beat Big East champion Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. Then, non-BCS Boise St played and beat Big 12 champion Oklahoma, again in the Fiesta Bowl, in one of the greatest games ever played. Last season, a parade of number one and two teams lost week after week, culminating in an extremely average Ohio St getting beaten by the two loss SEC champ LSU in the National Championship game. The lesson? That the days of super dominant teams that stride the country like a behemoth are probably over. This isn't to say that we'll never see one again, or that someone won't go undefeated, but it does mean that they probably won't enjoy years of success like Nebraska in the 80's and 90's, and Miami in the early part of the decade.
So, the question then becomes, what does this mean for college football? Is the current system, which is designed with superpowers, specifically those from the power conferences, broken? Should non-BCS schools be given more equal standing with it's larger, more moneyed brothers? Well, it means that college football is far more competitive and entertaining than it has been in years, and it means that, yes, the current system needs a major overhaul in order to accommodate the smaller school and give them a shot to, at the very least, control their own destinies in regards to a National Championship. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this is going to happen anytime soon. So, strap yourselves down, take a deep breath, and enjoy one of the most chaotic and entertaining eras in the history of college football. Besides, what fun is college football if it doesn't inspire a little hatred now and then?
Now that we've got that out of the way, it's time to unveil the first annual Wilder Power Poll, where I rank the top 10 teams in the country from the perspective of a displaced southerner living in the midwest. Guaranteed to be extremely wrong and upset at least 2-3 people or your money back!
- Oklahoma: TCU may not be from a name conference, but that wasn't a bad team that the Sooners beat last week. Sam Bradford is playing quarterback at a higher level than everyone not named Chase Daniel. DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown(but especially Murray), are running through, over, and around people. Furthermore, a dominating defensive line leads a defense that looks to be as good as any that the regularly stout team from Norman has ever produced. They get Baylor this week, and lord knows that nothing this season is a given, but it looks as though we'll have to wait until next week to find out just how good this team is against the Longhorns in the most meaningful Red River Shootout we've had in a while.
- LSU: Alabama is getting all of the press right now, and rightfully so, but the Tigers are still 2-3 deep with top level talent at almost every position on the field. The don't always look pretty doing it but it's hard to argue with what the Tigers have accomplished over the last few years. Until proven otherwise via a loss, and their game next week at Florida should be eye opening for both teams, LSU is still the best team in the SEC.
- Alabama: Wow. 31-0. At the half. On the road. In the SEC. Football is usually won on the line of scrimmage and Alabama is proof of that adage. They dominated Georgia up front on both sides of the ball, and that's why they're one of the most frightening teams in the country.
- Penn St: When you truly have the talent to run the Spread it quickly becomes a thing of beauty. Penn St has that talent, and a pretty damn good defense to go with it. Their schedule over the next few weeks, at Purdue, at Wisconsin, Michigan, at Ohio St, gives them lots of chances to trip up, and I'm guessing that they will at least once, but they're still the best team in the Big 10 and not likely to lose more than once or twice before then end of the year.
- Missouri: Honestly, I was really tempted to put Texas in this spot and leave the Tigers out of the top 5. It's not that I don't think they aren't a good team, they are, it's just that almost all of their talent is concentrated on one side of the ball. As good as Jeremy Maclin and Chase Daniel are, and they're very, very good, you don't become a great team without a great defense, and the Tigers' defense is, at best, average. They're at Nebraska this week, and a good performance might convince me to bump them up a bit, but as of now I'm extremely skeptical of their staying power.
- Brigham Young
- South Florida
Games of the Week:
Oregon at USC
USC had a few extra days to get angry and prepare for the Ducks after losing to Oregon St. Oregon played Washington St, which is just as good as a bye week, so that's pretty much a wash. USC should be out to prove that they're still the best team in the country after being embarrassed, so I fully expect Oregon to be knocked out of the top 25 for the second time in 3 weeks.
USC 38 Oregon 13
Auburn at Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is one of the most disciplined teams I've ever had the pleasure to watch. They do all of the small things well and force you to beat them. Auburn, on the other hand, has a wealth of talent but are currently running an offensive system that they're woefully unequipped to handle. Vandy can probably keep this game close into the 4th quarter, but the Tiger defense should be able to wear them out and end the Commodores dream season.
Auburn 20 Vanderbilt 13
Ohio St at Wisconsin
There's no good reason that the Badgers lost the game to Michigan last week, the Wolverines basically came out and handed Wisconsin that game on a silver platter and they still managed to lose it. Ohio St is a much, much better team with Terrelle Pryor and Chris Wells on the field. Still, this game is on the road, and Wisconsin wants to prove that last week was a fluke. I'm thinking overtime.
Ohio St 33 Wisconsin 27 in 2 OT's
Missouri at Nebraska
If you're looking for your upset special for the week, this is it. I'm not convinced that Nebraska's defense is actually good enough to slow down Missouri enough to score a win, in fact, I'm thinking that the Tigers will probably score at least 35 points, maybe more. I'm also fairly convinced that the Tigers defense isn't good enough to slow down Nebraska consistently, so the Cornhuskers should be able to score at least 28 points, maybe more. This might be a case of whoever has possession last winning the ball game.
Missouri 45 Nebraska 42