Jeff Dantzler’s Top 25
by Jeff Dantzler
It was an incredible day in college football with a slew of fantastic finishes, upsets and near misses. The biggest story of course was Texas A&M’s 29-24 victory at Alabama. Florida got a once-in-a-decade magic win against Louisiana-Lafayette on a blocked punt that landed perfectly. Vandy beat Ole Miss by one in Oxford, Missouri topped Tennessee by three in quadruple overtime, and Georgia clinched the SEC East with a rout of Auburn. This week there aren’t nearly as many huge match-ups, as everyone wants to tune up with the Thanksgiving rivalry games on deck.
1. Oregon – It was 24-17 and tight with Cal this past Saturday. Next thing you
know, the Ducks flat out got it rolling. Oregon collected a 59-17 victory over the
Golden Bears and are sitting pretty at 10-0. There are two tough challenges with
Stanford and Oregon State remaining, but the Ducks are rolling.
2. Kansas State – What a job by Kansas State. The Wildcats played great defense
in Fort Worth, jumped in front and held off TCU 23-10. Kansas State hits the road
again this week, going to Baylor. Then Texas comes to call on the first Saturday in
3. Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish played great defense in a 21-6 win over
Boston College in Beantown. Notre Dame hosts Wake Forest Saturday, and the
Demon Deacons are struggling. Then comes Southern Cal in Los Angeles, and a ton
figures to be on the line.
4. Alabama – It was a tough loss for the Crimson Tide against Texas A&M.
Bama fell behind 20-0 and came storming back, but the Aggies responded. Bama has
a tune-up and then Auburn. A win over the Tigers would get Bama to the SEC
Championship Game. But their national title hopes have taken a severe blow.
5. Georgia – The Bulldogs flat out took care of business, dumping down
Auburn 38-0 to improve to 9-1 and clinch the SEC East title for a second straight year.
Todd Gurley, Jarvis Jones and Aaron Murray were all outstanding. Georgia has to not
look ahead as Divison I-AA power Georgia Southern comes to Athens.
6. Ohio State – Urban Meyer’s team is a perfect 10-0 with two more big hurdles
to climb. The Buckeyes have a couple of major hurdles to clear in Wisconsin
and Michigan. Ohio State caught a break with the schedule and they had an improbable
win over Purdue. But 10-0 is 10-0, and Meyer has the Buckeye express
right back on track after their NCAA woes.
7. Florida – It was a red alert day for the Gators, who trailed Louisiana-
Lafayette 20-13 with under two minutes to go. But the Gators scored and then
blocked a punt, got perfect trajectory off the thud and got another TD with two seconds
to go. The Gators host Jacksonville State Saturday then go to Tallahassee.
8. LSU – There was no hangover for the Bayou Bengals on the heels of that
devastating loss to Alabama. The Fightin’ Tiger defense was terrific and Zach Mettenberger
came up big in a 37-17 victory over Mississippi State. Next up is Ole
Miss, which lost a heart-breaker by one to Vanderbilt, then comes a trip to Arkansas.
9. Texas A&M – What an incredible win for the Aggies. Beating top-ranked
defending national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa goes down as the program’s
biggest win since defeating undefeated Kansas State in the 1998 Big XII Championship
Game. Gig ‘em Aggies! They are smiling big and bright in College Station.
10. Florida State – The Seminoles pulled out an exciting come-from-behind
win at Virginia Tech, as E.J. Manuel hit Rashad Greene, who made a tremendous run
after the catch for the TD. If the ‘Noles win at Maryland, they wrap up a berth in
the ACC Championship Game. Then the Gators come to call.
11. South Carolina – The Gamecocks took advantage of their open day and put
together an outstanding performance in a 38-20 win over Arkansas. The South Carolina
defense is rugged and Connor Shaw is playing very well.
12. Clemson – This looks like Clemson’s best team in over 20 years and maybe
the best offense the Tigers have ever had. Clemson makes big plays on the ground
and through the air. They have done a great job avoiding the upset this season.
Clemson has a golden opportunity to make it to a BCS game for a second straight
13. Oklahoma – The Sooners got in a shootout with Baylor, but came out on
top. Bob Stoops has his team primed to win out and go 10-2, staying in the picture
for a possible BCS berth. Oklahoma lost twice at home this year, the first time in the
14. Stanford – In a PAC-12 thriller, the Cardinal held tough at home and took
care of tough Oregon State. That Stanford defensive line is just stellar. Not many saw
this team sitting at 8-2 on the heels of Andrew Luck’s departure to the NFL. And how
good is he, by the way?
15. Texas – Something has clicked for Texas the last couple of weeks. That win
at Texas Tech got the Longhorns going. It was a great tribute to the late Darrell Royal,
as Texas came out in the wishbone and hit a big trick play to get rolling this past Saturday
in a rout of Iowa State. That Kansas State game on the first Saturday of November
will be huge for a lot of teams.
16. Oregon State – What a heartbreaker for the Beavers, as they fell at Stanford
27-23. The Beavers have lost just twice this year. It is one of the best years in school
history thus far. The losses are by three at Washington and four at the farm.
17. UCLA – The Bruins have been a big surprise this season, and at 8-2, a berth
in the PAC-12 Championship Game is on the line against Southern Cal. I don’t think
too many people gave the Bruins a shot before the season started.
18. Louisiana Tech – This is the king of the shootout this season. The Bulldogs
from Ruston out-gunned Texas State 62-55. Now they get Utah State, one of college
football’s big surprises this season. Their only loss was by two to Texas A&M.
19. Louisville – When a 9-0 team is only a two-point favorite at a 4-5 team’s
place, that is a red flag. Uh-oh. Syracuse smoked Louisville, handing the Cardinals
their first loss of the season. The Cardinals can still win the Big East if they win out.
20. Nebraska – Do it Big Red. Nebraska took down Penn State in a hard fought
affair – this game 30 years ago was an all-time instant classic with both riding high. Nebraska
got a couple of breaks and the defense was tremendous in the second half
against the Nittany Lions.
21. Mississippi State – The rigors of the toughest league in the land got to Mississippi
State. The Maroon Bulldogs were 7-0, but have fallen to Alabama, Texas A&M
and LSU the last three weeks. Dan Mullen has a good squad, but the SEC West is just
22. Texas Tech – The Red Raiders survived a huge scare from Kansas. Texas Tech
was coming off of a five game stretch that was one of the toughest any team faced this
year. So you could see a letdown coming. But Tommy Tuberville’s team got the win
to move to 7-3.
23. Southern Cal – The Trojans had national championship dreams, but three
losses clearly blew those away. But their next two games are enormous. Southern Cal
plays its two rivals, UCLA for a berth in the PAC-12 Championship Game, and then
24. Michigan – In one of the best games of the day and all season long in the Big
Ten, Michigan rallied back to defeat Northwestern 38-31 in overtime, keyed by a hail
mary that set up a tying field goal. The Wolverines had to do it without injured star
quarterback Dennard Robinson.
25. Northwestern – Pat Fitzgerald has done outstanding work in Evanston. The
Wildcats are a physical team on defense and they do an excellent job running a spread
passing attack. The loss to Michigan was a real heart-breaker. That last gasp pass is
a painful stinger.