Jeff Dantzler’s Top 25
by Jeff Dantzler
This past Saturday is a prime reason why college football doesn’t need a playoff. Nights like that lose significance. For all of the pundits who worry about multiple unbeaten in October, well, almost every year it takes care of itself. Since 1998, with Oregon and Kansas State added to the list, 18 teams ranked in the top three have lost at this point in the season or later – prior to their bowl. If Georgia and Alabama handle Tech and Auburn, they’ll play for a spot in the big game. The Florida-Florida State game is extra enormous. The SEC has six of the top ten, which is astounding.
1. Notre Dame – The stage is now set for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is a perfect
11-0. It’s their best season since finishing No. 2 in 1993. The final hurdle is at the Coliseum
against the Trojans. Not too many teams have won at Oklahoma and Southern Cal in the same
year. Notre Dame dominated Wake Forest, and I’m sure the Irish enjoyed not playing a tight
2. Alabama – Bama bounced back with no worries after the loss to Texas A&M, blowing
out Western Carolina 49-0. It might be worse against Auburn. A win over the struggling
Tigers would send Alabama to the SEC Championship Game. A win there, and Bama defends
3. Georgia – The Bulldogs struggled in the first half against I-AA power Georgia Southern,
but once the momentum swung, Georgia cashed in. It will be very tough against Tech in
the biggest game of all, as the Dogs seek an 11-1 mark and try and stay in contention for the
big prize. Tech runs the same option that Georgia Southern does, so perhaps that will help the
4. Ohio State – In what set up as their toughest challenge to date – the incredible comeback
over Purdue and shootout victory against Indiana notwithstanding – the Buckeyes collected
a huge win over Wisconsin to move to 11-0. They’re the best team in the Big Ten, but
on probation with nowhere to go. It’s Michigan standing between OSU and a perfect campaign.
5. Florida – The Gators are 10-1, and not many saw that coming. Now comes a monster
showdown with Florida State. The winner is sitting at 11-1 and still in the mix. Florida’s
offense is really struggling right now, so they’ll lean heavily on the defense and standout special
6. LSU – It was a thriller in Baton Rouge between old rivals LSU and Ole Miss. Odell
Beckham Jr. had the big play on a long punt return that tied it at 35-35. Then LSU cashed in
on a bad decision to try a long field goal and won it. The Bayou Bengals should knock off
Arkansas to go 10-2.
7. Texas A&M – There was no letdown at Kyle Field on the heels of that amazing win
at Alabama. Texas A&M bludgeoned Sam Houston State to make it 9-2 on the year. If the
Aggies take down Missouri, that means a 10-2 SEC debut, highlighted by a win in Tuscaloosa
and one of the great individual seasons in Aggie lore by Johnny Manziel.
8. Oregon – The Ducks are just crestfallen. Oregon had a late 14-7 lead get away, and
after so many blowouts, they lost their first close one. Stanford slammed the door in overtime.
The Ducks need to beat the Beavers and have UCLA beat Stanford to play for the PAC-
9. Florida State – There was no upset with Maryland, playing with its fifth quarterback,
a former linebacker. The Seminoles are 10-1 with the Gators coming to town and then the
ACC Championship Game. Two more wins means a special season. The Gators defense will
be the best that the Seminoles have seen.
10. Kansas State – The Wildcats were sitting at No. 1 and got absolutely pummeled by
Baylor 52-24 in Waco. So the dreams of a national championship are gone. Kansas State has
a week off and then hosts Texas with the Big XII title on the line.
11. South Carolina – The Gamecocks pushed their record to 9-2 with a 24-7 win over
Wofford. It’s 9-2 for South Carolina, and now come the arch rival Clemson Tigers. A win
would put South Carolina at 10-2 for a second straight year, and that’s some history making
stuff in Columbia.
12. Clemson – It was nervous for Clemson against North Carolina State. The Wolfpack,
who upset Florida State by one point, led 24-13 in the first half. But Clemson got that vaunted
offense clicking in the second half and rolled to victory. This sets up one of the biggest Clemson
– South Carolina clashes ever, pitting 10-1 vs. 9-2.
13. Stanford – David Shaw has kept the Cardinal rolling. With so much of the country,
especially in the south, pulling so hard for them, Stanford came through with a
thrilling 17-14 overtime win at Oregon. It’s a huge one with UCLA in a battle of 9-2’s on
Saturday. If Stanford wins, these two rematch for the conference title.
14. Oklahoma – What a track meet in the Big XII. On their first trip to Morgantown
with West Virginia as a conference member, Bob Stoops’ Sooners escaped with a 50-49
shootout win. If the Sooners beat Oklahoma State, they go 10-2 and can get a piece of the
conference championship and maybe a BCS berth.
15. Texas – The Longhorns had this past Saturday off and now host Texas Christian.
Texas has been playing well the last couple of games, and needs to keep it rolling. The following
week, the Longhorns visit Manhattan to take on Kansas State. Those pictures of
Horns fan Johnny Manziel with Mack Brown, who was not offered by Mack Brown, must
16. Oregon State – This has been one of the Beavers best seasons ever, and they
bumped in to 8-2 with a 62-14 pounding of Cal. Now comes one of the biggest “Civil War”
showdowns of all time with the 10-1 Ducks.
17. UCLA – The Bruins dominated Southern Cal, picking up arguably their biggest
win of the 21st century. In his first year at the helm, Jim Mora Jr. has led UCLA to a 9-2
record and a berth in the PAC-12 Championship Game. First up is Stanford. If the Cardinal
wins, they rematch the following week in Palo Alto. If UCLA wins, the Bruins play
18. Nebraska – Big Red didn’t have a letdown on the heels of that big win over Penn
State in Lincoln. Nebraska took care of business against Minnesota to improve to 9-2 on
the year. The Cornhuskers are sniffing a berth in the Big Ten championship Game.
19. Mississippi State – In the midst of one of the toughest schedule stretches in the
country, Mississippi State got a much needed bounce-back win over Arkansas. It should
be a great game with Ole Miss, which has lost back-to-back heartbreakers to Vanderbilt and
LSU. A win for MSU means 9-3.
20. Louisville – The Cardinals had this past Saturday off, and they had some wounds
to lick after getting trounced at Syracuse. Louisville should rebound and take care of Connecticut
to make it 10-1. Teddy Bridgewater has had a dynamite season at quarterback.
21. Rutgers – Greg Schiano is gone and doing excellent work with the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers, but Rutgers has still managed to put together a fine season. It’s a tight race
for the Big East championship, and the Scarlet Knights are right in the mix.
22. Michigan – The Wolverines, spurred on by their unbelievable comeback win
over Northwestern, drilled struggling Iowa to improve to 8-3 on the year. They’d love to
knock off arch-enemy Ohio State for a second straight year ad deny the Buckeyes a perfect
23. Northwestern – The Wildcats bounced back from a heartbreaking overtime loss
to Michigan, and edged disappointing Michigan State 23-30. Northwestern should handle
down Illinois and make it 9-3. They had leads in the second half of all three losses.
24. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys lost a lot of talent off of last year’s team that finished
No. 3 in the country, including a first round pick at quarterback and wide receiver.
But they have been solid this season, and just chalked up their biggest win of the year, taking
down Texas Tech.
25. Washington – Steve Sarkisian has the Huskies, a sleeping giant, headed in the
right direction. Washington blasted hapless Colorado 38-3 and should close out with an
easy win over equally woeful Washington State. The Huskies have signature wins over
Stanford and Oregon State