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NCAA Football Round-Up Week 2
by Brian Miller (NCAA Football)
Posted on September 18, 2009, 6:12 PM

Same group of guys; another week of college football to evaluate; you already know the deal. Just a note that the rankings below were compiled before last night's Georgia Tech versus Miami game.

Rank Team (First Place Votes)

1. Florida (3)
2. Texas
3. USC
4. Alabama
5. California
6. BYU
7. Penn State
8. Boise State
9. LSU
10. Ole Miss
11. Virginia Tech
12. Oklahoma
13. Houston
14. Ohio State
15. Georgia Tech
16. Cincinnati
17. Utah
18. Oklahoma State
19. TCU
20. Nebraska
21. Miami
22. Kansas
23. North Carolina
24. Georgia
25. Missouri

Brian: Two weeks in, letís talk about conferences. Who has impressed you so far and who has failed to live up to expectations?

Andrew: I don't think enough credit ever seems to go to the Mountain West and it's a damn shame. There are 5-6 teams in that conference that can hang in most BCS divisions, and more than likely run towards the front of the ACC and Big East. I'm really not sure what more can be done by some of those schools to get the credit they need, but eventually the BCS bowl committee has to take note after years of hanging with the big boys and give them an automatic berth, especially now that there's an extra BCS game.

I don't think the ACC even should be addressed because that would beat a horse that's been dead and buried for the past few years, but on top of their stagnancy I've been disappointed with the Pac 10 overall. Cal has been up to form, USC has arguably been up to form, and after that it gets murky. Arizona and Oregon State are 2-0 but the wins haven't been noteworthy or impressive in the least, although I like both coaching staffs. Stanford collapsed against a very down Wake Forest team this past weekend. Oregon had to escape a porous Purdue defense to salvage a win in the first two weeks. Wazzu looks atrocious...again. Washington and Arizona State look much improved, but after how far both teams fell last season that's not saying much. And the jury is still out as to whether UCLA is legit or Tennessee is the same as last year. All in all, the depth of the conference or promising venue of "several good middle teams beating up on each other" looks to be gone for the time being, unless some ships are righted before the season goes on too long.

T.Cow: The worst of the big 6 conferences is undoubtedly the ACC. Loses to Richmond and William & Mary. Needing overtime to beat James Madison. Florida St struggling against Jacksonville St. Going 0-3 versus ranked teams. However, I donít think the expectations for the ACC was that high to begin with so in terms of falling farthest from expectations, that goes to the Big XII. For a conference that was supposed to challenge the SEC for superiority, this season has been a disappointment so far. The only top 5 defeats this year have gone to the Oklahoma teams. I expected BYU and Houston to keep it close not pull off the upsets. Colorado, a supposed dark horse in the North, is the most disappointing team in the country thus far. Even Texas struggled for a half against Wyoming.

I think itís too early to tell who has been impressive, but if I had to choose, I guess the Mountain West simply because all the other AQ conferences have hovered around expectations. They have the upset of the year so far. The big 3 are doing its thing. Colorado St is also 2-0 while UNLV pushed Oregon St to the limit. Still though, as I said earlier itís too early to tell on the impressed side.

Andrew: Two weeks in we've got Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, and Ohio State among others with one loss as a result of an aggressive non-conference schedule. Meanwhile, schools like Penn State, Ole Miss, and Texas have taken no such risk but at the same time sit unscathed. If you were a voter, how much consideration and leeway would you give the teams that take challenges headfirst out of conference vs those that may ultimately sit with a game better record around year's end?

T.Cow: First off, I love the idea of scheduling a strong non-conference schedule. Sure it may give you a loss early on, but if history is to prove anything, in the BCS a 1 loss team whose loss comes very early in the season should still be in national championship contention by the end of the season if they run the table the rest of the way. Plus, said teams would be battle tested for conference play. Besides, as a fan, I don't want to see my team play 4 cupcakes before conference play. You don't get any national exposure that way. The reward outweighs the risk.

Strength of schedule becomes progressively more important as the season winds down. As a voter I would give it a lot of consideration for the rankings during the final couple of weeks. It certainly plays a big part in teams with identical records, but would I put say a 1 loss OU or VT team over an undefeated PSU team all things being equal? Probably not, but if the undefeated team won a game or two because of a bad officiating? I definitely consider it.

Brian: I view this as a twofold issue, in the present you canít discount the value of simply winning games. As much as we know Akron and Syracuse arenít going to be good teams when looking back we donít have enough evidence to drop Penn State for doing exactly what theyíre supposed to be doing and beating these teams. Conversely, while we believe Alabama to be a top team we canít yet be sure of that fact and we have to dock Virginia Tech for losing to them. However, as the season progresses our initial assumptions are either confirmed or sometimes proven wrong and as a good pollster one should adjust their rankings to keep up with that fact. And when it comes down to the end of the season then everything has to be evaluated in complete context and thatís when teams that schedule delicious cupcakes out of conference need to be punished and teams that took risks can be rewarded for that. Itís hard to speak in such generalities though, get back to me with a specific situation at the end of the year and weíll talk again.

T.Cow: BYU, Boise St, and Houston all made big marks in the first 2 weeks. Utah and TCU are also in the top 25. How many teams from the non-automatic qualifying conferences will go undefeated, and will we see more than 1 team from said conferences make a BCS game?

Brian: There is no reason Boise State should not go undefeated this year after beating Oregon. They have no other top flight out of conference opponents and the WAC simply isnít a very strong football league. If Houston somehow goes undefeated they might have the strongest case to earn a BCS bowl bid since theyíll have defeated three auto qualifying (AQ) teams to get there. Only one of BYU, TCU, and Utah at most can escape the Mountain West undefeated and all three still have significant out of conference challenges left as well. As for predictions? I only see Boise State making it undefeated through their schedule and making a BCS bowl game. If another non-AQ team was to go undefeated theyíd probably steal away Boiseís BCS bid and since the BCS games are about money and not pairing the best with the best Boise would likely be left on the outside looking in.

Andrew: I think only one with the potential for two go undefeated. I see nobody stopping Boise from heading into their bowl without a loss, and I can see BYU the way they're looking escaping that tough top 3 of the Mountain West unscathed if anyone there does, but even then they have to take on the Horned Frogs and Utes like every other year and that's not discounting good teams like Colorado State or even Florida State this weekend. TCU and Utah both have great D's but at this point the offenses are too unsettled to predict going perfect the rest of the season. As for Houston, I've been a fan of the Cougars style since the Briles era and I think Sumlin is just as good- but while top to bottom it isn't elite people sleep on the top teams of the C-USA. Southern Miss, Memphis, and especially Tulsa can hang 40 at the drop of a hat, and for as good as Case Keenum and that fun and gun offense Houston employs is their D is no better than a Texas Tech or Oklahoma State's- and we've seen what happens to those teams against top offenses.

Will more than one make a BCS bowl? I...there's a chance, I think there should be two teams in there, but I dunno. You can count on two SEC teams plus the five other automatic qualifiers. In all likelihood the Big 12 will get an at-large bid. That's 8 of 10 spots right there. If USC falters and Cal or another team wins the autobid, the Trojans are more than likely still going BCS'ing. Even if they don't that would still mean both remaining at-larges go to non-BCS conferences, and call me cynical but when the time comes for the selection committee to choose between the revenue from an Ohio State or a Penn State or even Cal vs that of a Houston or Boise, the money is generally gonna talk.

I hope you enjoyed the column. If you have any questions, concerns, or issues feel free to contact us via the Oratory Forums or e-mail Brian at bdmiller @ vt.edu, T. Cow at tangcow @ gmail.com, and Andrew at a.holik @ umiami.edu.

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