By: Chris Dyer (Dirty)
“The Dirty Dozen” College Football Rankings — Week 1
The Dirty Dozen is unlike the media and the coach’s polls. I like to wait until after the last weekend of September to try to even try to start ranking college football teams. There are so many things that can happen during the off-season and early season. With injuries and other issues there is no reason to even think about saying who the best football team in the country is.
Some teams play tough schedules and some play sisters of the blind the first few weeks of the season. At least by the 4th or 5th week all teams have played at least 1-2 quality opponents.
I limit it to the top 12 as that realistically is all that have a chance to play in BCS bowls. They may have a shot at the 4 team playoff at any time in the season for the most part. The top 25 is just the media’s way of pumping mediocre football teams and keep the money train going.
They have to say we have the 23rd Ranked “Jacklegs” against the 17th ranked “Hobnobbers” live from “Who Cares University”. This is so they can make fan bases happy and sell television ads. Bottom line is teams outside the top 12 most likely will not play in a BCS Bowl or even New Year’s Day games. The only way is if they are in a weak conference with a tie-in.
Those teams are most likely to by playing on the “Smurf Turf” in Boise or many other cities that have inconsequential bowl games are were created by ESPN just for the revenue TV brings. It is a good thing for us gamblers though as we have more football to watch and bet on.
Sorry for the delay for a couple of weeks. I wanted to wait a couple of weeks longer as some teams had injury issues and suspensions and I wanted to see how teams responded to those issues.
Let’s get into the rankings and I will explain my thought process as we go as usual.
1. Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-0) – The Bulldogs are ranked #1 for the first time in 78 years. They deserve to be where they are at. Dan Mullen has built a solid program in Starkville. The Cowbell waving fanatics deserve to relish in the moment. Now the question is can they finish the SEC gauntlet schedule to remain unbeaten which will be tough with Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss still on the Horizon with the latter two being on the road. Kentucky could catch them in a letdown mode this Saturday as well if the Bulldogs aren’t ready as Kentucky is a tough place to play for some reason for schools. When you beat LSU (game was not as close as the score) in “Death Valley” and then an Auburn team who many people said was the best team in the Nation you deserve this perch.
2. Ole Miss Rebels (6-0) – The SEC West is setting the tone for the rest of the nation right now. After opening the season with a convincing win over Boise State they Rebels have kept on rolling. And back to back wins over Alabama and Texas A&M is no easy feat. They travel to play an underrated Tennessee team this Saturday which could turn into a look ahead game as they have LSU in Baton Rouge on the 25th and Auburn at home the following week. I find it hard to think they get thru this 3 game stretch unscathed. If they do then they should have smooth sailing with only a road game at Arkansas as their only test before the Egg Bowl with #1 Miss State.
3. Auburn Tigers (5-1) – The Tigers are easily the #3 team in the nation based by their strength of schedule. They have manhandled LSU and Arkansas at home and went on the road to beat a very good Kansas State team on National TV, but this weekend will determine how much fortitude this team has as they face South Carolina at home. The Cocks are in a must win situation to even have a shot to play for the SEC Championship. If Auburn has another loss they can kiss it goodbye as well with the top two teams in the nation ahead of them.
4. Florida State Seminoles (6-0) – No way this team can be #1 with how they have played against lesser opponents. I am not sure they will be the best team in the ACC by the end of the season. That could be Clemson who they barely escaped with a win against. When Deshaun Watson gets more experience they could knock the Seminoles out of that top spot. As long as the Seminoles have Uber eogtard Jameis Winston under center they have a shot to win every game they play. Their defense is what is holding them back from winning another National Title as they just have too much inexperience. The play Notre Dame this weekend then travel to Louisville, which boasts the #3 defense in the nation. If they get by those guys then they have two tough ones left at Miami and at home against the Gators.
5. Baylor Bears (6-0) – Art Briles and the Baylor Bears just keep on scoring and keep on winning. The only quality team they have played is TCU and pulled out a 61-58 win. They aren’t talented enough on D to win the National Title, but can crash the first every 4 team playoff party with a little luck. They will score on anyone, question is can they keep outscoring opponents. Their 4 game stretch to end the season is as tough as damn near any teams in the nations with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State to close out the season. If they come out of that with a 3-1 record they have as good an argument as anyone to be one of the final 4.
6. Alabama Crimson Tide (5-1) – I had the Crimson Tide at #3 or #4 until they struggled with Arkansas this past weekend. It was a perfect look ahead game with A&M coming up this weekend, but a top level SEC team shouldn’t have had to eek out a 1 point win over the mediocre Razorbacks. Saban’s teams are due for an off year and this is the year it may happen. You can’t keep losing players the caliber of Alabama and stay a top 5 team. This team is young and talented and if either of the Mississippi teams, or Auburn falter, the SEC Championship could be Alabama’s for the taking.
7. Michigan State Spartans (5-1) – This team may be better than the 7th team in the nation, but I just can’t get that 2nd half implosion at Oregon out of my mind. Blowing that lead in a game they dominated the first half and then getting ran out of the stadium in the 2nd half can’t happen to teams that want to compete for national championships or get in the 4 team playoff. As bad as the Big Ten is down this year with Penn State not all the way back and Ohio State being a shadow of themselves after losing Miller I don’t know if they will have the Strength of Schedule to crash the playoffs. Especially not playing Notre Dame this year.
8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0) – Notre Dame could be better than 8th in the nation, but I can’t justify ranking them higher than this. The schedule just will not allow this team any justification to be ranked higher. On Paper it looked good when it was made a decade ago, but with Purdue, Stanford, and Michigan all being not up to standards this it brings what ND has done down a notch. This weekend could let us know really how good they are as the play Florida State. If they can somehow knock off the Seminoles they could run the gauntlet with only Arizona State and USC left that should realistically beat them.
9. Georgia Bulldogs (5-1) – When Heisman candidate Todd Gurley was suspended late last week everyone thought UGA would go into Mizzou with only two healthy RB’s and get beat. They started true freshman Nick Chubb and didn’t miss a beat in 34-0 win. Chubb rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown and Hutson Mason finally showed he could throw the ball. UGA may be a top 5 team with their talent level but you can’t put them up there until we know how long Gurley will be out and if Chubb can keep up his production. They go to Arkansas this coming weekend and then travel to Jacksonville for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party to play the Gators on November 1. They could easily end the season undefeated with only Auburn on the schedule left that you can say could be better than the Bulldogs.
10. Oklahoma Sooners (5-1) – The Sooners are definitely feeling the effects of the Big 12 being so weak from top to bottom. Bob Stoops always loses a game he isn’t supposed to and that hasn’t happened yet this year (barely escaped with a win over a bad Texas team). I had TCU circled as a team that could beat them. Realistically they should be favored in every game the rest of the season except the Baylor game and they could be there since it is at home. The rest of the schedule is favorable with all their tough games being played in Norman. KState, Baylor and Okie State.
11. TCU Horned Frogs (4-1) – TCU is one of those teams who fly under the radar damn near every year and this year is no different. Their only loss was a 3 point heartbreaker to Baylor and they get a chance to show just how good they are this week against Oklahoma State at home. If they get past the pokes they realistically could end the season with only 1 loss. As their schedule is not that tough the rest of the way with KState is at home and WVA being down.
12. Clemson Tigers (4-2) – May catch some heat for this one but Clemson may be the best team in the ACC right now. They finally relented and let local hero from my town Deshaun Watson be the starting QB and Clemson hasn’t missed a beat since doing so. Their only losses are the UGA and Florida State. The UGA game Watson only played a handful of snaps and had Clemson in position to win the FSU game as true freshman down in Tallahassee. Clemson should cruise the rest of the way with the Georgia Tech game and South Carolina game as games they could lose but in reality they probably shouldn’t as they are more talented than both of those teams.
Teams that just missed: Oregon (5-1), East Carolina (5-1), Kansas State (4-1)
I will be back next Monday with Week #2 as we could see a lot of shakeups to all the rankings with some big games being played this weekend as well.