After the previous two wins, which were closer than expected, Cal moved down one spot in the ranking after each victory. Coming off a huge bye week, Cal moved up 2 spots in the AP poll and 1 spot in the USA Today poll. Cal leapfrogged Notre Dame, who handily defeated Navy, in the AP poll. I am sure Charlie Weis will have more to say about how he does not understand the polls or voters. Some thoughts on the new rankings and how the national championship race and Rose Bowl race are looking:
- Pac 10 respect
Voters must respect the Pac 10 more by only dropping USC to 9th following its loss to an unranked Oregon St. team. Or, USC is still living off its past legacy and gets the benefit of the doubt in voters minds.
In the AP poll, there are 4 Pac 10 teams in the top 25. USC is 9th, followed by Cal in the 10 spot. Oregon and Washington St. round out the poll coming in at 24 and 25, respectively. Even Oregon St. gets a mention in "others receiving votes" with 9 votes.
- Ohio St. received 63 of 65 possible first place votes with West Virginia receiving the other two. Granted Michigan did not look spectacular in its win over Northwestern while Ohio St. crushed Minnesota, but can all 63 of these voters believe that Ohio St. will beat Michigan. If a voter believes Michigan will beat OSU, than shouldn't Michigan receive at least a couple first place votes?
- Undefeated teams - down to 6.
Ohio St., Michigan, West Virgina, Louisville, Boise St., and Rutgers. Logically there can only be, at most, 3 undefeated teams by the end of the season. Ohio St. and Michgan play each other and West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers all still have games remaining head to head. My prediction is that Michigan and Boise St. are the only undefeated teams by the end of the season. How you say? Michgan over Ohio St. West Virginia over Louisville, Rutgers over West Virginia and Louisville over Rutgers. (Maybe even Pitt can knock off one of these Big East teams).
- The Best One Loss team
This has been a point of discussion over the past couple weeks by many of the talking head on ESPN. Let me remove Cal from the conversation for the moment and list my top 5 one loss teams -
1) Florida - played well against a down Georgia team. Looks to have a clear path to the SEC championship game. Imagine if they had a running back.
2) Tennessee - a little dinged up. But Ainge is playing well enough to carry the team.
3) Arkansas - Surprised? Everytime, Arkansas wins a close one against a middle of the pack SEC team, people say it shows their true colors as a mediocre team. Florida or Tennessee win a close one against a middle of the pack SEC team and it shows the depth of the SEC. Arkansas blew out Auburn and has a great rushing attack. They are also in the drivers seat for a spot in the SEC championship.
4) USC - Tough loss, they came out flat against a good Oregon St. team. But they really moved the ball at the end of the game and sometimes a loss can be a real wake up call for a young team.
5) Texas - Lucky win against Nebraska, who was blown out against Oklahoma St. Barely pulled out a win against a Texas Tech team that needs to learn how to run a QB sneak. Signature moment this season: Did not get blown out by Ohio St. in their only loss. This does not inspire confidence.
- Rose Bowl Race
With USC's loss, Cal is firmly in the driver's seat for a Rose Bowl berth. That said, nothing has changed in term of what the Bears need to do. They need to win all their remaining games. Unless USC drops another Pac 10 game (Oregon maybe?) Cal still has to beat the Trojans at the Coliseum to secure a trip to the Granddaddy of them all.
- Not Poll Related but Cal related
Check out this month's ESPN the Magazine. There is a great article about Bears, Mike Tepper and Rulon Davis. Both were run over by cars in separate incidents and the article talks about how they are now linked because of it. These are some tough guys.