rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 Notre Dame 2
3 Ohio St. 3
4 Kansas St. 9
5 Florida 7
6 Oregon St. 8
7 Oregon 5
8 TX Tech 14
9 S Carolina 4
10 W Virginia 6
11 Rutgers 17
12 LSU 20
13 Oklahoma —
14 TX A&M 23
15 Miss. St. 18
16 Louisville 19
17 Cincinnati 15
18 Boise St. 21
19 Stanford 10
20 N’western —
21 USC —
22 La. Tech 11
23 Texas 12
24 Florida St. 22
25 Georgia 16
Out of rankings: (13) Iowa St., (24) Toledo, (25) Duke
Since losing his first home game against Tennessee (in which the Tigers gave up a 21-point lead before going on to lose in overtime), Les Miles has only lost 5 home games. Three of those losses occurred in the 2008 season (Georgia, Alabama [in overtime], and Ole Miss), with one loss each in 2007 (Arkansas, again in overtime) and 2009 (Florida). From 2005 to 2007 (Arkansas was LSU’s final home game in 2007), the Tigers won 19 straight games at home. Their current streak, however, is the longest in LSU history at 22 games. Nick Saban, who incidentally won his last 10 home games (and 14 of his last 15) as LSU’s head coach, will be the next coach to attempt to put a stop to that streak.
I had written a blog about the most-recent coach to try to stop that and his personal series against LSU. I would give the link if that blog hadn’t been wiped out by TheSportingNews. I may post a new version later this week, but for now, I’ll mention that LSU is 17-2-1 against South Carolina all time, which now includes three wins in the Spurrier era. South Carolina won the first game between the two schools in 1930 and didn’t win the second until 1994 (its only win in Baton Rouge), then earning the tie in 1995. If you’ll look at my LSU/Florida rivalry post, I included a list of the larger point totals in that series. In four of the five instances in which the Gators scored over 40 and two of the three instances in which they scored over 50 against the Tigers, Spurrier was their coach. Obviously this game yesterday was a huge game anyway, but it always adds a little extra to the spirit of LSU fans to have Spurrier there.
This was the 9th time in the LSU/South Carolina series that the game was decided by 8 points or fewer, so LSU is 6-2-1 in such games against the Gamecocks. Both losses were by one point apiece.
I have to admit I was mildly surprised about the offense. A team with only one official third-down conversion a week ago went 11/19 on third down. South Carolina was only 3/13, although they were 2/2 on fourth down, the second of which set up the touchdown to bring the score to within 2. The passing yards were even more modest than last week (by 10 yards), but Mettenberger was sacked one time instead of four and threw one fewer incompletion. His stats were also not padded by a 56-yard completion that only really amounted to a punt on third down last week anyway, so he showed a lot more ability to throw it far enough to keep drives going.
I’m still not sure what happened to the running game against Florida, but LSU did a better job of mixing run with pass and approached running plays with a variety of blocking schemes, not to mention directing the ball to different locations along the line. For example, there was a wildcat play that put LSU into what should have been scoring position, and Jeremy Hill (yes, we apparently found another good running back) scored on a delayed pitch to give LSU some breathing room (which they needed every bit of) with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
LSU had 406 yards of total offense to South Carolina’s 211. Going into halftime, the Gamecocks had more yards on an interception (LSU’s only turnover) return than the offense had gained. South Carolina only ran for 34 yards (1.4 yards per rush) compared to the 176 rushing yards by Florida (3.0 yards per rush) last week. LSU improved to 4.9 yards per rush (258 rushing yards) after gaining only 1.7 yards per rush (42 rushing yards) last week.
So before now-#1 Alabama goes to Tiger Stadium, LSU travels to College Station for the first time since 1995 next week and there will be a bye week thereafter. Also feel free to check out the Texas A&M entry to my rivalry series.
I’d like the passing game to continue to progress of course, but my main concern going into next week is finishing drives. The Tigers do have a very good defense, but three field goals of 23 yards or less next week (as was the case yesterday; there was also a miss from 32), and I doubt that’s going to be a win. Texas A&M gave Florida a better game than LSU did (LSU also settled for field goals of 31 and 21 against Florida), and the Aggies only scored 17 points in that one, so despite some less-than-stellar performances (such as giving up 57 to Louisiana Tech yesterday and giving up 27 to Ole Miss the week before, both away from home), they have some players on defense too.
I’m going to keep Alabama as the #1 team in my blog and in my voting (I vote on two of the sites where I participate) unless they lose or run into serious trouble in the next two weeks. Regardless of what Alabama does, I will promote Notre Dame to #1 across the board if my formula puts them #1 and they get past Oklahoma.
I’m sure some Ducks fans have their feathers ruffled about being #3 in the BCS (I have them a bit lower of course), but when your best win is Arizona (which isn’t even top-40) and you’ve had a bye week and an FCS opponent, you should be happy with #3. Of course nothing precludes the Ducks moving up if they beat Stanford, USC (possibly twice), and Oregon St. (Arizona St. may not be bad either). The possibilities for significant advancement are there, and Florida and Alabama can’t both finish undefeated anyway.
Although Ohio is a top-25 team in my ratings, I will exclude them from the top 25 above until their schedule ceases to be so bad I have to substitute a number for my formula to work. The Bobcats’ opponents have an average winning percentage of 15.15, 123rd of 124 teams. Texas-San Antonio is 124th, and I would not rank them either, but in the Roadrunners’ defense, they are transitioning into FBS play and still scheduled a couple of non-Division I opponents, which do not factor in.
I’m not sure if I mentioned last week that the middle teams (around 10-20) were all very close together, so that accounts for a lot of the movement. Normally, #10 (Stanford, in this case) doesn’t fall 10 spots for losing to #1, for instance. But penalties for losses or relative stagnation are point subtraction or the points staying the same, they’re not for a given number of spots like the way most people seem to do ordinal rankings. Louisiana Tech fell 12 spots for losing to a ranked team (Texas A&M). LSU was able to gain 8 spots partly because they weren’t that far behind numbers 10 and 11 that week even though 9 spots seems far. Oklahoma jumped up 14 spots from #27 for beating Texas, which was #12 last week.
Of course this also involved the cooperation of some losing teams and others who did little to help their point totals. Georgia didn’t even play, but it also lost points (and dropped 9 spots) because South Carolina lost. Florida St. didn’t gain very much for beating Boston College, so they actually stayed behind Texas.
It’s also important to note at this point which teams haven’t had either a bye week or a FCS (I-AA) opponent or have had multiple such weeks. (3) Ohio St. and (9) South Carolina have neither had a bye nor a I-AA opponent. This is one reason why, along with one other ranking system, I have Ohio St. higher than anyone else does. This is also partly why South Carolina is still ahead of LSU. Another reason is that Georgia (South Carolina’s best win) is better than Washington (LSU’s best win, and the Huskies lost over the weekend). Oregon St. would actually be #2 if I ranked the teams in order of best average playing week, since the Beavers have had two bye weeks (one due to a rescheduled game as a result of Hurricane Isaac).
Much more common Is having had a bye week and an FCS opponent already, as is the case with Kansas St., Oregon, Texas Tech, Wes t Virginia, Texas A&M, Mississippi St., and Louisville. Florida St. is basically in the same boat with having played two FCS opponents, one of whom is winless against all competition.
Two teams are really at a disadvantage right now. Oklahoma has actually had two bye weeks AND an FCS opponent and Cincinnati has played two FCS opponents and has had two bye weeks. Using a weekly average, they would be ranked 10th and 13th, respectively.
It wasn’t even that interesting of a week. LSU/South Carolina and Stanford/Notre Dame were worth watching (although I think Notre Dame was handed much of that final field goal drive in regulation), and there were a couple of blowouts of note in the Big XII (neither game appeared lopsided on paper; if anything, WVU-TTU seemed slanted the other direction), but that’s about it. I am sorry I missed the Louisiana Tech/Texas A&M game (I don’t have ESPNU, another one that came down to the wire, ending when Tech couldn’t convert a two-point play that would have tied and then failed to recover an onside kick. Kansas St. had a bit of trouble with Iowa St., but that one was a bit too early for me.
I’ll be interested to see how much trouble West Virginia can give the Wildcats next week. The week after that, the Wildcats will face Texas Tech, which of course won one of the two major blowouts over that same WVU team. Another key game next week is South Carolina @ Florida, to make a full circle back to Darth Visor.