The initial BCS rankings are out, something more for the college football-starved nation to dissect and pick apart before meaningful November games have been played. I’m sure the teams will be added and dropped as the season plays itself out.
Let’s take a look at some teams that have fallen a few pegs, and those that are climbing up the ranks.
South Carolina Gamecocks (#9 – AP / #8 – USA Today Polls)
The South Carolina Gamecocks have taken a massive punch to the solar plexus with their defeat last week at the hands of the LSU Tigers. This week, the Florida Gators look to deliver the knockout blow when South Carolina visits The Swamp.
The Old Ball Coach needs to rally the troops and keep their mind focused on the prize that is right in front of him, that being the SEC crown. While the national title may be difficult to reach unless a few teams ahead of them lose, the SEC title is right there for the taking. A win at Florida this week, and they are in the driver’s seat. An SEC East crown would pit them against the West champion, likely to be Alabama. A win against the Crimson Tide and now a national title shot becomes clearer, but one step at a time. The Gamecocks must remain on task and play a solid 60 minutes against Florida.
The magnitude of the game with Florida this week cannot be diminished, and the Gamecocks may be without their premier running back, Marcus Lattimore. Marcus, and really the entire South Carolina team, is banged up and bruised while the Gators seem to be healthy. It’s an uphill battle for the Gamecocks, but if anyone can get their team ready to play it’s head coach Steve Spurrier and his quarterback, Connor Shaw. South Carolina is going to have to be mentally sharp because the Gators can smell blood in the water and they are looking for a bird snack!
Texas Longhorns (NR – AP / USA Today Polls)
The Longhorns are coming off a beatdown of epic proportions. The Oklahoma Sooners gave them a smackdown that they may not recover from. To be fair though, Texas has been dealing with significant injuries on their defensive side of the ball. Linebacker and defensive team leader Jordan Nicks has been out for the past 3 games while stud DE Jackson Jeffcoat went down over the weekend with a torn pectoral muscle.
In addition to the injuries, Texas has found an inability to be able to tackle the ball carrier. So many times over the weekend, they were not able to put the runner down after the initial point of contact. Injuries coupled with an inability to tackle is going to lead to lots of points being given up, and they were!
Logically, Texas has little shot of even winning the Big 12 crown. Head coach Mack Brown must rally his troops and get the ready for a very potent Baylor offense led by Nick Florence. Looking ahead at the remainder of the Longhorn’s schedule, they play Baylor this week, then they play Kansas. In November and December they play at Texas Tech, Iowa State, TCU and at Kansas State. It is entirely conceivable that if they do not win this week, Texas may only have one more win the rest of this year. That is amazing considering only a few short weeks ago Texas looked primed to win the Big 12 conference and go to a BCS bowl.
West Virginia Mountaineers (#17 – AP / #15 – USA Today Polls)
Welcome back to Earth West Virginia, we’ve missed you! For the last couple of weeks the Mountaineers have been playing out of this world. Although last week Texas Tech provided the defensive tonic that slowed the supersonic rocket that is the West Virginia offense. It was Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege who looked more like the Heisman Trophy contender rather than West Virginia’s phenom Geno Smith. The Mountaineers sealed their fate when they were unable to score in their first few possessions of the second half. When the Red Raiders were able to capitalize and punch one in, that was all she wrote.
Now that West Virginia is no longer unbeaten, they will have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan. They won’t have long to tinker though as Collin Klein and the Kansas State Wildcats invade Morgantown this weekend. The Wildcats have a sneaky-good offense that, much like Texas Tech, can put points on the board. They also have a defense that is rated 32nd nationally. While Kansas State has done well at stopping the run, they are vulnerable against the pass. Look for Smith to try and exploit that weakness as he tries to hook up with his 1-2 receiving duo of Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.
The national media as well as the public has a short attention span. If Geno Smith can look superhuman this week against another very good Big 12 team, then he will be right back atop the Heisman race. Whether or not that will happen is something is why we tune into the game. It should be another Big 12 dandy!
Watch List: Kansas State, LSU, Mississippi State