College football has seen a Renaissance of sorts with some of its most storied programs returning to its glory days. Teams like Florida, Florida State and Notre Dame have all either been or currently reside in the AP / USA Today top-10. Whether your favorite program is riding high or has fallen on difficult times, college football has always taken solace in the storied programs steeped in history. May we always cherish what this wonderful and glorious game of college football has given us!
As we look forward to the games of week #9, let’s take a look at some of the teams that are trending up and trending down.
West Virginia Mountaineers (#25 – AP / #22 – USA Today Polls):
Wow! Oh how the wild world of college football can turn your fortunes in a matter of mere weeks. Just ask the West Virginia Mountaineers. As little as three weeks ago, West Virginia was ranked in the top-5 and had the logical Heisman Trophy winner in Geno Smith playing for their team. Now, just three short weeks later, West Virginia is coming off their second consecutive loss ad barely clinging to a top-25 position. The shine on Geno Smith’s Heisman Trophy coronation has been dulled and some are beginning to wonder if the Mountaineers were really pretenders instead of contenders.
The Mountaineers make this list two weeks in a row and epitomize how fast a team can fall from grace in the world of college football. No, I don’t think I’m piling on, but in this game you can be on top one week, and then at the bottom of the pile the next! Getting obliterated at home in a national spotlight game is not a good way to make your way off of this list!
This week, the Mountaineers get a chance to lick their wounds as they have a bye before they finish their season with a home-away rotation starting with TCU on November 3rd. At this point they are scheduled to play only one remaining ranked team on their schedule, Oklahoma on Nov. 17th in Morgantown. If West Virginia wants to get back into the thick of the Big 12 race, they need to use this off week to work on strengthening their 117th ranked defense. While most weeks Big 12 teams can put 50 points or more on the scoreboard, most teams are able to get a stop on defense here or there…not West Virginia. Last week, Kansas State only punted 1 time and that wasn’t until the fourth quarter! In fact, the Wildcats scored a touchdown on 7 consecutive possessions. With a defense like that, it is going to be hard to win many games in the Big 12.
Arizona State Sun Devils (NR – AP / USA Today Polls):
While the Arizona State Sun Devils painted the desert black last Thursday night for their nationally televised showdown with the AP / USA Today’s #2 team in the Oregon Ducks, they missed out on a chance to capitalize on having the home crown in their corner. Arizona State hadn’t hosted a game of that magnitude since Reggie Bush, Mark Sanchez and the #1-rated USC Trojans came to the desert. The Sun Devils were outmatched in that game as well by a final of 38-28.
Early on last Thursday night things started out well, Arizona State recovered a fumble and took the ensuing possession in for a score…and that was it! The Ducks just bludgeoned the Sun Devils from there on out. Oregon was able to generate 5-10-15 yards per play both on the ground and through the air, and then would immediately hop up, and line up for the next play before Arizona State was really ready to play. The pace of the action possibly contributed to Arizona State losing their best defensive pass rushers in Will Sutton and Junior Onyeali. No matter, the Oregon Ducks were just too good, and it leaves head coach Todd Graham with some confidence rebuilding.
All is not lost in Tempe, they are 3-1 in the Pac-12’s Southern Division and they are tied for 1st place with USC. Arizona State gets a second consecutive home game this week against an erratic UCLA team. Coach Mora will undoubtedly have his team ready to play so Arizona State will need to be on their toes. The Sun Devils had better not be looking ahead to their match-ups with Oregon State Nov. 3rd and USC on Nov. 10th or they might just find themselves with another home loss!
Texas A&M Aggies (#22 – AP / #21 – USA Today Polls):
Kevin Sumlin’s first season as Aggies head coach has been up and down. Texas A&M has been much more exciting than last year’s squad that underperformed, but they have not been able to keep pace with “big boys”.
Don’t get me wrong, Texas A&M has been an offensive juggernaut scoring at a clip of 43 points per game (9th nationally), but they have faltered in the second halves of games against elite teams (i.e. Florida and LSU). Texas A&M has been relying upon Johnny Football, quarterback Johnny Manziel, to lead them to the promised land, and he hasn’t quite been able to do that yet. Manziel for his part, has been other-worldly, but he is only one person. The rest of the team, including the 64th-ranked Aggies defense. To date, the best team the Aggies have defeated is Louisiana Tech, and it took a shootout (59-57) to do it. Texas A&M’s biggest games have been against Florida and LSU, and they were both in College Station, normally a very difficult place for opponents to play. Both teams took the Aggies best punch in the first half, made adjustments at halftime, and executed a near flawless game plan in the second half to steal the game from the Aggies.
Texas A&M now takes to the road for the next 3 weeks starting this weekend when they travel to Auburn to battle the Tigers. After that, not much…they just get to go to Starkville and take on Mississippi State followed by a vacation in Tuscaloosa against the Crimson Tide. So, if Kevin Sumlin thought the SEC would be the perfect fit for the Aggies and his style of play, he may have another thing coming.
Waiting List: Florida Gators, Alabama Crimson Tide, Oregon State Beavers,