Every Thursday during the college football season, I will reveal my new power rankings prior to the next week getting started. Keep in mind that this is not a Top 25 poll but a list of power rankings based on the previous week’s games. Here is the first set of Southern Football Report Power Rankings:
1. Oklahoma Sooners – Any Saturday night game in Morgantown, West Virginia, is tough as Milan Puskar Stadium is one of the most underrated stadiums to play in as a visitor. Oklahoma made the trip to the ‘Land of the Burnt Couches’ and as expected, ended up in a shootout with the Mountaineers. The Sooners tied the ballgame heading into halftime with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by sophomore Alex Ross and took control late in the 3rd quarter. Sooner quarterback Trevor Knight was held in check the entire game as the Mountaineers forced an interception and didn’t allow a touchdown pass from the the sophomore but West Virginia had no answer for freshman runningback Samaje Perine who went off for 242 yards and 4 touchdowns. That was a big conference win on the road for the Sooners, one they can hang their hat on until their November 8th meeting with Baylor in Norman.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide – There were small glimmers of hope making their way to daylight in certain pockets of Florida prior to the game Saturday but for the most part, we all knew this was coming. The first play of the game for Alabama was an 87-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims to Kenyan Drake. Other than that, the Florida defense came to play early as they forced a few turnovers and scored off of them to keep the game close. That’s where the positives for Florida end, as the Tide rolled in the second half with 21 points to close out the game. The Alabama defense kept the Gators offense to just 200 total yards of offense while rolling up almost 700 yards on their own. You take the orange and blue away from the opponent and this is just another win for Alabama but it was a big win at home against Florida which is always noteworthy.
3. Mississippi State Bulldogs – When you beat LSU in Tiger Stadium in front of a record crowd (for the first half at least) on a Saturday night, you deserve most of the credit that you receive. The Bulldogs came in Saturday night and had their way with a very talented Tiger defense. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott had his coming out party as he accounted for 373 yards and three touchdowns, two through the air and one on the ground. But lost in all of the unwarranted Dak Prescott Heisman talk was Bulldogs runningback Josh Robinson who almost broke the 200 yard rushing mark on Saturday night on only 16 carries. Mississippi State did have to hang out in the 4th quarter as they tried their hardest to fold under the pressure of the freshman-laden LSU squad, but walked out of Tiger Stadium with a big 34-29 win, something they hadn’t done in 23 years.
4. Michigan State Spartans – Let me begin this by saying that Eastern Michigan is not any good and 1st year head coach Chris Creighton has a major project on his hands. With that being said, Saturdays game in East Lansing was one of the most dominating displays of defense I have ever seen in college football between two FBS schools. The Spartans held Eastern Michigan to 135 total yards and the Eagles only had one yard of offense at halftime. The Spartans held Eastern Michigan to only 5 first downs, one third down conversion, 20 yards rushing and forced 6 turnovers: five fumbles and one interception. Oh yeah, and their offense scored 73. By far the most dominating performance of the season thus far, but we must keep in mind, Eastern Michigan is not any good.
5. Wisconsin Badgers – If you play the ‘seven-degrees’ game with Wisconsin you can say that they are better than Missouri now that they’ve beaten Bowling Green 68-17. Bowling Green defeated Indiana 45-42 and Indiana defeated Missouri 31-27; therefore Wisconsin is better than Missouri, right? I haven’t the slightest idea. What I do know is that junior Badgers runningback Melvin Gordon should be in the thick of the Heisman race. Gordon rushed for 253 yards and 5 touchdowns on only 13 carries. Bowling Green was totally outmatched in Madison on Saturday but one thing Wisconsin needs to clean up is the turnovers. Wisconsin put the ball on the ground twice and threw an interception.
6. Oregon Ducks – This is the first week that the Ducks aren’t at the top of the power rankings and no matter how improved the Cougars are, a narrow win over Washington State will never carry as much weight as it should. Nevermind that Washington State had the nation’s passing leader on their team in Connor Halliday who did throw for well over 400 yards Saturday night. Oregon just got lucky that their quarterback was better that night as Marcus Mariota tossed 5 touchdowns for 329 yards, the final one being what turned out to be the game winner with five and half minutes left in the 4th quarter. Washington State head coach Mike Leach is known for throwing the ball and the Wazzou did just that to the tune of 63 pass attempts.
7. Auburn Tigers – Manhattan, Kansas, is no picnic for visitors as the Auburn Tigers found out on Thursday night in their 20-14 victory. The Tigers were held to 128 yards rushing, the lowest amount since the Mississippi State game last season, by the Wildcats who forced Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to win the game with his arm. Some can say that he did, others say that he didn’t but to me the jury is still out. Kansas State didn’t necessarily play their best game but they did have Auburn on the ropes which speaks to the resiliency of Auburn to walk out of there with a win. One major positive from that game is that junior college transfer wide receiver D’haquille Williams showed out with 8 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown.
8. Georgia Bulldogs – The Bulldogs welcomed an 0-3 Troy team to Sanford Stadium on Saturday and allowed as many points as the Trojans have wins this season. Zero. I don’t care who you are playing, a shutout is worth noting and in today’s world of efficient offenses and hybrid quarterbacks, apparently Troy doesn’t have either of those. Just about everyone got a chance to run the ball Saturday after Heisman hopeful runningback Todd Gurley’s helmet and shoulder pads were taken from him after only 6 carries for 73 yards. Sony Michel stole the show Saturday afternoon with 10 carries for 155 yards and 3 touchdowns.
9. Indiana Hoosiers – Never would I have guessed in a million years that I would be putting the Indiana Hoosiers from Bloomington, Indiana, in a power rankings top ten in the sport of football. Never, but here we are with the Hoosiers fresh off of a huge win over, at the time, 18th-ranked Missouri. It was a very tidy win also with Indiana driving down the field to tie the game at 17-17 before halftime on a 23-yard field goal, which like I’ve said before was very un-Hoosier-like. When Missouri scored twice in the 4th quarter to retake the lead, the old Indiana would have folded, taken the loss and been more than happy to take moral victory. Saturday evening the 2014 Indiana Hoosiers drove 75 yards in 6 plays and scored a touchdown with less than thirty seconds remaining to win the game on the road against a ranked SEC team.
10. BYU Cougars – Saturday’s game between the Cougars and the Cavaliers was not only wonderful alliteration but a match up between two of the top overachieving teams in the country. The difference was quarterback play and BYU has one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the nation in Taysom Hill who accounted for 259 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. Virginia held a three point lead at halftime but kudos to BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall whose halftime adjustments sparked 28 second half points on BYU’s way to a bug 41-33 win over their 2nd power five conference opponent.
Tune in to the Southern Football Report this and every Saturday morning from 10 am to Noon on Live 101.9, Rockin 106.3 & Q 92.3 to hear high school scores from Friday night as well as college football discussion, debate and previews of the games to come!