Every Wednesday during the college football season, I revealed my new power rankings prior to the next week getting started (I’m a day late, I know). Beginning next week I will start unveiling them on Wednesdays. 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. Auburn Tigers – Remember a couple weeks ago when Auburn lost on the road at Mississippi State? I do and I remember wondering if this Auburn team could go on the road and win a game. I mean their trip to the Little Apple out in Kansas did more for Kansas State’s resume than it did for Auburn even though the Tigers got the 20-14 win. We said similar things following the loss in Stark-Vegas. Saturday night Auburn went on the road and put up 25 more points in a stadium and against a team than their arch rival Alabama. For those of us lucky enough to be watching as it unfolded, the game between the Rebels and Tigers was the equivalent of two middle weight boxers standing in the middle of the ring and trading hay makers. We got big play after big play and the game ended unfortunately on a bizarre injury at the goal line that gave Auburn a huge win over Ole Miss and for the most part eliminating the Rebels from the College Football Playoff.
2. Florida State Seminoles – At some point the 2014 Florida State team has to stop being compared to the 2013 Florida State team don’t they? I mean the 2013 Seminoles set NCAA offensive record left and right so in a sense, this year’s team is held to almost an unattainable standard. Last time I checked, averaging almost 40 points per game was pretty good. But I digress; Thursday night the 25th ranked Louisville Cardinals were the team that was finally going to knock off the Seminoles. It looked like the prognosticators were right for a long time as the Cards sprinted out to 21-7 halftime lead. In the second half, Florida State showed their championship medal and outscored Louisville 35-10. True freshman runningback Dalvin Cook proved that he can be a feature back as he gained 110 yards on only 9 carries and scored twice.
3. TCU Horned Frogs – Say what you want but Morgantown, West Virginia, is as tough a place to play as any in America, especially when the team is good like they are this season. The Horned Frogs didn’t adapt to the environment as quickly as they had hoped as the Mountaineers leaped out to a 13-0 lead early in the 1st quarter off of a couple TCU turnovers. Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin kept his offense steady as they were able to get to halftime down only six in the hostile environment. TCU came out firing in the second half and scored to take the lead but West Virginia didn’t lie down as they answered with the straight scores to retake a 13-point lead. The fourth quarter rolled around and the Horned Frogs trailed by 9 but score the ten points that they needed for the win in the final seven and a half minutes for a 31-30 victory.
4. Florida Gators – There wasn’t a team in America that was under more scrutiny than the Gators heading into their game against bitter rival Georgia in Jacksonville. The Gator defense had been played pretty well but the offense just hasn’t found any kind of rhythm. Florida found that rhythm on Saturday as they rushed for more yards on a Georgia team than every team but one has in the history of the Georgia program. For the first time in school history the Gators had two 190-plus yard rushers in Kevin Taylor (197 yards) and Matt Jones (192 yards). Gators quarterback Treon Harris got his first start on Saturday but was a non factor as he only attempted six passes, completing three for 27 yards. Florida had a 31-7 lead heading into the 4th quarter and there was never any doubt that they were going to go on to win the game.
5. Oregon Ducks – Most of the time, a win over an unranked 5-3 team at home doesn’t garner much attention but for Oregon, when Stanford comes to town, it’s a big deal. The Cardinal haven’t been nearly as good in 2014 as they have been in the last couple of years but that didn’t matter to the folks wearing green, yellow & black. In the first quarter the Ducks scored two touchdowns while holding Stanford to two field goals and that’s pretty much how it went for the rest of the afternoon. The Cardinal was able to get into the end zone in the final minute of the 1st half to cut the lead to 24-13. The Ducks took over the second half, outscoring Stanford 21-3 to close out the game and win 45-16. Oregon Heisman hopeful quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 85 yards and two more touchdowns.
6. Miami Hurricanes – The North Carolina Tar Heels have had a pretty rough season. They had given up some pretty gaudy scores to opponents so far this season and some of them to teams that had no business scoring that many points. Yes, I’m looking at you East Carolina (they put up 70 points against UNC). Saturday, the Tar Heels, the Hurricane fans, everyone in Miami, college football fans and even life on other planets knew that Miami’s game plan was going to revolve around giving Miami star runningback Duke Johnson the ball a lot. Even knowing he was going to get the ball, North Carolina had no answer for the Canes’ rushing attack. Miami as a team rushed for 295 yards and Johnson put up 177 yards on the ground. Defensively, Miami held North Carolina to only 6 yards rushing and only 258 totals yards.
7. Temple Owls – The Pirates were on pace to earn a berth in one of the four College Football Playoff non-semifinal bowls as they would be the highest ranked non-Power 5 team. All of that went out of the window on Saturday in Philadelphia when they failed to get into the end zone until the final 3 minutes of the game. In a ‘big ole fat rain’ storm to borrow a line from Forrest Gump, Temple benefited from five East Carolina turnovers to win the game 20-10. Temple had only 135 total yards of offense but capitalized on the Pirates’ mistakes and earned their first win over an Associated Press Top 25 team since 1936 and their first such victory at home. The Owls didn’t get the big win in the prettiest way but they did beat the odds-on favorite to win the American Athletic Conference with less than a month to go in the season.
8. UCLA Bruins – Believe it or not the Bruins are still alive and well in the Pac-12 South race as they now only trail Arizona State, who they beat by 35 points last month, and rival USC who they will play later this month. Saturday, while they wore some of the worst uniforms of the year, the Bruins welcomed Arizona to town and for the most part held a very good Wildcats team to under 300 yards of offense. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley accounted for 320 total yards of offense and a touchdown in the 17-7 win. Hundley’s lone touchdown was his 68th career touchdown pass tying him with Cade McCown as UCLA’s all-time leading touchdown passer.
9. Wisconsin Badgers – The SEC West is getting a lot of publicity for the amount of teams all vying for the division lead but don’t forget about the logjam that is the Big Ten West. Saturday the Badgers made mince meat out of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights as they allowed only 139 yards of offense while putting 37 points on the board in a convincing shutout victory. Wisconsin’s junior runnningback Melvin Gordon, who doesn’t get near the credit he deserves, carried the ball 19 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the win. The win gave Wisconsin a share of a three way tie for second place in the Western division of the Big Ten.
10. Iowa Hawkeyes – Speaking of the logjam in the Big Ten West, sitting just ahead of Wisconsin now are the Iowa Hawkeyes who make quick work of Northwestern on Saturday to the tune of 48-7. Iowa scored 24 points in the 1st quarter and it was all over but the crying after that while some crying had most likely started for the folks in purple. Northwestern was able to get on the board in the opening minutes of the second quarter but the Hawkeyes just poured it on afterwards on their way to the lopsided victory. Iowa’s defense held the Wildcats to just 180 yards of total offense and 4-of-15 on 3rd down.
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