Six weeks can change a lot in college football


Jim Naveau


Do you remember The Associated Press college football Preseason Top 25?

Neither did I, so I had to look it up to see who it got right, who it got wrong and who it got really, really wrong.

The first thing you notice is that 10 teams who were considered worthy of Top 25 status just six or seven weeks ago have disappeared. They’re gone without a trace, just like Chuck Cunningham, Richie’s older brother on Happy Days, who was written out of the show after the first season and never spoken of again.

Stanford, Notre Dame, TCU, UCLA, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan State, USC, Oklahoma State and Oregon have been removed from the Top 25 halfway through the season. Texas A&M, Nebraska, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Boise State, Arkansas, Utah, Western Michigan, Auburn and Navy have replaced them among college football’s poll elite.

The biggest fall might be Notre Dame (2-5) going from No. 10 in the preseason to unranked with no chance of being ranked again until 2017.

Or it might be Michigan State (2-4) joining Notre Dame outside the rankings after being No. 12 in the preseason poll.

Oklahoma started the season at No. 3, behind Alabama and Clemson, but did an ugly cannon ball dive down to No. 16 after losses to Houston and Ohio State.

The most costly drop in the polls, at least for a coach, was LSU going from No. 5 preseason to No. 25 now after losing to Wisconsin and Auburn. Following the Auburn loss, head coach Les Miles was fired.

The current Top Ten is: 1. Alabama; 2. Ohio State; 3. Michigan; 4. Clemson; 5. Washington; 6. Texas A&M; 7. Louisville; 8. Nebraska; 9. Baylor; 10. Wisconsin.

The preseason Top Ten lineup was: 1. Alabama; 2. Clemson; 3. Oklahoma; 4. Florida State; 5. LSU; 6. Ohio State; 7. Michigan; 8. Stanford; 9. Tennessee; 10. Notre Dame.

It’s likely you could find similar results most years between preseason polls and midseason polls.

Some teams come into the season overrated and others who probably deserve to be in the Top 25 are overlooked because they weren’t good last season or have not been historically good.

No. 2 Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) has showed it deserves a spot in the Top Ten despite losing 16 starters from last season.

The Buckeyes will be looking for another win on the road at Penn State (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) tonight in Beaver Stadium.

Ohio State has beaten Penn State four times in a row and six of the last seven times they’ve played, with the only loss coming in the suspension-marred 2011 Buckeyes season, 10 days after PSU fired long-time coach Joe Paterno.

Penn State is averaging 30.5 a game, led by quarterback Trace McSorley (1,436 yards and 8 TDs passing; 186 yards rushing), tailback Saquon Barkley (582 yards, 8 TDs), a solid group of receivers and an improving offensive line.

Where the Nittany Lions have had problems in on defense, where they’re allowing 28.5 points a game and rank close to the bottom of the Big Ten at stopping the run.

Penn State, like Wisconsin last week, is pointing toward this game as one that could signify it is among the top teams in the Big Ten. Now that the scholarship restrictions imposed by the NCAA because of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal have been lifted, Penn State thinks it is on the way to possibly doing that.

A 49-10 loss to Michigan earlier this season indicates there is still a way to go for the Nittany Lions.

Ohio State is 6-5 at Beaver Stadium since Penn State entered the Big Ten in 1993. Saturday night should make it 7-5.

The prediction: Ohio State 31, Penn State 17.

Jim Naveau
http://timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_Naveau-Jim-mug-shot.jpgJim Naveau
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