Dropped Out: Kansas (#15), Pittsburgh (#17), South Florida (#18), Vanderbilt (#20), Georgia Tech (#22), Boston College (#24).
Thoughts on the Weekend:
The biggest loser over the weekend? The Orange Bowl. It was very hard this morning to pick out any ACC or Big East teams worth ranking. Florida State has a nice record and they ultimately made it into the poll, but we should not forget that by the end of its game with Virginia Tech, the Hokies were playing a third-string quarterback whom they had moved from wide receiver. (Shades of the Georgia-Florida State Sugar Bowl, perhaps?) Virginia Tech's offense was so hopeless, even by their standards, that they punted the ball with about 90 seconds left in a ten-point game. The Noles were the only ranked team from the ACC or Big East to win over the weekend. The Orange Bowl's best hopes for top 15 teams - Pitt, South Florida, and Georgia Tech - all went down to defeat. The Big East and ACC are so mired in mediocrity that just about every game in those two conferences can go either way, leading to the possibility that the Orange Bowl could pit a pair of four-loss teams without significant traveling fan bases. Try Louisville against Virginia on for size.
As I was trying to figure what exactly has happened to the LSU defense, it occurred to me that Les Miles did not do a very good job of replacing Bo Pelini. I like Les enough to have created an entire category of posts entitled "LesCrush" last year when it looked like he was going to be the next coach at Michigan (and even afterwards when he delivered that phenomenal "have a nice day" oration), but he is a CEO coach and CEO coaches are dependent on having top-shelf coordinators. The risk that CEO coaches run is that their coordinators are good enough to get head coaching gigs and then they're hard to replace. Or, as Tommy Tuberville is illustrating this year, their coordinators aren't the same when put into new surroundings. Hiring good coordinators is important for any coach. Pete Carroll needs a good offensive coordinator, Urban Meyer needs a good defensive coordinators, etc. The risk with a coach like Miles who is not an expert on either side of the ball is that the risk is doubled. He needs to have two good coordinators. There are two chances for a disastrous replacement instead of one.
My initial thought when reading Georgia's box score after the LSU game was that the Dawgs were a smidge lucky to win by two touchdowns in a game in which they were outgained. Then, I thought to myself that my complaint about the team last week was that they were not forcing any turnovers, so I shouldn't be complaining after a game in which the Dawgs were +3 in turnovers and returned two picks for touchdowns. Georgia's offense was outstanding and the defense was opportunistic. At the end of the day, it's hard to complain about a two-touchdown win in Death Valley against the defending national champions. Still, I don't get a great feeling about the game in Jacksonville this weekend.
[Update: as Peacedog points out, I shouldn't mention the final yardage totals without taking into account the fact that LSU piled up a lot of yards after Georgia had a big lead.]
Between Vandy losing at home to Duke and Auburn mailing it in in the second half against West Virginia, is it possible that the SEC just isn't that good this year? I'll put the top quarter of the conference up against anyone else, but it's hard to pick out any teams below Alabama, Florida, and Georgia that are deserving of any moniker more effusive than "decent." It's a little hard to point to out-of-conference wins to prove our usual assumption that the SEC is better than any other conference in the country. Seriously, what is the SEC's best non-conference win? Kentucky over Louisville? Alabama over Clemson? Florida over Miami?
OK, Texas Tech, you have my attention. Holding Kansas to 21 points in Lawrence is impressive.
After watching Michigan's wretched defensive performance in which it turned the underwhelming Brian Hoyer into Bernie Kosar, I have to admit that I enjoyed watching the Penn State-Ohio State game because it was nice to see two teams that can tackle and defend properly. That said, I wondered after the game whether Terrelle Pryor had his head in his hands because of his two fourth quarter turnovers or because he's playing for a coaching staff that have no idea how to properly deploy his talents.
I've waited years to type this, so allow me a little schadenfreude: Phil Fulmer, the bell tolls for thee. When Alabama took a 13-3 lead into the locker room at halftime, I told Der Wife that the Tide could down the ball on every offensive snap for the rest of the game and still win. I don't think I was far off.