ACC

2012 College Football Rankings: Week 9 BCS, AP and USA Today Polls

The ability to play tremendous, shackling defense helped Florida earn a huge victory over South Carolina this weekend. Conversely, the inability to play any legitimate defense whatsoever is what cost West Virginia whatever tiny bit of pride this team had remaining heading into Saturday’s outing against Kansas State.

Let’s start with the latter game. Kansas State was and is superior to West Virginia in every way, so them earning their seventh win on the year (fourth in the Big 12) is not a surprise. When your team is incapable of getting any stops at all and relies solely on the offensive prowess of one talented quarterback (who has some very notable weaknesses), you will not win in a major college football conference. That’s just a fact.

The Mountaineers won their early season games by letting Geno Smith (143 passing yards and two picks in this one) open things up for the run game, and then using their fire-on-all cylinders offense to outgun the opposition. That sort of formula worked well against the Baylors of the world (they give up 44 points per game) – but you don’t beat Kansas State with that sort of gameplan.

What threw everyone was the Texas outing; nobody realized how porous the Longhorns’ defense truly was. However, it has become apparent over the past three weeks that Texas couldn’t defend a piece of cheese from a mouse at this point, and that Smith can be slowed down when he plays legitimate defenses. (The only reason he hasn’t thrown for under 200 yards for two consecutive outings is because of a stat-saving, totally pointless garbage time drive he spearheaded last week against Texas Tech.) His inability to put a dent in quality defenses is no longer an anomaly – it has become a trend.

Back to Florida-South Carolina, now. First, it goes without saying that the Gamecocks caught a rough break having to travel to LSU and Florida in back-to-back weeks. For a team that hadn’t played well on the road all year, that was basically a death sentence. On the flip side, though, how impressive were the Gators? This was a textbook example of the impact a squad’s excellent defense can have on its offense. How does a team that passed for 94 total yards and rushed for 89 total yards rack up 44 points? By having a defense that consistently puts its offense in great field position.

If the Gators can get past Georgia this weekend, it will be smooth sailing all the way to Nov. 24 when they travel to Florida State. At the moment, Florida unquestionably has a more impressive BCS title resume than Oregon does – now it’s just a matter of not screwing it up.

Aside from South Carolina getting decimated, everything largely went according to plan this weekend in the SEC. Alabama killed the chronically underachieving Vols by 31 points. LSU barely got by Texas A&M. Vanderbilt handed the hilariously inept Tigers their sixth loss of the year. (It’s hard to win without Cam Newton, apparently.) Kentucky let one get away versus Georgia. Mississippi State dismantled Middle Tennessee State.

The only team worth following in the Big Ten, Ohio State, barely snuck out a win versus Purdue. The Buckeyes rebounded nicely from Braxton Miller getting hospitalized, however, next weekend’s showdown against Penn State could be a real test. The Nittany Lions are riding a huge wave of momentum right now. Michigan, who will get its chance at Ohio State on Nov. 24, earned a hard-fought victory over Michigan State. Nebraska and Wisconsin earned wins this weekend; Indiana fell to Navy by one.

In the Pac-12, it’s still a two-team race to the top between Oregon and USC. The latter squad not only needs a win versus the Ducks, it also needs Notre Dame to beat Oklahoma this weekend and not lose until their match-up. That’s the only way to compensate for the Stanford defeat. The only way. Oregon, meanwhile, needs to beat USC, Stanford and Oregon State just to have a moderately reasonable case as to why their resume is more impressive than Florida’s.

And it goes without saying that if the Fighting Irish want to be in the discussion for a title game, they have to beat Oklahoma this weekend, not trip up versus Boston College, and take out the Trojans on Nov. 24.

Finally, let’s end right back where we started: Kansas State versus West Virginia. Whereas the Mountaineers were an embarrassment, again, the Wildcats were a pleasure to watch. Collin Klein is obviously the Heisman favorite right now, and this squad could definitely win out so long as it doesn’t let itself get tripped up by Texas Tech next week. That said, nothing on the Wildcats’ resume is more impressive than the wins Florida has racked up. Even the Ducks, if they go undefeated, would have a more moving set of wins than this team. It’s not Kansas State’s fault, obviously – the Big 12 is just weak.

With all that in mind, here are how this week’s ranking break down:

BCS

1. Alabama

2. Florida

3. Kansas State

4. Oregon

5. Notre Dame

6. LSU

7. Oregon State

8. Oklahoma

9. USC

10. Georgia

11. Mississippi State

12. Florida State

13. South Carolina

14. Texas Tech

15. Rutgers

16. Louisville

17. Stanford

18. Clemson

19. West Virginia

20. Texas A&M

21. Boise State

22. Michigan

23. Texas

24. Ohio

25. Wisconsin

AP

1. Alabama

2. Oregon

3. Florida

4. Kansas State

5. Notre Dame

6. LSU

7. Oregon State

8. Oklahoma

9. Ohio State

10. USC

11. Florida State

12. Georgia

13. Mississippi State

14. Clemson

15. Texas Tech

16. Louisville

17. South Carolina

18. Rutgers

19. Stanford

20. Michigan

21. Boise State

22. Texas A&M

23. Ohio

24. Louisiana Tech

25. West Virginia

USA Today

1. Alabama

2. Oregon

3. Florida

4. Kansas State

5. Norte Dame

6. LSU

7. Oklahoma

8. USC

9. Oregon State

10. Florida State

11. Georgia

12. Mississippi State

13. Clemson

14. Louisville

15. Rutgers

16. South Carolina

17. Texas Tech

18. Boise State

19. Stanford

20. Michigan

21. Texas A&M.

22. West Virginia

23. Ohio

24. Texas

25. Wisconsin

(Photo: The Gainesville Sun, Brad McClenny)

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