Leading the Pack
TheSignalCaller.com Top 25
By Will Gregory
#1 LSU: With only 1 first down in the opening half then getting down 10-0, Georgia had twitter abuzz with talk of a possibly unbelievable upset. Then Tyrann Mathieu did things special and those Tigers proved why they sit atop our poll. Their fans were chanting “We want Green Bay” by the end of their 42-10 SEC Championship Game win. That’s probably a reach, but not as far off as some may think seeing that 80% of the Tigers roster will be playing on Sunday’s within the next 3 seasons. Geaux Tigers.
#2 OKLAHOMA STATE: Oklahoma isn’t a bad team, but Oklahoma State made them look that way. The Cowboys finish our regular season poll ahead of Alabama. Why? They have more wins over current BCS Top 25 teams, more wins over bowl-bound teams with winning records, and a conference title.
#3 ALABAMA: The Tide have the number 1 Defense in the country, and a Heisman candidate at tailback in Trent Richardson; but they also have to live with those missed opportunities against LSU. But not for much longer, as they were given the opportunity to play LSU again - this time in New Orleans.
#4 OREGON: With the Duck’s resounding 49-31 win over UCLA, Oregon claimed their 3rd straight conference championship. LaMichael James had 3 rushing touchdowns to bring his career total to 52, which ties him with LenDale White for the second-most in Pac 12 history. Ken Simonton of Oregon State had his lead cut to 7 (59), with a bowl game remaining and if James decides to come back for his senior year; it will probably get broken in the first quarter of Oregon’s first game next season.
#5 STANFORD: Andrew Luck proved this season he is worthy of the Heisman consideration, and that he should go down in history as the best Cardinal signal caller ever, apologies to Elway.
#6 USC: The Trojans played like a jilted lover: vengeful and angry. Outside of an early season falter on the road at Arizona State, and the 3OT loss to Stanford; USC still impressed on their way to their 10-2 season.
#7 WISCONSIN: The Badgers were on the opposite of the scoreboard this time versus Michigan State as they held on to beat Sparty 42-39 and punched their ticket to the Rose Bowl. The Badgers held on when Michigan State ran into the punter and negated a return that would have set them up inside the 5 yard line with a minute left.
#8 BOISE STATE: The Broncos smashed New Mexico 45-0 and finished the season with only 1 loss for the 3rd consecutive year. Kellen Moore threw for 313 yards and 3 TD’s. A missed field goal at the end of regulation cost them another BCS bid.
#9 SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks overcame a devastating injury to Marcus Lattimore and then kicking their starting quarterback off the team, Stephen Garcia; and they still managed to win 10 games on the season with a defense that allowed only 18.8 points per game.
#10 ARKANSAS: In any other division in America, the Razorbacks would have been the kings. But in the SEC West, they’re only the third best team behind LSU and Alabama.
#11 KANSAS STATE: The Wildcats gained their 10th win of the season by beating Iowa State 30-23. K-State signal caller Collin Klein now has 26 rushing touchdowns on the season, he sits one back of the FBS record of 27 held by Navy’s Ricky Dobbs.
#12 MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans were a roughing the kicker penalty away from having 1st and Goal from Wisconsin’s 3 yard line with only a minute left in the Big 10 Championship Game, and quite possibly pulling off yet another last second win over Wisconsin that would have sent them to the Rose Bowl.
#13 OKLAHOMA: The Sooners gave up 44 points to rival State, it was the second-most points the Cowboys have scored in the Bedlam series which is 106 games long. The Sooners finished the regular season with 9 wins.
#14 MICHIGAN: Going into this season, the Wolverines knew they would have an explosive offense if Brady Hoke would allow Denard Robinson the freedom to run portions of the spread option. What they didn’t know is their defense would finish ranked 7th overall in points against. The Michigan faithful feel they’re on the way back, and it’s not the 10 wins convincing them; it was the win over Ohio State.
#15 BAYLOR: The Bears had a record setting season - 1) First time ever winning 6 games in the Big 12; 2) First time ever winning 7 games at home; 3) First time ever scoring 40+ points against Texas at home; 3) First time accumulating 9 wins since 1986. Robert Griffin III may continue the trend, if he’s able to win the Heisman Trophy.
#16 CLEMSON: Dabo Sweeney started the season on the hot seat in Death Valley. It’s cooler now, due to his dynamic duo on offense: Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd. There’s nothing like a conference championship to quiet the critics.
#17 HOUSTON: The Cougars blew the chance to stay undefeated and make a BCS Bowl by simply not being ready to handle Southern Miss in the Conference USA title game. The entire conference suffers along with Houston as each C-USA school now misses out on $500,000 that would have been earned by having a conference team in the lucrative BCS bowl game.
#18 WEST VIRGINIA: The Mountaineers came into the season with a lot of questions, and by seasons end the resounding answers were: Yes, Dana Holgorsen’s offense can work in Morgantown, and Yes the young defensive unit improved as the season wore on. Now if only WVU could find a positive answer to their special teams.
#19 TCU: The Horned Frogs once again won the Mountain West Conference but have been bypassed for what would have been their third straight trip to a BCS game. TCU did end Boise State’s 35-game home winning streak but suffered losses to SMU and Baylor.
#20 VIRGINIA TECH: 10 wins is a reason to celebrate the season, but when you’ve only beat 1 ranked opponent on the year, and you were dismantled twice by Clemson with the final blow coming in the conference championship game; YOU DON’T DESERVE A BCS BID!
#21 GEORGIA: After starting the season with back-to-back losses, it appeared Mark Richt’s time in Georgia was nearing an end. The Bulldogs rallied by winning 10 consecutive games and capturing the SEC East division title.
#22 NEBRASKA: The Cornhuskers ran into their inaugural season in the Big 10 behind the legs of Rex Burkhead. The Nebraska tailback carried the ‘Huskers for most of the season including his 38 rushing attempts against Iowa. Nebraska will make their 48th appearance in a bowl game, but they probably won’t dress 85 players like Tom Osborn used to.
#23 SOUTHERN MISS: Talk about spoiling somebody’s day, the Golden Eagles didn’t just throw a wrench in Houston’s BCS hopes, they literally ripped the Cougars dreams apart. Southern now has an impressive 11-2 record.
#24 FLORIDA STATE: The outlook was bright for the Seminoles heading into the season. Jimbo Fishers defense did not disappoint, but injuries and inexperience play coming from the quarterback position kept FSU from climbing higher and achieving more than 8 wins.
#25 PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions were led by a defensive unit that allowed only 9 touchdown passes in their 12 games. That stat will suddenly get put to the test as Penn State will face Houston in the TicketCity Bowl.