On a weekend ripe with cancellations and delays of scheduled games, the Big 12 was one of the lucky few to play all of their games over the weekend, as the majority of the Big 12 had a bye week scheduled. Sure it’s nice to get healthy, prepare for next week’s opponent and gameplan but another bonus to a bye week late in the season is the opportunity to rise in the rankings and root for chaos. While we did see some upsets over the weekend, the Big 12 really didn’t get much outside help in terms of ranked teams losing. The Big 12 has four schools ranked in the latest AP top 25; leading the pack are the Oklahoma State Cowboys at 14 followed by Iowa State and Oklahoma at 17 & 18 respectively with the Texas Longhorns rounding out the Big 12 ranked teams checking in at 22. All four are in action on Saturday with Bedlam featuring a top 20 matchup, so expect this to change going into next week.
Here at Heartland College Sports, we will take you in depth of the AP rankings and let you, the casual fan, see why the ranking is the way it is and possibly call out some strange things we see from the AP registered voters. With that being said, let’s check out who will be stuck in the nosebleeds watching Bedlam because they did the Big 12 wrong.
Our focus this week will turn to the Illinois football beat writer from the Champaign News-Gazette by the name of Bob Asmussen. Bob looked at the top teams in college football and made the conclusion that 2-0 Oregon, who trailed for the majority of the game against Washington State, is better than Clemson. Yep. Asmussen ranked the Ducks at #4 and has Clemson #5 right behind them. Interesting… The first surprise after that in my opinion was his love of the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin has played two games, both against pretty bad football teams (including Illinois) and defeated both in routs. Yes the Badgers are probably deserving of being ranked, but for me I would need to see them play more games and beat a real football team before I placed them at #11 like Bob did. Following that, Bob has Miami, Georgia then USC in his 12-14 spots and that is a real head-scratcher.
Miami is floundering lately, barely escaping a loss at NC State, then following that up with a 1 point victory over Virginia Tech. Liberty, for reference, beat Va Tech by 3 points a week prior. Perhaps, like me, you are wondering “who have the Miami Hurricanes beaten to get such a high rank?” and the answer is….nobody. Miami’s best win on the year is a win over unranked Virginia; the Canes have zero wins over teams currently ranked and their only loss was a drubbing at Clemson. Once again, rank Miami because they are one of the top 25 teams in my opinion, but let’s reevaluate the strength of schedule and how they win as well. A one point come from behind victory to an unranked team should not be rewarded.
Georgia and USC both have major problems with their teams’ as far as performance this year, and to me look like teams that could be in the top 15 when playing their best, but also look like they deserve to be unranked with sloppy play even in wins. USC completed a miraculous comeback to beat Arizona State on their opening weekend and then had another wild finish to escape with a win over Arizona this past weekend.
The eye test has to come to play, and if you have watched college football, there is no shot you would objectively say that USC, Miami and Georgia are playing better than Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Oklahoma right now. I understand the argument can be made that ISU and OU both have 2 losses, but those happened in the first month of the season and the old saying “what have you done for me lately” can ring true here.
Moving on the rankings of Bob Asmussen, we see he has Marshall, Oklahoma, Coastal Carolina than Oklahoma State from 15-18 in his top 25. Marshall had an emotional win on the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that changed their program forever this past weekend and I will not speak ill of the Thundering Herd here, I would just like to point out the competition they have played and the fact they have not beaten a currently-ranked team. Oklahoma is understandable in this spot with how they have been just boat racing the bottom of the Big 12 these past few weeks, but once again Oklahoma State has one loss and the Sooners have two so it’s strange to put OU ahead of the Cowboys. This will obviously work itself out on Saturday when the 2 schools meet. I love the Chanticleers from Coastal Carolina; everything from their locker room celebrations, on field play and the mullets some of their players are rocking. I would have OU and OSU ahead of them, but I genuinely feel people are sleeping on the Chanticleers as a top 15 program right now.
Last but not least, the other issue I had with Asmussen’s rankings was to skip over Tulsa at the end of his top 25. Asmussen elected to rank Boise State who is on their third string QB and got embarrassed by BYU at home two weeks ago, but did not see Tulsa who has one loss to a ranked Oklahoma State team as being worthy of his rankings. Tulsa defeated then #18 SMU over the weekend at home, giving them two ranked wins meanwhile Boise State has zero. Give Tulsa their due and rank them; the true test will be at the end of the season when they match up with Cincinnati to determine the AAC winner, where the two could then play again the following week in the conference title game.
Looking ahead, the four ranked teams in the Big 12 are back on the field playing this weekend, headline by #14 Oklahoma State and #18 Oklahoma in a heated Bedlam matchup. With a win in Norman, Oklahoma State would all but guarantee themselves a spot in Dallas for the Big 12 title game, meanwhile Oklahoma can help their odds to reach another conference title game with a win and a tiebreaker over OSU should they pull off the upset. Iowa State and Texas will look to avoid losses to the Kansas schools, I don’t foresee any upsets there so we will regroup here next week and see what shakes down in Norman and see how different the rankings look.
*Please do not send any ill-will to any AP voters, this is meant to be a fun article highlighting some discrepancies amongst the AP Top 25 voters.