lessons from week five...
1. LSU's main threat in the SEC West will be... Auburn. As much as I would like to have it otherwise, the apparent demise of Auburn was a bit premature. The Mississippi State loss can be attributed to shock from the South Florida home loss, but that isn't looking so bad anymore. Neither is the home victory over a suddenly dangerous Kansas State team which just hit Texas in the mouth. As far as other teams providing LSU a challenge, Florida has not proved they are a threat when they go on the road and Alabama is just too young to tame the Tigers. Other than Auburn, the road trip to Kentucky might be interesting.
2. South Florida is the best team in the state of Florida. After listening to a Saban press conference earlier this evening, it became evident why a team like South Florida has suddenly risen to prominence. Other than the typical excuse of less scholarships, Saban added the insight that South Florida is also allowed to recruit Prop 48 players whereas teams like Alabama, Florida State, and Miami are not provided this same luxury. Saban's own assessment of the nasty Bulls defense was that it had six players who would start for FSU (FSU's defense is playing at a near championship level this season). This does help explain the wacky Big East, where perennial doormats like Rutgers and Cincinatti are suddenly top 20 schools.
3. The best remaining under the radar squads are: Illinois, Kansas, and Cincinatti. As stated in Week One of our lessons, the Big Twelve North sports five teams who are certainly bowl worthy (Kansas State, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska in that order). Kansas State joins South Florida, Arizona State, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Boston College as teams that are now known commodities. Illinois, despite its win over Penn State (predicted along with the South Florida to win outright last week), remains unheralded as does Cincinatti, a team that only humiliated an Oregon State team that won 10 games last season by the score of 34-3. Kansas has a tough game this week against Kansas State. I think Kansas State wins it, but it will be VERY close.
4. Too much shall be made of the Oklahoma loss to Colorado. That was an upset in its purest form. If they played 40 times, Colorado might win twice. I rank it as the major upset from last week. The other ones that really shocked me were 1) Rutgers 34-24 loss to Maryland (I was quite sold on this Rutgers team) and 2) Florida's home loss to Auburn 20-17 (Meyer had never lost at home, and the Tigers appeared to be reeling).
5. Ohio State is a legitimate contender for the national title. In fact, I think they will play either LSU or USC for the title. I am thinking USC is going to lose at least one game in the Pac-10 as it is asking too much to go undefeated through a schedule containing landmine games with Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, UCLA, and Oregon State. Ohio State, meanwhile, just has Wisconsion and a highly overrated Michigan squad. Ohio State's most difficult game in the Big 10 would be against Illinois.
6. Here's my view of the top 15 teams in the country right now:
2) Ohio State
6) South Florida
8) Arizona State
10) Kansas State
12) Boston College