Ed Bagley's Top 25 Poll - Week 14 - Guess Who's No. 1 Again
Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, Oregon and Georgia all won major conference championships recently and earned key spots in 4 of the 5 upcoming, coveted BCS bowl games. Here is how their victories have changed my Top 25 Poll rankings for college football's 14th week.
1) Alabama (13-0) - Beat Florida, last year's national champion, 32-13, to win the SEC Conference Championship and the right to play Texas in the National Championship Game. There is a reason why I have had Alabama ranked No. 1 for the last 7 consecutive weeks. Now you know why; the Crimson Tide players are better than the Gator players this year.
2) Texas (13-0) - Almost got upset by a tenacious Nebraska defense, but used 1 second left on the clock to kick a 46-yard field goal and win the Big 12 Championship, 13-12, and the right to play Alabama in the National Championship Game.
3) Cincinnati (12-0) - Came from 21 points down to outlast Pittsburgh 45-44 and win the Big East Championship, and will face Florida in the Sugar Bowl. I like Cincinnati's high-powered, spread offense, and its unbeaten record, but not its defense. Then again, Florida's outstanding defense gave up 32 points to Alabama.
4) Texas Christian (12-0) - Won the Mountain West Conference title, and will now face fellow unbeaten Boise State (13-0) in the BCS Fiesta Bowl. Marks the first ever BCS game with two mid-major teams.
5) Boise State (13-0) - Won the Western Athletic Conference title, and will now face unbeaten Texas Christian in the Fiesta Bowl.
6) Florida (12-1) - Lost SEC title game to Alabama 32-13, and lost the right to defend its national title. Will face unbeaten Cincinnati in the BCS Sugar Bowl. Florida fans, please shut up. There is a difference between wanting to win, playing to win, thinking you are going to win, and winning. Nuff said.
7) Oregon (10-2) - Won slugfest against Oregon State 37-33 to win the Pac-10 Conference title, and a trip to the BCS Rose Bowl to face Ohio State. Played much tougher competition than Atlantic Coast Conference and even Big Ten teams.
8) Ohio State (10-2) - Won the Big Ten title outright, and will face Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Played much tougher competition than Atlantic Coast Conference teams.
9) Georgia Tech (11-2) - Beat Clemson 39-34 to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title, and will play Iowa in the BCS Orange Bowl.
10) Iowa (10-2) - Runner-up in the Big Ten with Penn State, but beat the Nittany Lions head-on, and the Hawkeyes take their better defense to the Orange Bowl against Georgia Tech.
11) Penn State (10-2) - Runner-up in the Big Ten with Iowa. Will meet Louisiana State in the Capital One Bowl, the next most prestigious bowl game after the 5 BCS bowl games.
12) LSU (9-3) - Finished as runner-up to Alabama in the SEC West Division. Will face Penn State in the Capital One Bowl.
13) Pittsburgh (9-3) - Gave Cincinnati all it wanted and more before it lost to the Bearcats 45-44 in the Big East title game. Will face North Carolina (8-4) in the Meineke Car Care Bowl game. Pitt should have merited a better bowl game.
14) Nebraska (9-4) - Got little notice as the Cornhuskers struggled earlier in the year to find an offense that could win games. Darn near upset Texas for the Big 12 Conference title. Will meet Arizona (8-4) in the Holiday Bowl. This should be an excellent bowl game because these are two very worthy teams with much better than average defensesNebraska ranks 11th nationally in total defense, and Arizona 22nd among 120 major college teams.
15) Oregon State (8-4) - Gave Oregon all it could handle in the Pac-10 title game before losing, 37-33. The Beavers are one dirty, mean team headed to the Las Vegas Bowl to face Brigham Young (10-2). It tells you something when a 10-2 team faces an 8-4 team in a bowl game. The Cougars had better make sure they bring their helmets to this one, otherwise, the Beavers might knock them silly.
16) East Carolina (9-4) - Whipped Houston (10-3) for the mid-major Conference USA Championship, 38-32, and earned a trip to the Liberty Bowl to face Arkansas (7-5), the team absolutely nobody wanted to play in the SEC. Arkansas took Georgia to the max, beat Texas A&M, Auburn and South Carolina, and lost 3 away games to Florida, LSU and Mississippi, all by a single field goal. Yikes. This should be really interesting for East Carolina; there is no question it will be interesting for Arkansas.
17) Stanford (8-4) - Could be the second best 8-4 team in the country. Played the 19th toughest schedule in its climb back to national recognition. Will face Oklahoma (7-5) in the Sun Bowl. Oklahoma might be the best 7-5 team in the country.
18) Brigham Young (10-2) - Was runner-up to TCU in the Mountain West Conference. Will face Oregon State (8-4) in the Las Vegas Bowl.
19) A mystery team that no one knows about.
20) Utah (9-3) - Finished 3rd to TCU and BYU in the Mountain West Conference. Will face California (8-4) in the Poinsettia Bowl.
21) California (8-4) - Season's best candidate for the yo-yo awardhad wins against UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona and Stanford, and huge losses against Oregon, Southern California, Oregon State and Washington. Will face Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl; two teams that deserve each other.
22) Houston (10-3) - Lost to East Carolina (9-4) in the Conference USA championship game, 38-32, despite having the nation's most explosive scoring offense. The fact that the Cougars are relegated to playing Air Force (7-5) in the Armed Forces Bowl shows you what the people who really count think about Houston.
23) Southern California (8-4) - The season's most surprising fall from power, losing to Washington, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona. The Trojans had at least 11 wins and BCS bowl game appearances for 7 consecutive yearsthe most successful football program in the country during the streak that was broken this year. Will face Boston College (8-4) in the Emerald Bowl. If USC does not beat Boston College, its image will take another major hit.
24) Central Michigan (11-2) - Beat Ohio (9-4), 20-10, for the Mid American Conference Championship, and will face Troy ((9-3), the Sun Belt Conference Champion, in the GMAC Bowl.
25) No other teams impress me enough to even merit my 25th spot. Fill in your own favorite because it doesn't make a nickel's worth of difference to me.
This is not my last Top 25 Poll for this season. The next and final one will be posted after the National Championship Game between Alabama and Texas on Jan. 7. Until then, enjoy the 34 bowl games
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