Every other week or so, the True Top Ten staff takes some time out as a group to meditate. We find a nice green field, preferably with goalposts and hash marks. We arrange ourselves into the victory formation. And we chant our mantra:
It is hard … to win … on the road.
It is hard … to win … on the road.
On a neutral field, West Virginia would beat Texas Tech seven out of 10 times. In Morgantown, nine out of 10. But in Lubbock, on Saturday, the Red Raiders smoked the Mountaineers 49-14.
On a neutral field, Stanford beats Notre Dame six out of 10. In Palo Alto, maybe eight out of 10. But in South Bend, the Irish held at the goal line in overtime (well, maybe) and beat the Cardinal 20-13.
Alabama and Oregon fans have been killing me for weeks because I don’t have them 1-2 in my poll. Both teams have crushed everybody they’ve played. But here are the teams they’ve beaten in true road games:
Bama: Arkansas, Missouri (both currently 3-4).
Oregon: Nobody (the Ducks’ “road” game at 2-5 Washington State was played across the state from Pullman in Seattle)
If you made me bet my life savings on two teams to play in the national title game, I’d pick Bama and Oregon. But the True Top Ten measures the quality of the season a team has put together. And the Tide and Ducks haven’t proven anything until they beat a good team on the road.
Thursday night, Oregon plays 5-1 Arizona State in Tempe. The Sun Devils’ record is a bit of a sham – they haven’t beaten anyone great, either, and they lost to Missouri. But it’ll be a crazy crowd, and those Thursday night games often get weird. Is Oregon better? In a vacuum, absolutely. But say it with me, children:
It is hard… to win… on the road.
Now to the True Top Ten.
1. Kansas State (6-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Iowa State 27-21.
K-State moves back to the top why? You guessed it: The Wildcats beat another good team on the road. Iowa State has beaten TCU, and its only other loss was to Texas Tech. The Cyclones are legit. But K-State QB Collin Klein continues to play the role of Baby Tebow (although at 6-foot-6 and 225, he’s not really baby anything). Saturday’s stat line: 16-24 and 187 yards passing, 25 carries for 105 yards and three touchdowns rushing. When Klein meets Geno Smith on Saturday, it’ll be the football version of matter v. antimatter. I always thought the world might end in Morgantown. Next up: at West Virginia.
2. Florida (6-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Vanderbilt 31-17.
Speaking of Tebow … Florida QB Jeff Driskel ran for 177 yards Saturday, breaking Tebow’s school record for most yards rushing in one game by a quarterback. Driskel isn’t throwing much -- just 19 attempts a game -- but he’s completing two-thirds of his passes to go along with all those runs. He’s not quite ready to crack the Holy Trinity yet. But he’s great for this run-first Florida team. It’ll be insane again for the end of the Florida/South Carolina/LSU round robin on Saturday. Next up: South Carolina.
3. Oregon State (5-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. BYU 42-24.
BYU was supposed to put the end to the Mike Riley Second Time Around Tour, especially because Oregon State QB Sean Mannion (I keep wanting to call him Race Bannon*) was out with a knee injury. But backup Cody Vaz threw for 332 yards, and the Beavers took the fourth quarter 21-3, giving them another tough road win. Oregon is third and Oregon State eighth in the BCS. SPOILER ALERT: They’re switched in the TTT. Next up: Utah.
*If you don’t know who Race Bannon is, you’ll find him in the credits here, along with the greatest TV theme of all time. Does any marching band play this? Because it would be AWESOME.
4. Notre Dame (6-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Stanford 20-13 (OT).
Yeah, Stepfan Taylor probably got in. Yeah, Notre Dame would probably have blocked the extra point. It’s been that kind of year for the Irish. Now the question is, will backup QB Tommy Rees be ready if Everett Golson isn’t all the way back from his concussion? And can either one get the Irish enough points to beat Oklahoma and USC down the road? Next up: BYU.
5. Alabama (6-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Missouri 42-10.
Nick Saban sounded happy with his team after the game -- an odd sensation for those of us who have listened to Saban grouse over win after win. But Bama played sharp in a deluge (the game was stopped at one point for lightning), and won easily in Columbia. Saban knows: It is hard … to win … OK, you get it by now. Next up: at Tennessee.
6. Ohio State (7-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Indiana 52-49.
When did Ohio State start playing entertaining football? Is that even allowed? This game wasn’t quite as close as the final score -- Indiana got two TDs in the last 1:40 -- but when Big Ten football teams start posting Big Ten basketball scores, that’s just weird. WOODY HAYES DOES NOT APPROVE. Next up: Purdue.
(By the way: Ohio State is on probation and not eligible for the BCS. The SEC has six of the top 12 teams in the BCS. The Big Ten: 0-for-25.)
7. Louisville (6-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Pitt 45-35.
They’re not beating any good road teams, but they went 3-0 on a three-week road trip, and they have a home win over a North Carolina team that looks increasingly frisky. Cincinnati and Rutgers are also undefeated in the Big East. QB Teddy Bridgewater gets Louisville in the TTT. Not his stats, though they’re good, but just the name. Teddy Bridgewater. Love that name. Next up: South Florida.
8. Oregon (6-0)
LAST WEEK: Idle.
Let me be clear: Even though I have the Ducks down here, I enjoy watching Oregon football more than just about anything on the planet. If they wipe out the Sun Devils in Tempe, I’m buying in. Next up: at Arizona State (Thursday).
9. Oklahoma (4-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. Texas 63-21.
This is the week one-loss teams creep into the TTT. Oklahoma just humiliated Texas at the Cotton Bowl -- when I tuned in it was 36-2, and Longhorn fans were heading for the latest fried snacks at the Texas State Fair. The Sooners also beat Texas Tech in Lubbock (West Virginia found out how hard that is), and their only loss is to TTT No. 1 Kansas State. There’s still room for them in the national title mix. Next up: Kansas.
10. LSU (6-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. South Carolina 23-21.
Just behind Oklahoma because of a slightly weaker schedule, although the Tigers’ one loss (to TTT No. 2 Florida) was on the road. That win over South Carolina was a pattern I’ve seen over and over with Les Miles: Grind the clock, pin your opponent back on defense, wait for a mistake. And now that Jeremy Hill has moved to the front of LSU’s running-back shuffle, Les can play his style at full force. I can’t wait to see how the Tigers do against Johnny Football. Next up: at Texas A&M.
Dropping out: West Virginia, South Carolina, Ohio.
Bubbling under: The “dropping out” teams, Mississippi State, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech, Texas A&M.
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Questions? Comments? Challenges? Taunts? You can reach me at email@example.com. Oregon is a lovely state.