(Slight bragging to commence.)
The TTT has had Florida ranked fifth or better every week since Week 2. In the AP poll it rose like an arthritic German shepherd, spending a couple of weeks at 18, a week at 14, 11, 10 … then finally jumping to 4, and spending the last couple of weeks at 3.
The TTT has had Kansas State first or second in the country for the past month. The Wildcats spent three weeks in the lower half of the AP’s top 10 before rising to fourth in the past two weeks, and third in the BCS this week.
The TTT told you way back in Week 3 that Oregon State was good; we’ve had it no worse than seventh since then. The Beavers made it to seventh in the AP poll just this week -- the first time they’ve been that high all season.
Lots of fans laughed at the TTT back at the beginning. We thought about responding like this. But we are a humble operation. The TRUE TOP TEN RULZ banner flying over the Oklahoma-Notre Dame game on Saturday will be pulled by a humble, fuel-efficient Learjet.
On to this week’s True Top Ten:
1. Kansas State (7-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. West Virginia 55-14.
The top three teams in this week’s TTT got there by dismantling supposedly strong opponents. I was in Morgantown for this one, and West Virginia looked ready and strong until about three seconds after the opening kickoff. It was never close. It was never close to close. Kansas State can run, it can pass, it can stop the run and it can stop the pass. The only other team in the country with similar balance is Alabama.
Kansas State has five semi-rugged games left: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor, and home vs. Texas. But they should be favored in all those games. And without a Big 12 title game, I think the Wildcats have the best shot of anybody at going undefeated. You might see Bill Snyder in Miami in January … which would be amazing. Next up: Texas Tech.
2. Florida (7-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. South Carolina 44-11.
Here’s the scary thing: Florida’s offense basically took the day off, and the Gators still beat a good team by 33 points. The Gators’ defense wrecked South Carolina from the first play, when Loucheiz Purifoy stripped QB Connor Shaw on a corner blitz. Florida recovered at the South Carolina two, scored three plays later and the Gamecocks were rattled for good. I described all that in detail because I wanted to be able to write the words “Loucheiz Purifoy.”
I will have much, much more to say later this week on the Gators’ game this Saturday. I just want you Florida fans to remember, I’ve been nice to y’all ALL YEAR. Next up: Georgia (in Jacksonville).
3. Oregon (7-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Arizona State 43-21.
Oregon earns its way into the upper reaches of the TTT by finally beating somebody good away from Eugene. And did it ever. That 43-21 final is the most misleading football score I’ve ever seen. It was 43-7 with 11:33 left in the SECOND QUARTER. Oregon could’ve scored 100. Maybe 150. But Chip Kelly cut the engine and the Ducks coasted for the last 41 minutes. I’m still not sure Oregon has beaten anybody good; as I noted last week, Arizona State’s record was a bit of a sham. But no matter. Oregon is terrifying. Next up: Colorado.
4. Alabama (7-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Tennessee 44-13.
Alabama also feathered the gas against Tennessee, and this is a big (and underrated) rivalry game, but Vols fans have moved on from this season and are openly discussing their next coach once Derek Dooley is gone. (The Hunk of the Week for now is Jon Gruden.) A.J. McCarron worked his way into the Heisman race with another solid game (17-22, 306 yards, four TDs). But to me, McCarron is maybe the fifth-best player on his own team behind RB Eddie Lacy, C Barrett Jones and pick two from all those NFL draft picks on their defense. McCarron is good. But I think you need to be the best player on your team before you get named the best player in the country.
By the way: The undefeated team that Alabama happens to be playing on Saturday has not made it into the TTT this year. This weekend, you’ll see why. Next up: Mississippi State.
5. Notre Dame (7-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. BYU 17-14.
Oklahoma seems to be a pretty big favorite on Saturday, and I could see a scenario where the Sooners get up a couple of touchdowns, the fans in Norman are going crazy, and Notre Dame falls apart. But I don’t think this year’s Irish is that type of team. The Florida-South Carolina game is a template for Notre Dame: Cause a couple of early turnovers, convert into touchdowns, hope they lose their confidence on the other sideline. Next up: at Oklahoma.
6. Oregon State (6-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Utah 21-7.
The Beavers drop a few slots in the TTT because a home win over Utah doesn’t mean that much, and a few teams below them had better wins. (That’s how a poll should work, right?) Stat of the week: Oregon State has not been 6-0 since 1907. It was Oregon Agricultural College back then. It played herds of elk. (One of those three facts is unconfirmed.) Next up: at Washington.
7. Ohio State (8-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Purdue 29-22 (OT).
Ohio State was at home, and Purdue’s not very good, but I thought this was the Buckeyes’ best win of the year. They had to play from behind all game, and they made their last comeback without QB Braxton Miller, who’s by far their best player. Backup Kenny Guiton took the Buckeyes 61 yards in 47 seconds for the tying touchdown. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer came into the press conference after the game and joked: “We won, right?” Yeah, the rest of the Big Ten is gonna love this guy. Next up: at Penn State.
8. LSU (7-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. Texas A&M 24-19.
I swear, Les Miles is a continuous magic trick -- you keep trying to figure out how he wins, but you can never see him do it. A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, was killing the Tigers in the first half Saturday. It was 12-0 when I went down the hall to get a Coke, and when I came back, LSU had scored twice in 1:38 to go up 14-12. That’s some Ricky Jay stuff right there.
I still don’t know how Les does the trick, but I know how it ends: with Jeremy Hill breaking off a touchdown run in the fourth quarter to ice the game. If LSU can pull that off in two weeks, let’s just give Les a wand and a top hat and be done with it. Next up: Alabama (Nov. 3).
9. Oklahoma (5-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. Kansas 52-7.
You don’t move up in the TTT just for beating a Charlie Weis team, y’all. Win again this week and we’ll talk. Next up: Notre Dame.
10. Rutgers (7-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Temple 35-10.
It’s hard to tell if anybody’s good in the Big Least, but Rutgers came back strong on the road against a decent team -- Temple was up 10-0 at halftime. As my colleague Matt Brown wrote recently, Rutgers football is in an interesting place. An undefeated season might change the outlook. Next up: Kent State.
Dropping out: Louisville.
Bubbling under: Mississippi State, Texas Tech, Ohio.
* * *