The No. 1 team went down for the second consecutive week as Ohio State was totally outplayed by Wisconsin in a 31-18 loss in Madison. No. 11 Wisconsin’s David Gilreath took the opening kickoff 97 yards and running back John Clay scored on a 14-yard run five minutes later to give the Badgers a quick 14-0 lead. The Buckeyes battled back and got within three points early in the fourth quarter, but the Badgers never relinquished their lead, ending the game on a 10-0 run. I only dropped Ohio State eight spots because I still believe they are one of the ten best teams in the country and should most likely win out, with their only possible loss being against Iowa in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 20.
A few weeks ago I thought Michigan’s Denard Robinson was the most explosive quarterback in the country. But after watching No. 4 Auburn’s Cam Newton rush for 188 yards, pass for 140 and have his hand in four touchdowns in a 65-43 against Arkansas this past weekend, I may have to reconsider. This guy looks like he’s playing against pee-wee competition. He runs over linebackers like a freight train and around them like a running back. The former Florida Gator, who transferred to Auburn after he learned that Tim Tebow was returning for his senior year, has accounted for 25 of his team’s touchdowns this season and is making a very strong case for being a Heisman Trophy finalist. Newton also leads the SEC in rushing with 860 yards through seven games and leads the nation in passing efficiency with a 180.53 rating. His Tigers welcome No. 8 LSU into town this weekend for a matchup between two of the top teams in the SEC. It could very well be another high scoring affair, which obviously favors the Tigers, who are averaging 40.7 points per game this season.
One of my biggest moves of the week was bumping Michigan State up six spots to No. 6 after their 26-6 win over Illinois. I think the Spartans are the best 7-0 team that nobody talks about, for a couple different reasons. First of all, they are one of the most solid all-around teams in the nation and rank 26th or better in rushing yards (206.1), points for (34.4) and points against (16.6). Secondly, they beat Wisconsin and Michigan in consecutive weeks, both in convincing fashion. What is most impressive about those two games, though, is that they were won without having their head coach Mark Dantonio on the sidelines after he suffered a heart attack following the team’s 34-31 thrilling overtime win against Notre Dame. Dantonio’s team isn’t satisfied just yet, though, and still has more work to do if they want to remain unbeaten. It starts this Saturday when they go on the road to face upstart Northwestern and continues the following weekend when they square off with No. 14 Iowa in Iowa City. And don’t forget about the regular season finale on the road against Penn State, which is always a tough place to play. But the Spartans are playing inspired football right now and can win games in multiple ways, which is why I think they have a great shot of finishing the regular season undefeated and winning the Big Ten.
Virginia Tech slid back into my poll this week at No. 21 after their 52-21 blowout win over Wake Forest. After losing their first two games of the season, the Hokies have rolled off five consecutive wins including three in conference play. They have been scoring points in bunches lately and if they continue to play this way, they will put themselves in great position to win the ACC and appear in yet another BCS bowl game. I give head coach Frank Beamer a lot of credit for not letting his team give up after their heartbreaking loss against Boise State and embarrassing home loss against James Madison. People seem to forget that the Hokies were two minutes from beating possibly the best team in the country. And when you combine losing the way they did against Boise State with having to play an FCS opponent like James Madison five days later, there is probably going to be somewhat of a letdown, which is exactly what happened. But I still think Virginia Tech is one of the top-25 teams in the country, it just took them a little while to get back on the radar.
Submitted by Steve Giles