Next up is the PAC-12 knot. It's basically a three-way tie, with Oregon taking the higher spot for that dominant Rose Bowl win. Stanford choked in their bowl, but at least they got to play in one, unlike USC. Arkansas gets the next spot, and you could argue for them be higher, busting up the west-coast three way ahead of them. Boise State gets a very Boise-like ranking at eight, while Wisconsin and South Carolina round out the top-10.
Kansas State is the second highest ranked Big-12 team, coming in at 12, right behind a very solid Michigan State. Baylor and their traveling laser show end up in the top-15. Oklahoma sits at 15. I know the Sooners destroyed K-State, but this isn't the same OU team. You can always just watch the malaise set-in over the Sooners over the second half of almost every season. One regular season loss and they just kind of curl up.
Beyond that, it's 'throw-it-up-and-see-what-sticks' situation. West Virginia gets a bump thanks to the 70-points they dropped on Clemson. Conference foes Clemson and VA Tech get coupled at 20. and 21. and three little guys finish out the top-25: BYU, Cincy, and No. Ill. The Bearcats could arguable be higher, but that blowout loss to Tennessee earlier just looks ugly now and Vanderbilt isn't a stringent enough cleanser to take that stain away.
Looking Ahead Let's get right back into it, shall we? Even when you look at who left early, there's not a lot of drop of for LSU and Alabama. But, we saw this with 'Bama after '09 and Arkansas will have a lot to say in the SEC Western division next season. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will see the end of the SEC's string of national titles, unless an overrated Georgia team with an inflated record wins the SEC CG and the BCS CG - which trust me, as a Georgia fan, I can tell you, will NOT happen. So, who replaces them in the void? A perennial contender? Maybe. But my money's out west. No one survives the SEC unbeaten, USC and Oklahoma play for the national title, highest rated SEC team ends up number two. Here's an early top-12 for 2012.
- West Virginia
- Virginia Tech
- South Carolina
While we're at it, let's take a look at some key players who could be headed to NYC at season's end.
- Montee Ball
- Matt Barkley
- Tyler Wilson
- Braxton Miller
- Marcus Lattimore
- Kenjon Barner/De'anthony Thomas
- Denard Robinson
- Geno Smith
- Landry Jones
- Eddie Lacy