College football rankings: Tailgater top 25, week 7

 

Tailgater Top 25 Rankings, Week 7

South Carolina, West Virginia, Louisiana Tech and Texas- San Antonio were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten on Saturday, leaving only 12 teams with unblemished records.  Notre Dame won on a controversial and inaccurate call in overtime; Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor clearly broke the plane of the goalline as he twisted atop bodies, but the referees appeared to give up on the play too quickly.  The Buckeyes survived, but looked fairly awful while doing it.  Ditto for the Irish.

Let me pause there, because the conclusion of the Stanford-Notre Dame game needs to be addressed.  There are, as we all know, many judgment calls in every game of football.  But with the technology we have available to us, the presence or absence of a touchdown is usually not an opinion.  There are times when the crush of bodies makes it impossible to see the ball, and in those moments we have to rely on the guys in the striped shirts.  Otherwise, there’s no shame in using the cameras to get a call correct.

The ending of Notre Dame’s purported win was referred to as controversial.  That’s inaccurate, in that controversial is not a synonym for wrong.  Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor scored a touchdown, easily breaking the plane of the goalline with a great second effort.  The officials, like much of the Notre Dame defense, seemed to give up on the play too early, assuming the Taylor had been stopped.

He wasn’t.

The video can be found here, and while there will be those who say it’s inconclusive, the objective fan will recognize this for what it is.  An early or inadvertent whistle might make for a convenient scapegoat in this situation but for the fact that the officiating crew went immediately to the replay booth.  If the whistle had blown, they would have only reviewed to hear when, not to check the result of the play.  Below are a couple of frames from the video, illustrated to show Taylor’s position and that of the ball.  The same photos are then shown without illustration.

From realclearsports.com

And without the circle:

From realclearsports.com

The live video makes it much easier to see than even these photos do, but there can be no question in either case.  Taylor (33) got the ball across while laying on top of other players.

To be clear, this touchdown would not have ended the game.  Notre Dame might have blocked the PAT.  It might have stifled an attempted two-point conversion or won in double overtime.  What Notre Dame didn’t do is win 20-13 in OT.  This is simply a blown call that could have a very serious impact on the BCS.

This call caused some consternation in this week’s rankings (for me anyway…perhaps my co-pollsters weren’t so troubled).  They won on paper, but if things had gone correctly would the Irish be just another one-loss team?

Here are our updated rankings for week 7.

Zach Bigalke John Mitchell Matt Strobl

1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Kansas State
4. Notre Dame
5. Oregon State
6. Louisville
7. Ohio State
8. Florida
9. USC
10. Mississippi State
11. Arizona State
12. Rutgers
13. Cincinnati
14. Florida State
15. Ohio
16. LSU
17. South Carolina
18. Texas Tech
19. Clemson
20. Texas A&M
21. West Virginia
22. Louisiana Tech
23. Boise State
24. Tulsa
25. Northwestern

1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Florida
4. Kansas State
5. Notre Dame
6. Oregon State
7. Ohio State
8. LSU
9. Oklahoma
10. South Carolina
11. Louisville
12. Mississippi State
13. Rutgers
14. USC
15. Georgia
16. Texas Tech
17. Florida State
18. West Virginia
19. Clemson
20. Texas A&M
21. Cincinnati
22. Ohio
23. Louisiana Tech
24. Boise State
25. Arizona State
1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Kansas State
4. Florida
5. Oregon State
6. Ohio State 
7. Notre Dame
8. Oklahoma
9. LSU
10. South Carolina
11. Louisville
12. Mississippi State
13. Rutgers
14. Clemson
15. USC
16. Texas Tech
17. West Virginia
18. Florida State
19. Texas A&M
20. TCU
21. Georgia
22. Cincinnati
23. Ohio
24. Northwestern
25. Louisiana Tech

Bigalke:

1-10: The top four all remain the same. Alabama won by 32 at Mizzou, Oregon was idle, Kansas State hung on to avoid the trap at Iowa State, and Notre Dame survived Stanford. West Virginia took the biggest tumble in my eyes, being exposed by Texas Tech’s tough defense. Their place at #5 was taken by Oregon State, who leapfrogged Louisville with their convincing win at BYU. The Cardinals remain at #6, with losses by South Carolina and Louisiana Tech pushing everyone below them up a few rungs. Thus Ohio State, Florida, USC and Mississippi State push up three spots.
 
11-20: Arizona State might just be better than USC; they, not the Trojans, control their destiny in the Pac-12 South. Rutgers and Cincinnati remain undefeated in a rising Big East. Florida State continues its slow climb back to relevance, trouncing Boston College on Saturday. Ohio jumps to #15 after surviving another close MAC contest to remain the only undefeated non-AQ team. LSU slots ahead of South Carolina thanks to this weekend’s head-to-head shakeout. Texas Tech moves on my ballot after taking out the Mountaineers. Idle Clemson ranks just ahead of Texas A&M, who survived a thriller in Shreveport.
 
21-25: I couldn’t help it. After the Red Raiders showed what a competent defense can do against WVU, I had to move the Mountaineers below the Big XII rivals ranked above. Their 16-spot plummet is the largest drop on my ballot this week. Louisiana Tech’s 13-spot drop is the second largest; I couldn’t justify putting them any higher given Texas A&M’s position. Boise State and Tulsa are starting to mount convincing campaigns to try to become the first one-loss non-AQ BCS Busters behind the Bulldogs. The final team this week is Northwestern, jumping back into the top 25 after moving to 6-1 at Minnesota.
 
Mitchell:
1-10: A small shakeup in the Top-5 this week following South Carolina’s two-point road loss to LSU. Alabama and Oregon remain the top two, with the Tide clobbering Missouri and the Ducks having a bye week. Florida jumps up to #3 following their two-touchdown victory over Vanderbilt as the Gators have played a very tough schedule to date. Kansas State and Notre Dame round out the Top-5. Oregon State is 6th, and the Beavers pulled off a very impressive road win over BYU without Sean Mannion. Ohio state remains unbeaten, but they were anything but impressive against Indiana. Three one-loss teams round out the Top 10 in LSU, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.11-20: Louisville is still undefeated, but largely untested. The same goes for Mississippi State with their best win coming at home against 3-3 Tennessee. We’ll find out about the Bulldogs in two weeks when they go to Tuscaloosa. The same can really be said for Rutgers as well. USC and Georgia check in at 14-15, but I still really don’t know what to make of either team. Texas Tech leaps up to #16 after their dominant performance against previously unbeaten West Virginia. Florida State checks in at 17, and West Virginia and Clemson are 18 and 19 because they should be behind the one-loss teams that beat them. Texas A&M rounds out the Top-20 after escaping Shreveport with a win over Louisiana Tech.

21-25:
Cincinnati is undefeated but their best win came over a Virginia Tech team that has severely disappointed to date. Ohio is #22 joining Ohio State as the only two 7-0 teams in the country. I didn’t drop Louisiana Tech much this week because a two point loss to Texas A&M is far from a bad defeat. The Bulldogs asserted themselves well against SEC competition. Boise State is hanging around at 24th, and Arizona State joins the poll today as they sit at 5-1. Their one loss, however, looks worse every week with Missouri’s continued struggles in the SEC. 
 
Strobl:
1-10: With South Carolina and West Virginia falling on the road, the top 10 gets a new look this week.  We’re at that point where few enough unbeaten teams remain that it’s an impressive feat.  Oregon State proved a great deal by winning on the road with an untested backup QB, although BYU isn’t exactly a powerhouse.  K-State survived Ames and would have covered the spread if not for a phantom pass interference call that handed the Cyclones four points.  Notre Dame and Ohio State stayed unblemished, though barely.  I also moved some one-loss teams back into the top 10 based on their overall bodies of work.  Oklahoma has the best overall resume after narrowly losing to the Wildcats but rolling Texas and Texas Tech.  LSU, though sloppy against Auburn and Towson, is evidently a win-ugly team.  But that doesn’t diminish the importance of their vicotry over the Gamecocks, which was more one-sided than the score indicated.  Still, there’s no shame in that defeat for South Carolina.
 
11-20: This stretch has most of the other one-loss power programs in an order that approximates the relative quality of those losses.  A few unbeaten teams are scattered in here as well; Louisville, Rutgers, and Mississippi State are off to nice starts but none has yet played any significant competition outside of Louisville best UNC at home.  Rutgers win over Arkansas could and should have been a signature victory, but the Hogs just aren’t very good this year.
 
21-25: I’d like to elevate the Bearcats and Bobcats in honor of their perfect starts, but the quality of competition just isn’t there for either team.  Since upsetting Penn State, Ohio has had a series of close calls against MAC teams and other weak programs, while Cincinnati’s Hail Mary-esque win over Virginia Tech needs to be complemented with one more quality win before I know how good Butch Jones’ squad really is.  In a couple of week Cincy plays Louisville in the first of several Big East reckonings that should clarify the conference’s big picture. I had to knock out Nevada by attrition; there are too many good undefeated and one-loss teams in play.  That the Wolf Pack barely sneaked past 1-6 UNLV sealed the deal.
  • ObjectiveFan

    None of the photos show whether his elbow hits the ground BEFORE the ball crosses the plane. Thus, the reply is inconclusive. If it had been ruled a touch down, there would have been controversy, and once again, the video would not have allowed the play on the field to be overruled. The refs were a split crew between the Big East (the conference that Notre Dame is leaving and doesn’t play football) and the PAC 12 (Stanford’s conference), so no possible bias argument can be made. Finally, te’o stated in the post game press conference that he heard the whistle and then started celebrating. If you review the footage and see when he starts to celebrate, Taylor (while still squirming) has not yet broken the plane. Under this scenario, if the whistle was blown at this point, the game is over.

  • Joe

    Taylor’s left elbow was indeed clearly down on the ground well before the ball crossed the plane (look at the slow motion film) and well after forward progress had stopped.