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MRI Football 2011 - Rankings Week 3

October 3, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

And just like that, Saturday provided the MRI with a new leader and a new No. 2.

Alabama's virtual destruction of Florida cemented them as one of the favorites for not only the SEC crown, but the National Title. The only team that looks like it can stop the Crimson Tide from drowning the world of college football is LSU.

The Tiger defense is good enough to slow down Alabama, but the question will be if LSU is good enough to score against the No. 1 scoring defense in the country (8.4 ppg). Given the year so far, it is tough to imagine more than a 10-point performance out of the Tigers come November 5.

Moving into second place is Oklahoma who took out Ball State. Sure Ball State is usually at the bottom of the MRI rankings (except for that one glorious season back in 2008), but entering the weekend, the Cardinals had the best record in the state of Indiana.

But this is Oklahoma, not Indiana or Buffalo. And the Cardinals did what the Cardinals do. They gave up 60 points and went tumbling in the computer rankings.

The big win moved Oklahoma ahead of Texas, a team that is lucky to still be No. 3 as Stanford put the heat on with its late night win over UCLA.

That means this weekend's Red River Shootout/Rivalry/Pac-16 battle will establish one of these two teams as the real challenger for the National Title. Given the results so far, this looks like a no-brainer. But the computer would say otherwise, based on Texas' top 15 defensive performance against the second-ranked strength of schedule so far.

It is only because Texas was so bad last season (and its continuing quarterback confusion) that the Longhorns are being seriously considered a contender.

So when they challenge -- or beat -- Oklahoma next week, it will be this major upset in the eyes of the national media.

All while the computer was saying that the Longhorns were a good team all along.

The other thing happening in the rankings this week was tumbling. Teams like the formerly No. 22 Temple Owls fell after big defeats at the hands of some teams that were not highly regarded in the rankings.

Temple fell all the way to No. 64 after a 20-plus point defeat by Toledo. The Rockets might be better than their record suggested, but Temple had also just defeated Maryland by 31 points. That made this one a shocker to say the least.

The same was true for South Florida which came into the week at No. 3. A 27-point loss on Thursday night to Pittsburgh pushed the Bulls down into the bottom of the Top 25.

The result of that prime time game should have people questioning the just how lucky South Florida was to defeat Notre Dame. After all, the Irish self-destructed multiple times in the game, and it wasn't until later in the contest that Brian Kelly realized Tommy Rees was the better quarterback.

This season looks a whole lot different if just that contest goes the other way.

Also dropping was Texas A&M, which managed to throw away another late lead, this time to Arkansas. This game doesn't prove that Arkansas was better than its big loss to Alabama, or that Texas A&M is worse than the contender everyone thought it was to begin the year.

It just proves that Mike Sherman still doesn't understand how to coach a winning football team.

Actually Arkansas is better than the loss it took to Alabama, although the computer numbers have the Razorbacks at just No. 39. This is mainly due to two factors.

The Razorbacks can't run the football, and the they turn the ball over.

Obviously, these two traits are going to be magnified when Arkansas really gets into the heart of SEC play. Even Auburn might be able to exploit these weaknesses.

Yes, that is a diss on the Tigers, who somehow are 4-1 when it looked like this season was headed to a 3-9 mark. But Auburn is copying their formula from last season, when they were just good enough to win.

So far, Clemson has been the only team to figure out how to overcome this seemingly magical ability, an illusion that has confounded every other team this year, despite the departure of master magician Cam Newton.

You would think karma would have caught up with the Tigers by now. But they keep winning, and making Steve Spurrier throw his visor down in the process.

The computer definitely gives them no love. Auburn is 97th in the country in passing yards, and can't crack the top quarter of teams on the ground

They have the No. 74 scoring defense, despite playing Utah State and Florida Atlantic. And the Tigers are giving up an average of almost 440 yards per game, putting them No. 106 in the country. That is out of character for an Auburn team that lived for the last decade on being strong defensively (until last season when Newton was able to outscore every opponent by himself).

But there is no Newton this year, and this will catch up with them. When the numbers were slightly better on offense last season, the Tigers were able stick in the MRI top 25. Without him, Auburn can do no better than No. 50 currently, despite a 4-1 record.

A run of Arkansas, Florida and LSU could make that the high water mark for the remainder of the year.

Check out all the rankings in Week 3 of the Football MRI.

MRI Top 25 Rankings

1Alabama Helmet
2Oklahoma Helmet
3Texas Helmet
4Stanford Helmet
5Michigan Helmet
6Boise State Helmet
Boise State
7Wisconsin Helmet
8LSU Helmet
9Oklahoma State Helmet
Oklahoma State
10Georgia Tech Helmet
Georgia Tech
15Michigan State4-151.0317
16West Virginia4-150.16NR(34)
17Virginia Tech4-150.167
18South Florida4-147.353
20South Carolina4-146.1011
22Texas Tech4-043.2425
24Arizona State4-142.2221

Teams Dropped From The Top 25: Texas A&M (LW #20, TW #34), Temple (LW #22, TW #64)

Other Teams People Might Care About

27Penn State4-140.5831
29Notre Dame3-239.6546
34Texas A&M2-236.6220
35Washington State3-135.0147
43Florida State2-231.2751
51Ohio State3-227.3238
79Ball State3-214.2658
93Northern Illinois2-36.8783
111Boston College1-4-11.59109
Last Place this week: Memphis (1-4) at -36.95. 2nd week in a row.
Biggest Gain this week: Oklahoma gained 24.18 points. (Beat Ball State 62-6)
Biggest Loss this week: Bowling Green lost 22.27 points (Lost to West Virginia 55-10)
Conference rankings this week: Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Big East, PAC-12, ACC, Mountain West, Conference USA, MAC, WAC, Sun Belt

Posted October 3, 2011 11:03 AM

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