CFB Power Rankings (Week 3)

  1. Georgia (2-0) (–)
    • 82-3…that’s the cumulative score for the Dawgs through 2 weeks, what else can you say? A trip to S. Carolina next weekend presents a tough road SEC challenge, but with the way this team is playing it likely will get ugly. However, after a crazy Week 2, could the Dawgs be next in line to be upset? 24 points is the line, maybe the Cocks come out swinging. I doubt an upset but maybe S. Carolina can cover. On the flip side another 30-40 point blowout would cement the Dawgs at the top. 
  2. Alabama (2-0) (–)
    • 20.5 point favorites heading to the great state of Texas and Nick Saban and co found themselves in an absolute war. They came away with the W, but alarms are sounding after all those penalties, the offensive struggles and allowing a backup QB to have them on the ropes. You could argue Texas wins that game with Ewers healthy, but the big question for Bama now is the offense as it doesn’t look nearly as explosive as we thought. Do they have the weapons for Bryce Young to truly be an undefeated National Champs threat?
  3. Ohio St (2-0) (–)
    • Back on schedule with a blowout of who cares, the Buckeyes put up 45 and for at least a week have quieted the noise. The Buckeyes are going to get tested this year, it’s just not any time soon. Matchups in October @ Sparty and Penn St will show us more. In the meantime, they will continue to sit at the top as long as they take care of business.
  4. Clemson (2-0) (–)
    • Not much to say here as the Tigers clapped around Furman as they should have. Another cupcake next week keeps Clemson and DJ out of the spotlight until ACC play gets going again next week at Wake Forest. Still a lot to prove on offense but the defense keeps Clemson at no. 4.  
  5. Michigan (2-0) (+1)
    • Probably the weakest non-conference schedule of any Power 5 team, Michigan continues to roll over terrible football teams. JJ McCarthy looked good and was named the official QB 1, but questions remain about the defense after all the losses from last years group. The wolverines won’t get tested until October, a loss before that will be a crazy upset.
  6. Oklahoma (2-0) (+3)
    • Back to back thumping’s and a trip to Lincoln after Scott Frost gets fired sets Oklahoma up to go 3-0 in non-con play. Texas looked great against Bama, but the Sooners are still looking like the best of the Big 12. Beware of Nebraska though, post coach firing could be a huge turnaround…or they’ll be an absolute disaster. Could go either way.
  7. Arkansas (2-0) (+3)
    • Sam Pittman has the Razorbacks rolling behind a tough offensive line that is allowing KJ Jefferson, Rocket Sanders and the cavalry to run down everyone’s throats. The D has some holes but they very well could be undefeated when Bama comes to town Oct 1 which would be absolute pandemonium in the state of Arkansas. Woo Pig.
  8. USC (2-0) (+5)
    • The Lincoln Riley experiment is off to a glowing start as the Trojans took it to Stanford, and while the final was only 13 they got out fast and never were in danger. The offense is absolutely humming as Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison might be the most lethal connection in the country. Again, the D is a major concern as Stanford moved the ball at will, but it might not matter if they just dump 45 on every team. 
  9. Miami (FL) (2-0) (+2)
    • So far, no real tests but they are destroying teams like they are supposed to. This week they get Texas A&M off the most embarrassing loss in school history. Tough spot for the Hurricanes. I like Miami to win, but it’s not easy to face a team that just got embarrassed, especially away from home. Still, Van Dyke and this offense is so much better than what the Aggies have going.
  10. BYU (2-0) (+14)
    • My favorite team through 2 weeks, they are 2-0 but most importantly they are 2-0 vs the spread, cha-ching. They have a road test with Oregon who most have written off but not me. This is the toughest test yet, even with a home W against Baylor going to Eugene is never easy. It could be very high scoring, and the health of WR 1 and 2 for the Cougars is something to watch. Early tease I like BYU +3.5.
  11. Utah (1-1) (-4)
    • Utah got back on track but fall in the rankings just due to others capitalizing on their opportunities more. I still like Utah in the Pac-12 to be right there with USC especially since they host the Trojans. They are everything Iowa/Wisconsin want to be with a strong running game and solid D. I still think with Rising they can compete with the best in the Country. What’s the true difference between Utah and Michigan? I don’t see one. 
  12. Kentucky (2-0) (+6)
    • How can Kentucky be below Utah after doing what the Utes couldn’t and winning in the Swamp? The answer is simple, Florida lost that game, Kentucky didn’t win it. Anthony Richardson gifted Kentucky 14 points, the offense mustered only 12. I don’t know why Richardson played so poorly, it wasn’t Kentucky making spectacular plays he just made bonehead throws. Utah looked more impressive despite loosing and will be a better team this season.
  13. Florida (1-1) (–)
    • Florida is a top-10 team if Anthony Richardson plays well, not even to his ceiling just 75% of it. Against Kentucky was the worst he could look, and still they had a chance to win and led at the half. This defense is not getting the credit it deserves and the running game is pretty good. They put a little too much on the raw Richardson against Kentucky and he gifted them 14 points. I think they’ll fix that going forward. Use his legs and make the simple plays and Florida is a problem.
  14. N.C. State (2-0) (+1)
    • Saturday was a get right game for the Wolfpack and they better hope they did because they welcome a frisky Texas Tech team that can legitimately beat them. The good news is they face a poor defense, but Donovan Smith is a legit dual threat QB who if he can limit the Interceptions can be elite. Red Raiders +10.5 is the play but I still think Leary gets the Wolfpack the W in an unexpected dog fight.
  15. Tennessee (2-0) (NR)
    • I hadn’t believed in Tennessee, and I still might not but you have to give it to them for going on the road and beating Pitt. However, Slovis getting hurt might be the only reason for that as Pitt was dominating prior to his injury. I’m fading Tennessee for now as their defense is just not good enough to win SEC games. They caught a break, but reality will be coming soon.
  16. Oklahoma St (2-0) (+1)
    • I’m still on wait and see watch with the Cowboys, as they took care of a below average Arizona St team. I’m worried about the D and Spencer Sanders has a ceiling that limits them. A road test against Baylor in a couple weeks will tell us more about where they stand. They’re an AP-top 10 team but I am not buying that, 15-20 suits them much better.
  17. Minnesota (2-0) (+3)
    • The most under-appreciated team in college football. To be fair, they haven’t had a true test yet, but they should be the clear favorite to represent the West in the Big Ten. Great running game, 6th year QB and a defense that has allowed 10 points through 2 games. Another cupcake awaits, but next week they head to Michigan St when they can really make a statement.
  18. Texas (1-1) (–)
    • Texas is back. I think it’s officially time to say that after they only go down to Bama by a point on a last second FG. They had every chance to win that game, despite QB Ewers going down in the first half. The defense looked way better than expected and they are very much alive in the Big 12 race if Ewers can get back quickly. Still, they could run off some wins with Card and hope Ewers can be back by 10/8 when they go to Oklahoma.
  19. Ole Miss (2-0) (+3)
    • QB is the question, but that O-line and running game is unquestionably dangerous. But, in the SEC you can’t get by with average QB play especially with a weaker defense. They haven’t been truly tested but I think Ole Miss will be in for some rough Saturday’s once SEC play gets going. For now, they sit at 2-0 with two dominant wins. I wouldn’t be surprised if they struggle with Georgia Tech.
  20. Michigan St (2-0) (+3)
    • Sparty is getting a lot of love, but a trip to Washington could strip away some of the shine. Michael Penix is a legit dual threat QB and I think he might expose this defense, but the real question is can the Huskies stop this running game? That’s the calling card for Sparty and they will assuredly lean on it. We’ll see how far it can carry them.
  21. Pitt (1-1) (-6)
    • Not an embarrassing loss when you lose QB 1 and the backup was limping around and you still have a chance to win. Pitt has a solid D-line and just needs to get Slovis back to be a true contender in the ACC. Without Slovis they may be in for a rough ride, I’m judging on them with him though for the moment.
  22. Baylor (1-1) (-3)
    • As predicted Baylor fell to BYU, but they put up a stronger fight than I anticipated and look frisky. Shapen and the offense still don’t have quite enough punch for me to put them ahead of the other Big 12 players but this is still a solid football team thanks to its defense. A couple easy tests the next few weeks until they welcome Oklahoma St in a must win if you want to be relevant.
  23. Oregon (1-1) (+2)
    • Oregon gets a chance to get back in the good graces of the nation as they welcome a red hot BYU team this weekend. The blowout against Georgia was alarming but I still think this is a top-25 team. You can’t convince me that 90% of teams wouldn’t face the same result playing the Dawgs in Georgia. Bo Nix is good, not elite but good enough to win 9 games. They need this one against BYU, and they’re favored. Pressure is on.
  24. Penn St (2-0) (NR)
    • An impressive win week 1 at Purdue put Penn St right on the fringe, and thanks to some flops by teams ahead they break through this week. They have a solid secondary, a solid running game and Sean Clifford has looked good thus far. I don’t buy them as contenders in the East but they’re good enough to live in this 20-30 range.
  25. Mississippi St (2-0) (NR)
    • Right there with Minnesota for most overlooked teams in the country Mississippi St continues to get absolutely robbed by voters. Will Rogers is one of the best QB’s in the Country and runs one of the most elite offenses in the country in classic Mike Leach fashion. A trip to LSU is the perfect opportunity for them to make themselves relevant, it’s also a big-time flop opportunity. You have to have these.

CFB Power Rankings (Week 2)

  1. Georgia (1-0) (+3)
    • The defending champs let the whole country know they weren’t ready to relinquish their title just yet, and despite all of the talent lost to the NFL they looked as good if not better than a season ago on both sides of the ball. Stetson Bennett was dominate, the D was nasty and they absolutely embarrassed Oregon. They deserve #1 and anyone saying otherwise isn’t using their eyeballs.
  2. Alabama (1-0) (-1)
    • The Tide won 55-0 and drop to #2, speaks to what Georgia was able to do, not the Tide looking bad by any means. Bryce Young was dominate, the defense looked great and they get a chance Week 2 to have their own dominating performance against the always hyped Texas.
  3. Ohio St (1-0) (-1)
    •  It could be we overestimated the Buckeyes heading into this season. It could be we underestimated ND, possibly a little of both. However, Ohio St still came away with a victory in what turned out to be an absolute grind. The Irish deserve a ton of credit for pushing them as far as they did, but alarm bells may begin to sound if this Ohio St Offense continues to sputter. On the plus side the defense looked much better, so elite is still the proper descriptor for this team.
  4. Clemson (1-0) (-1)
    • Clemson is on shaky ground right now, and if it weren’t for an absolutely disgusting defense they would not be near the top-5. DJ and co just need to be competent and they will be in the hunt, the problem was the O-Line looked abysmal in Week 1 against Georgia Tech. No run game, no explosive WR’s and a shaky QB? The offense has a long way to go…but damn that defense is scary.
  5. Texas A&M (1-0) (+1)
    • Defense pitched a shutout and Hanes King looked serviceable, albeit a bit too eager to throw it into traffic. If he can clean up the decision making the Aggies are extremely dangerous thanks to a solid run game and a great defense. Make no mistake though, the gap from here and nos. 1 and 2 is gigantic.
  6. Michigan (1-0) (+1)
    • Another team that simply took care of business in Week 1, slowly and definitively burying Colorado St behind the usual solid run game and good defense. The question here is the QB position…I think everyone who has watched the game for even a little while can see JJ McCarthy is the guy, we’ll just have to see how Harbaugh handles it.
  7. Utah (0-1) (-2)
    • A lot of people are discounting the Pac-12 after the Utes traveled to the swamp and lost in tragic fashion at the 11th hour. I say not so fast, as Florida looked really, really good and so did the Utes, who’s to say they can’t go 11-1 and be right in the mix? A soft stretch in the schedule should allow them to gain the confidence back before a road trip to Eugene opens the door to CFP relevancy again.
  8. Notre Dame (0-1) (–)
    • Another top-10 team who looked the part but lost a tough road game. The Irish gave the Buckeyes everything they could handle behind their stout D, the offense just simply couldn’t get it done, mustering only 10 points. The Irish have to get better on that side of the ball, and still have every opportunity to make the playoff with dates against Clemson and USC still on the schedule.
  9. Oklahoma (1-0) (+2)
    • The Sooners took care of business and all of the new parts looked solid. We really just won’t know what to make of this team for a while, as their NC schedule is pretty weak especially given how Nebraska has looked early on. Oklahoma could be a sneaky bet to make the playoff just due to the favorable schedule and Dillon Gabriel is the real deal.
  10. Arkansas (1-0) (+6)
    • Woo. Pig. Sooie. The Hogs looked much like they did a season ago with KJ Jefferson and co. running the ball down Cincy’s throats and notching a win over a ranked opponent. It was a 7-point game that really never felt like they were in danger, as Cincy just lost too much on Offense to pose a serious threat. Next up a wildcard in South Carolina.
  11. Miami (Fl) (1-0) (+1)
    • When your offense puts up 70 points it’s always a good Saturday, and the Canes proved just why everyone is hyping them up. It’ll be interesting to see Van Dyke play a legitimate defense, and to see what their D looks like against a real offense. We’ll find out just who they are Week 3 when they head to Texas A&M.
  12. Wisconsin (1-0) (+1)
    • Just what we expected out of the Badgers. Run the ball, run some more, hope Mertz can make a few throws in play action and allow virtually 0 yards. Braelon Allen is the most under the radar elite player in the Nation and this D is pretty nasty. It really comes down to Graham Mertz being a game manager and not wrecking it for a solid team. Tough test in Washington St this weekend.
  13. USC (1-0) (+2)
    • Well the experiment is off to a good start, but it helps to welcome in Rice for the first go round. Caleb Williams looked good, Addison looked good, the D was fine. The real test begins this week however, as they go to Stanford who will be feisty as always. Can they stop the run? Can the O-Line hold up against a legit PAC-12 D? We will soon find out.
  14. Florida (1-0) (NR)
    • The story of Week 1. Anthony Richardson looked like a legit NFL prospect with unreal athleticism to go with a legitimate rocket of a right arm. His ability in read option/RPO’s make this Florida offense a scary proposition for opposing defenses. And speaking of defense, they slowed down a powerhouse Utah offense and were flying around. Kentucky is next to the swamp, if you are legit ya gotta win again.
  15. Pitt (1-0) (+2)
    • Kedon Slovis looked the part against heated rival W. Virginia and there is no rest for the wicked as Tennessee heads to town next. Should be another shootout as the first team to 40 may not even be in the clear. What is clear is that this Pitt offense is still humming and the Pitt defense is still garbage. We’ll see if that remains true this weekend.
  16. N.C. State (1-0) (-6)
    • Whew. Only way to describe what State is feeling following an escape of a win against rival ECU. Sending the kicker some flowers as well. Devin Leary did not look great, and the offense needs some explosive playmakers, but the defense did play well despite being on the field a ton. Not sure what to think now on this squad. Week 1 jitters?
  17. Oklahoma St (1-0) (-3)
    • A shootout with a MAC team? That spells trouble. With last season’s defense seeing a lot of exits including the D coordinator giving up 44 in Week 1 is a rough start. Spencer Sanders looked good but if they regress defensively they will not be in the hunt in the Big 12 and may not last long in this top-25. A date with Arizona St could be more of a test this week, all eyes on the defense.
  18. Kentucky (1-0) (–)
    • A trip to the swamp could expose what I think is a too highly valued Kentucky team that at times was in a struggle with Miami (OH). The offensive line was a problem as the run game was a struggle and Levis was often under duress. That won’t cut it in the Swamp, especially when trying to keep up with Anthony Richardson and co.
  19. Baylor (1-0) (–)
    • Another team that got through the cupcake in Week 1 but could really be exposed this upcoming weekend when they go to BYU. Shapen looked good but a lot of QB’s look good against a team like Albany. This is a giant matchup for both teams, but the Baylor regression should be on display this Saturday night.
  20. Minnesota (1-0) (–)
    • The unheralded Gophers took care of business as the D pitched a shutout and they dominated on the ground. Ibrahim being fully back from injury is huge, and the experience of Tanner Morgan is extremely valuable. This might be the only top-25 that included Minnesota but it will be proven correct as time goes on.
  21. Texas (1-0) (–)
    • Ho-hum victory over a cupcake gets Texas to the biggest challenge on the schedule in Alabama this weekend. There are no moral victories but you know the Longhorns just want to have a respectable performance. They will not win, but if Ewers moves the ball and they can score 20-30 points on Bama the hype will continue. Bama might score 50 tho…
  22. Ole Miss (1-0) (–)
    • Is Troy good? I’m going to say no, and that performance was a little concerning by the Rebels, as the offense looked bad at times. They are relying on a strong ground game as Jaxson Dart has a long way to go at QB. I am much less convinced Ole Miss is deserving of a top-25 ranking, but an 18 point win is an 18 point win. Week 3 @ GA Tech could be sneaky.
  23. Michigan St (1-0) (–)
    • Looked a lot like last year, strong running game and a serviceable defense against bad teams. Week 3 @ Washington will tell us a bit more about how good Sparty can be this year, but for now they stay inside the rankings. Nationally I think they are overvalued, but are good enough to be sitting here for now.
  24. BYU (1-0) (–)
    • Keeping BYU here for now as they did to USF what they should have done, now they get a chance to take down Baylor and really cement themselves as the top G5 team. This group is so experienced and disciplined on both sides of the ball. I expect them to make a statement this weekend and beat Baylor and vault up these rankings.
  25. Oregon (0-1) (-16)
    • Yikes. Oregon I’m giving the benefit of the doubt in that most teams going to Atlanta would face a similar fate against Georgia right now. I think the Ducks can still be a factor in a down PAC-12 as the talent is off the charts. Bo Nix can win in that conference. The LB’s are talented. Just need to get back out West and prove they belong. But man that was embarrassing.

CFB Power Rankings (Week 1)

  1. Alabama
    • Bryce Young, best QB in college football. Will Anderson Jr, best defensive player in college football. And Nick Saban. What else is there to say? The roster is loaded, but if there’s an achilles heel keeping this group from being the most overwhelming favorite in history, it’s a shoddy offensive line. It’ll hurt the run game and force Bryce Young to make heroic plays, which he can do. But, it could cost them a perfect run, and gives Ohio St and the SEC a glimmer of hope.
  2. Ohio St
    • QB1, RB1, WR1 all at the top of the list in the Country and a dominant OL give the Buckeyes all the tools to have the most explosive offense in the Country. The D just has to be serviceable to allow Ohio St to be staring down Bama in an almost inevitable National Championship matchup. Expect CJ Stroud and company to put on an absolute show this year, although it might not make for many competitive 2nd halves.
  3. Clemson
    • This D is absolutely nasty, especially the front 7 which could easily be the best in all of CFB. The question marks come on the other side of the ball, starting and ending with DJ Uiagalelei. Inconsistent QB play will not be good enough to beat the likes of Alabama/Ohio St, but it may be good enough to still win the ACC and be in the Playoff hunt. But if he can improve his accuracy and get this offense humming, we have a 3-horse race at the top.
  4. Georgia
    • The defending champs lost a ton of talent from their historic defense to the NFL, and while they have the horses in the barn to fill the shoes, they will have to get more out of Stetson Bennett and the offense. The D can’t carry as big a load, so can Bennett really elevate to more than a game manager? The Dogs have a fairly easy schedule in the weaker East, but an opening week matchup with Oregon will tell us just how high their ceiling will be.
  5. Utah
    • The Utes took off last year after giving the reins to QB Cam Rising, and he is back to continue to build on what was a monumental season in 2021. A trip to the Rose Bowl and a blow for blow heavyweight fight with Ohio St proved to the Country the Utes can compete with the best of the best. They have a few stars to replace on D, but this is by far Utah’s best chance to break through to the CFP. All eyes will be on their trip to the Swamp in Week 1.
  6. Texas A&M
    • A QB away. That perfectly encapsulates the situation in 2022 for the Aggies, as this roster is as talented as any outside of the QB situation. Haynes King and Max Johnson continue to battle for the spot, and a Week 3 date with Miami will test just how reliable the chosen QB can be. The defense will be special, but it’ll need more help from whoever is given the keys to the other side of the ball to make the next step into Playoff relevancy.
  7. Michigan
    • Michigan rode an elite ground attack and special defense to the Playoff last year and they’ll have to repeat the same formula without some of the key ingredients this season. Gone are the explosive DE’s and several more on that side as well as leading rusher Hasaan Haskins. Regression seems inevitable, the only saving grace is young QB JJ McCarthy’s pedigree as a 5-star recruit. If he can up the level of play at that position Michigan could have a shot to knock off Ohio St again.
  8. Notre Dame
    • A new HC and a lot of questions around the QB situation put the Irish a step behind the Gold standard that has been set. However, it’s an incredibly talented roster that should tout one of the best run games in the Country. Don’t expect a Playoff trip but they could play spoiler for Clemson/USC later in the season. Even if they get blown out by the Buckeyes week 1.
  9. Oregon
    • The talent is here for Oregon to be sitting in the Pac-12 Championship and in the hunt for a playoff berth. However, a new coaching staff forces you to hesitate just slightly, as they bring in a first-time HC to keep this train on the tracks. Bo Nix incoming helps give this offense an even higher ceiling as he can make bigger plays with his arm. The D should continue to get better and this OL is among the best in the Country. But can they figure out Utah? That will determine their ceiling.
  10. NC State
    • It’s the Devin Leary show in Raleigh and after throwing 35 TD’s and only 5 picks he’s an early candidate for CPOY. The defense is also underrated and returns a lot of talent and could be the difference needed to beat out Clemson in the Atlantic race. I’m not sold on the Wolfpack as Conference champs, but they certainly could play spoiler or be there to capitalize if Clemson slips up.
  11. Oklahoma
    • A lot of question marks surround the Sooners coming into 2022, with HC and QB1 gone and a slew of receivers as well this high-powered offense will be interesting to watch from the get-go. Venebles comes in looking to improve a pretty bad defense a year ago and brings in UCF star QB Dillon Gabriel to steady the other side. Oklahoma could be the best of the Big 12, they could also struggle a lot. It’s a gamble I’m not willing to make just yet.
  12. Miami (Fl)
    • A lot of hype around the new look Hurricanes, but can a wave of transfers and a new coaching staff take a 7-win team to a Conference Championship? Van Dyke is a stud no doubt, but this defense has holes, and they can be 1 dimensional on offense. I’m a wait and see with this group, and while the Coastal division may be for the taking, I think they’re a ways off from Clemson level. We’ll see what they’re all about Week 3 when they see Texas A&M.
  13. Wisconsin
    • It’s a story as old as time, the Badgers will tout an elite defense, an elite ground attack and will hope and pray for quality QB play. I fear their prayers may fall on deaf ears though, as Graham Mertz just doesn’t look to be the guy to lift Wisconsin back to the level of Michigan/Ohio St. The West is wide open however, and the Badgers should at least be the early favorite to win that side. Look out for Braelon Allen as a sleeper Heisman candidate.
  14. Oklahoma St
    • Spencer Sanders is back and this D should still be really good even if a step back is in order. WR1 RB1 and the QB of the defense MLB Rodriguez are all gone, so there could be some growing pains. If the Pokes want to re-make their magical season from last year they’ll need Sanders to step up as a do-it-all QB making better decisions with the football. Time will tell.
  15. USC
    • In comes Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams to try and resurrect one of the most historic programs in CFB, should be fun. But, much like Texas the fun could fizzle out if the explosive offense is let down by a bad defense. The Trojans do have a little more promise on that side though, with a few pieces that could be playmakers, they could do just enough to help Williams and Co get USC back to the mountaintop.
  16. Arkansas
    • Sam Pittman and the Hogs were one of the surprises of the season last year and QB KJ Jefferson is back with a slew of weapons to try and run it back. The hogs play fast, and have the best rushing attack in the Country, but their brutal schedule in the SEC West and out of Conference caps their ceiling. 7-8 wins and a bowl game will be another great success for Pittman and co.
  17. Pitt
    • Kenny Pickett out, Kedon Slovis in. Rinse and repeat? It certainly looks that way, and while the loss of Addison at receiver hurts this offense should be as fiery as last year’s version. The defense is where the questions begin, as the secondary repeatedly got torched a year ago and that will likely be the case once again. Expect a shootout when Pitt takes the field and with this firepower, they certainly present Miami the toughest challenge on the Coastal side of this Conference.
  18. Kentucky
    • Will Levis and RB Chris Rodriguez Jr are back to lead an impressive looking offense. However, there are some major questions on the other side of the ball after losing some of the major parts from last season’s group. Levis is getting a lot of hype pre-season, but I’m not quite sold on his ability to elevate this Kentucky group to another level. They’ll get tested early with a week 2 trip to the swamp.
  19. Baylor
    • 2021 was quite possibly the greatest season in Baylor football history, and with a slew of departures on both sides of the ball regression seems inevitable. What you’re betting on here is QB Blake Shapen stepping up and playing really solid, which he showed flashes of in 3 games last season. The defense lost a lot of playmakers and the top RB’s are gone, not great. Great coaching can only take you so far, a step back is still a solid season.
  20. Minnesota
    • One of the most overlooked teams across the country, the Gophers quietly were knocking on the door of a Big Ten Championship appearance last year and return most of their significant contributors. Headlining is the return of RB1 Mohamed Ibrahim from injury and 6th year QB Tanner Morgan. A ton of experience and a very solid D give Minnesota as good a chance as anyone in the West to grab a bid to the Conf Championship game.
  21. Texas
    • New HC, new QB1 and a set of skill players that rival Alabama and Ohio St have all the pundits screaming from the hilltops Texas is Back! Gee, when have we heard this before? Quinn Ewers will be electric, Bijan Robinson is the best RB in the country, but this defense….absolutely pathetic. Even with some improvement they still might give up 60 to Alabama week 2. Texas is fun, but not ready to be declared all the way “Back” just yet.
  22. Ole Miss
    • Matt Corral is out and Lane Kiffin has a decision to make at QB, one that may fluctuate all season. The defense is not good, but this explosive offensive system gained a ton of weapons via the transfer portal so they should still be able to put up points with either QB. Regression is surely coming, and it could get ugly in a very difficult SEC. Luckily the schedule is light early on.
  23. Michigan St
    • A few losses on the O-line and Kenneth Walker off to the NFL set up Sparty for regression this season. Stack on top of that a pretty bad defense and you could see Michigan St as one of the most overrated teams heading into 2022. Mel Tucker can clearly coach, but expecting 10-2 again seems like a reach, and with a brutal schedule 7 wins would still be solid in year 2.
  24. BYU
    • 21 out of 22 starters are back from a 10 win team that put up a ton of points a year ago. Expect this offense to continue to hum, and look for some improvement from a defense that definitely struggled at times. They get dates with Oregon, Notre Dame, Arkansas and Baylor as they try and play spoiler to some of the Nation’s best. All of those are winnable games, and if things go right they could be at the group of 5 mountaintop this season.
  25. Cincinnati
    • No Desmond Ritter to lead the show certainly puts a ceiling on how good the Bearcats can be, but this roster is still very talented, and they are extremely well coached. New QB1 is a highly touted recruit with no experience, so be the end of the season they could be rolling, but an opening week date with Arkansas could be a rough way to start this new era.

Junkyard Dog of the Week

The Junkyard dog is tough, nasty, gritty, first to the floor and most importantly never going to back down from any person, moment, or opportunity. It’s not the guy who scores the most points, or who makes the highlight reels, it’s the guy whose impact is felt via his passion, physicality and willingness to lay it all on the line for a W.

Welcome back to the place where THE Junkyard Dog in College Basketball gets awarded, on a bi-weekly basis. Yes it’s a weekly award presented bi-weekly, befitting the junkyard dog that surely isn’t constrained to the rules of conventional wisdom. We are right in the heart of February as the eyes of the sports world turn to College Hoops we are in the homestretch with Selection Sunday right around the corner. The latest of the wild stories in the hoops season has been the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who have been on a historic run to plunge themselves right into the bubble mix. Their run of wins against Michigan St, Ohio St, Wisconsin and Illinois have put them in the National conversation, and as you could likely guess, they couldn’t have done something like this without at least one Junkyard Dog worthy guy. You could probably guess who this guy is if you’ve been at all paying attention to this run, and it is in fact, Caleb McConnell.  

McConnell’s ability to lock down defensively and be a nightmare for opponents on that end of the floor has been paramount to the run that Rutgers has been on. During that historic 4 game winning streak (in which they became the first unranked team to beat 4 ranked teams in a row) he amassed 18 steals. That’s over 4 spg over the 4 game stretch, facing guys like Max Christie, Johnny Davis, EJ Liddell, and Alfonso Plummer. He has to be the clear favorite to win Big Ten DPOY this season and will 100% be a part of the All-Defensive team in the Conference, and well deserved that is. Much of the talk has been surrounding their hounding defense, as well as the scoring from Ron Harper Jr and Geo Baker, but it cannot be overstated how important McConnell’s role on the defensive end is. Just take a look at how much Coach Steve Pikiell values his defensive efforts.

McConnell joins the most underappreciated list of College Basketball Players going right now in the Country, one that includes KD Johnson (Auburn), J’Wan Roberts (Houston), Josiah-Jordan James (Tennessee), Brandon Murray (LSU) and Mason Gillis (Purdue). Some of the most unheralded players in all of the Nation, all guys who embody the Junkyard Dog in the fiercest of ways. McConnell may be the ultimate example, hidden for most of the year due to the struggles of his team, but now gets his chance to make his mark on the sport as the Scarlet Knights surge into the National Conversation. His resume for Big Ten DPOY has now made him the clear frontrunner and talk of his efforts have leaked far beyond New Jersey. Here we attempt to aid in that conversation, and will return in 2 weeks with yet another Junkyard Dog to highlight. Until then, check out this Rutgers team as they are one of the hottest teams in the country and play with an intensity found in very few programs across the country, all fueled by Caleb McConnell.

Junkyard Dog of the Week

The Junkyard dog is tough, nasty, gritty, first to the floor and most importantly never going to back down from any person, moment, or opportunity. It’s not the guy who scores the most points, or who makes the highlight reels, it’s the guy whose impact is felt via his passion, physicality and willingness to lay it all on the line for a W.

Welcome back to the place where THE Junkyard Dog in College Basketball gets awarded, on a bi-weekly basis. Yes it’s a weekly award presented bi-weekly, befitting the junkyard dog that surely isn’t constrained to the rules of conventional wisdom. With February right around the corner the CBB world is heating up, as gambler’s eyes begin to shift away from the NFL (with only the Super Bowl remaining) and the homestretch of the Conference season sets the stage for another crazy March to come. One of the linchpins of this college basketball season has been Purdue, sitting now at 18-3 they have been inside the top-10 all season long. Much has been made of Purdue’s interior Center combo Zach Edey and Trevion Williams, alongside projected lottery pick Jaden Ivey. However, the unsung hero of what is quite possibly the best group of Painter’s career is Mason Gillis.

Gillis now joins an illustrious group of past Junkyard Dog of the Week award winners, KD Johnson (Auburn), J’Wan Roberts (Houston), Josiah-Jordan James (Tennessee) and Brandon Murray (LSU). He’s been a guy that’s been on my radar all season as I’m a bit of a homer as a Purdue fan, and while some may criticize this pick due to this fact I urge you to allow me to justify before you crucify. Gillis’ most recent performance in Purdue’s W over top-25 Ohio St was the embodiment of the idealistic Junkyard Dog. He had 5 offensive rebounds, a steal, and was tasked with defending All-American candidate EJ Liddell on the defensive end. His impact was instrumental to the Boilers holding on as his 7 points and 11 rebounds often came in critical moments, like the one below…

Not only does he positively impact the boards and help a pedestrian defense not be pathetically bad, he also is shooting 51% from 3. In fact, he has been so efficient this season he is number 1 in Offensive rating per Kenpom. So, not only does he make winning plays defensively and on the boards, he’s the most efficient offensive player in the country. Similar to his fellow teammates on the Junkyard Dog of the Week squad (soon to be dubbed the 2022 Junkyard Dogs of the Year) Gillis is a glue guy for Purdue that does all the little things that don’t show up on box scores. When speaking on Gillis’ efforts on both ends against Ohio St Matt Painter said “you just can’t have enough of that”. Despite all of this praise his numbers will not jump out at you, and if you haven’t been following Purdue closely you may overlook him entirely. What a mistake that would be. Despite only averaging 7 ppg and 4 rpg you could argue Gillis is right up with Jaden Ivey as Purdue’s most irreplaceable players. They have 2 All-Conference Centers after all. Depth is a strength for Purdue, but there truly isn’t another Gillis on this roster. And that my friends is the epitome of the Junkyard Dog, the unheralded guy who is just as impactful as the guys who get all the glory. That lack of notoriety is just what this column is for, to shed light on the unsung heroes in college basketball who are a quintessential part of many of the successful teams across the Country. So congrats to Mason Gillis on receiving this high honor, and welcome to this illustrious list of Junkyard Dogs. Make sure to catch Boilermakers and watch what it looks like to play the game like a junkyard dog. And come back next week (in 2 weeks) to see who the next member of this glorious cast of characters will be.

Junkyard Dog of the Week

The Junkyard dog is tough, nasty, gritty, first to the floor and most importantly never going to back down from any person, moment, or opportunity. It’s not the guy who scores the most points, or who makes the highlight reels, it’s the guy whose impact is felt via his passion, physicality and willingness to lay it all on the line for a W.

Welcome back to the place where THE Junkyard Dog in College Basketball gets awarded, on a bi-weekly basis. Yes it’s a weekly award presented bi-weekly, befitting the junkyard dog that surely isn’t constrained to the rules of conventional wisdom. The college basketball world is heating up now that we’re in mid-January, and the order at the top is beginning to take shape. One of the surprises at the top, of which there are many, is the LSU Tigers. The job Will Wade has done in turning this LSU program into a laughingstock on the defensive end into the Nation’s best on that side is almost unbelievable. He of course couldn’t have done it without a group of studs that take pride in their defensive effort, and that pride and effort is epitomized by this week’s recipient of the Junkyard Dog of the Week Award: Brandon Murray.

Murray is a FR who has been described by Coach Wade as the QB of the defense and the only game LSU has lost this season Murray missed. What is amazing about LSU defensively is their ability to be aggressive and jump passing lanes for steals, but also on the back end to rotate hard and communicate those rotations. Murray as the QB is an essential part of that, as he guards 1-5 and has an unbelievable motor. The quote below from Wade shows you everything you need to know about this kid.

In this most recent stretch, Murray has helped LSU catapult into a #1 seed (per 5-Star Bets) with wins over Kentucky, Tennesse and Florida. Murray himself had 6 steals over those 3 games, showing off his savvy and his high hoops IQ. Much like the other Junkyard Dogs who have been featured in this series Murray is no the guy who is going to steal headlines, but Coach Wade has made it a point to emphasize how much he really means to this team on the defensive side of the court. He has described his work ethic on several occasions including saying things like “he practices everyday like it’s OT in the Final Four” “he’s a pitbull” and “everything he does is tenacious”. My point, you don’t even have to watch the guy to realize this kid is different and is a major contributor to this group’s tenacious defensive efforts this year that have turned a team that was 100+ defensively last year into the #1 defense this season. And when you do watch him, and I highly recommend doing so, you’ll see the savvy veteran like game instantly and recognize exactly why he is joining this illustrious list of Junkyard Dog of the Week Award Winners. Find time to see Murray play ball if you haven’t already, and come back next week (in 2 weeks) for the next crowing of the Junkyard Dog of the Week award in College Basketball.

Junkyard Dog of the Week

The Junkyard dog is tough, nasty, gritty, first to the floor and most importantly never going to back down from any person, moment, or opportunity. It’s not the guy who scores the most points, or who makes the highlight reels, it’s the guy whose impact is felt via his passion, physicality and willingness to lay it all on the line for a W.

Welcome back to the place where THE Junkyard Dog in College Basketball gets awarded, on a bi-weekly basis. Yes it’s a weekly award presented bi-weekly, befitting the junkyard dog that surely isn’t constrained to the rules of conventional wisdom. It’s been a slow couple of weeks in college basketball between finals, Christmas break and COVID cancellations there hasn’t been nearly the volume of games that we’ll see the rest of the way, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a few Junkyard Dogs make their presence felt. The guy who stood out to me the most over the last 2 weeks was an unsung hero from a team that picked up its biggest win of the season, Tennessee. And that man is Josiah-Jordan James.

JJJ joins previous winners KD Johnson (Auburn) and J’Wan Roberts (Houston) on this illustrious list of Junkyard Dog of the Week Award recipients. He was nominated after his big time performance in helping Tennessee knock off previously unbeaten Arizona in a slugfest that went right down to the wire. It was a huge win for the Vols, and guys like John Fulkerson and Kennedy Chandler have gotten most of the spotlight, and deservedly so considering their efforts. However, the guy who impacted the game in ways befitting this award was clearly JJJ, who was a menace defensively (2 blocks and 2 steals), a problem on the offensive glass (3 OReb’s and several other tipped balls) as well as a constant energy provider as a clear leader on the floor. Need some proof? Check out this steal and one-hand yam, and the subsequent fiery reaction.

JJJ was a 5-star recruit in the 2019 class but has had trouble finding his footing early in his career, but in year 3 he has seemed to settle into his role as a grimy workhorse. His ability at 6’6” to guard all 5 positions and battle on the glass has been huge for Tennessee this year and a major key to their success thus far. That ability to impact the game on the defensive end, as well as his energy and passion are defining characteristics of a Junkyard Dog, and those kinds of sequences are moments that make you love College Basketball. And it wasn’t just that play, check out how he gets around this screen, closes out and blocks a shot into the stands (and the stare down to top it off).

There are so many guys in college basketball who will get shine this season for big time performances, but finding little gems like this one from JJJ is to me what the sport is all about. It’s obvious to look at a box score and say man, without John Fulkerson putting up 24 and 10 the Vols would’ve been screwed, and of course that’s true, but the same could be said about JJJ and what he provided. The columns on the scorecard most look at don’t tell the whole picture, and the intensity and effort he played with possession after possession lifted his teammates, and moreover got the crowd whipped into a frenzy, something almost everyone noted after the game as being the loudest environment they could remember in Knoxville. Huge win for the program, and huge night for Josiah-Jordan James who only averages a little over 6 ppg but is an essential cog in this Tennessee machine that looks primed to compete for an SEC Championship. So congrats to the Vols and congrats to JJJ for taking home the 3rd Junkyard Dog of the Week Award. Make sure to check out Tennessee and look for this guy to make plays that make you fall in love with the game, and come back for next week’s award (in 2 weeks). 

CBB Measuring Stick Series

INSTALLMENT 1:

Welcome to the place where all of the “surprises” of the season are evaluated and re-evaluated. Where all of those “exceeding” and “falling short” of our collective expectations are analyzed, broken down and re-assessed. The landscape of college basketball is as fluid and unpredictable as any sport and the questions generated by it linger in the minds of all fans and gamblers alike. Here we’ll take those questions head on. Address why those teams ranked top-15 pre-season are scratching and clawing to stay above .500 while others who were projected to finish in the middle and/or at the bottom of a Power-5 Conference currently lay legitimate claim to a 1 or 2 seed in bracketology projections. And are those teams exceeding legitimate threats to-be come March? And what about those tumbling programs, will we see them put the talent together and rear their ugly heads with an improbable March run? And considering the very nature of college basketball just mentioned, this will be ongoing analysis, as teams rise and fall we will try and parse the frauds from the elite, to answer whether the momentum behind a rising program is merely a wave destined to crash down or the foundational blocks building toward legitimate contention. I think you get the point, so without further ado, let’s dive into it.

What is happening in Ann Arbor?

The Michigan Wolverines have been an unmitigated disaster thus far, sitting at 6-4 (1-1) after entering the season with a top-10 ranking and picked by many to win the Big Ten (not by 5-Star Bets of course, but still well below my 2nd place expectations). Much of the hype was surrounding their talented Freshmen and the return of star big man Hunter Dickinson, which on paper gave Michigan what looked like the most talent in the Big Ten. So what’s the deal? In part, it’s early and they’re a young team, but it’s also that the losses from last year seem to extend beyond talent and production, as this Wolverines team looks far less inspired than in years past. They’ve lost their identity, the gritty defense and first to the floor mentality seem to have left with the group that moved on after last season. They have gone from a top-5 defensive team to now outside the top-25 and dropping, fast. In their last disappointing outing they gave up 43 2nd half points to Minnesota (picked last in the Big Ten by many) to lose the game by 10 after being up 4 at half (at home no less). Inexcusable. Coach Howard knows it. The players know it. But can it be salvaged? Nobody was wrong about the talent level here, as Houston and Diabate continue to improve and Dickinson and Brooks continue to be 2 of the better scorers in the Conference. To me it’s about identity and consistent effort, both things that are completely in the players’ control. It’s likely a maturation process for young players and guys who haven’t been accustomed to leading needing to step up (looking at you Hunter and Eli). This is a huge test for Howard, because if this were a Jon Beilein coached team I’d have complete confidence, but Howard will have to prove his ability to maximize potential. With that being said, at this point my answer to Michigan’s questions is one of optimism. I see them as Jack-Jack from the Incredibles, full of ability and power, yet to understand how to harness and put it all together, but they will. And when they do, look out. Michigan = Sleeping Giant.

Are the Ducks cooked?

Dana Altman is one of my favorite coaches in the Country, as he was way ahead of the transfer phenomenon and has turned this Oregon program into a perennial power in the Pac-12. With that said, this Oregon team is a train wreck. They entered the season in most pre-season top-25’s and on the short list of Pac-12 teams that had a shot at preventing UCLA from winning the Conference. What’s transpired thus far is one of the few times that Altman has been unable to integrate a collection of talented kids into a team. They are 5 individuals all playing a separate game. No cohesion, no togetherness. And moreover, when they get punched in the face they roll over quicker than a fat dog begging for a treat. See their losses to BYU and Houston by a combined 61 points. From a micro perspective, they lack a legitimate playmaker. The thing about Altman is he’s always relied on guys who can create in ball-screen/iso situations (See Joe Young, Dillon Brooks/Tyler Dorsey, Peyton Pritchard, Chris Duarte). This team has nobody close to that level. To his detriment, Altman hasn’t adjusted and if you watch Oregon play you’ll see guys ill-equipped to being playmakers attempting to do so, and it’s a disaster to watch. There’s no movement, it’s simply 4 guys watching 1. Need data to back it up? They’re currently 247th in assists p/g. Unlike with Michigan I don’t see this ship turning around. With no playmakers, no heart, no identity and certainly no collective vision this ship is sinking and they will be drowning with no way out very soon. In the past, specifically 2019, Altman has gotten sputtering teams to turn it on late and go on a run. That 2019 team was led, and I mean LED, by Payton Pritchard, but this team doesn’t have that guy. Ducks = battered, fried and fed to the hogs.

Is Arizona a legitimate contender?

Tommy Lloyd has to be the frontrunner for COY honors at this point as he’s got this Arizona program looking like they can go toe-to-toe with any team in the Country. Lloyd came from Gonzaga and has taken a program mired in controversy and quickly turned them into an elite team, or so it appears. The win at Illinois cemented them on the 1 seed line in bracketology projections and put them right alongside UCLA as favorites in the Pac-12. So can they sustain it? Sustainability often is found via consistency, and that consistency can be nailed down to two key components, effort and production. Do you compete hard every night? And do you have the depth of production to overcome an off night by 1 or 2 of your better players? The answer to the first question has been a resounding yes, thus far, as Arizona is winning by an average of 27.6 points, absolutely crushing bad teams (2 wins of 50+) and being 10-0 helps the cause as well. The ability to beat great teams is important, but almost more important for March success is to crush weaker opponents, and that ability shown by Arizona gives you great confidence (compared to say Alabama, who has beaten Gonzaga/Houston but lost to Iona/Memphis). Production wise the Wildcats have 4 guys averaging over 12 ppg, something only a handful of teams can claim, and are also leading the Country in apg. They play together and are not reliant on 1 or 2 guys to carry the load, another resounding yes. The fact that Lloyd was under Mark Few for so long makes the style of play and quick success easy to believe, as Lloyd has clearly implemented the Gonzaga style at Arizona (they’re 3rd in tempo along with being first in Assists/game). Arizona was clearly overlooked, and most certainly not a pretender at this stage of the season. I don’t expect them to go undefeated by any stretch, but they have a legitimate shot to win the Pac-12. We’ll find out more about them at the turn of the year, as they go to Tennessee, UCLA and USC from Dec 22-Jan2. Tough slate but I have no reason to believe they lose all 3 of those. The only thing keeping me from making them a true Championship contender is the fact that no player on the roster has every played in an NCAA tournament game, and neither has their Coach. So buyer beware in March but this team will be no lower than a 3 seed, I guarantee it. Arizona = Underappreciated

Can Iowa St win the Big 12 only a year after a 2-22 season?

The surprise of the season is clearly Iowa St, who fired Steve Prohm after a 2-22 season and cleaned house from last year’s roster. TJ Otzelberger came to Aimes after brief stints with both S. Dakota St and UNLV, and was a relatively surprising hire, but no more. Otzelberger has transformed this program with impact transfers, a big time FR recruit in Tyrese Hunter and most importantly a wild culture shift that has resulted in a team that is top-10 defensively. That last point, as you’ve probably noticed by now, is what I’m going to key on. To get a group of transfers and misfits to come together and play this collectively on defense is incredibly difficult (just ask Dana Altman). They hosted Iowa in a game they were the underdog and held a top-10 offense to 53 points and beat their in-state rival by 20 points. Incredible. And they did so by being nasty, mucking it up, and just taking it to the Hawkeyes with a physical style of play that I really have only seen out of 1 other team this year, Houston. The difference between those two teams is on the other end of the floor, as Houston has 2 elite guards in Kyler Edwards and Marcus Sasser, while Iowa St has very inconsistent production (See Jackson St, a game they won scoring 47 points). Now, at 10-0 you can argue it doesn’t matter because of how well they’re playing defensively, but will that really be good enough to beat Baylor, Kansas and Texas? I’m not sold. And while the story thus far is incredible, I just am not sure this group has enough offensively to truly compete at the highest level. 144th in offensive efficiency is just not going to get it done in the gauntlet that is the Big 12, and same goes for the tournament come March. In fact, over the last 16 tournaments, teams with a sub-50 offense and top-10 defense have lost 46% of the time in the 1st round, with only 1 of those archetypal teams making the Final Four (2017 South Carolina, who had Sindarius Thornwell). You love the story, but when you dig a little deeper, there’s a lot to be concerned about. Iowa St = Drunk 9, Sober 6.5 (and right now you’re drunk…go home alone pal).

For now that’s all we will address, but keep on the lookout for the continuation of the measuring stick series, where all your biggest questions will be answered.