Air Force is ranked no. 25 in the AP poll for the first time since 1998, and now they will be trying to move into the Coaches Poll Top 25. Air Force is just on the outside looking in and is technically no. 27 in the poll, somehow behind Texas. In the same fashion as last week, it is time to look at what games can help get Air Force moving upwards in the polls with a snapshot of each team.
Since Air Force is trying to become ranked in the Coaches Poll, all of the rankings listed below will come from that poll.
All times are Mountain.
#21 Oklahoma State @ Louisiana-Lafayette (Friday, ESPN2 7 p.m.)
First off, how did the Ragin' Cajuns get a home date with a Big XII team? The Cowboys nearly lost their last game against Texas A&M (and their human turnover machine Jerrod Johnson), so this week should provide for an easy win. Louisiana-Lafayette is not a very good team, with wins only over North Texas and Middle Tennessee State while providing Georgia with their only win on the year. ULL does nothing terribly well in any aspect of the game.
Minnesota @ #19 Wisconsin (Big Ten Network 10 a.m.)
Minnesota's Tim Brewster is squarely on the hot seat by being 1-3 and losing to South Dakota and Northern Illinois and almost losing to Middle Tennessee State. You know things are bad when the offensive line is the only aspect worthy of any praise. Wisconsin might be having a knee-jerk reaction to their loss against Michigan State, and may be starting freshman James White over 2009 Big Ten offensive player of the year John Clay. This is based on White's stellar performance against Sparty. Whoever starts will be fine this week since the Wisconsin offensive line is full of really large men who are better than the Gophers' really large men.
#1 Alabama @ #20 South Carolina (CBS 1:30 p.m.)
Here starts the schedule of teams that get a bye prior to facing Alabama, but the Crimson Tide look really good in their thrashing of a pretty good Florida defense. Here is a statistical look on how good Alabama has been this year, and for you history buffs here is a historical look at the Alabama vs. South Carolina match-up. Steve Spurrier turned into the impatient Ol' Ball Coach by benching Stephen Garcia in a close game after two fumbles in favor of freshman Connor Shaw, who promptly threw two interceptions. Spurrier should start Garcia against the very good 'Bama defense, but this is Spurrier we are talking about. Here is what will South Carolina do when on offense and defense this weekend.
#16 Michigan State @ #17 Michigan (ABC/ESPN 1:30 p.m.)
Not going to touch the played story line that Denard Robinson does not tie his shoelaces, but instead the Spartans should focus on trying to slow down Robinson's video game numbers he is putting up. This will be the best defense Michigan has played since they beat Connecticut. Even though Robinson gets credit for his rushing numbers, he is actually quite efficient passing the ball. Mark Dantonio is expected to be in the press box for this game, and I doubt he will miss this game against rival Michigan.
Colorado @ #22 Missouri (Fox Sports Regional 5 p.m.)
Too bad this game is not in Boulder, because it would give Buffalo fans an actual reason to rush the field if they were to beat a pretty good Missouri team. Even though Colorado is a nine-point underdog to Missouri, this is not the same Buffalo team that was waxed by Cal earlier in the season. Make sure to check out Rock M Nation's in-depth statistical breakdown of the Missouri's offense. Here is a hint: it's good.
USC @ #18 Stanford (ABC Regional 6 p.m.)
Both teams are coming off of a loss, so it will be gut check time for both schools. USC may be more vulnerable since they have nothing tangible to play for this year due to the NCAA sanctions. Remember last year, when it seemed they gave up after being out of Rose Bowl contention. In short, this is not the same USC of a few years ago. Stanford -- who performed well in the first half against Oregon -- needs to put that loss in the past, because the last time a Pac-10 team when unscathed in conference play was USC in 2005. Stanford has the offense to torch the USC defense -- which is not that good -- similar to what Hawai'i was able to do in week one.
#24 Florida State @ #14 Miami, FL (ABC Regional 6 p.m.)
This used to be THE GAME back in the late 80's and early 90's, but this is the first time in four years that both teams are ranked when they play each other. Florida State's defense is creeping back to the days when they were truly a scary bunch; yes, their dominating performance came against Virginia, but a team has to start somewhere. With Miami's inconsistent Jacory Harris toting the rock, a similar performance could be achieved by the Seminoles. Miami is the higher ranked team here, but it is too easy to poke fun of Harris. The Hurricanes are coming off of two straight good wins against Pitt and Clemson (well, the Pitt win can be debated as a good win). The only thing to expect in this game is that it will be close. This may also show us what team is 'back'; well, until the winner of this game loses a winnable game.
San Jose State @ #23 Nevada (ESPNU 8:30 p.m)
Hmm . . . this is similar to the Colorado State-Air Force game where the better team should have no problems easily defeating their opponent. San Jose State is 90th in the country in total defense, which should allow Colin Kaepernick to improve on his gaudy stats and maybe, just maybe, get some Heisman buzz. San Jose State is in the bottom ten percent in offense as well in the country with their only win a come from behind effort against Southern Utah.
Purdue @ #25 Northwestern (Big Ten Network 5:30 p.m.)
Explain to me how Northwestern is ranked again? They have wins against Vanderbilt, Central Michigan, Rice, Minnesota, and Illinois State. Not a stellar group as only Illinois State from the I-AA ranks has a winning record. These five teams have a combined record of 8-16, so I guess that passes as a team that should be ranked in the top 25. Sippin' On Purple for a brief moment ponders whether it is a good thing to be ranked in the coaches poll or not ranked at all, while others are biding their time until Northwestern falls from the rankings. I will go out on a limb and say it is a good thing. Enough bashing on the Wildcats, time to mention at least one or two things about this game. Purdue's Rob Henry is expected to get the start since QB Robert Marve is out for a year with yet another knee injury that he suffered in the Toledo loss. However, veteran Justin Siller could see some time this Saturday. To me, Northwestern needs to prove me something. They are a top 30 passing team and in points allowed, but I refer to the top of this preview with their schedule.
There you have it, all the games that can help or hurt Air Force move up in the AP poll or get ranked in the coaches poll. To toss out an arbitrary percentage that Air Force will be ranked in the coaches poll, I will give it about 70 percent. They need a convincing win over Colorado State plus it would help if Florida State and South Carolina lose.