Posted on: October 19, 2009 12:35 pm

CBSSports.com 120 -- Arizona helping Pac-10

The nation can't decide on which team is the best in the country, but with the help of the latest CBSSports.com 120 rankings, we can decide who has the best conference in the nation.

With Alabama and Florida ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation, it's no surprise the SEC is still king in the conference debate, but what about the second-best conference?

Only one league has five teams ranked in the Top 30 -- the Pac-10.

USC and Oregon are both ranked in the Top 25, but it's the other teams that help make the conference so strong. Arizona is No. 27, California is No. 28 and Oregon State is No. 29.

Arizona has been to only one bowl game in the decade, finally going to the Las Vegas Bowl last season under Mike Stoops. This season the Wildcats are 4-2, 2-1 in the conference, with victories over Stanford and Oregon State.

In the 37-32 win over Oregon State, the Wildcats held on while the Beavers were driving for the game-winning score. This past weekend against Stanford, Nic Grigsby raced 57 yards for a touchdown with 2:57 to go, rallying from a 15-point deficit to win 43-38.

"The bottom line is that we won. Each win is special and very hard to come by," said Stoops. "Each week, we have to play our very best, I'd rather play bad and win than play well and lose. It's not easy to play in a conference like ours. We go up against nine very good teams, and it's not easy to do that week in and week out."

With home games against UCLA and Washington State up next, the Wildcats could find themselves at 6-2, their best start since going 12-1 in 1998.

Another big factor for the Pac-10 is it has just one team ranked outside the Top 60 -- Washington State at No. 108. The Big 12 has five teams ranked 60 or lower, while the Big Ten has four teams.

The ACC is the lowest-ranked BCS conference with a rating of 48.58. While the conference has three teams ranked in the Top 25, its next best team is Boston College at No. 40. N.C. State (No. 81) and Maryland (No. 90) are dragging it down.

Based on an average ranking, here are the overall conference ratings:

1. SEC -- 34.00
2. Pac-10 -- 40.40
3. Big 12 -- 42.58
4. Big Ten -- 44.36
5. Big East -- 44.63
6. ACC -- 48.58
7. Mountain West -- 62.67
8. WAC -- 74.89
9. C-USA -- 81.42
10. MAC -- 90.53
11. Sun Belt 101.00

The independents (Notre Dame, Navy and Army) have an average of 54.33.

Biggest first-half surprises:

Cincinnati is undefeated and ranked No. 5. This was a team that was picked to finish fifth in the conference by most publications. Now it has a real chance of playing for the national championship.

Miami (Fla.) is ranked No. 8 at the halfway point. This is a team that featured four of the toughest games of the year to start the season and came out of it at 3-1. Now the Hurricanes are in line to possibly win the ACC and play in the Orange Bowl for the first time since 2004.

Oklahoma is 3-3 and ranked No. 32. The Sooners were in everybody's top 5 at the beginning of the year, but with an average offensive line and Sam Bradford getting hurt, the Sooners are struggling.

Idaho is 6-1 and ranked No. 38. If Boise State ends up going undefeated and playing in a BCS bowl, imagine Idaho playing in the Humanitarian Bowl in front of the home-state fans. Amazing.

Biggest first-half disappointments:

The Ron Zook era might be coming to a close. The Illini are 1-5, ranked No. 101, and their only victory is a 45-17 win over Illinois State. They still have to play Michigan, at Minnesota, at Cincinnati and Fresno State.

N.C. State was supposed to be one of the favorites in the ACC Atlantic, but has lost three straight, dropping games to Wake Forest, Duke and Boston College. At 3-4 and ranked No. 81, it is on the verge of not making a bowl game.

Wasn't Ball State 12-2 last season? What a difference a year makes because the Cardinals are 0-7 and ranked No. 117.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 5, 2009 1:17 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2009 2:16 pm

CBSSports.com 120 -- Boston College

Before the season started, things didn't look too promising for Boston College.

First-year coach Frank Spaziani was taking over a program that had just lost another ACC Championship and the Music City Bowl to Vanderbilt.

Things got worse in a hurry. The Eagles got news in May that All-American linebacker Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Then in June, Dominique Davis, who was expected to be the starter at quarterback, was placed on academic probation and ended up transferring to Fort Scott Community College.

But after one month into the season, the Eagles are a surprising 4-1, including victories over Wake Forest and Florida State. They are inching closer to the Top 25, moving up to No. 35 in this week's CBSSports.com 120 rankings.

One of the biggest surprises is the new man under center, freshman Dave Shinskie.

Before you can say "Who?" … that would be 25-year-old freshman Dave Shinskie, the same guy who was recruited by Indiana, Iowa and Michigan State ... in 2003.

Shinskie decided to play pro baseball out of high school after being drafted by the Minnesota Twins. He never made it past Double-A, with his best season coming with the Class A Beloit Snappers in 2006. He went 6-7 with a 2.13 ERA and 11 saves.

After being released by the Blue Jays, Shinskie was ready to give college football a shot.

After Justin Tuggle's 4-for-20, three interception performance against Clemson, Shinskie got his chance to start against Wake Forest. He ended up throwing for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

Boston College had found their new quarterback.

"He confirmed a lot of the stuff we knew about him. We knew he had athletic ability. We knew he could make plays. We knew when we got into trouble he could get us out of it because of his athletic skills," said Spaziani after the game. "He didn't look like he was away from football for seven years."

Shinskie did it again against Florida State, throwing for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the 28-21 victory.

"He's progressing just like a freshman would. He's making some progress, but in no means is he a polished, accomplished signal caller and field general. There's just not enough experience," said head coach Frank Spaziani to the Boston Herald. "But once again, he's getting better every week, he's learning and we see improvement there. We need to see a lot more."

Shinskie will need to follow coach's orders quickly as the Eagles face Virginia Tech this weekend. This might end up being a preview of the potential ACC Championship game in December.

One player that has high regards for his new inexperienced quarterback is wide receiver Justin Jarvis.

"In the huddle I can feel a different presence," said Jarvis. "It's a little similar to what I felt with Matt Ryan and Chris Crane. It's leadership. ... He's demanding a lot out of us and demanding a lot out of himself too."

Idaho, Part II

With another upset victory, the Idaho Vandals find themselves at No. 50 in this week's rankings. Idaho, who was ranked No. 105 two weeks ago, is sitting at 4-1.

The IdahoStatesman.com had a Q/A with head coach Robb Akey after the team's hot start. Could Idaho fans be thinking bowl game?

"I could see the room when we were at the WAC (media) meetings and I started throwing out the word 'bowl,' it was like 'what the hell is he talking about?' But we started talking about that a long time ago with this team and encouraged them to pay attention to us," said Akey. "We kind of hammered it home 'this is where we're headed guys and the sooner you believe in it, we can make it happen.' I do believe it's attainable, and compete for a WAC championship? That's our job. Every team in the conference should be feeling that way right now. My concern is that our guys feel that way. We're getting closer."


The Wildcats might not be making alot of noise, but they sit at 3-1, ranked No. 37 in this week's rankings. Arizona is also No. 35 in both AP and Coaches poll, while checking it at No. 37 in the Harris Poll.

Arizona's strength of schedule is No. 2, mostly because it hasn't played a team with a losing record yet (minus FCS team Northern Arizona). It beat Central Michigan, Oregon State and lost to Iowa. The Wildcats get their first team under .500 this week as they play at Washington.

Fresno State's SOS is No. 1. Not counting FCS team UC-Davis, the Bulldogs have lost to Wisconsin, Boise State and Cincinnati. All three teams are undefeated.


... Michigan State jumped up from No. 61 to No. 44 after beating Michigan. The Spartans are 2-3 and play at Illinois this week.

... North Carolina took a tumble to No. 55 after being ranked No. 33 the previous week. The Tar Heels lost to Virginia 16-3 and are 0-2 in the ACC.

... Somebody will get a W: No. 114 Florida International (0-4) takes on No. 120 Western Kentucky (0-4) this week. The Golden Panthers won last year 27-3.

... Good news for the blog lead feature? Auburn and Wisconsin were both featured in the blog the two previous weeks and soon after jumped into the Top 25.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com