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: November 3, 2008 1:02 pm

CBSSports.com 120 Blog -- Two QBs helping Cal

The two quarterback system takes a lot of criticism, but don't tell that to California coach Jeff Tedford.

Nate Longshore came off the bench for an injured Kevin Riley, helping the Golden Bears beat Oregon 26-16 this weekend. The victory earned Cal a spot in the Top 25 of the CBSSports.com 120 this week, landing at No. 22, just in time for its big game against the Trojans.

Riley suffered a concussion when he failed to slide for a first down late in the first quarter, bringing on the senior Longshore. He threw for 136 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown to Nyan Boateng.

Tedford has used both throughout the season, changing starters twice and splitting first-team practice snaps between the two quarterbacks despite Riley's superior game play.

"You need two quality quarterbacks, and you just can't say enough about those guys," Tedford said. "They're always out there competing and supporting each other. ... Nate is a veteran. He's been in a lot of games. Sure, coming off the bench is a bit new for him, but it was no big deal."

Longshore had a great season in 2006, throwing for 3,021 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. In 2007, he threw for 2,580 yards and 16 touchdowns with 13 interceptions, but battled an ankle injury for the second half of the season, opening the door for Riley.
Riley was named the starter before the season, but both quarterbacks have seen significant time throughout the year.

It's obviously working because the Golden Bears are sitting at 4-1 in conference play and averaging 36 points per game.

It also helps to have the return of Jahvid Best, who injured his shoulder against Colorado State on Sept. 27. Best was leading the nation in all-purpose yards at the time of the injury with 215.5 yards per game. Since his return, he has 315 yards rushing in three games, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Meanwhile, freshman Shane Vereen has filled in nicely, rushing for 93 yards against Arizona State and 99 yards against UCLA.

If Cal can win out against Southern California, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington, it will earn the conference title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

But there is another conference foe lurking with Pac-10 title hopes and it too controls its own destiny ... Oregon State.

The Beavers moved up to No. 30 after winning its third in a row and having already beat USC, the Beavers would be in line for the Rose Bowl if they win out.

"I think this game (against ASU) is the perfect lesson," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "If all of a sudden we don't win that game, we don't control our destiny anymore. And it was very close to being that."


... Conference count: Most teams in the Top 25 -- Big 12 (5), SEC (4), ACC (4), Big Ten (3), MWC (3). Most teams in the bottom 25 -- Sun Belt (5), C-USA (5), MAC (5), WAC (3).

... In the ever-changing ACC, Georgia Tech moved up from No. 32 to No. 20 after beating Florida State. The Yellow Jackets take on No. 18 North Carolina, with the winner having the inside track to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship.

... North Texas moved out of the No. 120 slot and up to No. 118 after earning its first victory of the season.

... Washington is now the lowest-ranked BCS team, falling to No. 112 after losing 56-0 to Southern California.

... Fresno State took a major tumble, falling 27 spots from No. 36 to No. 63 after losing to Louisiana Tech. Fresno also barely beat Utah State the week before 30-28.

Posted on: September 15, 2008 10:56 am

CBSSports.com 120 -- Pac-10 has rough weekend

While Southern California is ruling the college football world as the No. 1 ranked team in the CBSSports.com 120 and Oregon is hanging tough at 3-0, the rest of the Pac-10 isn't so fortunate.

Seven of the conference's 10 teams lost this weekend with three teams falling more than 20 spots and if this trend continues, the Pac-10 is going to have a hard time filling all its bowl slots. After the BCS, the Pac-10 has six bowl slots to fill, meaning teams from the MAC, MWC and WAC could slide in to fill if the Pac-10 doesn't get enough bowl-eligible teams.

Falling the farthest was UCLA and California, each dropping 24 spots.

The Bruins went from No. 25 to No. 49 after getting smoked by BYU 59-0, while California dropped from No. 27 to No. 51 after losing to Maryland. The Terrapins were ranked No. 99 before the game after losing to Middle Tennessee State the week before.

"When you take a tail-whipping like we took, the first thing you want to do is throw away the tape," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. "The second thing is to analyze it ad nauseam because you have to fix it."

UCLA will have a chance to fix it against another conference faller as it plays Arizona this week. The Wildcats dropped 21 spots from No. 54 to No. 74 after losing to New Mexico, which came into the game at 0-2.

One of the biggest shockers of the weekend was No. 14 Arizona State losing to UNLV in overtime. The Las Vegas Review-Journal is calling it one of the biggest wins in UNLV history and UNLV coach Mike Sanford declared it "the biggest win of my life."

The Sun Devils fell 12 spots from No. 14 to No. 26 and now have to take on Georgia this weekend.

Could they have been caught looking ahead?

"It was a nightmare," coach Dennis Erickson said. "It’s sickening. It starts with me. I didn’t have them ready to play. I’ll take the blame."

The bottom-feeders of the conference -- Washington and Washington State could both be in for a long season. Washington dropped 15 spots from No. 79 to No. 94, while Washington State dropped from No. 101 to No. 105. Stanford fell from No. 56 to No. 64 after losing to TCU 31-14.

It wasn't all bad news for the Pac-10, Oregon State moved up two spots after beating Hawaii.

Undefeated teams to keep an eye on:

Iowa -- improved to 3-0 and moved up from No. 52 to No. 43.

Nebraska -- improved to 3-0 and moved up from No. 53 to No. 44.

Ball State -- improved to 3-0 and moved up from No. 65 to No. 55.



Category: NCAAF
Tags: Pac-10
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com