Troy storming the bayou? The Trojans getting ambushed in Palouse? Clemson and Alabama ripping out the heart of two more supposed threats? It’s just another week of College Football, week 5 to be exact, and with all this drama it’s time once again to determine which teams are trending up, and which teams are trending down in the CFB universe.
Stock Up: Washington State
How can the Wazzou stock not be sky high right now? Sam Darnold, the golden boy of CFB, has looked anything but special through the first five weeks of the season but that is not meant to take anything away from a Washington State side that flexed an unusually cagey defense on Friday night. The Cougars held Darnold under 200 yards passing and forced an interception while not allowing him to throw for a single touchdown. That type of stifling defense goes a long way when your offense has Mike Leach and Luke Falk leading the charge. The Cougars jumped up to 11th in the AP Poll top 25 after this win, good for second in the Pac-12 behind Washington. There is a lot of football left to be played but a veracious Washington State side just cleared maybe the biggest hurdle on their schedule, at least until the Apple Cup roles around.
Stock Down: LSU
49. 49 straight times an out of conference opponent came into Death Valley and ultimately left with a loss. That streak ended Saturday. Nobody is perfect, but the issue isn’t the loss as much as who the loss was to. That’s not a slight against Troy, a program on the ascension, but in reality LSU should never suffer a defeat this humiliating against a program they payed almost a million dollars to play. Ed Orgeron on the surface looked like an inspirational hire, someone who fit the culture and was getting his second chance after a debacle at his last head coaching gig in Mississippi, but in reality the hire was too safe then and it looks too safe now. Regardless of how hyped and expensive his assistants are, not many defensive line coaches by trade thrive when tasked with running an elite, blue blood University like Louisiana State. The meat of the SEC schedule is still to come, so there is time for things to turn around on the bayou, but with an offense that looks as stagnant as ever, and a defense that just got gauged by Troy at home, it’s easy to predict what will happen when the Tigers go to Tuscaloosa to face a perpetually rolling Tide.
Stock Up: Miami
It slipped under the radar a bit given the fact that it happened on Friday night and most of the publicity went to Washington State’s upset over USC, but Miami absolutely manhandled an impressive Duke squad. This may not seem like a season defining moment, and it’s not that significant, but it was a real test for a Miami program that is continuing to prove to itself that consistent excellence can once again be the norm in South Florida. The Canes are ranked 13th in the AP poll and face Florida State this coming week, a match up that seemed much more difficult in the preseason as the Seminoles are a shell of their former selves at the moment. This shouldn’t minimize the magnitude of the game however. Florida State has a psychological edge on the Canes right now and a win Saturday would be just another hurdle cleared for Miami as they try to secure a spot in the ever elusive ACC Championship game later this year. The Miami stock is slowly climbing rather than abruptly soaring like Washington State’s, but Mark Richt’s side is doing everything that it is suppose to do if they’re serious about contending in the rugged ACC.
Stock Down: Iowa
I figured I would give the folks on rocky top a break this week, as commenting on the continued incompetence of Butch Jones program just seems mean at this point, so instead allow me to turn my attention to the nice folks in Iowa instead. What are you guys doing? The Hawkeyes loss over the weekend to Michigan State is the exact type of game that motivated me to list Kirk Ferentz on my preseason hot seat watch. How long will Iowa accept this type of up and down mediocrity? The Penn State game, regardless of the actual outcome, highlighted the potential of this Iowa team and yet, as difficult as it may be to come back from such a heartbreaking loss, the Hawkeyes just looked far too uninspired in East Lansing. Beating top five teams is an important aspect of being an elite, sustainable program but beating the Michigan State’s of the world, a middle of the road Big Ten squad, is really what differentiates the Ohio States from the Iowas. You have to win these games to compete for titles! Maybe that’s an unfair comparison. Maybe Iowa is happy with the perpetual comfort of being an eight win outfit, but for the subset of the fan base that wants to be more like Wisconsin than Nebraska, more New Year’s day bowl than Outback bowl, they deserve better than the product that has been delivered to them over the past few years.