How high will the Bulls be ranked?
Lots of good questions to be considered before the new AP and coaches' top 25 polls come out Sunday afternoon. Just how high can the No. 18 Bulls jump after knocking off No. 5 West Virginia in what turned out to be at best the third-biggest upset of the weekend? Could USF be the highest-ranked team in the state? And with Rutgers losing to Maryland, is USF now the team to beat in the Big East?
-- The Big East will probably take some hits this week, nationally. The conference's preseason Big Three of West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers have already lost four games to teams that weren't ranked when the season started. There will be a lot of ranked teams, but you'll probably hear criticism as to whether there's a real national contender in the league. It's going to take a while for USF or Cincinnati to be taken as seriously as the three programs that earned their national credibility last season.
-- My guess right now is that USF will be ranked 10th. Here's the logic: From being ranked 18th, I see the Bulls easily jumping five teams that lost this weekend (No. 5 West Virginia, No. 7 Texas, No. 10 Rutgers, No. 11 Oregon, No. 13 Clemson). After beating a respected top-five team like West Virginia, I think the Bulls hop ahead of one-loss teams South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia Tech, and that puts them 10th. That would have Kentucky ranked ninth, but very vulnerable to losing at South Carolina this week; Oklahoma, now sixth in my rankings, could fall at Texas, which I've got pegged at 12th. USF also could pass the LSU-Florida loser, which means simply by faring well at Florida Atlantic, the Bulls could be ranked eighth or even seventh when they play host to Central Florida in two weeks. Remember just a month ago when USF was, what, 38th, counting deep into Also Receiving Votes?
-- This weekend's games helped validate USF's start -- you think that win at Auburn looks like a significant one again now? And for the Bulls to beat North Carolina by 27, then have UNC give Virginia Tech a scare, losing 17-10 in Blacksburg, that adds some punch to USF's 4-0 start. Having said that, the Bulls now likely won't play another team ranked in the top 10 this season. Rutgers and Cincinnati should be ranked, and I think Louisville could get back in by November, so there will be pressure for USF to not only win its games but win convincingly to show voters they belong at such a high ranking.
Thoughts? Picks on where the Bulls should be ranked? Even with USF having a road win against the Auburn team that knocked off Florida in Gainesville, it's hard for me to see voters dropping the Gators much lower than eighth or ninth.