Could the Orange Nightmare finally end Saturday afternoon?
Now what in the world am I talking about? I’m talking about the football team in Knoxville, as Tennessee might very well be in the middle of a football renaissance and establishing themselves as a Top 10 team once again – something we were accustomed to seeing in the latter part of the 20th century. The Vols have already defeated three teams that are, or were at one point, in the AP Top 25 – Virginia Tech, Florida and Georgia. Even in its loss to Texas A&M last weekend, the Volunteers, as sloppy as they played for long stretches in the game, still pushed the game against a Top 10 team in one of the most hostile venues for road teams into overtime. That’s the Tennessee football we’re used to seeing.
Or, at least back in the days of Peyton Manning and Phillip Fulmer. That loss to the Aggies actually marked the 25th consecutive loss for the Vols against an AP Top 10 team, the longest such streak in the Southeastern Conference.
The longest such streak in the SEC? No way, you say! Isn’t there a university called Vanderbilt in the league that can’t buy a win against a top team and hasn’t done so in forever?
You’re right. And even they defeated No. 6 South Carolina – in Columbia, no less – on Oct. 20, 2007. Tennessee’s last win against an AP Top 10 team came against No. 9 Georgia, on Oct. 7, 2006. To put that in perspective, fewer days have passed between Peyton Manning’s last game as a Volunteer and the Vols’ last win against a Top 10 team (3,201 days) than the time between that win against Georgia in 2006 and the day I’m publishing this post (3,661 days). Crazy, isn’t it?
What may not be as crazy is that that ignominious streak could very well end on Saturday afternoon. For as good as Alabama has been under Nick Saban, remember that the Tide, even in their championship seasons, have indeed lost games in the regular season, including last season’s home loss to Ole Miss in September. It’s not far-fetched to think that, after all of those tough games the Tide have had recently (at Ole Miss, at Arkansas) and all of the games that still lay ahead, they might slip up in the middle of that daunting stretch. Tennessee fans are banking on that.
If not, then the Orange Nightmare, even in the midst of a possible dream season, will continue on for another day. There’s already been enough of those days – 3,661 of them to be exact.
Bad dreams are things that barely exist with the members of the A Lot of Sports Talk College Football Poll panel. As always, the panel consists of journalists, former college football players and coaches as well as knowledgeable fans who continually have a finger on the pulse of college football. For this week’s poll, our qualified quintet remains the same: Evie Van Pelt (managing editor at The Rebel Walk Magazine), Basil Mitchell (former TCU and Green Bay Packers RB), Sandy Weintraub (super fan, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards at the University of Oregon), Nick Mancuso (patent attorney who attended USC as an undergrad and Oregon for law school) and, yours truly, Adesina Koiki (Football Writers Association of America member/voter, A Lot Of Sports Talk editor-in-chief).
Here is ALOST‘s 2016 College Football Top 25 for Week 7. If you have any comments and/or complaints, write them below on the Facebook window or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
Alabama has won the last nine games in the “Third Saturday in October” rivalry, while the Vols have lost their last seven games against AP No. 1 teams. The Tide is a 12.5 point favorite, but Saban’s team will have to find a way to slow down Alvin Kamara, who had a school-record 312 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in the Vols’ overtime loss to A&M last week. (Evie Van Pelt)
Though the task of going into Madison and coming away with a road win is daunting, these are the sort of games that Urban Meyer lives for and has thrived in. (Adesina Koiki)
Clemson takes on North Carolina State, a team that has made a habit of pulling off upsets of top-tier ACC teams in the past decade or so. Tough to see that happening tomorrow, though, especially with the Tigers knowing that they have a bye after this game and leading up to their trip to Tallahassee on Oct. 29. (Adesina)
I had a press credential waiting for me at Rutgers to attend the game last week, but passed on it to cover another game instead. THANK GOODNESS I WENT TO THE OTHER GAME! 78-0?!? GOOD GRIEF! (Adesina)
Two weeks ago, I said I wouldn’t be a believer in the Huskies unless they beat both Stanford and Oregon in back-to-back games. Consider me hooked now on U-Dub. (Adesina)
After losing 59-0 the last time his team traveled to Bryant-Denny Stadium, A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin likely appreciates this weekend’s bye and the extra time to prepare for the Tide. (Evie)
It didn’t come as too much of a surprise to this journalist that the Cardinals had their hands full with Duke last night. (Adesina)
Against the No. 1-ranked Tide, Tennessee must reduce its number of turnovers in order to have a chance to win. The Vols lost five fumbles against A&M as well as threw two interceptions in a game which they scored three touchdowns in the final eight minutes of regulation to force overtime against the Aggies. (Evie)
Unless the Badgers’ offense can show that they can methodically drive the ball down the field against high-caliber competition, it’s hard to see them winning against the Buckeyes, even with the decided home-field advantage at Camp Randall. (Adesina)
Even with the Top 10 ranking, the Huskers still appear to be a deep sleeper in terms of the College Football Playoff. (Adesina)
I’m definitely rooting for Kansas this week to keep things competitive in Waco on Saturday. Sadly, I have a feeling this game is going to get ugly. Real ugly. (Adesina)
Once every couple of years or so, Navy will trip up a team that’s ranked. Sadly for Cougars’ fans, Houston was victimized last week. Still a lot to play for from here on out, including playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff. (Adesina)
The Broncos embark on a tough three-game stretch; After playing Colorado State on Saturday, they’ll stay at home but face BYU on a short week (Thursday), then have to go on the road to take on a Wyoming team that knocked off a Top 25-caliber team last week in Air Force. (Adesina)
Saturday’s game is the first since the 1970 Sugar Bowl that Ole Miss (12) and Arkansas (22) have both been ranked in the AP Top 25 at the time of their meeting. Ole Miss has scored 30 or more points in nine straight games – tied with Washington for the second-longest active streak in the FBS. Though the Hogs have won this matchup the last two seasons, they’ll have their hands full trying to stop Rebels’ senior tight end Evan Engram, who has notched a touchdown catch in each of his last three games. (Evie)
If you’re a lifelong Seminoles fan, it must have been nice to see a kick go against Miami in this rivalry and and decide the game in the last few seconds. (Adesina)
One can make an argument that the Hokies’ 34-3 demolition of North Carolina in Chapel Hill was the most impressive performance of any team last week. Beware the trap game at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. (Adesina)
Still have to proceed with caution with the Mountaineers, but they could end up being the Big 12 frontrunners before too long. (Adesina)
Having the extra point blocked after scoring on a fourth down in the final minute to presumably send the game to overtime was bad enough. Now the Hurricanes face a talented (yet angry) North Carolina team coming off its humiliating home loss to Virginia Tech. (Adesina)
The Gators host Missouri on Saturday, and the Tigers will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak versus AP Top 25 teams. The Gators are coming off an unscheduled bye week as last week’s game against LSU was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. Missouri will have its work cut out for it as Florida has held its opponent to seven or fewer points in four of its five games this season. (Evie)
It might be too late to make a legitimate Playoff run, but I definitely can see the Sooners running the table in the Big 12 after their uneven start to non-conference play. (Adesina)
It’s the battle of the Dakotas, with the Bison taking on South Dakota State. NDSU has to be wary of the threat of the Jackrabbits, as they went toe-to-toe wit TCU in a 59-41 loss to the Horned Frogs in the season opener. (Adesina)
After allowing 49 points to Alabama last week, the Razorbacks won’t have time to sit around and feel sorry for themselves as Ole Miss’s high-powered offense comes to town led by QB Chad Kelly. The Rebels’ defense faces a test of its own as the Razorbacks, too, have an incredibly talented QB in Austin Allen, the younger brother of Brandon Allen. (The latter passed for 442 yards against Ole Miss last year.) Austin Allen has completed 63.6 percent of his passes this season and has a running back, Rawleigh Williams III, who has rushed for 605 yards in six games. (Evie)
The Utes lost to Cal earlier this season, who then lost to Oregon State in Corvallis in overtime last week. So, using the transitive property, the Utes will lose to Oregon State. It’s a good thing the transitive property doesn’t usually play a big role in deciding football games. (Adesina)
I remember P.J. Fleck, current head coach of Western Michigan, as a wide receiver for Northern Illinois on the day the Huskies went into Alabama and upset a ranked Tide team. Now, he’s coaching a team from the MAC into the Top 25, doing so with the Broncos. Looks like a trip to the MAC Championship Game this December might be in the cards for our ALOST Game of the Week tour. (Adesina)
The thought just popped into my mind that I, along with my good friend and one-time sports reporter Carly Falotico, reported on Ken Niumatalolo’s first-ever game as head coach of the Naval Academy, the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl. I think the both of us knew he would be a good coach. But even I am amazed at the job he’s done in Annapolis over the last nine seasons. (Adesina)
Others receiving votes:
Arizona State (4 points), Auburn (3), LSU (3), South Florida (3), Georgia (1)
* – To break ties, we used a three-step criteria; 1) higher number of first-place votes, 2) higher number of ballots (out of six) the teams appeared in, 3) highest single ranking by an individual pollster (e.g. if Team A and Team B are tied cumulatively and appeared in all six polls, but Team A’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 7 and Team B’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 9, Team A wins tiebreaker)
[Cover photo (Urban Meyer) courtesy of Getty Images]