Winning ain’t easy. The MCLA season is long. Teams are grinding in practice day in and day out. Traveling between states and sometimes countries, the wear and tear can catch up with teams. We might only be in March, but this season is taking people down.
Going undefeated is incredibly difficult. Left and right, top teams are figuring that out. With more Top-25 teams going this week, including some very notable upsets, let’s take a look at the state of the MCLA this week:
Pacific Northwest Chaos
Before last week, things seemed so simple in the PNCLL. Oregon and Oregon State were both top ten (and undefeated), while no other team in the conference was ranked. With people already starting to look ahead to the Civil War, March 4th came around and took down both teams. The Beavers lost 9-6 to #23 San Diego State, which will almost certainly drop OSU out of the top ten.
Meanwhile, an unranked Boise State team, written off by many after they got blown out by BYU, took down Oregon 12-8. Suddenly, the conference picture looks a lot murkier. Oregon was the favorite last week before the loss, but now has a conference loss.
Does Oregon State become the favorite? They were the preseason favorite and have no conference losses, but they just lost too. Boise State, and the yet-to-be-truly-seen Simon Fraser, are looking to make this conference race interesting. The following two weeks include Oregon-Fraser and OSU-BSU, so this could become clearer soon.
With Grand Canyon’s loss, the race to be the top team with one loss just got very complicated. BYU has the strongest case, since they beat both Grand Canyon and Cal Poly. That said, their loss to UNLV is less impressive than both Cal Poly and Grand Canyon. All three teams have good resumes. BYU’s offense is on fire, and their defense beat Poly at its own game. Cal Poly has the best defense in the country, but is failing to score with regularity, which showed with a close game to D-II opponent Sierra Nevada.
Grand Canyon has two big wins against the Colorado schools, but that loss to BYU and a close game to VT does weaken their case. With the number of one-loss teams in the top-15 right now, sorting them out is going to be a nightmare.
SELC Makes History
Georgia Tech, who just became the first #1 team to survive their first week at the top of the poll, just became the first SELC team to ever be ranked #1, and they deserve it.
Yes, Grand Canyon arguably deserves it too, but credit where credit is due: the Yellow Jackets are balling right now. A shoutout as well to Florida State, who will almost certainly be back in the top-10 after a win over Michigan State. The ‘Noles are primed to make the SELC race very interesting, and their strong slate of OOC games could mean the SELC sending two teams to nationals, which is a huge achievement for their conference.
LSA Title Floats the Red River
Don’t look now, but Oklahoma is 7-0. For a conference that many pegged to be SMU’s to lose, the Lone Star Alliance certainly looks interesting now that Texas has returned to form. The surprising dominance so far this season by Oklahoma should serve to raise the stakes in the LSA; the conference never sends more than one team to nationals. That auto-bid for the conference winner is huge, perhaps bigger than for any other conference.
This season, it could all come down to the rivalry game between Texas and Oklahoma. My gut says Texas wins, but I’m not so certain after the Sooners took it to SMU this past weekend.
Ryder’s Games of the Week
#4 BYU vs #15 Chapman
Chapman needs a big win to get itself going. BYU wants revenge for last season. A win over the Cougars would instantly bring Chapman back into relevance, but injuries are still piling up for the Panthers. BYU rolls onward.
Prediction: BYU 15, Chapman 11.
#8 Colorado vs #16 UCSB
Both these teams could use a bounce-back win against a top-25 opponent. Colorado has already suffered at the hands of the SLC this season, and proving their value against the Gauchos would help. UCSB needs to prove they’re the team from the end of last year, not the one from the beginning.
Prediction: Colorado 14, UCSB 9
#6 Colorado State vs #3 Cal Poly
These two teams have been playing great defense. They’re both playing nail-biters. They’re also both failing to score much so far this year. In a defensive battle, I take the better defense…barely.
Prediction: Cal Poly 5, CSU 4 (OT)
Ryder’s Theoretical MCLA Ballot
There isn’t a media poll for the MCLA, but, if I had a vote, this is how I’d do my Top 25:
1. Georgia Tech
These two are a step up on everyone else right now. They’re both undefeated, and they’re both beating quality opponents. GT has the stronger resume, but Cal is crushing things right now.
4. Cal Poly
5. Grand Canyon
BYU has the head-to-head wins, so they get the #3 spot. I’d take Poly over GCU today, but these two are neck-and-neck as it gets. These three are very close, and a step above the rest.
6. Colorado State
7. Florida State
Colorado State is a one-goal swing away from the top two. This team is legit. Florida State is undefeated with three high quality wins so far. Utah’s shine has dimmed some since Chapman fell off the wagon, but they still look great so far.
10. Boston College
Colorado’s two losses could drop it lower, but they were two good losses. Boston College needs to hurry up and play a game before voters forget about them.
This is where things get tricky. The following batch of teams have all recently lost, some more than once. Sorting them was real tough, but I did my best.
12. Oregon State
14. San Diego State
Oregon lost to an unranked team, but beat Chapman and SDSU. Oregon State lost to SDSU, but at a neutral site and are still 7-1. Chapman hasn’t really bounced back yet, but benefit from losses above. SDSU suddenly looks a lot better. Their two losses (Oregon, Chapman) aren’t so bad, and that 4-2 looks better with a top-10 win. They get the big bump.
16. Michigan State
17. Arizona State
The “quality losses” section of the poll. UNLV has the best win of these guys, so they’re above the rest. Michigan State scheduled a tough OOC weekend and went 0-2, but still impressed against FSU and GT. Arizona State showed what they can do with a win over Colorado, but is still 2-4 on the season. UCSB’s loss to Cal is looking better and better each week, and they nearly beat Cal Poly.
21. Virginia Tech
UConn hasn’t played, so no idea what to think of them yet. Arizona recovered a little by taking down Stanford, but still has started rough. VT’s loss to South Carolina isn’t great, but they gave GCU a hell of a fight.
24. Boise State
25. South Carolina
Texas jumps in because they’re the LSA favorite. Minnesota has three losses, but they’re all to top-25 teams so they stay up there. Boise State is an enigma: was the BYU blowout or the Oregon loss the weird game? We’ll find out. South Carolina was one spot out of the top-25 last week, so they get the final spot.
Way Too Early Predictions
Final Four: Georgia Tech, Grand Canyon, Cal, BYU
Offensive Player of the Year: Max McKone, A, Cal
Defensive Player of the Year: Sean Pihl, G, Cal Poly