Greenville, SC-Brentson Buckner has returned the Clemson Tigers to his Harris Interactive Poll Top 25. The Tigers defeated South Carolina last Saturday 13-9, giving Clemson its third win over a top 20 team this year and warranting a #25 position in Buckner's poll.
Buckner, who played for the Tigers from 1990-93, is the only current NFL player with a vote in the Harris Interactive Poll, one of the polls used to determine the teams who will play in the BCS Bowls in January.
"Clemson has finished strong, as they have the last couple of years," said Buckner, a 12-year NFL veteran who is a starting defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers. "I had South Carolina in my top 25 last week, so when Clemson beat them there was further justification to put Clemson in the poll."
"Clemson has played a tough schedule this year. That was the fifth top 25 team Clemson has played this year (tied for the most in Clemson history). They beat Florida State and South Carolina to end the regular season and their four losses are by just 14 points, including two overtime games."
Buckner was also impressed by Fresno State and its performance against Southern Cal this past weekend. Despite the loss, the still has Pat Hill's team ranked 19th in the nation.
"That Fresno State vs. Southern Cal game was a shootout. You have to be impressed with Fresno because they play anyone, any where at any time. They had a strong offense that stayed with Southern Cal step for step.
"But, that game also made you think how good Southern Cal is. They take everyone's best shot every game and have come away with the win every game but one in the last three years. Reggie Bush probably locked up the Heisman with that 511-yard all-purpose performance. He had a key fumble and a penalty late in the game, but he didn't hang his head. He came back and made plays on the winning touchdown drive."
Georgia Tech and Penn State were two more teams that caught Buckner's eye. He moved Georgia Tech into his poll at #23 and lists Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions as the #4 ranked team in the nation.
"Georgia Tech's win at Miami was a surprise. Miami went to Virginia Tech and stopped Marcus Vick at what he does best, run the ball and move the offense. Then, they couldn't do that against Reggie Ball. Don't get me wrong, Reggie Ball is a good, agile quarterback, but he is not Marcus Vick.
"Once again we saw the NFL influence in a college game. Chan Gailey had an NFL approach to that game, play field position, and win with defense and special teams. That is what you do on the road in the NFL, pack your defense and your special teams. It was a crazy week for that Georgia Tech program with the announcement of probation and the reinstatement of the defensive back to the team by the courts. But, they didn't let that effect them.
"I am really happy for Joe Paterno because everyone was telling him it was time to leave the game. But, he just kept going about his business and now they are in the BCS. The key for Penn State has been the addition of athletic skill position players. Those young receivers have made a difference and the quarterback might be the most improved quarterback in the country."
1. Southern Cal
4. Penn State
5. Notre Dame
6. Ohio State
7. Virginia Tech
9. West Virginia
11. Miami (FL)
17. Texas Tech
18. Boston College
19. Fresno State
20. South Florida
21. Florida State
23. Georgia Tech