{FSMETA} College Football: Rivals.com - College Football

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March 23, 2009

LSU back in the winner category

It didn't take long for LSU to get back in the headlines.

The Tigers took a turn for the worst a couple weekends ago with a bad home series loss to Illinois, but that now seems like a distant memory.

First, it was the home series win over a solid Kentucky team last weekend. But this past weekend, the Tigers took a step forward and proved their stock by winning a road series at South Carolina.

Perennial powers Florida State, Cal State Fullerton and Arizona State also had weeks to remember, while New Mexico, Middle Tennessee State and College of Charleston are teams that have flown under the radar until now.

Texas and Texas A&M headline our list of disappoints for the week, while defending champion Fresno State was swept on the road by Loyola Marymount.

We unveil the week's winners and losers.

Winners

Florida State: With their backs against the wall and the risk of essentially being a non-factor in the ACC title race, the Seminoles entered the week with something to prove. They passed the test. Though FSU began the week with a mid-week loss to Florida, it responded over the weekend with a solid home series win over a ranked Clemson team. The Seminoles still aren't out of the woods but should get on a roll with a road series at Maryland next weekend.

Cal State Fullerton: Home or away, it doesn't really seem to matter to the Titans. After engaging on an 11-day road trip, the Titans got the mid-week off before hosting a solid Oral Roberts team over the weekend. Fullerton once again didn't disappoint. The Titans allowed just 10 runs in three games on the way to a sweep over the Eagles. The Titans aren't making reservations to Omaha just yet, but their situation certainly looks good right now.

LSU: The home series loss to Illinois now is a distant memory for the surging Tigers. LSU put together another solid week. The Tigers began the week with mid-week wins over Northwestern State and McNeese State before hitting the road to face South Carolina for a tough SEC series. The Tigers took care of business. After dropping the series opener to the Gamecocks, the Tigers responded with wins in Game 2 and 3 to improve to 4-2 in SEC play.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils raised somewhat of a red flag two weeks ago when they struggled to go 3-2 against Kansas State and Kansas. But against rival Arizona this past weekend, the Devils ended all signs of doubt. After winning the series opener 4-1, the Devils won Game 2 7-3 before solidifying the series sweep with a dominating 23-7 win in the series finale. The Devils have another very winnable series coming up next weekend against USC.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks aren't overly flashy, but like most Dave Van Horn coached teams, they just seem to always get the job done. The Hogs raised some eyebrows by sweeping Florida at home two weekends ago. They took another step forward over the weekend by sweeping Auburn on the road. After winning Game 1 3-2, the Razorbacks broke out their bats with triumphs on Saturday and Sunday by scores of 10-6 and 12-6. Arkansas is alone atop the SEC standings with a perfect 6-0 mark in league play.

College of Charleston: Even without former coach John Pawlowski, who now is the head man at Auburn, the Cougars have done a fantastic job this season. They put together another outstanding week on the diamond. After beating Coastal Carolina in mid-week action, the Cougars did a clean sweep of Samford on the road. The Cougars aren't ranked just yet but could take a huge step forward with a win over South Carolina and a series win over Furman later in the week.

Kansas: The Jayhawks picked a perfect time to get back on track. KU struggled against Arizona State last weekend and also dropped a pair of mid-week games to San Diego State earlier last week. But against Texas over the weekend, the Jayhawks rose to the occasion and recorded the school's first series sweep over the Longhorns. KU won the series opener 5-4 before winning Games 2 and 3 by scores of 4-3 and 4-3, respectively. Enjoy it while it lasts, but KU now is alone atop the Big 12 standings with an unblemished 3-0 mark.

Middle Tennessee State: Think Sun Belt fans have that season ending series between Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee circled on their calendars? The season certainly is still young, but from the look of things so far this season the Blue Raiders and Hilltoppers are the cream of the crop in the Sun Belt title race. The Hilltoppers were expected to have a very solid team this spring, while the Blue Raiders have come out of nowhere and are coming off a series sweep over Florida Atlantic. MTSU now is 17-3 overall and sits atop the league standings along with WKU at 8-1.

Nebraska: Everyone essentially tabbed the Huskers as a pretender after a road series loss to Texas Tech last weekend, but after the Oklahoma State series the Big Red once again has some believers. Nebraska crushed OSU ace pitchers Andy Oliver and Tyler Lyons in Games 1 and 2 by scores of 11-4 and 12-4. They lost the series finale to the Cowboys, but the damage already was done. The Huskers now host Northern Colorado before heading to Norman, Okla., to play a very good Oklahoma team next weekend.

New Mexico: It's safe to say that coach Ray Birmingham is working wonders in only his second season with the Lobos. The Lobos had another week to remember. They began the week in the Lone Star State and did a clean sweep of Texas A&M in a two-game mid-week set. They also swept Northwestern in a four-game series over the weekend. The Lobos still have played a pretty weak schedule thus far, but you can't ignore an overall record of 22-3. The Lobos should record another series win against BYU later this week.

Losers

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish were one of those teams discussed as a possible at-large postseason team entering the season. But as with most of the Big East, the Irish probably need to win the conference tournament to make an NCAA regional this season. The Irish had a less than stellar weekend on the diamond. After beginning the week with mid-week wins over Ball State and Valparaiso, the Irish dropped two of three to Seton Hall by losing the final two games of the series. ND now prepares to hit the road to face surging Pittsburgh.

Kansas State: The Wildcats had a rather strange week on the diamond. They began the week with a pair of very solid mid-week wins over UTSA, but left something to be desired against Oklahoma over the weekend. K-State actually won the series opener 9-1 but dropped Games 2 and 3 by scores of 12-11 and 29-4, respectively. After failing to make statement against the Sooners, the Wildcats have another opportunity against Baylor later this week.

Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers were on a roll entering the week and picked up a good mid-week win over Tennessee, but stumbled against College of Charleston and also dropped a three-game series to Winthrop. After winning the series opener 7-2, the Chanticleers dropped Games 2 and 3 by scores of 6-4 and 7-2. The Chants certainly will be just fine moving forward, but another weekend like this in Big South action would not be a good thing for their national seed hopes.

Tennessee: The Volunteers had hoped to take a step forward in coach Todd Raleigh's second season with the program, but we're not sure that happens unless something changes the next few weeks. The Vols had another week to forget with a mid-week loss to Coastal Carolina and a horrible weekend on the road against Florida. The Vols dropped the series opener 3-2 before losing 10-2 in Game 2 and 7-5 in Game 3. Things don't get much easier as they welcome Georgia to Knoxville, Tenn., later this week.

Texas: The Longhorns would gladly take anyone with some eligibility in the batter's box right now. Texas began the week with a 6-3 loss to rival Rice and didn't fair any better on the road over the weekend against Kansas. The 'Horns dropped the series opener 5-4 before losing Games 2 and 3 by identical scores of 4-3. The Longhorns were atrocious with runners in scoring position and finished the series with just 10 runs total. That's not going to cut it.

Illinois: Just a week ago the Fighting Illini were considered in our weekly rankings. Not anymore. Sure, the Illini took two of three from LSU a few weekends ago, but this past weekend was enough for anyone to tap the brakes and ease up on the gas pedal. The Illini experienced a wealth of success against Akron two weekends ago, but dropped contests to Army and Central Connecticut State over the weekend. They did, however, beat Hartford 7-3. The Illini lost some of their luster over the weekend, but certainly could rebound this week.

Fresno State: Barring a huge surprise the rest of the regular season, the Bulldogs are going to have to work even more magic in the conference tournament to make an NCAA regional. Though the season essentially is still young, Fresno already has its back against the wall. The Bulldogs traveled down to Los Angeles over the weekend to face Loyola Marymount. They lost all four games in the series. It was a disappointing weekend for coach Mike Batesole's team, but they should be able to rebound at home against Lipscomb later this week.

Texas A&M: Consistency was supposed to be one of A&M's staples this season, but that has yet to be the case. The Aggies began the week with a pair of mid-week losses to New Mexico. They didn't fair too much better over the weekend. The Aggies dropped the first two games of their series against Missouri before winning the series finale 6-5. After a rough week that included five-straight losses, the Aggies have a chance to rebound with several home games this week.

Auburn: The Tigers are figuring out that Rome wasn't build in a day, and that the same applies to their baseball program. Though the Tigers have played well the past couple of weeks, they received a reality check over the weekend against a scrappy Arkansas team. The Razorbacks swept the Tigers. Auburn and first-year coach John Pawlowski obviously are disappointed with the way the weekend transpired, but with a 2-4 conference record they desperately need a home series win over Vanderbilt later this week.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks still would be in good shape to make an NCAA regional if the season ended today, but a series loss at Kentucky next weekend could make their situation a little dicey. They surprised many observers two weekends ago by losing a road series to Mississippi State. This past weekend, the Gamecocks had an opportunity to make a statement against highly ranked LSU. That didn't happen. South Carolina won the series opener but lost the final two games of the series. They have a very tough week ahead.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports. He can be reached at rogersk@yahoo-inc.com.