Tuesday November 9th, 2010

NCAA Football Power Rankings
11Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 6
Now that Alabama is out of the national title picture, in which direction will the Crimson Tide go? Will they check out as they did before an embarrassing loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl following the 2008 season, or will they take out their frustrations on their remaining opponents? As bounce-back weeks go, this is a tough one. Mississippi State's losses came to two teams (Auburn and LSU) with a combined record of 18-1.
Last game: Lost to LSU, 24-21
Next game: Saturday vs. Mississippi State
12Arizona Wildcats
Last Week: 12
The Wildcats also face fork in the road. They can pack it in after a blowout loss to Stanford effectively killed their Pac-10 title chances, or they can keep grinding and try to play their way into a quality bowl. USC won't be playing in a bowl this year, so the Trojans would love a chance to send another team tumbling in the bowl pecking order.
Last game: Lost to Stanford, 42-17
Next game: Saturday vs. USC
13Iowa Hawkeyes
Last Week: 13
By virtue of their loss to Arizona, the Hawkeyes need the most help to win the Big Ten against rivals that went undefeated in nonconference play. Iowa probably got the toughest conference draw of anyone in the Big Ten, and the road doesn't get any easier this week. Northwestern is a good team smarting after a collapse against Penn State. Iowa is coming off a scare against Indiana. The Hawkeyes need to take control early, because they might not survive a similar scare from a better team.
Last game: Beat Indiana, 18-13
Next game: Saturday at Northwestern
14Michigan St. Spartans
Last Week: 14
The Spartans probably are in the best position to win the Big Ten title, but they still don't control their destiny. All they can do is enjoy their week off and make sure they beat Purdue and Penn State to close the season. The severity of Michigan State's loss at Iowa effectively eliminates the Spartans from the national title conversation, but there is no reason they can't win the Big Ten and wind up near the top of the polls when all the dust settles.
Last game: Beat Minnesota, 31-8
Next game: Nov. 20 vs. Purdue
15Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: 18
It's a tough year to be an SEC West team. The best five teams in the West all would have won the East title, but geography is what it is. (Except in one case, because Vanderbilt actually is located west of Auburn.) Arkansas will take a breather this week against UTEP -- Every Game Counts! Yay BCS! -- but the Razorbacks will close with the unenviable task of facing Mississippi State and LSU.
Last game: Beat South Carolina, 41-20
Next game: Saturday vs. UTEP
16Utah Utes
Last Week: 5
Utah Utes (8-1)
Only one thing can begin to erase the stain of a 40-point home loss that cost the Utes a Mountain West title and a potential shot at the national title -- a nationally televised whipping of a program that still receives outsize attention in spite of its mediocrity in recent years. How convenient. But have the Utes sufficiently recovered from the beating they took to thump Notre Dame, or will there be lingering effects from the TCU loss?
Last game: Lost to TCU, 47-7
Next game: Saturday at Notre Dame
17Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 20
Welcome to the Resiliency Bowl. Virginia Tech could have flushed its season down the toilet after losing to James Madison, but Coach Frank Beamer and the Hokies wouldn't let that happen. North Carolina could have bailed on its season after losing its best players to a litany of allegations that probably will get Coach Butch Davis fired after this season and get the program hammered by the NCAA. No matter what happens in the future, North Carolina's players deserve a lot of credit for fighting as hard as they have this season. That's what makes the Tar Heels dangerous to a Virginia Tech team that can clinch the ACC Coastal Division with a win and a Miami loss at Georgia Tech.
Last game: Beat Georgia Tech, 28-21
Next game: Saturday at North Carolina
18Mississippi St. Bulldogs
Last Week: 21
The Bulldogs had the worst bye week a team could have, losing teammate Nick Bell to a cancer discovered only weeks earlier. They'll wear patches to honor Bell's memory for the remainder of the season. Don't be surprised if some Alabama players also honor Bell, who grew up in Bessemer, Ala. One of Bell's friends was Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus. "Of course they'll want to dedicate this game to Nick," Dareus told The Birmingham News. "I'm dedicating this game to Nick. I'm going to dedicate the rest of the season to Nick."
Last game: Beat Kentucky, 24-17
Next game: Saturday at Alabama
19Missouri Tigers
Last Week: 15
The Tigers followed a monumental win against Oklahoma with two losses, and their chances of winning the Big 12 North have evaporated unless Nebraska loses twice against Kansas, Texas A&M and Colorado. For all the improvements Gary Pinkel has made during his time in Columbia, his program wasn't quite ready to take the next step. The Tigers should not get discouraged, though. They've clearly made significant upgrades, and they have a lot of young, talented players. They should use the end of this season as a springboard to a great 2011 in the revamped Big 12.
Last game: Lost to Texas Tech, 24-17
Next game: Saturday vs. Kansas State
20Texas A&M Aggies
Last Week: --
The Aggies couldn't have looked much worse while in the midst of their three-game losing streak, but they seem like a completely different team now. Their defense stoned Oklahoma three times on the goal line Saturday, and quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-quarterback Ryan Tannehill has breathed life into the Texas A&M offense. The Aggies already have a loss to Oklahoma State, but if the Cowboys falter, Texas A&M could be a fascinating team to watch down the stretch.
Last game: Beat Oklahoma, 33-19
Next game: Saturday at Baylor
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