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Ducks ascend to top spot, while Tide sink (cont.)

NCAA Football Power Rankings
11Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: 11
The Razorbacks could make ranking the top SEC teams quite difficult by beating Auburn. The Tigers need to be above South Carolina, but the Razorbacks would need to be ranked above the Tigers. However, Arkansas would need to be below Alabama because of a loss at home to the Crimson Tide on Sept. 25. Alabama needs to be ranked below South Carolina for the reasons explained above. Basically, if Arkansas wins, we pollsters will be forced into more ridiculous hypotheticals, because we won't be able to honor all the head-to-head wins.
Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 24-17
Next game: Saturday at Auburn
 
12LSU Tigers
Last Week: 15
If Arkansas beats Auburn, I could just throw undefeated LSU above the other SEC teams. The Tigers should beat McNeese State, but the past two weeks have taught us to take nothing for granted with this team. I have LSU down this low because -- let's face it -- the Tigers got beat at home by lowly Tennessee and then got bailed out by their own buffoonery. That said, when I saw the fake field goal against Florida on Saturday, I felt even better about choosing Tigers coach Les Miles in my athletic director Sophie's Choice column last week. LSU doesn't play like a national championship contender, but it finds ways to win. Do that enough, and you become a national title contender.
Last game: Beat Florida, 33-29
Next game: Saturday vs. McNeese State
 
13Michigan St. Spartans
Last Week: 16
This week's Told You So comes from Pete in Peterborough, N.H., a Michigan fan who disagreed with fellow Wolverine Kyle, who won last week's Told You So. Here's what Pete wrote: "I'm a hardcore Michigan fan and alum. I think you have put the Wolverines too high on your rankings (off them would be about right). It is just like last year. Kyle will be [messing] his panties this weekend when State exposes UofM for the fraud that they are. Denard is a lot of fun to watch though." Well, that's exactly what happened. Michigan State proved it owns the state with a convincing win. That leaves the Spartans in an interesting spot. They certainly seem capable of beating every team remaining on their schedule. Unfortunately, none of those teams is Ohio State. So, if both teams go undefeated, the Buckeyes probably would play for the national title, and the Spartans would play in the Rose Bowl -- if they aren't bumped by Boise State or TCU or Utah, which, according to BCS rules, would have to be selected by the Rose if it lost a team to the BCS title game. This would be a terrible injustice for Michigan State. It would be poetic justice, however, for the conference that stands most opposed to a playoff to have one of its teams stiffed by the idiotic system college football uses to crown a national champion. Of course, this wouldn't be an issue next year. If two Big Ten teams finished the regular season undefeated, they would have to play one another in the conference title game.
Last game: Beat Michigan, 34-17
Next game: Saturday vs. Illinois
 
14Stanford Cardinal
Last Week: 12
Speaking of soon-to-be-created conference championship games, if this were next year, the Cardinal would be sitting pretty. They have an open date to prepare for a second-half run. Their toughest remaining opponents (Arizona and Oregon State) have to come to Palo Alto. If they happened to be in a different division than Oregon, then they might get a rematch with the Ducks in the title game by winning their last six games. As it stands now, Stanford will have to win out and hope for two Oregon losses. The way the Ducks are playing, that's an awful lot to ask.
Last game: Beat USC, 37-35
Next game: Oct. 23 vs. Washington State
 
15Oregon St. Beavers
Last Week: 25
I can certainly understand if my fellow pollsters disagree with my choice to catapult the Beavers 10 spots this week, but allow me to explain. Oregon State beat previously undefeated Arizona in Tucson, so I didn't feel I could rank the Wildcats ahead of the Beavers. I know Oregon State has two losses, but those losses are to TCU and Boise State. By definition, any team ranked No. 5 or lower should lose to TCU and Boise State, which I have ranked No. 4 and No. 3, respectively. Should I punish Oregon State for having the guts to play a tough out-of-conference schedule? At the start of the season, Oregon State looked like a legitimate contender for the Pac-10 title. Beating Arizona on the road only confirms that. Unfortunately for the Beavers, they may not last long here. Losing receiver/returner James Rodgers for the season is a crushing blow to Oregon State's offense and special teams. He'll be awfully difficult to replace.
Last game: Beat Arizona, 29-27
Next game: Saturday at Washington
 
16Arizona Wildcats
Last Week: 9
The Wildcats can still win the Pac-10, but their margin for error has dropped to zero. Washington State nearly upset UCLA, and the Cougars looked respectable for most of a half against Oregon. So Arizona shouldn't assume a trip to Pullman will be a breeze.
Last game: Lost to Oregon State, 29-27
Next game: Saturday at Washington State
 
17Iowa Hawkeyes
Last Week: 14
The Hawkeyes got caught in the head-to-head shuffle. They probably should be ranked higher, but I can't in good conscience rank Iowa ahead of Arizona, which beat the Hawkeyes on Sept. 18. The good news is Iowa probably won't be stuck here. The Wildcats hit the meat of their Pac-10 schedule in a few weeks. If Arizona keeps winning, Iowa will rise with the Wildcats if the Hawkeyes also keep winning. If Arizona loses and Iowa keeps winning, the Hawkeyes probably would simply leap the Wildcats.
Last game: Beat Penn State, 24-3
Next game: Saturday at Michigan
 
18Florida St. Seminoles
Last Week: 23
When the Seminoles blasted Miami in Whatever-it's-called-this-week Stadium, it raised two questions. 1) Is Miami just bad? 2) Or was it just the mother of all off days when FSU got hammered at Oklahoma on Sept. 11? The true answer probably falls between those two poles, but it's noteworthy that the Seminoles can match last year's regular-season win total with a win this week. The way first-year coach Jimbo Fisher is recruiting, this improvement could be just the beginning.
Last game: Beat Miami, 45-17
Next game: Saturday vs. Boston College
 
19Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: 19
The Badgers can do the same thing Saturday that South Carolina did last week. ESPN's College GameDay will be in town to provide a daylong advertisement for the program. The No. 1 team in the country will be visiting. Like South Carolina, Wisconsin can run the ball between the tackles. That tends to be a great equalizer against elite teams.
Last game: Beat Minnesota, 41-23
Next game: Saturday vs. Ohio State
 
20Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Last Week: 20
Oklahoma State squeaked by Texas A&M in its only Big 12 game so far, and strange things tend to happen when two pass-happy teams play one another -- which makes this one tough to predict. Still, the Cowboys can run with Kendall Hunter and a talented offensive line, so offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen may try to control the clock and give the Cowboys' defense time to rest.
Last game: Beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 54-28
Next game: Saturday at Texas Tech
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