Tuesday September 29th, 2009

So much for my moral stand against weak scheduling. The upset-happy weekend allowed me to correct some wrongs -- I treated Virginia Tech and Nebraska unfairly last week -- but it also forced me to do what I said I wouldn't.

If you've been reading these Power Rankings the past few weeks, you know I was determined to leave Boise State at No. 12 forever as punishment for a pitiful schedule that doesn't feature a single decent team other than Oregon, the foe the Broncos vanquished at home on Sept. 3. But every time I ranked Boise State No. 12, one nagging possibility gnawed at me: What if Oregon turned out to be good?

Well, Oregon crushed Cal, which I ranked No. 4 last week. The Ducks looked awesome, and their improvement suggests they'll play a major role in the Pac-10 race. Boise State dominated Oregon's offense, so I can't in good conscience leave the Broncos at No. 12. So enjoy your trip to the Fiesta Bowl, Broncos. With the likes of UC-Davis and Hawaii still on the schedule, no one is going to stop you.

At the top of the poll, meanwhile, my trip to Tuscaloosa to watch Alabama thrash Arkansas last weekend didn't change the order of the top three, but it did give me a better idea of the separation between Florida, Texas and Alabama. Essentially, there isn't any. They may as well be 1A, 1B and 1C. So don't be surprised if the order changes in the next few weeks even if all three remain undefeated.

NCAA Football Power Rankings
1Florida Gators
Last Week: 1
If quarterback Tim Tebow's concussion forces him to miss any time, I'll have to re-evaluate Florida's ranking. But if he recovers and the Gators keep playing like they did in the first quarter at Kentucky, they can repeat as national champs.
Last game: Beat Kentucky, 41-7
Next game: Oct. 10 at LSU
2Texas Longhorns
Last Week: 2
It still feels as if we don't really know just how good the Longhorns can be. We probably won't find out until Oct. 17, when Texas meets Oklahoma in Dallas.
Last game: Beat UTEP, 64-7
Next game: Oct. 10 vs. Colorado
3Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 3
If Alabama keeps methodically crushing opponents, the Crimson Tide will jump Texas and Florida. While the other two seem capable of beating anyone when hitting on all cylinders, Alabama seems more consistent. If the Tide stay that way, they'll be No. 1 sooner than later.
Last game: Beat Arkansas, 35-7
Next game: Saturday at Kentucky
4TCU Horned Frogs
Last Week: 11
As potentially overrated mid-major teams go, TCU seems like the safest bet. Coach Gary Patterson's teams win with suffocating defense, which makes the Horned Frogs more upset-proof.
Last game: Beat Clemson, 14-10
Next game: Saturday vs SMU
5Boise State Broncos
Last Week: 12
In addition to Oregon's win, the Broncos also got a boost from Week 3 victim Fresno State, which seriously tested Cincinnati at home. Luckily for Boise State, the Bulldogs are the best 1-3 team in the country.
Last game: Beat Bowling Green, 49-14
Next game: Saturday vs. UC Davis
6Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 17
No team has played a tougher schedule so far. And after seeing how good Alabama really is, the fact that the Hokies stayed with the Tide for as long as they did suggests few in the ACC can hang with the boys from Blacksburg.
Last game: Beat Miami, 31-7
Next game: Saturday at Duke
7Cincinnati Bearcats
Last Week: 16
Linebacker Andre Revels and company have proven in the past two weeks that they can win even if the offense isn't blasting down the field every possession. Saturday, Cincinnati's defense stayed on the field for 43 minutes, 42 seconds, or roughly the length of the average television drama with the commercials removed.
Last game: Beat Fresno State, 28-20
Next game: Saturday at Miami (Ohio)
8USC Trojans
Last Week: 8
Monday's freak weightlifting injury to tailback Stafon Johnson is further proof that this season will test Pete Carroll's ability to reload and dominate unlike any other. Still, if the Trojans can win at Cal, they'll control their destiny in the Pac-10.
Last game: Beat Washington State, 27-6
Next game: Saturday at Cal
9Ohio St. Buckeyes
Last Week: 9
The Buckeyes should be the biggest Golden Bears fans in the country. As long as USC also has only one loss, common sense dictates that the Trojans -- who beat Ohio State in the Horseshoe -- deserve a higher ranking. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the coaches' and Harris Interactive polls don't require common sense.
Last game: Beat Illinois, 30-0
Next game: Saturday at Indiana
10LSU Tigers
Last Week: 7
The Tigers should have lost in Starkville. They got lucky. LSU has all the talent in the world, but that talent has yet to be assembled into a cohesive team. That will have to change if the Tigers want to win at Georgia on Saturday.
Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 30-26
Next game: Saturday at Georgia
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