Alabama, LSU maintain top spots; Michigan State surges into top five

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We'll start with an announcement.

Those of you who prefer only football with your football can rejoice. Those of you who enjoy the occasional Billy Squier video with your Top 25 are out of luck.

After a season of experimentation, I've decided to write the Power Rankings straight this year. I had hoped that a different theme each week would liven up the incredibly boring exercise of explaining why I ranked one team above another, and the concept did just that. Unfortunately, it also took far longer than I anticipated each week. In order to spend more time with Urban Meyer's family, I'm retiring the gimmick for now. But be warned. I never did write my A Song of Ice and Fire or periodic table themed rankings. I reserve the right to slip those in at some point this season.

As for the rankings themselves, little has changed. They'll mirror my Associated Press poll ballot unless something major -- critical injury news, a coach has a motorcycle accident with a mysterious passenger aboard -- happens between Sunday morning and Tuesday morning. (I also may change something if lack of sleep due to covering a night game caused me to make a boneheaded choice.) When ranking the teams, I don't use any sort of mathematical formula or wacky system. If I have a team ranked No. 3, it means I think that squad would lose to the team ranked No. 2 on a neutral field and would beat the team ranked No. 4 on a neutral field.

The best way to let me know I got the rankings wrong is on Twitter, but understand that you probably won't change my mind. Arguing rankings is a lot like arguing balls and strikes with an umpire. You can kick all the dirt you want, but ultimately we're going to agree to disagree.

On to the rankings...

NCAA Football Power Rankings

Next five: Missouri, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Boise State, Washington

Andy Staples' Power Rankings also serve as his ballot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.