Unconvincing wins keep Notre Dame out of top 25

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Since some Associated Press poll voters occasionally write stories telling Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis how to do his job, it's only fair that Weis get the chance to tell us how to do ours.

"If you look at some of the other teams that are playing and look at how their games have gone, tell me where the difference is," Weis said Sunday. "I can go right up to the top 10 and work right on down. You tell me what teams that are in there haven't had some trouble in their schedule. I mean, almost everybody has. So you go right down the list. We've had one loss by four points on the road with 11 seconds to go in the game. So the flip side of it, we're 11 seconds away from being undefeated right now."

Here's the difference, coach. You lost to the best team on your schedule so far, and while you are 11 seconds from being undefeated, you're also about three plays from being 1-4. You came within a gnat's whisker of losing to Michigan State, Purdue and Washington -- teams you should have beaten handily if you fancy yourself a BCS bowl contender. That's why Notre Dame sits just outside the top 25 on my ballot. In fact, that was the theme of this past weekend. If you're playing a weaker team, you'd better beat your opponent soundly. And in the case of Boise State, if you're playing an FCS team, you'd better humble those playoff-lovers.

That's why I dropped the Broncos five spots. After clicking the gametracker midway Saturday's third quarter and seeing UC Davis trailing Boise State, 20-10, I had serious reservations about my defense of the Broncos last week when people asked if I really believed Boise State could beat all those teams I ranked below it.

That's also why I dropped Houston from the poll. As impressive as the Cougars' wins against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were, the inability to beat UTEP suggests Houston might not even win Conference USA, and that league deserves, at most, one ranked team.

This week should provide some much-needed clarity. It also has great potential for movement at the top. Depending on what happens in Baton Rouge, Oxford and Austin, LSU, Alabama and Texas all have a chance to take over the No. 1 spot from Florida if the Gators don't survive Death Valley.

Unfortunately for Weis, the Fighting Irish probably won't crack next week's Power Rankings -- even if Jimmy Clausen engineers a last-minute drive to edge the bye week.

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