Top 10 deserve their rankings, but after that it's all guesswork

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The rankings are a mess this week. I'll be the first to admit it.

As I sat to formulate this week's Associated Press poll ballot on Sunday morning, I considered sending a question to the AP poll overlords: Can I just leave Nos. 11-17 blank?

The top 10 teams deserve their lofty rankings. In fact, I can envision any of the 10 competing for the national title if things break right this season. After that, it's a Pu Pu platter. Should Utah be ranked No. 12? Probably not, but no one else seemed deserving, either. Ditto for South Carolina at No. 13.

Hopefully, this weekend will provide some clarity. While there aren't many blockbuster games, there are some interesting ones (Iowa-Arizona, Nebraska-Washington, Texas-Texas Tech, Arkansas-Georgia) that should give us a better idea about the national pecking order.

Until then, we've got what basically amounts to guesswork. The messiness of the poll has understandably inspired a slew of e-mails suggesting we delay the start of the poll until after four or five games have been played. As a voter, I would love that. More information is always better than less. But that will never happen, and here's why.

Unless Lane Kiffin announces he's leaving USC to challenge Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2012, these Power Rankings will be the most viewed piece of college football content on this week. Many of you are obsessed with where your team is slotted. Heck, the AP poll doesn't even count for anything, and many of you will be so offended by where your team is ranked (or not ranked) that you'll spend your valuable time writing impassioned e-mails explaining why I placed your team in the wrong slot.

My guess is that if I went to my bosses and suggested waiting until Week 5 to begin publishing the Power Rankings, they'd say this: "As soon as people stop clicking on them, we'll let you wait four weeks to write them."

A few more notes on this week's rankings...

• If you want to know what I think Virginia Tech's loss to James Madison does to Boise State's national title chances, read the third item from Saturday's Snap Judgments. (As for Virginia Tech, I'm establishing a new rule: If you lose to an FCS team, you're automatically out of the poll and you'll have to work your way back in.) Also, a note on Boise State's scheduling: I worded it poorly last week when I said your school's AD should call and schedule Boise State -- if he isn't scared. As we learned last week, Nebraska wasn't scared. Just cheap. I should have included the phrase "fair market value." If San Jose State gets $1 million to get killed by Alabama, then Boise State -- which all but guarantees a national TV appearance for the host school -- is worth at least that much.

• I didn't rank Michigan this week because I still don't know how good the Wolverines are. I know quarterback Denard Robinson is one of the best players in the country, but a win against Notre Dame doesn't reveal anything because we don't know if Notre Dame is any good, either. Though Michigan has cupcakes the next two weeks, the Wolverines could crack the poll next week and climb the following week. If Notre Dame beats Michigan State next week, I'll be satisfied enough to rank Michigan. If the Fighting Irish beat Stanford on Sept. 25, Michigan's win will look even more impressive, and the Wolverines will rise again.

NCAA Football Power Rankings