By Andy Staples
September 20, 2011

If ESPN can come up with theme weeks for college football games (Road Test Saturday, Separation Saturday, Saturday Night Fever), so can I. With four matchups of ranked teams, including two top 10 teams in College Station and a game in Morgantown that has Big Brother rigging up Dumpsters in case of burning living room furniture, we should promote this as -- say it in your best monster-truck show announcer voice -- CLASH OF THE TITANS SATURDAY.

Any mention of Titans makes me harken back to high school, when I carried a dog-eared copy of Edith Hamilton's Mythology to read between classes. (I didn't go on many dates in high school.) So I took a perverse pleasure this week in pairing the members of my Top 25 with figures from Greek mythology.

NCAA Football Power Rankings
1 Oklahoma Sooners
Last Week: 1
Zeus: The king of the gods is also the king of college football at the moment. Having seen Oklahoma, LSU and Alabama in person the past two weekends, it's clear the key difference between the three is that Oklahoma has the most polished offense to go along with its nasty, playmaking defense. LSU and Alabama defend as well as Oklahoma, and maybe better; but thunderbolt-hurler Landry Jones and a seriously up-tempo offense give the Sooners the first pick of the nectar and ambrosia.
Last game: Beat Florida State, 23-13
Next game: Saturday vs. Missouri
2 LSU Tigers
Last Week: 2
LSU Tigers (3-0)
The Titans: LSU's defensive line is a bunch of giants who just might help the Tigers rule all of college football. When a freshman stud like Anthony Johnson is a situational player, you know the line is deep. Last week in Starkville, starter Michael Brockers and reserve Bennie Logan accounted for six of LSU's 15 tackles for loss from one defensive tackle position. No other team in the nation has that kind of depth in the position group that has played an outsized role in deciding each of the past five BCS title games. Sure, the Titans eventually lost control of the world to the Olympians, but they ruled for a long time.
Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 19-6
Next game: Saturday at West Virginia
3 Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 3
Hercules: The Crimson Tide have already handled three of their 12 labors. They've killed the Nittany -- I mean Nemean -- Lion, killed the Hydra and captured the Cerynian Hind. Hercules' fourth labor? Capture the Erymanthian Boar, a fearsome hog that savaged entire towns with its tusks. Alabama's fourth labor? Beat the Fayettevillian Boars, who gore their opponents with touchdown passes. After that, it's on to Gainesville to muck out the Muschampian Stables.
Last game: Beat North Texas, 41-0
Next game: Saturday vs. Arkansas
4 Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: 4
Scylla and Charybdis: Like the monsters who threatened sailors from either side of the strait of Messina, Wisconsin's offense leaves opponents with few palatable defensive options. Those who load the box to stop tailbacks James White and Montee Ball will get picked apart by quarterback Russell Wilson, who has a 213.4 efficiency rating so far this season. Try too hard to rush Wilson or smother his receivers, and the Badgers will simply ram White and Ball down a defense's throat. Wisconsin won't face any decent opposition until Nebraska comes to Madison on Oct. 1, but even excellent defenses will struggle to negotiate Wisconsin's proverbial rock and a hard place.
Last game: Beat Northern Illinois, 49-7
Next game: Saturday vs. South Dakota
5 Stanford Cardinal
Last Week: 5
Asclepius: Few teams need the god of medicine and healing more than the Cardinal, who had three key players knocked out of the game in Saturday's win against Arizona. Tight end Coby Fleener (head) and receiver Chris Owusu (shoulder) will have an open date to recover. Unfortunately, Asclepius can't help linebacker Shayne Skov this season. The junior injured his left leg Saturday and will miss the remainder of the year. That's a big blow to the Cardinal, who now must move on without their top tackler and emotional leader on defense.
Last game: Beat Arizona, 37-10
Next game: Oct. 1 vs. UCLA
6 Boise St. Broncos
Last Week: 7
Perseus: If all goes according to coach Chris Petersen's plan, the Broncos will be the Perseus of college football. By ripping through its schedule and hoping for chaos elsewhere, Boise State can reach the national title game and slay Medusa (the BCS). Because once Boise State gets a crack at the title -- which it very well might win -- the powers that be in college football will change the system for crowning a champion. Boise State also bears another similarity to Perseus. In Greek mythology, Perseus is the son of Zeus, who entered a locked tower from above to romance Perseus' mom. Boise State's current place in the college football world has its roots in the Broncos' Fiesta Bowl win against Oklahoma, which, for the purposes of this week's Power Rankings, is Zeus.
Last game: Beat Toledo, 40-15
Next game: Saturday vs. Tulsa
7 Florida St. Seminoles
Last Week: 6
Hebe: It's the goddess of youth for the Seminoles, who will only go as far as their youngsters can take them. With starting quarterback E.J. Manuel nursing a sore shoulder, redshirt freshman Clint Trickett may have to step in again as he did against Oklahoma. With receiver Bert Reed trying to come back from an ankle injury, freshman Rashad Greene -- who caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Trickett against Oklahoma -- will have to keep contributing. The FSU defense also must worry about youth in the form of Clemson freshman receiver Sammy Watkins, who gained 199 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns in Saturday's win against Auburn.
Last game: Lost to Oklahoma, 23-13
Next game: Saturday at Clemson
8 Texas A&M Aggies
Last Week: 8
Nemesis: This week the Aggies should embrace Nemesis, the Greek goddess of vengeance. Texas A&M has lost three consecutive games to Oklahoma State, but the Aggies have gotten closer to victory each year. (Beat writer Brent Zwerneman can help A&M fans relive the horrors here.) With the crowd rocking for the third meeting of top 10 teams in Kyle Field history -- and with an official new conference home possible -- Texas A&M can solidify its top 10 bona fides by beating Oklahoma State in what should be a shootout.
Last game: Beat Idaho, 37-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State
9 Oregon Ducks
Last Week: 9
Nike: The company founded by Oregon graduate Phil Knight is named after the Greek goddess of victory, and there is no doubt that Nike rules the football program at Oregon. But the goddess Nike didn't go through nearly as many wardrobe changes as the Ducks.
Last game: Beat Missouri State, 56-7
Next game: Saturday at Arizona
10 Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Last Week: 10
Poseidon: A storm delayed the Week 3 kickoff at Tulsa for three hours, but the Cowboys ruled the wet stuff like the god of the sea deep into the night. Midway through the third quarter, Oklahoma State led 45-6. Saturday, the Cowboys will begin a rough four-game stretch that includes visits to Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri. If they're still swimming after that, this team can accomplish some great things. Now, please pause for a moment and send a prayer or kind thought to Oklahoma State assistant Glenn Spencer, whose wife, Angela, died early Sunday morning.
Last game: Beat Tulsa, 59-33
Next game: Saturday at Texas A&M
11 South Carolina Gamecocks
Last Week: 11
Achilles: During his junior and senior years at Tampa's Jefferson High, future Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia penned a diary for the website of The Tampa Tribune. He signed each post "Stephen Achilles Garcia." He earned the nickname because his flowing locks reminded teammates of Brad Pitt's character in Troy. Five years later, Garcia will have to be careful to make sure his play isn't South Carolina's Achilles' heel as it tries to go 2-0 in SEC East play against a surprisingly feisty Vanderbilt. Another potential heel for the Gamecocks? Their reliance on tailback Marcus Lattimore. The sophomore carried 37 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns against Navy, and he has averaged 29 carries a game this season. His odometer is awfully high with a long way to go.
Last game: Beat Navy, 24-21
Next game: Saturday vs. Vanderbilt
12 Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 12
The Fates: Any quarterback who throws in the general vicinity of Hokies cornerback Jayron Hosley relinquishes his team's fate. The three Fates determined a man's destiny by spinning, measuring and cutting the thread of life. Hosley determines an offense's fate by whether he decides to snatch yet another pass out of the air. Hosley, who led the nation in interceptions last year with nine, picked off two Arkansas State passes on Saturday. It's better to just avoid his side of the field, which unfortunately makes it much easier for the Hokies to defend the remainder of the field.
Last game: Beat Arkansas State, 26-7
Next game: Saturday at Marshall
13 Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: 13
Cerberus: Cerberus was a ferocious three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to the underworld. Arkansas has its own three-headed monster at receiver, and as we learned Saturday when two heads didn't play and Troy got way too close, the Razorbacks need all three. With Greg Childs and Jarius Wright both out, Joe Adams caught eight passes for 109 yards and a touchdown against Troy. Childs, who missed the Troy game following the death of his grandmother, should be back for the trip to Tuscaloosa. So too should Wright, who missed the Troy game with a strained knee. Should any of the trio falter, the Razorbacks are deep enough to add another head to the monster. Junior Cobi Hamilton is good enough to be the No. 1 receiver in a lot of places.
Last game: Beat Troy, 38-28
Next game: Saturday at Alabama
14 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last Week: 15
Prometheus: Best known for giving fire to man, the Titan Prometheus spent much of his time protecting man from the gods and from himself. It is in the spirit of protection that we note that against Washington on Saturday, Nebraska started three offensive linemen who joined the program as walk-ons. Center Mike Caputo, right guard Spencer Long and left guard Seung Hoon Choi all came up the hard way. Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea, and his parents still live there.
Last game: Beat Washington, 51-38
Next game: Saturday at Wyoming
15 Florida Gators
Last Week: 20
Narcissus: In the myth, hunter Narcissus couldn't stop staring at his own reflection in a pool of water. Florida coach Will Muschamp isn't the type to stare at his own reflection -- he would eat that type of person with a healthy dollop of Heinz 57 -- but heaven help the fool whose lack of intensity draws Muschamp's stare in his general direction. Also, if you're feeling particularly enraged and have a camera handy, feel free to submit a shot to the Muschamp Stare site.
Last game: Beat Tennessee, 33-23
Next game: Saturday at Kentucky
16 West Virginia Mountaineers
Last Week: 17
Dionysus: The god of drink would have been proud of the Mountaineers, who in the offseason legalized beer sales at Milan Puskar Stadium. Now, the LSU fan base is headed to Morgantown. Of his team's fans, Tigers coach Les Miles said this Monday: "If they [sold beer] in Tiger Stadium, I fear the upper decks might not hold it." I'm quite jealous of's Holly Anderson, who will witness Saturday's bacchanal in person. There aren't many offenses that look capable of moving the ball against LSU. West Virginia's is one of them. And when quarterback Geno Smith and company find the end zone, Dionysus would recommend drinking deep. It's no easy feat, and it's worth celebrating.
Last game: Beat Maryland, 37-31
Next game: Saturday vs. LSU
17 Baylor Bears
Last Week: 18
Apollo: The ancient Greeks considered Apollo a god-of-all-trades. He was a healer, a protector, a musician and an oracle. He basically was a one-stop deity shop. He was the Olympian version of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who, when his running ability is taken into account, might have the most complete skill set of any signal-caller in America.
Last game: Beat Stephen F. Austin, 48-0
Next game: Saturday vs. Rice

18 USC Trojans
Last Week: --
Atlas: After the Titans lost their war against the Olympians, Zeus punished Atlas for his role in the war by forcing him to hold up the sky. The current Trojans had no part in the largesse Reggie Bush took from wannabe agents, but the NCAA has forced them to shoulder the weight of the punishment anyway. Which is too bad, because this team -- which isn't allowed to play in the Pac-12 title game or in a bowl game -- has great potential. We'll find out a lot more about how good the Trojans are Saturday in Tempe.
Last game: Beat Syracuse, 38-17
Next game: Saturday at Arizona State
19 South Florida Bulls
Last Week: 22
The Minotaur: The half-man, half-bull creature represents this group of Bulls nicely. USF's season-opening win at Notre Dame looked even better after the Fighting Irish beat Michigan State on Saturday. After another tuneup against UTEP, USF opens conference play Sept. 29 at Pittsburgh. Here's guessing the rest of the remaining Big East members pull for the Bulls to beat the ACC-bound defectors by 100. Another mythological figure in the Minotaur's story relates to the Bulls. Daedalus was the master craftsman who built the labyrinth that imprisoned the Minotaur. As punishment for helping Theseus negotiate the labyrinth and kill the Minotaur, King Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus. They escaped by using wings made of feathers and wax, but Icarus flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax and caused him to plunge to his death. In past years, when the Bulls have tasted success, they too have plunged before realizing their full potential. In his second year in Tampa, coach Skip Holtz will have to make sure his players don't let success go to their heads and lead them to fly too close to the sun.
Last game: Beat Florida A&M, 70-17
Next game: Saturday vs. UTEP
20 TCU Horned Frogs
Last Week: 23
Andromeda: Through no fault of her own -- actually, it was her mother, Cassiopeia, bragging too much of her beauty -- Andromeda was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster. Through no fault of its own, TCU now finds itself scrambling to figure out whether it still has a place waiting at college football's big-boy table. The ACC has raided the Big East and may come back raiding again. So the Horned Frogs, who did nothing but win to earn their way into a BCS automatic-qualifying conference, now must wait to find out if the Big East can remain a viable AQ football league. Also, the mention of Andromeda gives me an excuse to embed the trailer for the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans, which features a very different Andromeda story and a bunch of stop-motiontastic monsters.
Last game: Beat Louisiana-Monroe, 38-17
Next game: Saturday vs. Portland State

21 Maryland Terrapins
Last Week: --
Hephaestus: The god of the forge was not known for his good looks. In fact, he was considered the ugliest dude on Mount Olympus. Thanks to their new uniform combinations -- which include a bizarre state flag helmet and a turtle shell helmet -- the Terrapins might be the most hideously dressed outfit in college football. The good news is the players love the unis, and recruits probably do, too. Besides, Hephaestus wound up marrying Aphrodite, the most beautiful creature on earth or Olympus. Even among the immortals, there was no accounting for taste.
Last game: Lost to West Virginia, 37-31
Next game: Saturday vs. Temple
22 Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes
Last Week: --
The Furies: The Hurricanes who sat out the season opener at Maryland because of the Nevin Shapiro scandal seemed determined to take out their vengeance against Ohio State, and the result was a bloodbath that sent the Buckeyes tumbling from the Top 25. Even at partial strength, Miami almost beat a good Maryland team. At close to full strength, the Hurricanes crushed Ohio State. If this team continues to play with the Furies' unshakeable sense of purpose, it could make the ACC title race quite interesting.
Last game: Beat Ohio State, 24-6
Next game: Saturday vs. Kansas State
23 Michigan Wolverines
Last Week: --
Cupid and Psyche: After some interference from psycho mother-in-law Aphrodite and Psyche's equally psycho sisters, lovers Cupid and Psyche were eventually reunited on Mount Olympus. This week, Michigan coach Brady Hoke will be reunited with his former team, San Diego State. Hoke may have trained the Aztecs too well. Tailback Ronnie Hillman averages 6.5 yards per carry and 165.7 yards per game. Hillman could have a banner day against a Michigan defense that has allowed its three opponents -- two of which weren't very good -- to average 4.8 yards per carry. First-year Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is one of the best in the business. Now would be the week to whip his group into shape, or the Aztecs might spoil their reunion with their former coach.
Last game: Beat Eastern Michigan, 31-3
Next game: Saturday vs. San Diego State
24 Illinois Fighting Illini
Last Week: --
Athena: Athena sprung from the head of her father, Zeus, fully formed and clad in armor. Last week, Big Ten Network host Mike Hall told the world that Illinois coach Ron Zook flew a plane before he could drive a car. That is the mark of a man fully formed at a young age. Zook also explained that if he wasn't a football coach, he'd be a dentist. Enjoy that terrifying thought as you watch him coach a team that could make noise in the Big Ten.
Last game: Beat Arizona State, 17-14
Next game: Saturday vs. Western Michigan
25 Iowa St. Cyclones
Last Week: --
Boreas: The ancient Greek embodiment of the cold north wind is perfect for the Cyclones, who have blown away expectations so far this season. After a triple-overtime win against Iowa, Iowa State went to East Hartford and beat Connecticut on national television. Now the world knows what only we nameniks knew before: that Cyclones quarterback Steele Jantz can play. The Cyclones get a week off before they face Texas, which also has a week off. The winner of that matchup will be ranked. The loser probably will not.
Last game: Beat Connecticut, 24-20
Next game: Oct. 1 vs. Texas

Next five: Texas, Ohio State, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Michigan State

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

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)