By Andy Staples
November 24, 2009
NCAA Football Power Rankings
11 Iowa Hawkeyes
Last Week: 13
If Boise State doesn't receive an at-large bid to a BCS bowl, that spot should go to the Hawkeyes before it goes to Penn State, which lost to Iowa at home. Unfortunately, there is a good chance the Nittany Lions would get the bid.
Last game: Beat Minnesota, 12-0
Next game: Regular season complete
12 Penn St. Nittany Lions
Last Week: 15
Penn State looked great in every game except the biggest ones. For that reason the Nittany Lions should be spending New Year's Day in Orlando, though, as noted above, Miami and Phoenix remain possibilities.
Last game: Beat Michigan State, 42-14
Next game: Regular season complete
13 Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 16
This ranking requires an explanation. The Hokies have the same record as North Carolina, but they lost to the Tar Heels. So I should have Virginia Tech ranked below North Carolina, correct? Not in this case. Had Virginia Tech chosen to schedule a cupcake instead of Alabama -- or Nebraska, which Tech beat -- the Hokies would not have the same record as the Heels, and they would finish the regular season with 10 wins.
Last game: Beat N.C. State, 38-10
Next game: Saturday at Virginia
14 Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Last Week: 17
The Cowboys might have quarterback Zac Robinson (shoulder) back for Bedlam, but they might not. That means 26-year-old former professional baseball player Brandon Weeden could start in Norman with a likely BCS at-large berth on the line.
Last game: Beat Colorado, 31-28
Next game: Saturday at Oklahoma
15 Clemson Tigers
Last Week: 18
The Tigers clinched their first berth in the ACC championship game last week. That probably got the champagne corks popping in the conference office, because a Clemson appearance means far fewer empty seats in Tampa on Dec. 5. But the Tigers can't worry about the conference title yet. First, they have to prove they still dominate the Palmetto State against South Carolina, which has beaten Clemson twice in the past 14 years.
Last game: Beat Virginia, 34-21
Next game: Saturday at South Carolina
16 Oregon St. Beavers
Last Week: 24
Back when USC was looking for a coach, the Trojans tried to hire Mike Riley before settling on Pete Carroll. Now we know why Mike Garrett wanted Riley so badly. All he does is crank out nine- and 10-win seasons at a program where a coach had never won more than one bowl game. Riley, it should be noted, is 5-0 in bowls. So when will a bigger school snatch away Riley? Great question, but the Corvallis native signed an extension last year that runs through 2015. Riley's undergraduate alma mater, meanwhile, rests in the capable hands of Nick Saban.
Last game: Beat Washington State, 42-10
Next game: Dec. 3 at Oregon
17 California Golden Bears
Last Week: --
This is the first of two teams in this poll that began the season ranked high and then got derided as a media creation after it stumbled along the way. We may have overrated Cal and Ole Miss, but we weren't completely wrong about them.
Last game: Beat Stanford, 34-28
Next game: Dec. 5 at Washington
18 Stanford Cardinal
Last Week: 11
Slotting the Pac-10 teams in the poll was tough this week. Stanford beat Oregon and crushed USC, but lost to Cal and Oregon State. Cal beat Stanford but lost to the Oregon schools and USC. The Cardinal stay above the Trojans only by virtue of the pasting they put on them Nov. 14. The Pac-10 teams will just have to finish beating up on one another before we can really know who deserves to be ranked where.
Last game: Lost to Stanford, 34-28
Next game: Saturday vs. Notre Dame
19 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last Week: 19
The Cornhuskers are back on the big stage after clinching their first berth in the Big 12 title game since 2006. That doesn't mean they can let down their guard. A team that lost at home to Iowa State should be very leery of a trip to Colorado.
Last game: Beat Kansas State, 17-3
Next game: Friday at Colorado
20 USC Trojans
Last Week: 20
The Trojans are the last of the Pac-10's ranked teams because they looked so lifeless in losses to Oregon and Stanford. They can move up if they look more like themselves against UCLA.
Last game: Lost to Stanford, 55-21
Next game: Saturday vs. UCLA
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