By Andy Staples
November 15, 2011

During my past few trips, I've occupied my time on airplanes with I Want My MTV, the fantastic oral history by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum of the channel that used to play music videos. The inside dirt on how the network and the videos were made will fascinate anyone of a certain age, and youngsters might get a laugh out of just how primitive the media landscape was 30 years ago.

The book covers 1981-92. It stops in 1992 because that's when The Real World debuted and planted the seeds for a day in which a once-great cultural force would foist The Situation upon an unsuspecting public. This week's Power Rankings will honor a time when we would rush home from school and click on the TV in hopes of seeing Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar on Me video. If we could only get Adam Curry to narrate...

NCAA Football Power Rankings
1 LSU Tigers
Last Week: 1
LSU Tigers (10-0)
The Buggles -- Video Killed The Radio Star: Because only a few cable systems carried MTV when it launched on Aug. 1, 1981, not many people saw the Buggles' ode to a medium that hadn't even been truly tapped yet. But the programmers' choice of song proved prescient. The Internet has since killed the video star -- if that sounds like another song, it's because it is -- but the music video was a cultural force for about 20 years. Someday, it might be again. Everything is cyclical. For example, LSU's season-opening win against Oregon should keep the Ducks out of the national title picture. If Oregon were to somehow work its way into a rematch, the Tigers probably would win again. Then someone would write a song called John Chavis Killed The Spread Offense. I'd love to see that video.
Last game: Beat Western Kentucky, 42-9
Next game: Saturday at Ole Miss

2 Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Last Week: 3
A-ha -- Take on Me: This video wowed viewers by using a technique called rotoscoping -- drawing over live action -- to turn some young Norwegian pop stars into graphic novel characters. Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden (born in 1983) has the honor of being the only member of a national title contender to be alive when this video was released. After this past weekend, Weeden and the Cowboys have the shortest path to the BCS title game. By crushing Texas Tech on Saturday, they moved to 10-0 for the first time in school history. They also reached seven conference wins for the first time in school history. The Cowboys will need two more wins to reach the national title game, but don't assume Bedlam is their only chance to lose. Ames, Iowa, on a Friday night sure sounds like a trap.
Last game: Beat Texas Tech, 66-6
Next game: Friday at Iowa State

3 Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 2
Guns N' Roses -- November Rain: This video has almost everything. A band in its prime. A semi-coherent story. A supermodel. An orchestra. The destruction of a wedding cake. Two iconic Slash guitar solos. But like the love story depicted in the video, the band was ultimately doomed. Alabama also seems to have almost everything. A suffocating defense. A bruising offensive line. The best back in the country. But if LSU and Oklahoma State keep winning, the Crimson Tide probably are doomed to play an early-January exhibition game. If that doesn't make you want a playoff, then you truly hate football.
Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 24-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Georgia Southern

4 Oregon Ducks
Last Week: 6
Peter Gabriel -- Sledgehammer: Sledgehammer set a new standard for artistic expression in a music video when it debuted in 1986. Like Thriller before it, it became a standard by which all other videos were judged. Oregon's win at Stanford on Saturday proved that the Ducks are the standard by which all other Pac-12 programs will be judged. Oregon's formula -- which values speed (of play and of player) above all else -- should have already changed the way everyone else in the Pac-12 recruits. It hasn't, but it will. Eventually, programs will get tired of getting crushed by Oregon every year and start recruiting the kind of speed necessary to beat the Ducks. Whether this is a good thing for the league is debatable. A team built to beat Oregon might have matchup problems -- as Oregon does -- against an SEC or Big 12 power in a title game situation. But the key is to win the conference first, and Oregon has unlocked the secret to owning the Pac-12.
Last game: Beat Stanford, 53-30
Next game: Saturday vs. USC

5 Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: 8
Duran Duran -- Hungry Like the Wolf: The boys spend most of this video chasing ... something. Then we find out Simon Le Bon is actually a were-creature, and he's been chasing a supermodel. Or something. People did a lot of drugs in the '80s. This might have been the best chase video of MTV's Golden Age, but the best chase video of this football season is Arkansas receiver Joe Adams' 60-yard first-quarter punt return for a touchdown against Tennessee. Do not sleep on the Razorbacks. They still need to beat Mississippi State this weekend, but they can throw the national title race into chaos with a Black Friday win at LSU.
Last game: Beat Tennessee, 49-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Mississippi State

6 Oklahoma Sooners
Last Week: 7
Billy Squier -- Rock Me Tonite: Billy Squier was a respected album-oriented rock solo artist in the early '80s. The Stroke and Everybody Wants You (the songs, not the videos) still hold up today. But in 1984, Squier allowed director Kenny Ortega to destroy his career in two easy steps with the video for Rock Me Tonite, the first single off Squier's Signs of Life album. Step one: Slip on pink tank top. Step two: Gyrate. The video is one of the worst ever made, and no one looked at Squier the same way again. Oklahoma players probably understand this feeling. They probably see their national title hopes crumble every time they see another highlight of Texas Tech getting annihilated. The Sooners are still an excellent team, but they need to find a way to burn -- or digitally delete -- every existing copy of their loss to Texas Tech. That game is Oklahoma's Rock Me Tonite.
Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 41-25
Next game: Saturday at Baylor

7 Stanford Cardinal
Last Week: 5
Journey -- Separate Ways: Acts such as Duran Duran and Madonna were naturals for the music video format. Some, such as Journey, were not. Journey made great music, but the group simply could not look cool on camera. Stanford plays great football, but watching the Cardinal try and fail to tackle Josh Huff in the open field on Saturday was like watching Journey's Jonathan Cain play air keyboard. That lack of elite defensive speed would have killed the Cardinal against an LSU or an Oklahoma State in the national title game. It shouldn't bother Stanford the rest of the season, though.
Last game: Lost to Oregon, 53-30
Next game: Saturday vs. Cal

8 Clemson Tigers
Last Week: 9
Nirvana -- Smells Like Teen Spirit: After years of bands who packed more glitz, more glamour and more models into each new video, along came a bunch of mopey guys from Seattle who wore flannel and released a video that simulated a pep rally at Hell High. But the song rocked. Anyone who saw the video realized something new was coming, and it was coming fast. Clemson won't win the national title this year, but the Tigers are relatively young -- especially on offense. Star receiver Sammy Watkins is a freshman. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is a redshirt sophomore. Leading tackler Jonathan Willard is a junior. The ACC Atlantic Division title Clemson clinched this past weekend could be the first of many titles this group wins.
Last game: Beat Wake Forest, 31-28
Next game: Saturday at NC State

9 Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 10
Metallica -- Enter Sandman: Obvious choice, I know. Nothing sets an ominous tone quite like a strobe light, a creepy old dude and a semi smashing a bed while chasing down a sprinting dreamer. And nothing introduces or complements a hard-hitting, defensive-minded football team quite like a furious nightmare anthem. Have fun in Blacksburg on Thursday, North Carolina Tar Heels.
Last game: Beat Georgia Tech, 37-26
Next game: Thursday vs. North Carolina

10 Boise St. Broncos
Last Week: 4
A Flock of Seagulls -- I Ran: A Flock of Seagulls lead singer Mike Score had a great haircut, but a great haircut does not make a great band. Nor does one good win make a great résumé. Some complained that Boise State dropped so far this week after losing to TCU. They cited the fact that Alabama barely moved after losing to LSU. That's true, but LSU is the No. 1 team in the country, and TCU has lost to Baylor and SMU. The moral of the story is this, Broncos: If you're only going to play two decent opponents a season, you'd better beat them both handily. Otherwise, you can only be a one-hit wonder.
Last game: Lost to TCU, 36-35
Next game: Saturday at San Diego State

11 Michigan St. Spartans
Last Week: 11
Janet Jackson -- Control: It didn't match the 13-minute, 49-second running time of brother Michael's Thriller video, but Control was Janet Jackson's announcement to the world that she was a star. The Spartans know a little about control, too. As the only one-loss team in the Big Ten Legends division, Michigan State can advance to the first Big Ten title game by beating Indiana and Northwestern. The Spartans bounced back from a humiliating loss at Nebraska with a dominant win at Iowa. If Michigan State can avoid a complete collapse, the Hooisers and Wildcats shouldn't pose a problem.
Last game: Beat Iowa, 37-21
Next game: Saturday vs. Indiana

12 Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: 12
House of Pain -- Jump Around: Little did the members of House of Pain know when they made this clip -- featuring the most hardcore use of bagpipers in music video history -- that they had made an anthem for a group of Midwestern college students that would help those students challenge the architectural integrity of a football stadium seven times a year. With the Badgers in Champaign on Saturday, all Jumping Around will be done by proxy. Wisconsin and Big Ten-record setting tailback Montee Ball (27 rushing touchdowns and counting) are back in control of their Leaders Division destiny following Penn State's loss to Nebraska on Saturday. Beat Illinois and Penn State, and Wisconsin will play in the Big Ten title game. The Badgers should beware the Zooker, though. At one point, Illinois looked like the only Big Ten team that could challenge Wisconsin, then the Illini imploded and lost four in a row. But Zook's teams have a bizarre habit of rising from the dead to take down a better team -- hello, 2004 Florida State Seminoles -- when their seasons have already gone down the drain.
Last game: Beat Minnesota, 42-13
Next game: Saturday at Illinois

13 Houston Cougars
Last Week: 13
Michael Jackson -- Billie Jean: One of the most fascinating sections of I Want My MTV involves the conflicting recollections of MTV executives and CBS executives regarding the Billie Jean video. The MTV execs claim they loved the video and immediately put it into rotation. The CBS execs claim honcho Walter Yetnikoff had to threaten to pull all the videos from every CBS artist to convince MTV to play Billie Jean. After reading, the CBS execs seem more credible. Playing the video was wise. It essentially integrated MTV, and it opened up the channel to a much broader audience. It also helped lead to the production of Jackson's Thriller video, which further revolutionized the genre. Houston would like to blaze a trail of its own. No Conference USA team has reached a BCS bowl. Thanks to Boise State's loss to TCU, the Cougars are in position to make history. It won't be easy, though. Quarterback Case Keenum and company still must beat Tulsa and Southern Miss (in the C-USA title game). Those two opponents have a combined record of 16-4, and three of those losses are Tulsa's defeats against Boise State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Last game: Beat Tulane, 73-17
Next game: Saturday vs. SMU

14 USC Trojans
Last Week: 15
Young MC -- Bust a Move: Every time I saw this video by the USC-educated rapper -- who also wrote Wild Thing and Funky Cold Medina for Tone Loc -- I couldn't help but wonder. Your best friend Harry/has a brother Larry/in five days from now he's gonna marry/He hopes you can make it there if you can/'cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man. So Young MC's best friend's brother invited Young MC to be his best man. Why didn't Larry just make his brother, Harry, the best man? Sounds dysfunctional. The Trojans looked anything but dysfunctional against Washington, and if not for NCAA sanctions, Saturday's game might be the first of two USC-Oregon matchups at Autzen Stadium this season. Unfortunately, the Trojans won't have a chance to play for the title. But they can prove that they can beat an elite squad with a fairly young team that will be eligible to win the Pac-12 South Division next year.
Last game: Beat Washington, 40-17
Next game: Saturday at Oregon

15 South Carolina Gamecocks
Last Week: 16
Terence Trent D'Arby -- Wishing Well: By 1988, Madonna and two Jacksons (Michael and Janet) had already set the bar for dancing in music videos. So why did Terence Trent D'Arby even bother? For the same reason The Citadel will try to hang with the Gamecocks on Saturday: a fat check. While South Carolina creams the Bulldogs, expect plenty of scoreboard watching and wishing. South Carolina needs Kentucky to beat Georgia to win the SEC East. That's a little like needing D'Arby to out-dance Michael Jackson.
Last game: Beat Florida, 17-12
Next game: Saturday vs. The Citadel

16 Georgia Bulldogs
Last Week: 17
ZZ Top -- Gimme All Your Lovin: When music videos changed the way the public perceived artists, ZZ Top did not seem like the kind of band that would benefit from the paradigm shift. A regionally beloved touring band from Houston, ZZ Top was three middle-aged guys -- which didn't exactly appeal to MTV's target demographic. But people underestimated the appeal of beautiful models, a cool car and a band with a distinctive look and style. Director Tim Newman staged the Gimme All Your Lovin video at a remote gas station, put some models in guitarist Billy Gibbons' 1933 Ford coupe -- the video and the Eliminator album cover allowed Gibbons to write off the car's $250,000 cost as a business expense -- and let a pair of long, scraggly beards do the rest. Then Newman essentially made the same video for Sharp Dressed Man. Suddenly, ZZ Top was playing worldwide. At the start of this season, Georgia seemed an unlikely team to play a role in the national title race. The Bulldogs immediately lost to Boise State and South Carolina, and the torches and pitchforks came out with regard to coach Mark Richt. But a fortuitous SEC schedule draw and a massive improvement has the Bulldogs playing as well as any team in the country right now. If this were a true Power Ranking -- as in who is playing the best right now -- Georgia would be in the top 10. But since these rankings mirror my Associated Press poll ballot, I have to consider the complete body of work. Georgia has the same record as South Carolina and a loss to the Gamecocks in Athens, so the Bulldogs stay below the Gamecocks for now. (Though I imagine Clemson will take care of that "same record" issue in 11 days.) Georgia has to beat SEC East doormat Kentucky to win the division. That probably will put a hot Georgia team in the Georgia Dome against an SEC West team playing for a spot in the BCS title game. Think LSU or Alabama wants to see the Dawgs the way they're playing now? Not a chance.
Last game: Beat Auburn, 45-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Kentucky

17 TCU Horned Frogs
Last Week: 24
Twisted Sister -- We're Not Gonna Take It: This classic anthem is dedicated to the Horned Frogs, who were forced to go to Boise this season as a lovely parting gift from the Mountain West. In return, TCU eliminated any chance the Mountain West had of collecting a BCS bowl share by beating the Broncos. If Mark Metcalf wanted to reprise his Neidermeyer role from Animal House again -- he did it twice for Twisted Sister videos and then let Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider play it in Lit's video for Zip Lock -- we know exactly what he would ask TCU quarterback Casey Pachall. Is that a Big East pin -- on your uniform? And Pachall would reply, "No, it's a Big 12 pin."
Last game: Beat Boise State, 36-35
Next game: Saturday vs. Colorado State

18 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last Week: 18
Dire Straits -- Walk of Life: For those of us who didn't live in an area that showed George Michael's Sports Machine, the Walk of Life video was our first prolonged exposure to sports bloopers. But remember, after Mark Knopfler tells us that "It's just a song about the troubles and the strife," the lowlights switch to highlights. One of the first is a touchdown run by former Cornhusker Roger Craig. If the 2011 Cornhuskers have gotten all the bloopers out of their systems, they could have some interesting moments ahead. Nebraska doesn't control its Legends Division destiny -- Michigan State must lose for the Cornhuskers to have a shot -- but if Nebraska can beat Michigan and Iowa, it might have a shot at an at-large bid to a BCS bowl even if it doesn't make the Big Ten title game. Here's guessing that a Nebraska-Oklahoma matchup is awfully attractive to Fiesta Bowl executives.
Last game: Beat Penn State, 17-14
Next game: Saturday at Michigan

19 Michigan Wolverines
Last Week: --
Run DMC -- It's Tricky: Run DMC was way ahead of its time. Long before other rappers tried to one-up one another with ever fancier modes of transportation in their videos, Run and DMC arrived on the scene in a helicopter piloted by Jam Master Jay and featuring pink fur interior. Once on the ground, the group proceeded to track down -- and then dance alongside -- Penn and Teller. Another thing that's tricky is the scenario that would allow Michigan to win the Big Ten's Legends Division. Because the Wolverines have two division losses -- including a loss to Michigan State -- they would need to beat Nebraska and Ohio State and hope Michigan State loses to Indiana and Northwestern. That's about as likely as Penn and Teller dancing in a Run DMC video.
Last game: Beat Illinois, 31-14
Next game: Saturday vs. Nebraska

20 Kansas St. Wildcats
Last Week: 19
Living Colour -- The Cult of Personality: This song came on the radio the other day, and I couldn't believe how well it held up after more than 20 years. It probably will keep kicking butt for decades to come. Speaking of kicking butt for decades, there may be something to former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer's claim that Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is the coach of the century. The question is, which century? What Snyder has done in his second stint as the Wildcats' coach might not be as impressive as what he did in his first stint, but that's only because he had to bring the program so far his first time around. Snyder rescued Kansas State after the Ron Prince debacle, and the Wildcats are a legitimate threat to win 10 games this season.
Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 53-50 (4OT)
Next game: Saturday at Texas

21 Penn St. Nittany Lions
Last Week: 14
None: There won't be any jokes involving Penn State for a long time. Speaking strictly about the Nittany Lions on the field, Penn State still has a chance to win the Leaders Division even if it loses to Ohio State. The Nov. 26 game at Wisconsin will decide the division champ. Nothing will be normal for a while, but this week of practice should allow the Nittany Lions to return to some semblance of a routine. They'll be playing an Ohio State team that hasn't thrown well at all, but remember, the Buckeyes get receiver DeVier Posey back from his 10-game NCAA suspension. Still, neither offense should be able to move the ball with any sort of regularity. If Penn State can mount one or two solid drives, it can win Saturday.
Last game: Lost to Nebraska, 17-14
Next game: Saturday at Ohio State
22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Last Week: --
U2 -- Sunday Bloody Sunday: Bet you thought I was going to go with Freekbass again. Alas, that would qualify as deceased equine abuse. Instead, we're going to talk about horrible Irish headgear. Which was more hideous? The helmets Notre Dame wore against Maryland on Saturday, or the dead animal atop Bono's head as U2 toured in 1983 to support War?
Last game: Beat Maryland, 45-21
Next game: Saturday vs. Boston College

23 Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Last Week: 23
Erik B and Rakim -- Follow the Leader: The Golden Eagles get the first video played on the first episode of Yo! MTV Raps because they need to immediately create a show called Yo! USM Hraps in honor of kicker Danny Hrapmann. In Southern Miss' squeaker against UCF, Hrapmann made all five of his field goal attempts, connecting from 28, 22, 44, 46 and 48 yards. Coach Larry Fedora said Hrapmann also isn't afraid to hit. "Danny's been that way for us all year," Fedora said. "He makes plays. He does what we need him to do. He was five-for-five on field goals and he made two or three tackles on kickoffs."
Last game: Beat UCF, 30-29
Next game: Thursday at UAB

24 West Virginia Mountaineers
Last Week: --
Bonnie Tyler -- Total Eclipse of the Heart: Nothing in the Big East makes any sense, and the Mountaineers are a prime example. They are the most talented team in the league, yet they lost to Syracuse and Louisville. Then they beat Cincinnati, the only team that was still undefeated in league play. In honor of the nation's most nonsensical conference title race, we give you -- LITERALLY -- the most nonsensical video ever made.
Last game: Beat Cincinnati, 24-21
Next game: Nov. 25 vs. Pitt

25 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Last Week: --
Ratt -- Round and Round: Tulsa wants to spoil Houston's BCS party just as Ratt spoiled the fancy dinner party thrown by Milton Berle and his wife, Milton Berle in drag. If Tulsa beats UTEP and then beats Houston, the Cougars would not only fail to earn a BCS at-large bid, they would also fail to win the C-USA West. The Golden Hurricane have lost to Boise State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Among the C-USA schools, only UCF came within a touchdown. Tulsa beat its other five conference opponents by at least 17.
Last game: Beat Marshall, 59-17
Next game: Saturday at UTEP

Next five: Florida State, Texas, Virginia, Baylor, Cincinnati

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

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