By Andy Staples
September 28, 2010
NCAA Football Power Rankings
11 Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: 10
Coach Bret Bielema rejoiced Monday that the Badgers are as healthy as they've been since the start of camp. He expects receiver Nick Toon (turf toe) back, and he's optimistic receiver David Gilreath (concussion) will be cleared to play. That's great news for quarterback Scott Tolzein, who will benefit from having a few more targets. Of course, the Badgers can still just barrel down the field on the ground. John Clay averages 125.2 rushing yards a game, and freshman James White is averaging 7.9 yards a carry.
Last game: Beat Austin Peay, 70-3
Next game: Saturday at Michigan State
12 Utah Utes
Last Week: 12
Utah Utes (4-0)
Quarterback Jordan Wynn made a smooth return after missing two games with a sprained thumb, and the Utes get a week off before they head to Ames to face Iowa State. In all the debate over whether a team from a non-AQ league deserves to play for the national title if it goes undefeated, Utah remains the X-factor. At the moment, the Utes are flying under the radar. But as the teams ahead of them begin to lose, they'll become more of a factor in the national title discussion.
Last game: Beat San Jose State, 56-3
Next game: Oct. 9 at Iowa State
13 Auburn Tigers
Last Week: 18
No one in the SEC West has an easy schedule, but after beating South Carolina, the rest of Auburn's slate sets up better than anyone else's. The Tigers get Arkansas and LSU at home, and they face an easier -- by SEC standards -- path until an Iron Bowl date with Alabama on Black Friday. With a potent rushing attack led by quarterback Cameron Newton and freshman tailback Mike Dyer and a defense that makes plays when it has to, Auburn doesn't appear to be going away.
Last game: Beat South Carolina, 35-27
Next game: Saturday vs. Louisiana-Monroe
14 Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: 14
I was wrong about the Razorbacks. I thought their defense would melt against Alabama. Didn't happen. Quarterback Ryan Mallett had his issues in the second half, but Alabama's defense has created issues for a lot of good quarterbacks. The Hogs acquitted themselves well against the Tide, but they couldn't finish. They still can take away a valuable lesson. They know now they can hang with a team on that level, and while they may face similar challenges in the coming months, they won't face a tougher one.
Last game: Lost to Alabama, 24-20
Next game: Oct. 9 vs. Texas A&M
15 LSU Tigers
Last Week: 17
LSU Tigers (4-0)
I may have backed the wrong horse in my preseason column discussing the non-traditional Heisman Trophy candidates. I spent most of the column on Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Near the end, I mentioned LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson as another potential candidate. Peterson should have been the focus. He takes away an entire side of the field on defense. He returns punts for touchdowns and strikes the pose in the end zone. Maybe Tigers coach Les Miles can fix his moribund offense by direct-snapping to Peterson every down and letting him make plays. Of course, then Peterson would be a quarterback, and it wouldn't be so odd if he won the Heisman.
Last game: Beat West Virginia, 20-14
Next game: Saturday vs. Tennessee
16 Iowa Hawkeyes
Last Week: 16
The Hawkeyes' once-deep backfield dried up because of injury, but several youngsters stepped forward Saturday to prove Adam Robinson isn't the only healthy Hawkeye capable of running the ball. Freshmen Brad Rogers and Marcus Coker each ran well enough against Ball State to instill confidence in Coach Kirk Ferentz. This weekend, the youngsters may get a chance to prove themselves again against Penn State.
Last game: Beat Ball State, 45-0
Next game: Saturday vs. Penn State
17 South Carolina Gamecocks
Last Week: 13
Coach Steve Spurrier said he won't hold a quarterback competition between incumbent Stephen Garcia and freshman Connor Shaw this week. Spurrier only will make a decision about who will start when the Gamecocks face Alabama on Oct. 9. That may not bode well for Garcia. During his teleconference Sunday, Spurrier expressed concern for Garcia, who tends to dip his head before contact when running with the ball. Spurrier is worried Garcia might get his neck broken. "We know what both can do," Spurrier said. "We've watched both of them now for quite a while. We'll just make a decision on what's best for the team -- and maybe what's best for Stephen Garcia."
Last game: Lost to Auburn, 35-27
Next game: Oct. 9 vs. Alabama
18 Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes
Last Week: 19
The Hurricanes bounced back from their loss to Ohio State in grand style. Now they face a two-week stretch that could define their season. Neither Clemson nor Florida State is in Miami's division, but both teams are pretty good, and a pair of losses to open conference play would all but sink Miami.
Last game: Beat Pittsburgh, 31-3
Next game: Saturday at Clemson
19 Texas Longhorns
Last Week: 7
I thought the Texas defense would be good enough to make up for the shortcomings of the offense. Judging by the gashes left in the Longhorns by UCLA, that isn't the case. If the defense can't stop a team that won't even throw, the Longhorns may not be long for the Top 25, because the offense doesn't seem to be getting any better. Maybe last weekend was an anomaly caused by a defense caught looking ahead to Red River. Texas coach Mack Brown had better hope that's the case.
Last game: Lost to UCLA, 34-12
Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma in Dallas
20 Penn St. Nittany Lions
Last Week: 20
Tailback Evan Royster finally broke out with a career-high 187 yards Saturday, but that came in a nine-point win against Temple. That result doesn't exactly inspire confidence as the Nittany Lions head to Iowa City to face a team that beat them last year in Happy Valley.
Last game: Beat Temple, 22-13
Next game: Saturday at Iowa
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