By Andy Staples
November 16, 2010
NCAA Football Power Rankings
11 Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Last Week: 10
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Monday that he believes last year's Cowboys had more talent. So why has this year's model achieved more? Better leaders, Gundy said. Linebacker Orie Lemon, quarterback Brandon Weeden and tailback Kendall Hunter are prime examples. Their task this week is to keep their teammates from looking ahead to Bedlam and getting surprised by Kansas.
Last game: Beat Texas, 33-16
Next game: Saturday at Kansas
12 Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 11
So why is a horrible matchup between Alabama and first-year FCS program Georgia State happening on Thursday? Easy. Since Auburn has a bye before the Iron Bowl, Alabama wanted to approximate a bye. By picking Georgia State, Alabama can do a nationally televised solid for former coach Bill Curry, who has built the Panthers' program from scratch. The Crimson Tide probably have nothing to worry about, but they should be cautious. Scheduling an FCS opponent on a short week is why Virginia Tech is a top 15 team and not a top 10 team right now.
Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 30-10
Next game: Thursday vs. Georgia State
13 Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: 15
The Razorbacks are playing strictly for bowl position now, so the next two games could be very interesting. Arkansas faces Mississippi State this week and LSU next week. Lose both, and the Hogs might play their way off of New Year's Day. Split, and Arkansas probably heads to the Cotton Bowl or one of the Florida bowls. Win both, and an at-large BCS spot isn't completely out of the question.
Last game: Beat UTEP, 58-21
Next game: Saturday at Mississippi State
14 Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 17
The Hokies can clinch the ACC Coastal with a win at Miami. They also can clinch the Coastal with a win next week against Virginia. A lot of people in Boise hope Virginia Tech goes ahead and wraps up the division this week and then celebrates by beating Virginia.
Last game: Beat North Carolina, 26-10
Next game: Saturday at Miami
15 Missouri Tigers
Last Week: 19
Missouri is to the Big 12 what southern neighbor Arkansas is to the SEC. Both teams have had excellent seasons, but both lost a key head-to-head matchup in October and have no chance of winning their divisions. The Tigers still have a mathematical chance, but that would require Nebraska losing to Texas A&M and Colorado. That won't happen, so Missouri will just have to play its way into the best bowl it can.
Last game: Beat Kansas State, 38-28
Next game: Saturday at Iowa State
16 USC Trojans
Last Week: --
I've courted enough hate mail by juggling the top four so dramatically, but I'm about to invite more by writing nice things about Lane Kiffin. Sorry, but Kiffin has done a fantastic job with a team that has no bowl game at the end of the rainbow. The Trojans earned a signature road win at Arizona on Saturday, and barring a collapse, they should finish with nine or 10 wins this season (USC gets to play 13 games because it played at Hawaii this season). When you consider that USC lost to Washington and Stanford by a combined three points, this team probably has overachieved given the circumstances.
Last game: Beat Arizona, 24-21
Next game: Saturday at Oregon State
17 Texas A&M Aggies
Last Week: 20
Kyle Field is going to get loud on Saturday. Texas A&M seniors and graduate students set a record Monday when they pulled 13,678 tickets for the Nebraska game. Juniors pull on Tuesday, and Aggies athletic director Bill Byrne is hoping the 12th Man section sets a record Saturday for the most students in attendance at a college football game. Texas A&M officials believe the Aggies set the record when 28,100 students attended the 2002 Oklahoma game at Kyle Field. (Texas A&M officials are incorrect here. Ohio State's student allotment is 30,000, so the record is at least that high.)
Last game: Beat Baylor, 42-30
Next game: Saturday vs. Nebraska
18 Oklahoma Sooners
Last Week: 21
While Oklahoma State could get away with losing this weekend and still be in position to win the Big 12 South title, Oklahoma cannot. The Sooners will head to Waco in must-win mode. Oklahoma has never lost to Baylor, but this might be the best Bears team Oklahoma has faced since the formation of the Big 12.
Last game: Beat Texas Tech, 45-7
Next game: Saturday at Baylor
19 Arizona Wildcats
Last Week: 12
Just like Alabama, Arizona will pick up a lot of fans this week and next. Arizona is the toughest opponent remaining on Oregon's schedule, so the Wildcats have the best chance to create chaos atop the polls. The Wildcats have extra time to prepare, but so does Oregon, so that may be a wash. In the Pac-10, Arizona ranks just behind Cal and Oregon in total defense. The Wildcats trail only the Ducks in scoring defense. That could make things quite interesting on Black Friday.
Last game: Lost to USC, 24-21
Next game: Nov. 26 at Oregon
20 Northwestern Wildcats
Last Week: --
It makes sense that a week before Northwestern played at Wrigley Field, a Cubs-like calamity would befall the Wildcats. Quarterback Dan Persa ruptured his Achilles tendon running to celebrate his game-winning touchdown pass against Iowa. So Evan Watkins will take over the Wildcats' offense against an Illinois team that took a giant step backward last week with a loss to Minnesota.
Last game: Beat Iowa, 21-17
Next game: Saturday vs. Illinois at Wrigley Field
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