By Andy Staples
October 19, 2010
NCAA Football Power Rankings
11 Ohio St. Buckeyes
Last Week: 2
The Buckeyes no longer control their national championship hopes. Fair or not, this team also would have to overcome the lingering stigma of two blowout losses in BCS title games to jump an undefeated team. To make matters worse, Ohio State doesn't even control its Big Ten destiny unless Michigan State loses. On the bright side, at least coach Jim Tressel's job isn't riding on a win against Purdue -- as ex-Minnesota coach Tim Brewster's was last week. As if the Buckeyes needed any more motivation after last week's loss, they can get revenge this week's for last year's loss at Purdue.
Last game: Lost to Wisconsin, 31-18
Next game: Saturday vs. Purdue
12 Stanford Cardinal
Last Week: 14
If this quarterback thing doesn't work out for Stanford's Andrew Luck, he might have a future as an abnormally large safety. Check out this hit on USC's Shareece Wright after Wright recovered a fumble against the Cardinal on Oct. 9. Washington State defenders might be wise to leave fumbles lying on the ground with that headhunter patrolling the offensive backfield.
Last game: Beat USC, 37-35
Next game: Saturday vs. Washington State
13 Arizona Wildcats
Last Week: 16
Wildcats coach Mike Stoops said Monday that quarterback Nick Foles' knee injury isn't as severe as initially feared. Stoops said Foles is "week-to-week." How many weeks that means remains a mystery, though. So for the time being, Matt Scott, the player Foles replaced last season, will take over in Foles' absence. That could shift the Wildcats' offensive gameplan; while Foles is a better passer, Scott is a better runner.
Last game: Beat Washington State, 24-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Washington
14 Iowa Hawkeyes
Last Week: 17
Thanks to the schedule, the Hawkeyes control their own conference destiny -- along with the destinies of the other Big Ten title contenders. Iowa faces Wisconsin this week, Michigan State next week and Ohio State on Nov. 20. All of those games will be in Iowa City. This week, the Hawkeyes know the Badgers will try to line up and pound them like they did Ohio State. Making things more interesting, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is a former Hawkeye who coached linebackers at Iowa from 1996-2001, including several years with current Iowa defensive staff members.
Last game: Beat Michigan, 38-28
Next game: Saturday vs. Wisconsin
15 South Carolina Gamecocks
Last Week: 9
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier should understand that calls that work for The Hat don't necessarily work for Darth Visor. Spurrier hoped for a Les Miles moment Saturday at Kentucky when Stephen Garcia lofted the ball into the end zone -- even though the Gamecocks only needed a field goal to force overtime. The game probably wouldn't have been that close if South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore hadn't sprained his ankle, but the Gamecocks will have to figure out how to win without their freshman star. Lattimore may sit out Saturday against Vanderbilt.
Last game: Lost to Kentucky, 31-28
Next game: Saturday at Vanderbilt
16 Texas Longhorns
Last Week: --
I understand completely if voters elect to keep Nebraska above Texas. After all, Texas lost to UCLA at home, and the stain of that loss won't fade for a while. I chose to move the Longhorns above the Cornhuskers because they went on the road and shut down what had been a prolific offense. If the 'Horns can repeat that kind of defensive performance week after week, they can win the rest of the games on their schedule.
Last game: Beat Nebraska, 20-13
Next game: Saturday vs. Iowa State
17 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last Week: 5
So did Texas expose Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, or are the Longhorns one of the few teams with the speed on defense to neutralize Martinez? Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Monday that he may have made the wrong call yanking Martinez so early against the Longhorns. "When you look back," Pelini said, "Taylor wasn't the only problem." The Cornhuskers will have to address those problems quickly this week, because even if Martinez returns to form, Oklahoma State can score at a similar pace.
Last game: Lost to Texas, 20-13
Next game: Saturday at Oklahoma State
18 Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: 11
Razorbacks quarterback Ryan Mallett (concussion) may be cleared to play Saturday against Ole Miss. Even if he isn't, the Hogs have to be confident in backup Tyler Wilson, who stepped in for Mallett against Auburn and threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Arkansas defense did little to inspire confidence. The Auburn defense scored one touchdown on a fumble return, but the Razorbacks gave up the other seven. The Rebels don't have Cam Newton under center, but Coach Houston Nutt probably figured out a few ways to score while watching his former team's defense get sliced and diced on Saturday.
Last game: Lost to Auburn, 65-43
Next game: Saturday vs. Ole Miss
19 Florida St. Seminoles
Last Week: 18
Florida State's win against Boston College was u-g-l-y. It had no alibi. Against a better team, the Seminoles would have lost. But it was a win, and a program that won only six games during the 2009 regular season will happily take a sixth win in seven tries this year. FSU will have to cut down on the turnovers to beat N.C. State. If the Seminoles can win that game, it's highly likely they'll have a chance to clinch the ACC's Atlantic Division on Nov. 6 against North Carolina.
Last game: Beat Boston College, 24-19
Next game: Oct. 28 at NC State
20 Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Last Week: 20
We now come to the portion of the Power Rankings that includes the undefeated Big 12 teams that are either horribly underrated or absolutely accurately rated. We'll find out this weekend whether Oklahoma State is for real or a product of a soft early schedule. The Cowboys don't have the athleticism on defense that Texas has, so they'll need to score more than the Longhorns did Saturday to beat Nebraska. That's certainly possible. Nebraska appeared susceptible to the run, and for all the publicity that Cowboys receiver Justin Blackmon has justifiably received, don't forget that Oklahoma State tailback Kendall Hunter leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth in the nation in rushing with 138.3 yards per game.
Last game: Beat Texas Tech, 34-17
Next game: Saturday vs. Nebraska
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