By Andy Staples
October 26, 2010
NCAA Football Power Rankings
21 USC Trojans
Last Week: 23
This is the most important game of the year for the Trojans, who can't play in a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions and who have been written off as also-rans in the Pac-10 after two early conference losses. Still, USC looked fantastic against Cal heading into its bye week, and the Trojans still have a horde of future NFL players on each side of the ball. If they're going to make a stand, they'll make it this week.
Last game: Beat Cal, 48-14
Next game: Saturday vs. Oregon
22 Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: --
Virginia Tech can thank Villanova for allowing it back into the Power Rankings. Villanova handed James Madison its third loss Saturday, meaning I'm no longer bound by my own twisted moral code to give the Dukes the edge because of their head-to-head win against the Hokies. To the Virginia Tech fans who complained last week that the Hokies weren't ranked, hang your heads in shame. Your team lost to an FCS team. You're lucky Tech is ranked at all.
Last game: Beat Duke, 44-7
Next game: Nov. 4 vs. Georgia Tech
23 Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes
Last Week: --
The Hurricanes stood on the precipice Saturday, and they walked away from the edge. A loss to North Carolina could have sent the season into a tailspin, but Miami responded with a resounding win. A trip to Charlottesville this week should be no problem.
Last game: Beat North Carolina, 33-10
Next game: Saturday at Virginia
24 Mississippi St. Bulldogs
Last Week: 24
Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen was disgusted with his team at halftime of Saturday's win against Alabama-Birmingham. Mullen recognizes that he has a good team, and he expects excellence no matter the opponent -- which is probably why he got Mississippi State bowl eligible by Week 8 in his second season in Starkville. This week will be considerably tougher. The Bulldogs will have to take Kentucky more seriously, because the Wildcats should get Derrick Locke back after the tailback missed two games with a shoulder stinger.
Last game: Beat Alabama-Birmingham, 29-24
Next game: Saturday vs. Kentucky
25 Michigan Wolverines
Last Week: --
We're going to find out where Michigan sits in the Big Ten pecking order this week. It's obviously not an elite team, but is it in the top half or the bottom half? Penn State is suffering through a rebuilding year. The Nittany Lions may be without starting quarterback Rob Bolden (concussion). Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson said his banged-up shoulder is healthy after a week off. Michigan should win this game, snap a two-game losing streak and clinch its first bowl game since the 2007 season. If not, we won't see Michigan in these or any other rankings for the remainder of the season.
Last game: Lost to Iowa, 38-28
Next game: Saturday at Penn State

Next five: West Virginia, East Carolina, Northwestern, N.C. State, San Diego State

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

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