By Andy Staples
October 19, 2010
NCAA Football Power Rankings
21 Missouri Tigers
Last Week: 23
What's the difference between this Missouri team and the Chase Daniel-led teams that climbed the polls a few years ago? It could be the defense. Those teams merely outscored opponents, which worked great unless the offense had an off day. This team appears capable of winning even if the offense isn't clicking. The Tigers rank first in the Big 12 and second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 10.8 points per game. Is that statistic a product of a weak schedule to this point? We'll find out Saturday when Oklahoma visits Columbia.
Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 30-9
Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma
22 West Virginia Mountaineers
Last Week: 24
Syracuse came back to earth last week, getting shelled at home by Pittsburgh. Still, the Orange should present a little more of a challenge for the Mountaineers than in the past few years. That's good, because West Virginia's biggest obstacle in the Big East will be beating the boredom of playing an inferior opponent week after week.
Last game: Beat South Florida, 20-6
Next game: Saturday vs. Syracuse
23 USC Trojans
Last Week: --
For one day in the Coliseum, it seemed as if the past season and a half never happened. USC looked as dominant against Cal as any Pete Carroll team ever did. The performance should serve as a reminder to the rest of the Pac-10: The Trojans still have the best athletes, and when those athletes decide to play to their abilities, they're tough to beat. Will they decide to play to their abilities against Oregon next week? If they do, USC might skyrocket in the rankings, and we might be looking for a new No. 1.
Last game: Beat Cal, 48-14
Next game: Oct. 30 vs. Oregon
24 Mississippi St. Bulldogs
Last Week: --
This may say more about Florida than it does about Mississippi State, but Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said after his team's win at The Swamp on Saturday that Mississippi State should have won by more. Mullen has turned things around quickly in Starkville, but teams still learning how to win are susceptible to upset. That's what makes UAB dangerous. But if Mississippi State doesn't get too high after the Florida win, the Bulldogs can clinch their first bowl berth since 2007.
Last game: Beat Florida, 10-7
Next game: Saturday vs. UAB
25 Kansas St. Wildcats
Last Week: --
The Wildcats bounced back nicely from their blowout loss to Nebraska with a blowout win of Kansas, but Sunflower State dominance isn't Kansas State's only goal. So the Wildcats will root hard for Oklahoma State this weekend, because they are going to need some chaos to get back into the Big 12 North race.
Last game: Beat Kansas, 59-7
Next game: Saturday at Baylor

Dropped out: Georgia Tech, North Carolina, East Carolina, N.C. State, Michigan

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

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