By Stewart Mandel
October 07, 2008

With most teams now having played five or six games, I decided to use this week to reevaluate my entire ballot.

I wouldn't say I started over from scratch -- the top six teams remained unchanged from last week -- but I did adjust several teams' rankings considerably with little regard for how many spots they might be moving up or down from last week. Call it a "recalibration."

A few of the primary beneficiaries/victims:

  • Illinois: Like most voters, I dropped the Illini off my ballot last week when they fell to 2-2. But their two losses came against a pair of teams (Missouri and Penn State) I now have ranked in my top six, and Illinois' offense performed well in both games. After watching Juice Williams torch Michigan for 431 total yards Saturday, I believe the Illini are a top 20 team.

  • Kentucky: The preseason assumption regarding the Wildcats was that they'd fall back into obscurity without star QB Andre Woodson. But while Kentucky's offense has taken a step back, it now boasts a top 15 defense. While I withheld ranking the Wildcats during their 4-0 start, I moved them in this week following their close loss at No. 2 Alabama.

  • USF and Kansas: The Bulls lost at home to Pittsburgh last week. The Panthers are not remotely a top 25 team, having lost to Bowling Green and struggled to beat Buffalo, Iowa and Syracuse. Meanwhile, Kansas, whom the Bulls previously beat, barely survived a dogfight against mediocre Iowa State. Sadly, it marked the Jayhawks' best win to date.

    Both USF and Kansas got the boot this week.
    NCAA Football Power Rankings
    Got a different view than Stew?
    1 Oklahoma Sooners
    Last Week: 1
    What was OU's biggest question mark coming into the season? Its pass defense. What did the Sooners do last Saturday: Hold Baylor's standout freshman QB Robert Griffin to 75 yards on 11-of-26 completions. Bring on Colt McCoy.
    Last game: Beat Baylor, 49-17.
    Next game: Saturday vs. Texas.
    2 Alabama Crimson Tide
    Last Week: 2
    How would you like to have been in the Alabama locker room for Nick Saban's postgame speech after the Kentucky game? For a guy who preaches consistency, the Tide's three turnovers and 10 penalties likely elicited more than a few expletives.
    Last game: Beat Kentucky, 17-14.
    Next game: Oct. 18 vs. Ole Miss.
    3 Missouri Tigers
    Last Week: 3
    In the Tigers' first big game since their opener against Illinois, RB Derrick Washington delivered another big game of his own (14 carries for 139 yards and two TDs). How do you stop the Tigers when both Washington and Chase Daniel are on?
    Last game: Beat Nebraska, 52-17.
    Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State.
    4 Texas Longhorns
    Last Week: 4
    Texas has a new weapon -- RB Chris Ogbonnaya. Primarily a third-down back so far, the fifth-year senior exploded against Colorado, amassing 116 receiving yards, just shy of Eric Metcalf's school record for running backs.
    Last game: Beat Colorado, 38-14.
    Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma.
    5 LSU Tigers
    Last Week: 5
    LSU Tigers (4-0)
    LSU's veteran offensive and defensive lines will be the keys if the Tigers hope to earn a win at The Swamp. Their Florida counterparts have been average thus far, and RB Charles Scott has to be foaming at the mouth to run between the tackles.
    Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 34-24.
    Next game: Saturday at Florida.
    6 Penn State Nittany Lions
    Last Week: 6
    Don't let the final score fool you: The Nittany Lions dominated Purdue, outgaining the Boilers 422 to 241 and shutting them out for 54 minutes. The only kink was JoePa's leg, which relegated him to the press box.
    Last week: Beat Purdue, 20-6.
    Next game: Saturday at Wisconsin.
    7 USC Trojans
    Last Week: 9
    You never would have known the Oregon State loss happened while watching the Trojans spank Oregon. With Mark Sanchez shredding the Ducks' secondary and USC holding Oregon to 60 rushing yards, it looked like Ohio State all over again.
    Last game: Beat Oregon, 44-10.
    Next game: Saturday vs. Arizona State.
    8 Brigham Young Cougars
    Last Week: 7
    The Cougars didn't exactly bring their A-game against Utah State, with QB Max Hall throwing two picks and BYU committing 12 penalties for 123 yards. The Cougars still led 34-0 at one point. From here, it's seven-straight conference games.
    Last game: Beat Utah State, 34-14.
    Next game: Saturday vs. New Mexico.
    9 Texas Tech Red Raiders
    Last Week: 11
    With his 454-yard, six-TD masterpiece against Kansas State, QB Graham Harrell passed Kliff Kingsbury as Texas Tech's career passing leader (12,709 yards). Not surprisingly, Mike Leach considers him "the best [QB] in the nation this year."
    Last game: Beat Kansas State, 58-28.
    Next game: Saturday vs. Nebraska.
    10 Georgia Bulldogs
    Last Week: 10
    A bye week followed by a visit from suddenly hapless Tennessee gives the Dawgs plenty of time to heal their wounds from the Alabama beatdown. They'll need to be fresh for a three-week gauntlet of Vanderbilt, at LSU and Florida.
    Last game: Lost to Alabama, 41-30.
    Next game: Saturday vs. Tennessee.
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    Got a different view than Stew?
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