By Stewart Mandel
October 21, 2008

This week's poll takes a somewhat unusual turn once you get past the top 14. That's because the teams I had previously ranked 16th (Virginia Tech), 17th (Wake Forest), 18th (North Carolina), 19th (Michigan State), 21st (Vanderbilt) and 22nd (Kansas) all lost last weekend.

The lucky beneficiary of all that carnage? Georgia Tech, which jumped 10 spots, from 25th to 15th, following an innocuous 21-17 win at Clemson. I can't say I was entirely comfortable with it, but at the same time, the surprising Jackets have been the most consistent team in the ACC so far (a bizarre 10-7 win over Gardner-Webb in which Tech played with an emergency third-string QB notwithstanding).

Meanwhile, five teams made somewhat high debuts (or returns) this week: No. 14 TCU, No. 16 Pitt, No. 17 USF, No. 18 Boston College and No. 19 Florida State. All in all, there's a general lack of depth across the country. Most of the teams in the bottom half of this poll still have much to prove.

NCAA Football Power Rankings
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1 Texas Longhorns
Last Week: 1
Colt McCoy is having a potentially historic season -- his 81.2 completion percentage is nearly eight points higher than Daunte Culpepper's NCAA record (73.6) -- and he's even better at home: 86.4 percent for 12 TDs and no INTs.
Last game: Beat Missouri, 56-31.
Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State.
2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 2
Massive DT Terrence Cody sprained his MCL against Ole Miss and could miss three to four weeks. Prior to the injury, Cody played offense on a goal-line touchdown and plowed his defender halfway into the end zone.
Last game: Beat Ole Miss, 24-20.
Next game: Saturday at Tennessee.
3 Penn State Nittany Lions
Last Week: 3
Penn State exorcised one demon last week when it ended a nine-game losing streak against Michigan. This week, the Nittany Lions will look to end another drought: seven straight losses in Columbus. JoePa last won there in 1978.
Last game: Beat Michigan, 46-17.
Next game: Saturday at Ohio State.
4 Oklahoma Sooners
Last Week: 4
It's a good thing the Sooners have such a ridiculous offense because their defense looks more and more suspect. Sam Bradford & Co. torched Kansas for 674 total yards, but the Jayhawks also put up 491 yards of their own.
Last game: Beat Kansas, 45-31.
Next game: Saturday at Kansas State.
5 Florida Gators
Last Week: 5
Florida's combined 543 rushing yards against Arkansas and LSU was the highest two-game total in Urban Meyer's tenure. According to the Gainesville Sun, a change in the offensive line -- which went to wider splits -- has been a key factor.
Last game: Beat LSU, 51-21.
Next game: Saturday vs. Kentucky.
6 USC Trojans
Last Week: 6
Pete Carroll did everything he could to try to keep the score down in Pullman. He let the first-half clock run out with the ball at Wazzu's 12, and backup QB Mitch Mustain attempted one pass in the second half. It still reached 69-0.
Last week: Beat Washington State, 69-0.
Next game: Saturday at Arizona.
7 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Last Week: 7
Oklahoma State is quietly putting together one of the Big 12's better defenses. A week after stifling Missouri star Chase Daniel, the Cowboys held Baylor's previously productive offense to six points and 204 total yards.
Last game: Beat Baylor, 34-6.
Next game: Saturday at Texas.
8 Texas Tech Red Raiders
Last Week: 9
Sloppiness continues to be the Red Raiders' lone deterrent. Three turnovers (two Graham Harrell interceptions and a Tramain Swindall fumble) led to 10 Texas A&M points in a game the Red Raiders otherwise dominated.
Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 43-25.
Next game: Saturday at Kansas.
9 Georgia Bulldogs
Last Week: 10
The Dawgs' offense kicked things into gear against Vandy, with Knowshon Moreno springing for 172 yards and A.J. Green catching seven passes for 132 yards. To win at LSU this week, Matthew Stafford needs to avoid interceptions.
Last game: Beat Vanderbilt, 24-14.
Next game: Saturday at LSU.
10 Ohio State Buckeyes
Last Week: 14
Terrelle Pryor came out and took it to Michigan State with some nifty passes and stiff-arms -- and he wasn't afraid to talk about it afterward. "People don't know what I can do," said the freshman. "They say I'm overrated. Wait and see."
Last game: Beat Michigan State, 45-7.
Next game: Saturday vs. Penn State.
1 - 10 11 - 20 21 - 25
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