By Stewart Mandel
October 14, 2008

With three of last week's top five teams (Oklahoma, Missouri and LSU) losing, filling out my ballot Saturday night presented some unique challenges, starting at the top. So you can imagine my surprise when the AP Poll came out Sunday and I found that my ballot mirrored the poll's top six and had 14 of the top 15 within one spot of each other.

Apparently, I'm not an original thinker.

I did wrestle with whether Texas or Alabama should be No. 1. My reasoning for tabbing the Longhorns: Not only did they beat the former No. 1 team in the country -- no previous foe had come remotely close to beating Oklahoma -- but the 'Horns have also been extremely consistent all season.

While the Tide's blowout win at Georgia was every bit as eye-opening if not more so than Texas's victory over OU, unfortunately, their Clemson win has lost value now that it's clear the Tigers aren't that good, and 'Bama hasn't routed its inferior foes the same way Texas has.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. If the 'Horns make it through their next three games (Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech) unscathed, they should be a unanimous No. 1 team. And if they don't, 'Bama, the floor's all yours.

NCAA Football Power Rankings
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1 Texas Longhorns
Last Week: 4
Remember back when Texas fans wanted offensive coordinator Greg Davis' head on a platter? He deserves a medal this season for taking what seemed like a depleted unit and turning it into a simple, yet incredibly efficient, passing team.
Last game: Beat Oklahoma, 45-35.
Next game: Saturday vs. Missouri.
2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 2
I didn't think it was possible to have an "easy" SEC schedule, but 'Bama seems to have found it. With the demise of Tennessee and Auburn, the Tide play only one team the rest of the way (LSU) likely to finish in the top 25.
Last game: Beat Kentucky, 17-14.
Next game: Saturday vs. Ole Miss.
3 Penn State Nittany Lions
Last Week: 6
Penn State has waited 12 years to exorcise its Michigan demons, a stretch spanning nine losses. The Lions throttled Wisconsin 48-7 last week. The 2-4 Wolverines lost to Toledo. Anyone want to wager a guess just how ugly this will get?
Last game: Beat Wisconsin, 48-7.
Next game: Saturday vs. Michigan.
4 Oklahoma Sooners
Last Week: 1
The Sooners led Texas for the large majority of Saturday's game and were hardly "exposed," hence the small poll drop. (Especially when the teams behind them have bad losses.) Losing LB Ryan Reynolds is a huge blow, though.
Last game: Lost to Texas, 45-35.
Next game: Saturday vs. Kansas.
5 Florida Gators
Last Week: 11
The Gators have finally found their running backs, and the possibilities are scary. Behind speedsters Jeffrey Demps (10 carries, 129 yards) and Chris Rainey (11 for 66), Florida ran for 265 yards in its rout of LSU.
Last game: Beat LSU, 51-21.
Next game: Oct. 25 vs. Kentucky.
6 USC Trojans
Last Week: 7
The Trojans cruised past Arizona State, but there's reason for concern in Heritage Hall. QB Mark Sanchez, whose status for the game was in question during the week, threw three interceptions, raising questions about his injured knee.
Last week: Beat Arizona State, 28-0.
Next game: Saturday at Washington State.
7 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Last Week: 17
They put up 402 yards of offense. They picked off Chase Daniel three times. But most impressively, every time it appeared Mizzou had recaptured momentum (and the home crowd) Saturday, the Cowboys stole it right back.
Last game: Beat Missouri, 28-23.
Next game: Saturday vs. Baylor.
8 Brigham Young Cougars
Last Week: 8
Over his last four games, Cougars receiver Austin Collie is averaging 8.8 catches for 131.5 yards. On Saturday against New Mexico, he hauled in nine passes for 162 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that put the game away.
Last game: Beat New Mexico, 21-3.
Next game: Thursday at TCU.
9 Texas Tech Red Raiders
Last Week: 9
It's games like Saturday's that cause lingering skepticism about the Red Raiders. Nebraska has no business taking Texas Tech to overtime, but the Huskers racked up 471 yards and kept Tech's offense off the field.
Last game: Beat Nebraska, 37-31 (OT).
Next game: Saturday at Texas A&M.
10 Georgia Bulldogs
Last Week: 10
The Dawgs suffered another blow to their offensive line this week, losing tackle Vince Vance, their lone upperclassman, for the season. The timing couldn't be worse, with games against Vandy, LSU and Florida the next three weeks.
Last game: Beat Tennessee, 26-14.
Next game: Saturday vs. Vanderbilt.
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