By Stewart Mandel
October 14, 2008
NCAA Football Power Rankings
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11 Missouri Tigers
Last Week: 3
Expect Chase Daniel to lug a gigantic chip on his shoulder Saturday in Austin. Jilted by Texas as an in-state recruit, Daniel has been eyeing this game all season, and now he'll want to redeem last week's three-interception nightmare.
Last game: Lost to Oklahoma State, 28-23.
Next game: Saturday at Texas.
12 Utah Utes
Last Week: 12
Utah Utes (7-0)
How good are the Utes' defense and special teams? They went up 20-0 on Wyoming without logging an offensive touchdown, scoring on an interception return and a blocked punt and adding two Louie Sakoda field goals.
Last game: Beat Wyoming, 41-7.
Next game: Saturday vs. Colorado State.
13 LSU Tigers
Last Week: 5
LSU Tigers (4-1)
The Tigers need to get their defense straightened out in a hurry following Saturday's nightmare in Gainesville. This week LSU is at South Carolina, whose offense is starting to click behind newly anointed QB Stephen Garcia.
Last game: Lost to Florida, 51-21.
Next game: Saturday at South Carolina.
14 Ohio State Buckeyes
Last Week: 13
Something's still not quite right with the Buckeyes, who managed just 222 yards of offense against 2-4 Purdue. Fortunately, OSU's stingy defense kept the Boilers from driving inside their red zone the entire afternoon.
Last game: Beat Purdue, 16-3.
Next game: Saturday at Michigan State.
15 Boise State Broncos
Last Week: 17
The Broncos' defense was outstanding against Southern Miss, holding the Eagles to 278 total yards -- nearly 200 yards below their season average -- and stuffing them on four fourth-down conversion attempts.
Last game: Beat Southern Miss, 24-7.
Next game: Friday vs. Hawaii.
16 Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 18
The Hokies begin a daunting two-game road swing Saturday against Boston College, followed by a trip to Tallahassee. Tech has already beaten its biggest Coastal Division threats but will need to survive its games against the other division.
Last game: Beat Western Kentucky, 27-13.
Next game: Saturday at Boston College.
17 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Last Week: 22
The Deacons reasserted themselves as the team to beat in the ACC's Atlantic Division with their stifling defensive performance against Clemson's admittedly dysfunctional offense. Star CB Alphonso Smith had another huge interception.
Last game: Beat Clemson, 12-7.
Next game: Saturday at Maryland.
18 North Carolina Tar Heels
Last Week: 19
The Tar Heels' defense came up huge against Notre Dame, forcing five turnovers and stopping a last-minute drive. They'll need even more of it now that top playmaker Brandon Tate is lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Last game: Beat Notre Dame, 29-24.
Next game: Saturday at Virginia.
19 Michigan State Spartans
Last Week: 24
While the Spartans' rout of Northwestern was impressive, their sharp rise has more to do with the lack of qualified candidates behind them. RB Javon Ringer has now carried the ball an astounding 247 times (35.2 per game).
Last game: Beat Northwestern, 37-20.
Next game: Saturday vs. Ohio State.
20 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Last Week: --
The Gophers are giving Vanderbilt a run for its money for Surprise Team of the Year. Just 1-11 in Tim Brewster's first season, Minnesota is now in position to win as many as nine games, which would be a near-record turnaround.
Last game: Beat Illinois, 27-20.
Next game: Oct. 25 at Purdue.
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