SEC enters big week holding three top-five spots (cont.)

Wednesday September 24th, 2008
NCAA Football Power Rankings
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21 East Carolina Pirates
Last Week: 10
Skip Holtz is human after all. His decision to bypass a fourth-quarter field goal attempt up 21-17 bit the Pirates when NC State stuffed their fourth-and-goal run play. ECU did eventually go up by seven, but the Wolfpack were able to force overtime.
Last game: Lost to NC State, 30-24 (OT).
Next game: Saturday vs. Houston.
22 Illinois Fighting Illini
Last Week: 21
Vegas doesn't have much faith in the Illini, pegging them a two-touchdown underdog at Happy Valley this weekend. One thing's for certain: Illinois' offensive line will have its hands full against a defense that's racked up 14 sacks in four games.
Last game: Beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 20-17.
Next game: Saturday at Penn State.
23 Utah Utes
Last Week: 22
Utah Utes (4-0)
I have this team ranked too low. While it took a last-minute touchdown drive to knock off Air Force, the Utes held the Falcons' offense to just 53 rushing yards on 42 attempts. Air Force entered the game No. 2 nationally in rushing offense.
Last game: Beat Air Force, 30-23.
Next game: Saturday vs. Weber State.
24 TCU Horned Frogs
Last Week: 23
The last time TCU visited Norman, the Horned Frogs shocked Oklahoma 17-10 in the 2005 season opener. However, that year's Sooners were in the midst of an offensive transition. If TCU can slow down this year's OU offense, watch out.
Last game: Beat SMU, 48-7.
Next game: Saturday at Oklahoma.
25 Vanderbilt Commodores
Last Week: --
Have you looked at the rest of Vandy's schedule? Forget going bowling -- this team can win eight games. They'll need to knock off Auburn at home in two weeks, handle Mississippi State and Duke and beat either Kentucky or Tennessee.
Last game: Beat Ole Miss, 23-17.
Next game: Oct. 4 vs. Auburn.

Dropped out: North Carolina, Fresno State.

Don't see your team? Click here for complete rankings of Nos. 26-119.

Stewart Mandel's Power Rankings also serve as his ballot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

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