By Andy Staples
October 04, 2011

It seemed like such a silly question when that television reporter asked Florida coach Will Muschamp last week about being a Padawan compared to Alabama coach Nick Saban's master. But as the week wore on, I couldn't help but wonder what might happen if college football were played in a galaxy far, far away.

So, just in case I haven't chased off every reader with these themed rankings, I consulted Wookieepedia and decided to compare the nation's best teams with Star Wars characters. This one is dedicated to every kid who had this image as his desktop background for at least a portion of high school.

NCAA Football Power Rankings
1 LSU Tigers
Last Week: 1
LSU Tigers (5-0)
Yoda: Judge LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu by his size, do you? The Human Honey Badger, all 5-foot-9, 175 pounds of him, forced another fumble Saturday to set a new school record in only his 18th career game. This time, Mathieu stripped Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith and returned the ball 28 yards for a touchdown. In case you're scoring at home, Mathieu leads LSU in tackles with 35. He has forced four fumbles. He has recovered three, scoring touchdowns on two of those. He also has an interception, five pass deflections, four pass breakups and 1.5 sacks. Those who underestimate Mathieu will wind up as surprised as Darth Sidious when this happened:

Last game: Beat Kentucky, 35-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Florida
2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 2
Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious: The original question posed last week to Muschamp suggested that Saban was Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi to Muschamp's Luke Skywalker. But after watching the Crimson Tide demolish Florida on Saturday, Saban's marshaling of forces over the past few years seems more akin to the way Senator Palpatine (Sith-Naboo) amassed as much power as possible in order to take down the republic and take over the galaxy. One of the scariest aspects of seeing Alabama up close is looking at the players who leave the game with clean uniforms. Even they look as if they belong in the NFL right now. It's almost as if Saban has built a clone army of perfect specimens for each position. Don't believe me? Listen to this from center William Vlachos -- possibly the only non-archetype in the starting 22 -- on tailback Trent Richardson: "He never gets tackled by arm tackles. Ever," Vlachos said. "That's the luxury of having backs like that, and we've had them ever since I've been here." See? Clones.
Last game: Beat Florida, 38-10
Next game: Saturday vs. Vanderbilt
3 Oklahoma Sooners
Last Week: 3
Darth Vader: When Oklahoma nickelback Tony Jefferson walks into a room this week, the Imperial March should play. Saturday against Ball State, Jefferson intercepted passes on three consecutive possessions. Think Jefferson won't be anywhere near as disruptive this week against Texas? He finds your lack of faith disturbing.

Last game: Beat Ball State, 62-6
Next game: Saturday vs. Texas in Dallas
4 Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: 4
Chewbacca: It's not wise to upset the Badgers. In the past few years, no one has worried about upsetting a Big Ten team. That's because most Big Ten teams wouldn't pull opponents' arms out of their sockets. Like an enraged Wookie, Wisconsin just might do that. Against Nebraska, Wisconsin proved its previous dominance had nothing to do with the four weak opponents it faced. Quarterback Russell Wilson combined with backs James White and Montee Ball combined with a bulldozing line gives Wisconsin the nation's most feared offense. The defense isn't too shabby, either. The Badgers intercepted Taylor Martinez three times, and the offense turned all three of those picks into points. As Wisconsin goes into its open week, check out the remainder of the Badgers' schedule and shudder. Illinois is good, and Ohio State could look completely different when the Tattooed Four return, but the Badgers should be heavily favored against most of their remaining opponents.
Last game: Beat Nebraska, 48-17
Next game: Oct. 15 vs. Indiana
5 Stanford Cardinal
Last Week: 5
Obi-Wan Kenobi: We knew Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck could throw. We knew he could run. We knew he could tackle. Now we know he can catch. It's only a matter of time before Luck adds the Jedi Mind Trick to his arsenal. He already has the beard for it.

Last game: Beat UCLA, 45-19
Next game: Saturday vs. Colorado
6 Boise St. Broncos
Last Week: 6
Luke Skywalker: Young Skywalker came from the desert planet of Tatooine and helped lead a galactic rebellion. The Broncos come from the High Desert of Idaho and also hope to incite a rebellion in the established order for deciding a national champion. Because of their relatively weak schedule and the Mountain West's relatively weak television deals, the Broncos will have to do better than they did Saturday if they expect to hold their lofty ranking. Though Boise State racked up 12 tackles for loss and dominated defensively against Nevada, nothing short of utter annihilation will allow the Broncos to keep pace with the Alabamas, LSUs and Oklahomas in the polls. When most voters see that Kellen Moore completed 19-of-33 passes for 142 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, they'll assume Boise State struggled against inferior competition. Like Luke, Moore needs to bullseye womp rats every week for the Broncos to stay in the national title discussion, but he especially needs to do so in weeks like this, when the Broncos play on ESPN.
Last game: Beat Nevada, 30-10
Next game: Friday at Fresno State
7 Clemson Tigers
Last Week: 13
Admiral Ackbar: Yes, Boston College has been horrendous this season. Still, recent history should have taught us what happens when Clemson and expectations meet. After destroying the Hokies in Blacksburg, Clemson is now the favorite to win the Virginia Tech Conference. So you know exactly what Admiral Ackbar would say about Saturday's game: IT'S A TRAP!

Last game: Beat Virginia Tech, 23-3
Next game: Saturday vs. Boston College
8 Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Last Week: 7
Han Solo: The franchise's coolest character would love Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden. "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid," Solo tells Luke in Episode Four. Weeden's blaster is attached to his right shoulder, and there might not be a better one in all of college football. Plus, Weeden, who turns 28 next week, is well within his rights to call any of his teammates "kid."
Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 30-29
Next game: Saturday vs. Kansas
9 Oregon Ducks
Last Week: 8
The Millennium Falcon: The Falcon once made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. I don't even know what a parsec is, but I'm sure Oregon's offense humming at its fastest pace could make the Kessel Run in less than 10. Still, Cal might be the Pac-12 equivalent of the exogorth, the space slug that nearly swallowed the Falcon in the Hoth asteroid field. Last season, Cal held Oregon to a season-low 317 yards in a 15-13 Ducks win. Oregon players and coach Chip Kelly have stressed that Cal coaches didn't find some sort of secret; the Bears simply executed well on a night when Oregon's offense executed poorly. We'll see if Cal can slow Oregon again when the entire nation is watching Thursday.
Last game: Beat Arizona, 56-31
Next game: Thursday vs. Cal
10 Arkansas Razorbacks
Last Week: 16
Lando Calrissian: Just when you think Lando is a turncoat -- after all, he did betray the rebels to Darth Vader in Cloud City and got Han Solo frozen in Carbonite -- he totally redeems himself by helping Leia and Chewie escape and then by helping Leia and Luke rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt. Just when you thought Arkansas was on life support -- crushed by Alabama and down 18 at the half to Texas A&M -- the Razorbacks redeem themselves with a comeback for the ages. Even without star receiver Joe Adams in the second half, quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for a school-record 510 yards. As Lando would say, that arm is operational. Life doesn't get easier for the Razorbacks this week as Auburn comes to Fayetteville. (And just because YouTube makes this sort of thing possible, here is every Lando line from Empire and Jedi.)

Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 42-38
Next game: Saturday vs. Auburn
11 Texas Longhorns
Last Week: --
Princess Leia: In Empire, Yoda reminds Obi-Wan that "There is another." Though Episode Three -- which shows Obi-Wan McGregor assisting in Luke's and Leia's birth -- muddies this scene a bit, it seems Yoda is referring to Leia, who also should have the Midi-chlorian count to make a fine Jedi. At Texas, quarterback Case McCoy (brother of Colt) and receiver Jaxon Shipley (brother of Jordan) are helping the Longhorns forget all about a miserable 2010. McCoy is splitting time with freshman David Ash, but Shipley, who caught six passes for 141 yards and a touchdown against Iowa State, looks like a breakout star. If the Longhorns' defense can force turnovers the way it did against the Cyclones and the offense can take advantage, Texas will have a chance to win every game remaining on its schedule. That includes Saturday's matchup with Oklahoma in Dallas. Remember, Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin -- formerly of Boise State -- once called a pretty good game against the Sooners with far less raw athletic talent on his side.
Last game: Beat Iowa State, 37-14
Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma in Dallas
12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Last Week: 18
Imperial All Terrain Armored Transports (AT-ATs): Other than the occasional night spent inside a Tauntaun carcass, everything was going just swell on Hoth for the rebels until the AT-ATs showed up. With these massive, armored and well-armed walkers, the Empire owned the ground. So does Georgia Tech. Though they only put up a paltry (for them) 296 rushing yards against NC State, the Yellow Jackets continue to prove that the option can work at the highest level of college football. As long as Maryland doesn't bring speeders and cables to Atlanta, Georgia Tech should smash the Terrapins.

Last game: Beat NC State, 45-35
Next game: Saturday vs. Maryland
13 Auburn Tigers
Last Week: --
R2-D2: No one in the Star Wars franchise gets pounded more than the Little Droid that Could, yet R2 always seems to come out on top. Auburn has lost only once in its past 20 games. It hasn't always been pretty, but like R2, the Tigers usually get the job done. (And in light of the past two wins by Clemson, Auburn's loss in Death Valley doesn't seem too bad.) Saturday, Auburn tailback Michael Dyer carried 41(!) times for 141 yards and a touchdown against South Carolina. Dyer had to feel like R2 looked after the crash landing on Dagobah in Empire. It seems as if Auburn might finally sink into the muck with an upcoming schedule that includes trips to Arkansas and LSU, but the Tigers keep refusing to go down without a fight.
Last game: Beat South Carolina, 16-13
Next game: Saturday at Arkansas
14 Florida St. Seminoles
Last Week: 14
Major Bren Derlin: It's doubtful anyone in garnet and gold wants to read more about how the Seminoles' grand plans for this season will be dashed if Atlantic Division rival Clemson keeps winning. Plus, the 'Noles should be able to win their next two games (Wake Forest and Duke) in their sleep. So let's forget football for a moment and ponder the fact that John Ratzenberger played a rebel major in Episode Five. That's right. Cliff Claven fought the Empire.

Last game: Lost to Clemson, 35-30
Next game: Saturday at Wake Forest
15 Texas A&M Aggies
Last Week: 11
Jar Jar Binks: Jar Jar's appearance makes Star Wars fans want to throw things at the screen. No college football team this season has made its own fans want to hurl bricks through their televisions as much as the Fightin' Texas Gaggies. Judging by the fast starts and subsequent collapses of the past two weeks, Texas A&M is the nation's most difficult team to game plan for and the nation's easiest team to adjust for at halftime. The Aggies led two excellent opponents by a combined 35 points at halftime the past two games, and they have gotten obliterated in the second half both weeks. If the Aggies don't figure out how to put two good halves together, they'll get the same treatment Jar Jar got in episodes two and three. They'll be bit players.
Last game: Lost to Arkansas, 42-38
Next game: Saturday at Texas Tech
16 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last Week: 12
Count Dooku (Darth Tyranus): Dooku, a former Jedi, turns his back on his order to become a Sith lord. Saturday, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, a former Ohio State Buckeye, will try to prolong his alma mater's agony. With Ohio State tailback Boom Herron and receiver DeVier Posey suspended this week for NCAA violations unrelated to the tattoo-parlor swap shop arrangement that got them suspended for the first five games, it's doubtful the Buckeyes' offense will be any less dreadful than it was last week. So if the Blackshirts need a confidence boost after getting Wookied by Wisconsin last week, Saturday should be their lucky day.
Last game: Lost to Wisconsin, 48-17
Next game: Saturday vs. Ohio State
17 Kansas St. Wildcats
Last Week: --
The Ewoks: They shouldn't be able to turn back a bunch of invading Storm Troopers, but the characters written into the Jedi script strictly for merchandising purposes denizens of the forest moon of Endor are quite resourceful. So are the Wildcats' defenders. A week after they stuffed Miami quarterback Jacory Harris on the goal line, they got the best of Heisman Trophy candidate Robert Griffin III. Linebacker Arthur Brown's fourth-quarter interception of Griffin set up the go-ahead field goal, and Brown tracked down Griffin for a three-yard loss on Baylor's next possession to help seal the win.
Last game: Beat Baylor, 36-35
Next game: Saturday vs. Missouri
18 Florida Gators
Last Week: 15
Anakin Skywalker: Yes, I know Anakin and Darth Vader are the same person. (If I just spoiled Empire for you, too bad. You've had 31 years to see the movie.) But since they are two quite distinct personalities -- Anakin fiery and impulsive, Vader robotic and calculating -- I figured they could each have their own entry. Plus, Muschamp being Saban's apprentice kicked off this whole theme, and if Alabama is going to be Palpatine, Florida has to be Anakin. Besides, there are some similarities. Muschamp gets as angry when he works the officials as Anakin gets when Obi-Wan tells him to cool down. Also, Muschamp appears to be on a trajectory to make Florida the Darth Vader of college football again within the next few years. Alabama's offensive linemen, who are some of the best in the nation, came away quite impressed with Florida's young defensive linemen. Before he suffered an ankle injury, quarterback John Brantley looked as good as he has since he has been at Florida, which suggests offensive coordinator Charlie Weis might be able to make tremendous strides with freshman Jeff Driskel if given a full year to develop him. The Gators still need to recruit certain positions -- they need a bigger tailback to run between the tackles -- but they could be contenders in the SEC again by next season. Unfortunately for them, they probably won't be SEC title contenders by Saturday. So don't expect a miracle in Baton Rouge.
Last game: Lost to Alabama, 38-10
Next game: Saturday at LSU
19 West Virginia Mountaineers
Last Week: 20
Nien Nunb: This smuggler-turned-rebel copiloted the Millenium Falcon under Lando Calrissian in the battle to blow up Death Star II in Return of the Jedi. He was overlooked at first, but he has developed a cult following of fanboys. West Virginia freshman tailback Dustin Garrison was overlooked, too. The Mountaineers beat out Pittsburgh, Washington State and Stephen F. Austin for the two-star recruit from Pearland, Texas, who led his high school team to a Class 5A state title as a senior. No one will overlook Garrison after last week's 291-yard explosion against Bowling Green. But while the numbers weren't as great, Garrison's 10-carry, 46-yard performance against LSU a week earlier was even more impressive. A huge day against Bowling Green might only be a false promise, but a 4.6-yard average against a defense that allows an average of two yards per carry suggests great potential. If Garrison can give the Mountaineers a legitimate running threat to go with their excellent passing game, no one in the Big East will stop them.

Last game: Beat Bowling Green, 55-10
Next game: Saturday vs. Connecticut
20 Michigan Wolverines
Last Week: 22
Boba Fett: The Wolverines' offense is as well equipped as the galaxy's top bounty hunter. Quarterback Denard Robinson probably has rocket boosters in those unlaced shoes, and the idea of playing Robinson and backup Devin Gardner at the same time -- as Michigan did Saturday against Minnesota -- opens up a host of tantalizing possibilities. But just as Fett captured Han Solo only when he had the might of Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers to help him, the Wolverines haven't really been in a fair fight yet. Saturday's matchup with Northwestern is the biggest challenge Michigan will have faced. The Wildcats aren't exactly Lando and the Skywalker siblings, but a loss to them could be the Legends Division equivalent of getting knocked into a pit with teeth.

Last game: Beat Minnesota, 58-0
Next game: Saturday at Northwestern
21 South Carolina Gamecocks
Last Week: 9
Jabba the Hutt: This comparison may be inaccurate by Saturday because Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier has made a quarterback change. But against Auburn, South Carolina's offense looked about as mobile as the galaxy's most feared -- and bloated -- gangster. Forget the blown call at the end of the game that the SEC wouldn't admit was blown. The Gamecocks should never have been in that situation in the first place against a defense that entered Saturday allowing 477.5 yards and 31 points per game. South Carolina was atrocious, converting two of 10 third downs and managing only 289 yards. In the past two weeks, quarterback Stephen Garcia threw six interceptions and two touchdown passes. That prompted Spurrier to bench Garcia in favor of sophomore Connor Shaw. "At some point, we've got to do something to shake up this offense," Spurrier told reporters Monday. "This is the first step, so we'll see how it goes."
Last game: Lost to Auburn, 16-13
Next game: Saturday vs. Kentucky
22 Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 10
Darth Maul: Sure, it's cool to wield a double-sided lightsaber. It's also cool to have a big-armed young quarterback. But if you can't do anything with either one, you're only a Phantom Menace.
Last game: Lost to Clemson, 23-3
Next game: Saturday vs. Miami
23 Illinois Fighting Illini
Last Week: 23
Salacious B. Crumb: The cheap shot Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown delivered to the future progeny of Northwestern's Patrick Ward last week seems exactly like the type of cruelty Jabba the Hutt's monkey-lizard court jester would use to get a laugh from his evil boss. Brown's boss, Illinois coach Ron Zook, was not laughing at a vile act that took away from a tremendous comeback win for the Illini. Zook suspended Brown for the Indiana game.

Last game: Beat Northwestern, 38-35
Next game: Saturday at Indiana
24 Arizona St. Sun Devils
Last Week: 24
C-3PO: C-3PO loved to announce the odds of survival in a given situation. (Example: "The possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is 3,720 to one.") The protocol droid would have given the Sun Devils some bad news about their odds to win the national title after their loss at Illinois. But if Arizona State can win at Utah on Saturday, the odds of the Sun Devils -- who do have to play Oregon but don't have to play Stanford -- winning the Pac-12 South Division will be about one to one.
Last game: Beat Oregon State, 35-20
Next game: Saturday at Utah
25 Georgia Bulldogs
Last Week: --
The Cantina Band: You'd think the members of Georgia's football team would know this by now. In the past 15 months, they've seen athletic director Damon Evans, running back Dontavius Jackson and linebacker Demetre Baker chased from Athens following DUI arrests. Yet linebacker Cornelius Washington, the team's sack leader, found himself passing through the Jackson County (Ga.) jail early Sunday morning after blowing a .12. Washington was given a breath test after he was pulled over for driving 92 in a 55-mph zone. Once again, the Bulldogs couldn't enjoy a little progress without facing yet another calamity. This week, Georgia coach Mark Richt should show his players this anti-drunk driving PSA from 1979 featuring the band from the cantina in Mos Eisley on Tatooine.

Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 24-10
Next game: Saturday at Tennessee

Next five: Baylor, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, South Florida

Andy Staples' Power Rankings also serve as his ballot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)