By Andy Staples
September 08, 2009

Coaches always say a team makes its biggest improvement between Week 1 and Week 2. That's precisely why this week's Power Rankings remain almost as much of a crapshoot as last week's. Is Notre Dame unstoppable, or was Nevada worse than advertised? Did Oklahoma State stuff Georgia's offense, or did the Bulldogs stop themselves? Questions still abound.

I allowed myself to get caught up in the BYU and Alabama euphoria, slotting the Cougars at No. 6 after leaving them out of the poll last week and bumping the Crimson Tide all the way to No. 3. I resisted the urge to rank Michigan, which looked great against Western Michigan. The win was the first step toward washing away the stink of last year's 3-9 debacle, but I need to see one or two more solid performances from Rich Rodriguez's team before I take a gulp of the maize-and-blue Kool-Aid. Should the Wolverines beat Notre Dame on Saturday, they'll enter the poll with extreme prejudice.

By this time next week, we should have a much better idea which teams are contenders and which are pretenders. My guesses are more educated this week, but they're still just guesses.

NCAA Football Power Rankings
1 Florida Gators
Last Week: 1
One more preseason game, then we get to see what the Gators can really do when Tennessee comes to town.
Last game: Beat Charleston Southern, 62-3
Next game: Saturday vs. Troy
2 Texas Longhorns
Last Week: 2
Like the Gators, the Longhorns play two preseason games before a huge vengeance game. Texas will thump Wyoming while tuning up for Texas Tech.
Last game: Beat Louisiana-Monroe, 59-20
Next game: Saturday vs. Wyoming
3 Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 10
The big question for the Crimson Tide was the revamped offensive line. With 268 rushing yards against Virginia Tech last weekend, guard Mike Johnson & Co. answered that question. Alabama's defense is excellent, and its offense is better than the one that helped the Tide to a 12-0 start last season.
Last game: Beat Virginia Tech, 34-24
Next game: Saturday vs. Florida International
4 USC Trojans
Last Week: 4
The Trojans ran all over San Jose State, allowing freshman quarterback Matt Barkley to get comfortable in his debut. Expect more smashmouth running against Ohio State, which struggled against Navy.
Last game: Beat San Jose State, 56-3
Next game: Saturday at Ohio State
5 Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Last Week: 7
If the Cowboys' defense can play every game like it did against Georgia, the Pokes can compete for a national title. If the Cowboys' offense can avoid playing the way it did against Georgia for the remainder of the season, the Pokes can compete for the national title.
Last game: Beat Georgia, 24-10
Next game: Saturday vs. Houston
6 Brigham Young Cougars
Last Week: --
Call me reactionary for putting the Cougars here, but it sure looked like they were destined for a victory even before Sam Bradford got hurt. If the BCS cronies don't want a major debate, they'll have to hope Florida State (Sept. 19), TCU (Oct. 24) or Utah (Nov. 28) knocks off BYU.
Last game: Beat Oklahoma, 14-13
Next game: Saturday at Tulane
7 Ohio St. Buckeyes
Last Week: 5
Yes, Navy's flexbone offense is tricky, and yes, the Buckeyes had a pretty good reason to look past the Midshipmen, but top five teams should not have such trouble dispatching a service academy. Fortunately for Ohio State, a win Saturday would slingshot the Buckeyes back into the top five.
Last game: Beat Navy, 31-27
Next game: Saturday vs. USC
8 Ole Miss Rebels
Last Week: 8
The Rebels looked pretty shaky in the first half against Memphis. They won't have that luxury against SEC opponents. The Rebels are off this week before facing Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 19. Then they'll play at South Carolina on just five days rest.
Last game: Beat Memphis, 45-14
Next game: Sept. 19 vs. Southeastern Louisiana
9 California Golden Bears
Last Week: 18
The Golden Bears looked awesome against Maryland. I had them way underrated. I apologize to Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz and the rest of Cal's fans for the slight. Hope I didn't harsh the buzz in Berkeley.
Last game: Beat Maryland, 52-13
Next game: Saturday vs. Eastern Washington
10 LSU Tigers
Last Week: 9
LSU Tigers (1-0)
Sorry Tigers, but you must fall a spot after giving up 478 yards to a team that finished 0-12 last season. I have a sneaking suspicion new Washington coach Steve Sarkisian and a rejuvenated Tim Tebow of the Pacific Northwest (Jake Locker) had a lot to do with that, but we'll have to see how the teams develop.
Last game: Beat Washington, 31-23
Next game: Saturday vs. Vanderbilt
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