Unconvincing wins keep Notre Dame out of top 25

Tuesday October 6th, 2009

Since some Associated Press poll voters occasionally write stories telling Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis how to do his job, it's only fair that Weis get the chance to tell us how to do ours.

"If you look at some of the other teams that are playing and look at how their games have gone, tell me where the difference is," Weis said Sunday. "I can go right up to the top 10 and work right on down. You tell me what teams that are in there haven't had some trouble in their schedule. I mean, almost everybody has. So you go right down the list. We've had one loss by four points on the road with 11 seconds to go in the game. So the flip side of it, we're 11 seconds away from being undefeated right now."

Here's the difference, coach. You lost to the best team on your schedule so far, and while you are 11 seconds from being undefeated, you're also about three plays from being 1-4. You came within a gnat's whisker of losing to Michigan State, Purdue and Washington -- teams you should have beaten handily if you fancy yourself a BCS bowl contender. That's why Notre Dame sits just outside the top 25 on my ballot. In fact, that was the theme of this past weekend. If you're playing a weaker team, you'd better beat your opponent soundly. And in the case of Boise State, if you're playing an FCS team, you'd better humble those playoff-lovers.

That's why I dropped the Broncos five spots. After clicking the gametracker midway Saturday's third quarter and seeing UC Davis trailing Boise State, 20-10, I had serious reservations about my defense of the Broncos last week when people asked if I really believed Boise State could beat all those teams I ranked below it.

That's also why I dropped Houston from the poll. As impressive as the Cougars' wins against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were, the inability to beat UTEP suggests Houston might not even win Conference USA, and that league deserves, at most, one ranked team.

This week should provide some much-needed clarity. It also has great potential for movement at the top. Depending on what happens in Baton Rouge, Oxford and Austin, LSU, Alabama and Texas all have a chance to take over the No. 1 spot from Florida if the Gators don't survive Death Valley.

Unfortunately for Weis, the Fighting Irish probably won't crack next week's Power Rankings -- even if Jimmy Clausen engineers a last-minute drive to edge the bye week.

NCAA Football Power Rankings
1Florida Gators
Last Week: 1
Finally, we get to see what the Gators are made of. Or do we? If recently concussed quarterback Tim Tebow doesn't play and Florida loses, will voters treat the result the same way as if Tebow had played? On the flip side, if backup John Brantley starts and Florida wins, it proves the Gators deserve the top spot.
Last game: Beat Kentucky, 41-7
Next game: Saturday at LSU
2Texas Longhorns
Last Week: 2
This week, Texas faces a team that could make its season by beating the Longhorns. Colorado doesn't have the talent to pull the upset, but this will be the recurring theme for the remainder of the season for the Longhorns.
Last game: Beat UTEP, 64-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Colorado
3Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 3
Playing a talented team that buckled under the weight of preseason hype, the Crimson Tide can stake its claim to No. 1 on Saturday. Of course, Ole Miss now is lying in the weeds instead of in the top 10. That's how Houston Nutt teams like it.
Last game: Beat Kentucky, 38-20
Next game: Saturday at Ole Miss
4TCU Horned Frogs
Last Week: 4
Want to know why TCU is ranked this high? Because of players like freshman linebacker Tanner Brock, who threw a helmetless haymaker of a block Saturday to spring teammate Jeremy Kerley for a 71-yard punt return touchdown.
Last game: Beat SMU, 39-14
Next game: Saturday at Air Force
5Cincinnati Bearcats
Last Week: 7
The Bearcats get the week off to prepare for a Thursday showdown with South Florida in Tampa next week. Quarterback Tony Pike needs the rest. He's probably tired of throwing all those touchdown passes.
Last game: Beat Miami (Ohio), 37-13
Next game: Oct. 15 at South Florida
6LSU Tigers
Last Week: 10
The Tigers still didn't look like world-beaters against Georgia. Given what we've seen, it's difficult to imagine how they'll move the ball against Florida. But with all those athletes, it's going to all come together at some point, and woe unto the unlucky team that stands in LSU's way then.
Last game: Beat Georgia, 20-13
Next game: Saturday vs. Florida
7Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 6
The Hokies dropped slightly because they followed a huge win over Miami by letting Duke hang around into the second half. These types of shenanigans degrade the entire ACC, which actually has some pretty good teams. This week, a resurgent Boston College comes to Blacksburg.
Last game: Beat Duke, 34-26
Next game: Saturday vs. Boston College
8USC Trojans
Last Week: 8
The Trojans seem to have rebounded from their annual Pac-10 choke, and the goings-on in the Big 12 should give USC hope that running the table from this point forward could mean a berth in the national title game.
Last game: Beat Cal, 30-3
Next game: Oct. 17 at Notre Dame
9Ohio State Buckeyes
Last Week: 9
As long as USC keeps winning, Ohio State won't jump the Trojans. But if the Trojans lose and the Buckeyes keep playing the way they have since their loss to USC, things could get very interesting in Columbus.
Last game: Beat Indiana, 33-14
Next game: Saturday vs. Wisconsin
10Boise State Broncos
Last Week: 5
It's probably a good thing the Broncos got their off day out of their systems against UC Davis. With a Wacky Wednesday game coming up in Tulsa, Boise State needs to be firing on all cylinders.
Last game: Beat UC Davis, 34-16
Next game: Oct. 14 at Tulsa
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