NCF Nation: Power rankings 110909

ACC power rankings: Week 11

November, 9, 2009
11/09/09
9:31
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

For the second straight week, the top five teams in the ACC held onto their positions. That has to be a first. It’s no coincidence that those five teams are the ACC’s only bowl-eligible teams so far. There were a few other tweaks, but nothing drastic:

1. Georgia Tech (9-1, 6-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) -- The Yellow Jackets continue to find a way to win, and pulled out a close one in overtime against Wake Forest. They’ve now won seven straight and have earned the No. 7 ranking in the BCS standings. Paul Johnson is looking at an 11-win season, if not better.

2. Miami (7-2, 4-2; LW: No. 2) -- The Hurricanes returned to their September form in the second half of their 52-17 romp over Virginia and remain one of the country’s best teams. Now that the Canes are No. 14 in the BCS standings, they qualify to be invited to a BCS bowl. It’s more likely, though, that they wind up facing Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl, especially if Georgia Tech heads to the Orange Bowl.

3. Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 3) -- It wasn’t pretty, but Virginia Tech’s 16-3 win over East Carolina helped the Hokies shake off back-to-back Coastal Division losses that changed their season. A 10-win season is still possible, and the Hokies should pick up another win on Saturday in College Park against a struggling Maryland team. There is still room for improvement with Virginia Tech on both sides of the ball.

4. Clemson (6-3, 4-2; LW: No. 4) -- The Tigers’ toughest opponents are behind them, but now they have to avoid getting knocked off track, and NC State has the potential to be the spoiler this week. Clemson will need to keep C.J. Spiller healthy this week, as his hip and toe were bothering him after the FSU game, but he said he’d be good to go for Saturday.

5. Boston College (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 5) --The Eagles had a bye week, and are still waiting for Clemson to screw up down the stretch. A second-place finish in the Atlantic Division would hardly be considered a disappointment, though, after all of the adversity this program has had to overcome.

6. North Carolina (6-3, 2-3; LW: No. 8) -- The Tar Heels have taken a step forward each of the past two weeks, and the defense is finally getting just enough help out of the offense. Despite its losing record in conference play, UNC is capable of an upset this weekend against Miami because of its defense and home-field advantage.

7. Duke (5-4, 3-2; LW: No. 6) -- It’s not over yet for the Blue Devils, but it’s not going to get any easier, either, as Georgia Tech is up next, followed by Miami. Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is motivated by getting his team to the postseason, and the Yellow Jackets’ defense should have some confidence after making good adjustments against Wake quarterback Riley Skinner.

8. Wake Forest (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 9) -- If there’s one team in the conference that is better than its record indicates, this is it. The Deacs have the numbers they need everywhere but the scoreboard, and unfortunately for them, that’s where it counts. They get a break this week against an FSU team that will be missing starting quarterback Christian Ponder.

9. Florida State (4-5, 2-4; LW: No. 7) -- Without Ponder, the Noles are all but doomed. He’s been the one bright spot for this team on and off the field, and now, with a separated shoulder, he’s become a part of the team’s bad news. A bowl season now seems unlikely. The only good news? E.J. Manuel will get some valuable experience for the future.

10. Virginia (3-6, 2-3; LW: No. 10) -- The Cavaliers have nullified their three-game winning streak with a three-game losing streak, and appear to be headed for their second straight bowl-less season under coach Al Groh. The question is whether athletic director Craig Littlepage will do anything about it this time.

11. NC State (4-5, 1-4; LW: No. 12) --The Pack started their mini four-game season with a 1-0 record against Maryland, and now they needs to keep it up against Clemson in order to keep their bowl hopes alive. It’s certainly not out of the question, but if the Tigers’ defense could fluster Ponder, they’ll be able to pressure Russell Wilson, too.

12. Maryland (2-7, 1-4; LW: No. 11) -- Hapless and hopeless it seems, though technically, if the stars align and the Atlantic Division implodes, the Terps could still work their way into the championship game. It’s more than a stretch, but hey, these guys needs something to keep them going.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

We've got a new No. 1 team and a lot of shuffling throughout the rankings this week. There's still a lot of uncertainty after the fifth spot, but things should get interesting down the stretch.

1. Ohio State (8-2, 5-1): Surprise, surprise, the Buckeyes are back on top in the Big Ten, a league they've owned this decade. After a blowout win against Penn State, Ohio State only must beat Iowa next week to secure the Big Ten's automatic BCS berth, most likely the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes come in very confident, while Iowa likely will be without starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

2. Iowa (9-1, 5-1): The quest for perfection is over in Iowa City, and the loss to Northwestern came with a cost as Stanzi left the field with a severe right ankle sprain. Iowa can still win the Big Ten with a victory next week, but it has struggled mightily in Columbus and will need big things from redshirt freshman James Vandenberg in his first career start at quarterback.

3. Penn State (8-2, 4-2): Because of a soft schedule, Penn State had only two chances for signature wins this season and it failed on both chances. Despite getting both Iowa and Penn State at Beaver Stadium, the Nittany Lions couldn't generate much offense and endured surprising breakdowns on special teams. Penn State probably saw its chances for a BCS at-large berth vanish after Saturday's poor performance.

4. Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2): Is there a more under-the-radar 7-2 team than Wisconsin? The Badgers quietly keep winning, though Saturday's game against Indiana got rather interesting down the stretch. Freshman running back Montee Ball really picked up teammate John Clay (concussion), and the Badgers' ground attack surged yet again. Wisconsin remains in good shape for a 10-2 season.

5. Northwestern (6-4, 3-3): The Wildcats move up two spots after their first win against a top 10 opponent since 2004. Not much has gone their way this season, but they continue to show unbelievable resolve in overcoming adversity. The defense is playing better each week, and Pat Fitzgerald is finding just enough offense despite injuries to quarterbacks Mike Kafka and now Dan Persa.

6. Michigan State (5-5, 3-3): Mark Dantonio said his team must regain respect in November, and Michigan State took a step in the right direction by pounding Western Michigan. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was brilliant and running back Ashton Leggett answered the bell with four rushing touchdowns. The Spartans now face a critical game at Purdue that could determine whether they reach the postseason.

7. Purdue (4-6, 3-3): What a wild season for Danny Hope's team. The Boilers outplay Oregon on the road, drop close contests to Notre Dame and Northwestern, shock Ohio State, lay an egg against Wisconsin and now rally to beat Michigan. Quarterback Joey Elliott and his teammates are extremely resilient, and they have a very real shot at a bowl game. Purdue can't afford any slip-ups and must beat Michigan State this week.

8. Illinois (3-6, 2-5): The confidence is coming back in Champaign as Illinois notched its second consecutive victory. Ron Zook's defense has come alive, and cornerback Terry Hawthorne and end Clay Nurse led the charge Saturday at Minnesota. It will be tough if quarterback Juice Williams misses extended time, but the Illini have faith they can do the unthinkable and finish .500 after a 1-6 start.

9. Minnesota (5-5, 3-4): A Jekyll-and-Hyde season continued for Tim Brewster's crew, which couldn't sustain the momentum from last week's victory against Michigan State. Minnesota came out completely flat in the first half and found itself in a huge hole against Illinois. The Gophers turned it around after halftime, but they're simply too inconsistent this season. This week's game against South Dakota State is a must win.

10. Indiana (4-6, 1-5): You have to feel for the Hoosiers, who just can't turn the corner like other Big Ten programs have (Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan State) in recent years. Junior quarterback Ben Chappell and sophomore wide receiver Tandon Doss have really impressed me this season, but when you can't consistently run the football or stop the run, you're going to lose games. Indiana needs a miracle this week against Penn State to keep its bowl hopes alive.

11. Michigan (5-5, 1-5): It's a meltdown at Michigan right now, as a team that started 4-0 and had some positive vibes going has totally fallen apart. The Wolverines squandered a 24-10 halftime lead against Purdue and endured more breakdowns from a young and marginal defense. Rich Rodriguez's seat is definitely getting hotter as Michigan needs an upset in the final two weeks to make a bowl game.

Non-AQ power rankings, Week 11

November, 9, 2009
11/09/09
9:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

1. TCU: The Horned Frogs seem to be hitting on all cylinders and are one of the hottest teams in college football right now. The defense has been dominant all season, but now the offense is starting to come along as well. The team cohesion couldn’t have come at a better time with a tough game against Utah on tap.

2. Boise State: The Broncos have fallen victim to style points. This week’s close win over Louisiana Tech coupled with Oregon’s loss to Stanford put Boise State in a no-win situation in the polls. All the Broncos can do at this point is win out and hope that the fact that they are undefeated for yet another regular season pays off.

3. Utah: The Utes decision to go with true freshman Jordan Wynn as the starting quarterback produced a noticeable difference in the offense. Granted it was against a winless New Mexico team, but still a good confidence builder heading into a tough game against TCU. The Utes could still win the Mountain West and be in play for a BCS bowl.

4. Houston: The Cougars are becoming the ultimate comeback kids. For the second consecutive week, they came from behind to pull off a dramatic conference win and stay at the top of the C-USA standings. Gotta hand it to quarterback Case Keenum. While it’s not all him, he does keep this team believing.

5. BYU: The Cougars 52-0 win over Wyoming was exactly what they needed to get back in the hunt for a 10-win season and an outside shot at the Mountain West title. BYU is still a good team and the way it responded to the disappointing loss to TCU two weeks ago now shows that it’s also a mature team.

6. Central Michigan: The Chippewas had a bye this week after losing to Boston College a couple weeks ago -- their first loss since the season opener. They’re still the favorites to win the MAC and that quest starts this Wednesday against Toledo.

7. Navy: For the second time in the past three seasons, the Midshipmen shocked Notre Dame and ruined the Fighting Irish’s season. The Midshipmen already accepted an invitation to the Texas Bowl. While yes, Temple did beat Navy a couple weeks ago, it was without quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who was the difference against Notre Dame and really all season.

8. Notre Dame: Notre Dame’s slim dreams of going to a BCS bowl are gone after Saturday’s loss to Navy. It will be interesting to see where this team goes from here especially since it could look back at a slew of missed opportunities all year long. Notre Dame is bowl eligible, but it will be tough to get the seventh win this weekend against No. 12 Pittsburgh.

9. Fresno State: After a tough start to the season, Fresno State has rebounded to win its last five games and become bowl eligible with three games remaining. This week’s game against Idaho really tested the Bulldogs, but it was good preparation for next week’s pivotal matchup against Nevada.

10. Temple: The Owls have won seven straight, but needed a last-minute field goal to defeat a one-win Miami team. Temple is still on pace to win the MAC East, but its reliance on the running game might come back to hurt it in games against Kent State and Ohio, two of the better rushing defenses in the conference.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are this week's Big 12 power rankings after four upsets scrambled both divisions.

1. Texas: The Longhorns sputtered coming out of the gate, but still rebounded for an impressive victory over UCF. Colt McCoy stoked his Heisman Trophy credentials with a monster game, and Jordan Shipley had the best receiving game in school history. The defense also kept up with its steady play. Amazingly, the Horns had one of their strongest games of the season and still fell from second to third in the BCS.

2. Oklahoma State: No Dez Bryant. No Kendall Hunter. No worries for this group. The key for the Cowboys’ recent surge has been Bill Young’s defense, which limited an Iowa State team that was leading the conference in rushing to only 54 yards. It’s helped the Cowboys win seven games in four consecutive seasons for the first time in the 109-season history of the program.

3. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders were off last week, but had more time to get their quarterback situation untracked as Steven Sheffield recovered from his foot surgery. The Red Raiders will face a huge challenge in the final three games as they meet Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. Win out and they could be headed for the Cotton Bowl. But they haven’t claimed a sweep of those three teams in the same season since 1996.

4. Kansas State: Bill Snyder’s team isn’t very pretty, but it just keeps winning. The Wildcats beat Kansas because Daniel Thomas rushed for a career-best 185 yards, and an opportunistic defense that is plus-11 in turnover margin this season flummoxed the Jayhawks and Todd Reesing. The Wildcats can wrap up their first title since 2003 with a victory and two Nebraska losses. And can we give Snyder the Big 12’s Coach of the Year award by acclimation right now?

5. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers have the most favorable schedule of any of the North challengers, so they now are in the favorite’s role for the title. But their 10-3 victory over Oklahoma was set up because the game’s only touchdown capped a 1-yard scoring drive after an interception. The quarterback situation remains scrambled, but Roy Helu Jr. came up big for the Cornhuskers when they really needed him to. But as well as the defense played, how much confidence can Bo Pelini have in an offense that had more punts (11) than points (10) or first downs (7)?

6. Oklahoma: In doing these weekly ratings since the conference began, I can’t remember the Sooners being ranked as low during the Bob Stoops coaching era. The Sooners’ offense had the lowest point production in Stoops’ tenure against Nebraska and it was painful to watch. Oklahoma had field position all night as 11 of 16 drives ended up in Nebraska territory and it still couldn’t produce a touchdown for the first time in the Stoops era. Sooners coaches have to hope that the five-interception effort by redshirt freshman Landry Jones -- a school record -- doesn’t stunt his growth as a starter.

7. Kansas: Reesing’s stature as the most productive quarterback in school history is being sullied by his mystifying turnover slump late in his senior season. The Jayhawks are skidding out of control with four straight losses after five victories to start the season. The upcoming games appear tough, and a sixth victory that would ensure bowl eligibility will be a difficult accomplishment. Remember when many thought this team was the North Division’s best?

8. Colorado: Don’t look now, but the Buffaloes are sitting in third place in the North Division after their comeback victory over Texas A&M. Tyler Hansen had a resilient game as he rebounded from eight sacks to spark a surprisingly effective offense. The Buffaloes still are only a game away from being eliminated from bowl contention, but they have a better shot at the North title than Kansas and Missouri teams that were picked in front of them.

9. Texas A&M: The Aggies squandered a chance to become bowl eligible and their schedule gets tougher in the next several games. Their defense picked up eight sacks against Colorado, but they let too many receivers get free for big gains and it cost them the game. I’m still wondering why a field goal looks so good in the fourth quarter on the road, when the same situation was in place in the first quarter and didn’t call for the gamble. The Aggies had good field position and strong special-teams play and still couldn’t escape with a victory.

10. Iowa State: The Cyclones have two shots at bowl eligibility remaining and their best chance will be this week when Colorado visits. Paul Rhoads has done a masterful job with this team’s confidence, but it has struggled offensively in the past three games. Over the last 13 quarters, the Cyclones have produced three touchdowns. Their bowl hopes depend on juicing production -- quickly.

11. Baylor: Great coaching job by Art Briles to keep the Bears engaged this season after the Robert Griffin injury. And his confidence paid off with the upset victory at Missouri where Nick Florence sliced through the Missouri defense for a school-record 427 passing yards. Brian Norwood’s defense made some masterful adjustments after Blaine Gabbert blistered the Bears in the first half. It helped snap Baylor’s 13-game conference road losing streak and ranked as the Big 12 upset of the season so far.

12. Missouri: The loss to Baylor has to rank as one of the worst of Gary Pinkel’s coaching era. Nick Florence singed the Missouri defense and stretched their home losing streak to three games for the first time since 2004. The Tigers have been outscored 80-11 in the second half of five Big 12 games with the points coming from three field goals and a safety. But they still remain only one victory from bowl eligibility as a difficult challenge at North Division leader Kansas State approaches this week.

SEC power rankings

November, 9, 2009
11/09/09
8:59
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Picking the No. 1 team right now in the SEC is an impossible chore.

One minute, you think it’s Florida. The next, you’re leaning to Alabama. Something tells me it’s going to be that way until we get to Atlanta on Dec. 5:

1. Florida: The Gators (9-0, 7-0) weren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut in their 27-3 win over Vanderbilt, but they were good enough. And with the way their defense and special teams are playing, “good enough” is going to win them a lot of games. But will it win them a second straight national championship? Looks like we’re going to find out.

2. Alabama: The Crimson Tide (9-0, 6-0) were forced to come from behind and win last week in their 24-15 victory over LSU, clinching the Western Division title and a trip to Atlanta to face Florida in the SEC championship game. Quarterback Greg McElroy answered the skeptics with a big game, and Alabama dominated the fourth quarter. This is a team that just finds a way to get it done.

3. LSU: The 24-15 loss to Alabama was costly on a couple of different fronts. The Tigers (7-2, 4-2) were knocked out of the Western Division title race, and a couple of their top players were injured. Running back Charles Scott was lost for the season with a broken collarbone, and quarterback Jordan Jefferson had to leave the game with a sprained ankle. Jefferson hopes to return this week.

4. Tennessee: The Vols (5-4, 2-3) obliterated Memphis 56-28 last Saturday, and senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton put on a record-setting performance. Is he the most improved player in the league? Tennessee has a chance to really finish this season up strong and get to an attractive bowl game, but it all hinges on beating Ole Miss this weekend in Oxford.

5. Auburn: The Tigers (7-3, 3-3) go for win No. 8 this weekend at Georgia, which would be a pretty sweet accomplishment when you look at where this team was a few weeks ago after losing three straight and some of the depth issues it’s faced. Quarterback Chris Todd has seemed to find his second wind. This will be a big test for the defense, which gave up a lot of points to Furman last week after the starters left the game.

6. Georgia: Here’s one final chance for the Bulldogs (5-4, 3-3) to salvage something out of this season of discontent. They beat up on Tennessee Tech last week, and next up is a home date with Auburn. The grumbling among the fans has already been loud enough. It will only grow louder if Gene Chizik comes into Sanford Stadium in his first year as the Tigers’ coach and handles the Bulldogs.

7. Ole Miss: The Rebels (6-3, 2-3) have one decent win at this point, and that’s the 30-17 victory over Arkansas at home last month. Otherwise, they’ve beaten up on a bunch of lightweights. Any chance of playing for the Western Division title was gone a long time ago, but they still have a chance to make this season a respectable one. And that starts this weekend by beating Tennessee at home in the "Ed Orgeron Bowl."

8. Arkansas: The Hogs (5-4, 2-4) can become bowl eligible this week with a win over Troy. They’ve been a different team at home this season, and quarterback Ryan Mallett has been especially good when the Hogs are wearing their home jerseys. He carved apart South Carolina last week in a 33-16 win. Something says he’s not done carving and that the Hogs aren’t done winning.

9. South Carolina: That familiar late-season fade is looking more and more like a reality for the Gamecocks (6-4, 3-4). They’ve lost their last two games, including a 33-16 setback at Arkansas last week, and haven’t scored more than 16 points in their last four SEC games. With Florida coming to town this weekend, it doesn’t get any easier. The Head Ball Coach sounds about as frustrated as he did at the end of last season.

10. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs (4-5, 2-3) had last week off to get ready for a stretch run that will determine their bowl hopes. They get Alabama this weekend at home, then travel to Arkansas and come back home to face Ole Miss. They need to win two of their last three to ensure that there will be a postseason. Dan Mullen’s club has had several near-misses this season. Maybe the Bulldogs are due for a couple of big hits in November.

11. Kentucky: One of the most time consuming things Kentucky coach Rich Brooks does every Sunday is read off the injury report. The Wildcats (5-4, 1-4) are really banged up. Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb didn’t play last week in the 37-12 win over Eastern Kentucky, but both are expected back this week against Vanderbilt. The Wildcats would like to get all the drama out of the way and become bowl eligible this week. Otherwise, they’ll have to beat Georgia or Tennessee to do so.

12. Vanderbilt: Give the Commodores (2-8, 0-6) some credit. They haven’t mailed it in and played Florida tough most of the way last week before losing 27-3. They just can’t score and have now gone six straight SEC games this season without scoring more than 10 points. If they’re going to avoid a winless season in the league, they better get Kentucky at home this weekend.

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