NCF Nation: Power rankings 091712

SEC power rankings: Week 4

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
9:00
AM ET
After another Saturday of action, it's pretty clear that Alabama is on another level in this sport. The Crimson Tide had their way with an overmatched Arkansas team, but they did so without displaying their best effort.

I don't care if the Hogs were hurting; Alabama looked pretty darn good out there.

The question now is who can top the Tide?

1. Alabama (3-0; LW: 1): The Crimson Tide left little doubt that their the best team in the country after blowing Arkansas out of its own stadium 52-0. The Razorbacks might have been down, but it's not like they didn't have talent to test Alabama. Saturday was barely a contest and now everyone is wondering if anyone can beat this team right now.

2. LSU (3-0; LW: 2): The Tigers are quietly playing some very good ball. They've outscored their opponents 145-31 and have been running the ball down teams' throats, averaging an SEC-high 269.3 yards per game. Alabama is getting all the love, but LSU isn't far behind the Tide.

3. Georgia (3-0; LW: 3): The Bulldogs' offense has really been clicking thus far, and we're starting to see that running game get better and tougher. Georgia's defense still has a little more bend than the coaches would like in areas, but it's done a pretty decent job without being at full strength through the first three games. This unit will only get better once Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree return.

4. South Carolina (3-0; LW: 4): The Gamecocks have spent the past two weeks working in their backup quarterback, but haven't missed a beat. Dylan Thompson has passed for 507 yards and five touchdowns in the past two games, and South Carolina has scored 48 and 49 points, respectively. However, Connor Shaw is now dealing with a fracture in his right shoulder, so we might see even more of Thompson from here on out.

5. Florida (3-0; LW: 6): Talk about a second-half team. The Gators have spent the past two weeks stumbling around in the first half, only to run over opponents in the second half. And what's even more impressive is that Florida has done this on the road in two very hostile environments. Against Tennessee on Saturday, Florida registered 555 yards of offense, including 336 on the ground. This team is much tougher than it has been the past two years.

6. Mississippi State (3-0; LW: 7): A letdown against Troy certainly wasn't out of the realm of possibility for the Bulldogs, and they almost got caught sleeping. But Mississippi State survived and has one more tuneup before heading into the meat of conference play. Quarterback Tyler Russell joins West Virginia's Geno Smith as the only quarterbacks in the country with efficiency ratings of 160-plus, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

7. Tennessee (2-1; LW: 5): When the Vols had a chance to make a big statement in the league, they fell flat in the second half at home against the Gators. This team had Florida on the ropes and let the Gators get away, getting outgained 152-5 in the fourth quarter. Tennessee has a lot of talent, but the magnitude of Saturday's game clearly got to this team.

8. Missouri (2-1; LW: 9): The Tigers have been banged up all year, and had to play over the weekend without starting quarterback James Franklin, who reinjured his shoulder against Georgia. Still, this team showed good toughness against Arizona State in a game that could have turned into a real shootout. The Tigers have to get healthy with a very physical South Carolina coming up as Mizzou turns its attention to conference play.

9. Texas A&M (1-1; LW: 10): The Aggies had a little bit of a hangover from the Florida game to start things off against SMU, but regrouped to bounce the Mustangs 48-3. Johnny Manziel is turning into quite the quarterback to watch, as he accumulated 418 total yards of offense and six touchdowns Saturday. The Aggies have a tuneup game against South Carolina State and then head into SEC play.

10. Auburn (1-2; LW: 12): The Tigers avoided a miserable start by sneaking past Louisiana-Monroe in overtime. Instead of being yet another one of the Warhawks' victims, Auburn's defense stood tall in overtime to set up Cody Parkey's game-winning field goal. This team still has a lot of issues on both sides of the ball, but an 0-3 start would have been a disaster, especially with LSU next.

11. Ole Miss (2-1; LW: 11): The offense looks much better and is more exciting, but the Rebels' defense was embarrassed at home Saturday, as Texas scored 66 points and gained 676 yards in the process. The defense has a lot of work to do before SEC play begins, but if the offense continues to play like it has through three games, Ole Miss will stop its SEC losing streak.

12. Arkansas (1-2; LW: 8): All the Razorbacks have done thus far is beat Jacksonville State (and give up 21 points in the process) and drop back-to-back games to Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama. The last two losses, especially the 52-0 drubbing from Alabama, might have hurt more than Bobby Petrino's untimely exit. Tyler Wilson, who is battling a head injury, called his team out for quitting against Alabama, and he had every reason to.

13. Vanderbilt (1-2; LW: 14): We finally saw the explosion we expected from Vanderbilt's offense Saturday. It might have been against Presbyterian, but it was a much-needed confidence booster for a team that was hovering around the bottom of the SEC in offensive production. But as the Commodores get ready for the heart of conference play, they'll do so with a quarterback controversy on their hands.

14. Kentucky (1-2; LW: 13): Right when the Wildcats look like they're making some sort of progress, they throw it away with a bad overtime loss to Western Kentucky at home -- on a trick play no less. Kentucky's bowl chances got slimmer and slimmer with that loss and things around coach Joker Phillips have to be heating up. Even getting back to five wins will be very tough for the Wildcats this fall.
There's a new team at the top.

Ohio State might have needed a fourth-quarter rally to outlast Cal in Columbus, but the Buckeyes remain unbeaten. And with Michigan State's offense flat-lining against Notre Dame on its home field, the Buckeyes move up to the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

Week 3 wasn't as disastrous for the Big Ten as its predecessor, but the league once again didn't flex its muscles and endured some sobering results. Only three unbeaten teams remain in the league -- Ohio State, Northwestern and Minnesota -- and while several teams have suffered losses to very good opponents, Purdue's narrow setback at Notre Dame and possibly Nebraska's loss at UCLA are the only defeats that really hold up in the court of public opinion.

There's not a ton of shuffling among the first six teams, which are all fairly close. Wisconsin looked terrible again, even in victory, and paid the price in the rankings.

The exciting news for Big Ten fans is the league lacks much separation from top to bottom, which should make for some fun division races. Three weeks into the season, these rankings are a snapshot of how teams are playing at the moment.

Let's get to the rundown ...

1. Ohio State (3-0, last week: 2): The Buckeyes had plenty of tense moments Saturday, but star quarterback Braxton Miller came to the rescue in the fourth quarter. Miller has put himself on the Heisman Trophy radar with brilliant performances in the new offense, and some weapons are beginning to emerge around him, namely wideout Devin Smith. Ohio State's defense isn't playing nearly as well as many thought, however, and the Buckeyes won't stay here too long if they allow more than 500 yards again.

2. Michigan (2-1, last week: 3): The UMass game provided few revelations about the Wolverines, who took care of business and steamrolled a feeble opponent. Eight different Wolverines players scored touchdowns in the 63-13 romp, including standout left tackle Taylor Lewan. It was a stress-free day at the Big House, but Michigan needs to get serious again as it prepares to face Notre Dame in South Bend. The Irish should be geared up after dropping the past three games to Michigan, all contests Notre Dame felt it should have won. Denard Robinson owns Notre Dame and likely needs another spectacular effort this coming Saturday.

3. Michigan State (2-1, last week: 1): Coach Mark Dantonio called Saturday night's game a defining moment for his team, and Michigan State learned it has a long way to go to reach its top goal of the Rose Bowl. The Spartans never seized momentum on either side of the ball and had few true highlights in a convincing loss to Notre Dame. Their defense should be fine in the long run, but Dantonio indicated some changes could be coming on offense after poor protection and dropped passes led to Michigan State's first touchdown-less performance at home since 1991.

4. Nebraska (2-1, last week: 4): It's hard to know what to make of these Huskers, who have looked very good at home against weak competition and shaky on the road against a UCLA team that could turn out to be much better than expected. For now, Big Red retains the No. 4 spot. Nebraska might have the most offensive weapons in the Big Ten, and it had little trouble racking up points (42) and yards (527) despite playing without top back Rex Burkhead for the second consecutive game. The Huskers' defense needs to build on a solid effort, and Taylor Martinez must take better care of the ball as Big Ten play inches closer.

5. Northwestern (3-0, last week: 5): Name the only FBS team to have beaten three major-conference foes in the first three weeks. It's Northwestern, which added an ACC notch (Boston College) to a belt that already includes teams from the SEC (Vanderbilt) and Big East (Syracuse). Pat Fitzgerald's team once again won in atypical fashion Saturday, grinding out the game on the ground, playing stout defense and struggling to translate yards into points. Northwestern has a lot to improve and a quarterback situation to sort out, but this young team has to feel very good about its progress through three weeks. The upcoming schedule remains favorable for NU.

6. Purdue (2-1, last week: 6): We're tempted to put the Boilers higher, and Danny Hope's squad looks like the best postseason-eligible team in the wide-open Leaders Division. Purdue definitely has the defense to go a long way this season, perhaps all the way to Pasadena for the first time since the 2000 season. The Boilers also have several weapons in the backfield, as they showcased Saturday against Eastern Michigan. Quarterback play continues to be a question mark, but Purdue is a team to watch the rest of the fall.

7. Minnesota (3-0, last week: 8): The Gophers showed Saturday against Western Michigan that they're more than a one-man team, as they rallied for a nice win despite losing starting quarterback MarQueis Gray. Max Shortell stepped in under center and fired three touchdown passes as Minnesota held off Western Michigan. The concern is how long Minnesota survives without Gray, who likely will miss the next few games with a high ankle sprain. Minnesota's defense should get a good test this week as quarterback Ryan Nassib and Syracuse visit TCF Bank Stadium.

8. Illinois (2-1, last week: 9): Much like Nebraska, Illinois has looked good on its home field and not so good in its only trip away from Champaign. Saturday's win against Charleston Southern showed very little about the Illini, and defending WAC champion Louisiana Tech should provide a better gauge this week. The problem Saturday was the injury bug, as Illinois played without or lost a host of key players. Top quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase should return this week, and Illinois hopes to get some of its other banged-up regulars back in the fold.

9. Iowa (2-1, last week: 10): The Hawkeyes rediscovered the end zone Saturday, thanks to walk-on fullback Mark Weisman, the latest Iowa back to step up after AIRBHG struck again. There's no need to get too giddy about a win against Northern Iowa, but the Hawkeyes controlled the line of scrimmage and the football, and limited their mistakes. Iowa's defense has looked solid so far, particularly against the run, and if the offense can build on this and survive the depth problems in the backfield, the Hawkeyes could soon rise up the rankings.

10. Penn State (1-2, last week: 11): As we've written previously, Bill O'Brien's Lions did some good things in the first two weeks, and they finally put it together in an easy win against Navy. While this isn't a typical Midshipmen team, Penn State's passing attack clearly has made strides under O'Brien as Matt McGloin and Allen Robinson continue to connect for touchdowns. Penn State received another strong defensive effort and finally got a chance to celebrate. It's important that the Lions keep the pedal down this week against Temple, which looks for its first win at Beaver Stadium.

11. Wisconsin (2-1, last week: 7): The Coaches' Poll voters continue to embarrass themselves by putting Wisconsin in the Top 25. We're not nearly as kind to a team that has looked thoroughly unimpressive for most of the first three games. Wisconsin should have lost Saturday night to a plucky Utah State team, and the Badgers were extremely fortunate to walk off of their home field -- a place where they've dominated for years and years -- with a two-point win. The offensive problems go deeper than replacing one assistant coach, and Bret Bielema and his team have some serious work to do. There's a major identity crisis in Madison right now.

12. Indiana (2-1, last week: 12): The Hoosiers showed some grit in the final minutes Saturday night and nearly recorded a nice comeback win behind third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Unfortunately, IU's defense still isn't up to snuff and Ball State had the ball last and capitalized. Indiana certainly has firepower on offense and a much improved passing attack (423 yards, four touchdowns on Saturday), but it's the same old story with the Hoosiers' defense. IU couldn't keep Ball State off the field enough, which doesn't bode well as Big Ten play gets closer.

ACC power rankings: Week 4

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
9:00
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Virginia Tech fans aren’t going to be happy. Just call me Pitt -- I’m in the mood to upset.

1. Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC; LW: No. 1) -- The Seminoles flat-out dominated Wake Forest in a 52-0 win on Saturday and enter this weekend’s game against Clemson as the No. 4 team in the country. The Noles have looked good in all three phases of the game, but they haven’t faced a team anywhere near the caliber of Clemson yet.

2. Clemson (3-0, 0-0; LW: No. 2) -- The Tigers took care of business in a 41-7 win over Furman, and they’ve got a respectable win over Auburn, but they have yet to play a conference game -- let alone one of this magnitude. Receiver Sammy Watkins looked electric in his debut, but Clemson’s offensive line will have an uphill battle against FSU.

3. Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-1; LW: No. 7) -- I know, I know, Georgia Tech lost to Virginia Tech, and usually, head-to-head results get the final say. Here’s the thing, though: Based on the way the Hokies played in their loss to Pitt, and how the offense has struggled early this season, I don’t think that’s the only game Virginia Tech is going to lose. This just in: I think Georgia Tech wins the Coastal Division this year.

4. Virginia Tech (2-1, 1-0; LW: No. 3) -- The Hokies turned it over four times against Pitt and the defense was pushed around in an uncharacteristically poor performance. Virginia Tech fell out of the Top 25 thanks to an unranked team that lost to an FCS school at home. Never count the Hokies out (see: 2010), but if they continue to play the way they did this weekend, there’s no way they beat Clemson and Florida State.

5. NC State (2-1, 0-0; LW: No. 8) -- Quarterback Mike Glennon threw three touchdown passes to lead the Pack past South Alabama 31-7, and NC State should rack up another home win this weekend against The Citadel. The next step is to put together a complete performance like this against better competition.

6. Wake Forest (2-1, 1-1; LW: No. 4) -- The Demon Deacons got whupped. Wake couldn’t get anything going against Florida State’s defense and was shut out for the sixth time in the series. The Deacs’ defense will have an entirely different test this week against Army.

7. North Carolina (1-2, 0-1; LW: No. 6) -- The Tar Heels came out flat against Louisville, and tried to atone for it in the second half, but it wasn’t enough and UNC fell, 39-34. It wasn’t a surprise that UNC lost on the road to a ranked team, but its lethargic effort in the first half raised some eyebrows.

8. Virginia (2-1, 0-1; LW: No. 5) -- The Cavaliers had been getting by the first two weeks because their opponents made more mistakes than they did. Not against Georgia Tech. The Jackets ran the ball well and stopped the run in a 56-20 Coastal Division win. Considering how Miami’s defense has struggled, it could be a long day for the Canes this weekend.

9. Miami (2-1, 1-0; LW: No. 9) -- Is there anyone else on this team besides Duke Johnson? The true freshman running back stole the show again in a 38-10 win over Bethune-Cookman. Now, if only he could play linebacker ...

10. Duke (2-1, 0-0; LW: No. 10) -- The return of injured receiver Blair Holliday overshadowed anything that happened on the field in Durham on Saturday, as his miraculous recovery from a July jet ski accident has been ahead of schedule. He has been an inspiration to his teammates and those following his story.

11. Maryland (2-1, 0-0; LW: No. 11) -- The Terps’ Cinderella story came to a screeching halt with a 24-21 loss to Connecticut in the unofficial Edsall Bowl. Randy Edsall came up short against his former team, and the Terps were outgained 148-80 in the first half. Odds are West Virginia shows no mercy this weekend.

12. Boston College (1-2, 0-1; LW: No. 12) -- It wasn’t for lack of effort, as the defense held Northwestern to five field goals, but BC couldn’t run the ball and the passing game wasn’t efficient enough in a 22-13 loss. BC has a bye week, but is already in a hole.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 4

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
9:00
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Here's how I slot the Big 12 after a quiet week across the league in Week 3.

1. West Virginia (2-0; last week: 1) The Mountaineers' offense is setting all kinds of records and is on track to be one of the best we've seen in awhile. Geno Smith's numbers are competitive with what we saw from Robert Griffin III a year ago, and Stedman Bailey's been more productive than Justin Blackmon was this time last year. Can they keep it up when league play starts? Maryland stands between WVU and its Big 12 opener at home versus Baylor.

2. Oklahoma (2-0; last week: 2) The Sooners were off this week, but Norman will be buzzing for a hyped Big 12 opener, and what I'd consider the real start of league play: Bill Snyder, Optimus Klein and Kansas State are on their way to Soonerville.

3. Texas (3-0, last week: 4) Texas' offense looked better than it has for a long time against Ole Miss. The Rebels didn't offer much of a pass rush and its defensive backs were ... not very good. Still, who would have thought David Ash could throw for 326, four scores and go three games without an interception? As for the Big 12 Power Rankings, I hopped the Horns over K-State ... for now. The Longhorns have two weeks to prepare for their league opener at Oklahoma State.

4. Kansas State (3-0; last week: 3) The Wildcats once again struggled early against an inferior opponent. This time it was North Texas. No worries about anything like that next week. Oklahoma's lost three games at home in Bob Stoops' 13-plus seasons in Norman. Collin Klein's toughest test so far in 2012 awaits.

5. Baylor (2-0; last week: 5) The Bears looked ugly for the first half against FCS power Sam Houston State. The fact of the matter is this: SHSU is better and more composed than a lot of bad FBS teams. But still, not an encouraging sign. That said, Baylor's one-time cupcake actually gives it a chance to impress next week. The Bears travel to face Louisiana-Monroe in an awkward Friday nighter. The WarHawks knocked off Arkansas last week and nearly did the same to Auburn on Saturday.

6. TCU (2-0, 1-0 Big 12; last week: 6) The Frogs made some awful mistakes in the red zone, and what should have been a four- to five-touchdown romp at Kansas turned into an ugly 20-6 win. They'll take it, but the mistakes have to be fixed. The Frogs have another somewhat reasonable challenge coming up this week: Virginia. The Hoos were rolled by Georgia Tech this week, but beat Penn State in their second game.

7. Oklahoma State (2-1; last week: 7) Oklahoma State will do some dancing with its quarterbacks for the next two weeks before hosting Texas, but J.W. Walsh looked a lot more than just capable in the Cowboys' lopsided win over Louisiana. Can he do it against Texas? Will he have to? We may not know for sure for quite some time.

8. Texas Tech (3-0; last week: 8) Tech has been legitimately impressive through three games, easily disposing of three overmatched opponents. Still, we don't know anything about this team yet. Can it beat Iowa State? We'll find out in two weeks ... and then the Red Raiders host Oklahoma. We'll have a decent idea of whether or not this is a bowl team -- or more -- by then.

9. Iowa State (3-0; last week: 9) Iowa State did what it needed to do against Western Illinois to improve to 3-0. That's the second consecutive season the Cyclones have pulled that off, and the first time that's happened in more than a decade. Is 5-0 possible? Iowa State's never lost to Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech, and gets the Riverboat Gambler pretty far inland in two weeks in Ames. Then, a trip to TCU awaits.

10. Kansas (1-2, 0-1 Big 12; last week: 10) The offense still leaves a lot to be desired, but there's no question the defense is better. The Jayhawks have already nabbed a Big 12-high 12 takeaways, and though TCU moved the ball, KU made it look difficult often. When will the Jayhawks' Big 12 losing skid -- currently at 13 games -- end?

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 4

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
9:00
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We have movement at the top, as you might expect.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Oregon: The Ducks emerge from their preseason in a familiar place: atop the Pac-12. While the Nov. 3 visit to USC was diminished by the Trojans' loss to Stanford, the Ducks' home game against Stanford on Nov. 17 suddenly ramps up a bit. Nationally ranked Arizona visits on Saturday. Will the Ducks get tested?

2. Stanford: The Cardinal have a well-timed bye so they can take a little extra time to soak in the national praise for their outstanding all-around effort against USC. But a visit to Washington on Sept. 29 looms as a game to take seriously, even though the Cardinal have dominated the series of late.

3. USC: Yes, Trojans, there will be an overreaction to your loss, and plenty of folks will dance on the rubble of your lackluster performance at Stanford. But you do know that you could have avoided such a fate by not giving everyone solid grounds to call you overrated, right? The question now: What are you going to do about it? Sulk? Feel sorry for your five-star-recruit selves? Or get mad and get even? Win out and a 12-1 Pac-12 champion could still be in the national title picture. And you better wake up with California coming to town. The Bears looked pretty capable at Ohio State.

4. UCLA: I know; it's still early. I know; the Bruins have teased us before. I know; they still have the Pac-12 slate ahead. But I guess what I want to ask: How do you feel about Jim Mora these days? Oregon State comes to town this weekend, which will be a legit challenge. But no game on the schedule appears unwinnable any longer. And that includes that team across town.

5. Arizona: The Wildcats took care of business against an overmatched foe, but things get just a bit tougher with a visit to No. 3 Oregon on Saturday. Of course, few of us thought the Wildcats would be bringing an unbeaten record and No. 22 national ranking with them to Eugene. It could be a scoring fest. While a win would be monumental for new coach Rich Rodriguez, a respectable showing wouldn't quash the recent momentum.

6. Oregon State: Wisconsin's close call at home to Utah State nicks the Beavers' win over the Badgers a bit, but Oregon State can make a statement at UCLA on Saturday. The Bruins and QB Brett Hundley should reveal if the Beavers' improved defense is ready for prime time.

7. Utah: The Utes bounced back from the Utah State loss to outlast archrival BYU without QB Jordan Wynn, whose career is over, and RB John White, who actually does have an ankle injury that was made to officially disappear last week. Here's how things stand (and Utes fans, feel free to correct me, because I know you will): We're so 2011 all over again; only Jon Hays looks like a better QB than he was a year ago. The question is whether this version can move up the Pac-12 pecking order. I know this: It will help when White really is 100 percent. Not sure if the Utes can win consistently in the conference without him.

8. Arizona State: The sloppiness returned on the road at Missouri, and the Sun Devils wasted an opportunity with the Tigers playing without QB James Franklin. So now we get to see another measure of Todd Graham's new-look team: resilience. As much as has been made of the program's lack of discipline in recent years, the bigger issue -- to me -- was the general lack of backbone and locker-room cohesion. A home matchup with Utah could provide a good early measure.

9. California: There was a lot to like about the way Cal played on both sides of the ball at Ohio State, though like many of you, I lost my voice yelling, "GO FOR IT!" on that ill-fated fourth-and-1 moment when coach Jeff Tedford opted to miss a third field goal. Still, QB Zach Maynard played well enough to win against a highly ranked team on the road, RB Brendan Bigelow showcased some much-needed explosiveness and the defense -- other than two horrible plays -- looked physical and stingy. So what happens at USC?

10. Washington: The Huskies emerged, as expected, at 2-1 after three games. They have a bye this weekend. Then they go: Stanford, at Oregon, USC and at Arizona. That's four ranked teams in a row. How will they weather that storm?

11. Washington State: The Cougars won at woeful UNLV, and they should win Saturday at home against woeful Colorado. A 3-1 start is a good thing. But we won't really know how well the Mike Leach era has taken root until the Pac-12 schedule -- apologies to the Buffs -- really takes root, starting with a game with Oregon in Seattle on Sept. 29.

12. Colorado: Oh, man. Buffs, as my mother always said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything." So I got nothing for you.

Big East power rankings: Week 4

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
9:00
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Time to update the power rankings after three weeks.

1. Louisville (3-0). The Cardinals nearly gave the game away against North Carolina because they took their foot off the gas. Although the defense has not been as dominant as projected, Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback in the Big East and gives this team an edge over everyone else.

2. Cincinnati (2-0, 1-0). Although the Bearcats struggled with turnovers in their win over Delaware State, they had a nice win over Pitt, which now looks like a much better team after defeating Virginia Tech. Munchie Legaux must work on holding on to the football during the bye.

3. Rutgers (3-0, 1-0). I think the Scarlet Knights have the best defense in the Big East, but they also struggled against their FCS opponent and beat a USF team that nearly lost to Nevada. If this team can cut down on the penalties (31 total, second worst in the nation) and hit a few big plays in the pass game, watch out.

4. Pitt (1-2, 0-1). The Panthers have the best win of any Big East team -- taking down No. 13 Virginia Tech on Saturday. They looked terrible against Cincinnati and lost to an FCS team, but the Panthers look resurgent. With the way everybody else has played in the Big East, why not move them up here?

5. UConn (2-1). Another team with an outstanding defense and little-to-no offense. The Huskies survived Maryland on Saturday. If they can get their run game going, they will be fine.

6. USF (2-1, 0-1). The Bulls had another miserable Thursday night performance and have lost nine of their past 10 conference games. That does not scream "power" at all.

7. Syracuse (1-2). The Orange picked up their first win of the season but didn't look great in doing so. Although they played Northwestern and USC close, this team has one win -- over an FCS team. So I had to drop the Orange back down.

8. Temple (1-1). The Owls face Penn State on Saturday in a huge game given the implications across the state. They also have only a win over an FCS team and a loss to a young Maryland team that hasn't been impressive.

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