NCF Nation: power rankings 1

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Not a bad start for the SEC, although Mississippi State and Tennessee didn't exactly represent. The Bulldogs turned the ball over five times and lost at Louisiana Tech. The Vols looked like they were scared to win the game and dropped a 27-24 overtime decision to a depleted UCLA club. Here are the new power rankings now that everybody has played a game:

1. Florida: Georgia got a bunch of mileage out of drubbing Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl last season, so Florida deserves some, right? The Gators are beyond fast and keep coming at you with guys who can score in the blink of an eye. The secondary will be a strength this season.

2. Georgia: The Bulldogs just keep taking hits in the injury department. Defensive tackle Jeff Owens is the latest to be lost for the season. Matthew Stafford looked sharp in the season-opening rout of Georgia Southern, and this is the best group of receivers he's had. You've got to like the young talent on this team.

3. LSU: Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee were steady at quarterback against Appalachian State, and steady will be good enough to beat most teams on the Tigers' schedule. They're that good up front both offensively and defensively and appear to be even faster on defense this season.

4. Alabama: No team was more impressive the opening weekend than Alabama, which physically punished a then-Top 10 team in Clemson. Now, let's see the Crimson Tide sustain it. Even Alabama coach Nick Saban has warned that it was only a start. But what a start it was.

5. Auburn: The jury's still out on Auburn's quarterback situation, and it sounds like offensive coordinator Tony Franklin is going to tweak how he rotates Kodi Burns and Chris Todd. The Tigers are extremely good on defense, but they still have to prove that they can throw the ball if they're going to win the Western Division.

6. South Carolina: One game down, and The Head Ball Coach already has him another quarterback. Chris Smelley will start against Vanderbilt on Thursday night after Tommy Beecher threw three interceptions and hurt his shoulder in the opener. The Gamecocks look pretty salty on defense.

7. Ole Miss: We find out a lot more about the Rebels this coming weekend when they travel to Wake Forest. But their collection of playmakers on offense is impressive, and quarterback Jevan Snead will only get better. When they get healthy in the defensive line, this will be a team that nobody will want to face.

8. Kentucky: The roles have reversed at Kentucky. Now, it's the defense that's going to have to win games for the Wildcats while the offense holds on. Kentucky's defensive front is for real and matches up with most everybody in the league. Sophomore quarterback Mike Hartline has to continue to grow.

9. Vanderbilt: An underdog on the road, Vanderbilt got a big performance from senior quarterback Chris Nickson and hammered Miami (Ohio) 34-13 last Thursday. It's safe to say that D.J. Moore can play a little bit, too. A win this Thursday against South Carolina, and the Commodores will climb even higher.

10. Tennessee: The Vols are lucky they aren't dead last. They looked dead for much of the second half Monday after a depleted UCLA team tried to gift-wrap the game for them with four interceptions. But Tennessee went belly-up and found a way to lose in overtime. Simply, an indefensible loss for Phillip Fulmer and the program.

11. Miss. State: Anybody who knows anything about Sylvester Croom knows his team won't lie down, but carving out a second straight winning season will be tough at this rate. The Bulldogs were awful on offense in the season-opening loss at Louisiana Tech and lost one of their best defenders, linebacker Jamar Chaney, for the season with a broken leg.

12. Arkansas: The bright spot was senior quarterback Casey Dick. He saved the Hogs from an embarrassing home defeat to Western Illinois, an FCS (I-AA) school in their opener. Bobby Petrino is playing a bunch of freshmen, and it looks like the Hogs are going to take their lumps this season.

The preseason rankings: 1. Florida, 2. Georgia, 3. LSU, 4. Auburn, 5. Tennessee, 6. South Carolina, 7. Ole Miss, 8. Alabama, 9. Miss. State, 10. Kentucky, 11. Arkansas, 12. Vanderbilt

Pac-10 power rankings

September, 2, 2008
9/02/08
10:02
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

1. USC: The 52-7 blowout win at Virginia was the most impressive win of the weekend, with the Trojans hitting all the right notes. Now, can they do that in two weeks against Ohio State?

2. Oregon: Ducks whipped Washington, 44-10, but it was the defense -- which pitched a second-half shutout -- that was the notable star.

3. Arizona State: Stanford figures to offer a more substantial test than Northern Arizona. Still, it's good news that QB Rudy Carpenter was sharp in the opener and the line only gave up one sack.

4. California: Bears went a long way toward erasing the bad taste of last year's second half slide with a quality win over Michigan State.

5. UCLA: It's tempting to bounce the Bruins higher after they beat 18th-ranked Tennessee in a thrilling season-opener, but we're going to wait until win two.

6. Arizona: How does a team that was darn near perfect in a 70-0 victory slip a notch? Play Idaho.

7. Stanford: Cardinal have dreams of a 2-0 start in the Pac-10, but a visit to Arizona State is a big test.

8. Oregon State: The Beavers will try to bounce back after losing to Stanford, but a trip to Penn State isn't the right place to try to get better.

9. Washington: Huskies looked terrible in 44-10 loss to Oregon, and BYU won't make things much easier.

10. Washington State: There's a lot of work ahead for new head coach Paul Wulff, but the Cougars might give Cal a tough challenge in Martin Stadium.

ACC power rankings

September, 2, 2008
9/02/08
9:55
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Maybe we should rename this the ACC Powerless ranking this week.

The combination of the top-ranked teams losing plus young, inexperienced teams handing out drubbings to programs they should beat made it tough to get a true read on who's really good in this league.

It's pretty easy, though, to tell who's not.

This week's power ranking is based almost entirely on who took care of business in Week 1. Almost.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons had to travel across the country and face a new coaching staff with new personnel, and they still looked like the best team in the league this past weekend. They've got all of the components in place for a second ACC title in three seasons.

Clemson: If the Tigers would have at least looked good losing (see: Michigan State vs. Cal) the loss might have been more acceptable. But this is still a good football team, and one still capable of winning its first ACC title since 1991. In order for that to happen, though, the Tigers need to stay healthy and young players need to grow up quickly -- of the 18 offensive and defensive linemen in the two-deep, Dorell Scott is the lone senior.

Georgia Tech: Yes, it was against Jacksonville State, but Paul Johnson's offense looked good, and the defense made former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux look average. (Then again, so did Perrilloux and some of his teammates). If Georgia Tech can improve its kicking game, the Yellow Jackets might surprise some people. Their ACC season begins this weekend in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Miami: Another team that did what it was supposed to. We'll find out just how good the Hurricanes really are when they face Florida. Without Allen Bailey and Eric Moncur healthy, let alone its starting quarterback, Miami didn't have all of its pieces in place for the season opener and still trounced Charleston Southern. Still, nothing worth bragging about yet. We know what Jacory Harris can do (win), now it's Robert Marve's turn.

Maryland: The Terps dropped dramatically because they barely beat Delaware and don't know what's going on at quarterback. The running game, which was a question coming in, seems to have found an answer in Da'Rel Scott, and the defense played well, but until they find somebody who can consistently run the offense, it doesn't matter who is calling the plays.

Florida State: It's too early to give the Noles too much credit when they haven't played a game yet, they lost critical depth at running back, and still don't know who their starting quarterback will be. Only when Wake Forest visits Tallahassee will we be able to get a good read on what FSU is capable of this season.

Boston College: Chris Crane's numbers were rather pedestrian, but he did what he had to do to win -- manage the offense with minimal mistakes. We'll know more about the Eagles (and Georgia Tech for that matter) this weekend. It still looks like the defense will be the most dependable part of this program early on.

Virginia Tech: Sorry, Hokies, but there were too many weaknesses exposed in that game. Poor tackling, a lack of depth on the offensive line, and no Macho Harris all contributed. Sean Glennon said he played well "90 percent" of the time, but this team will need his effort for 110 percent of it if it's going to overcome the youth and inexperience on the roster.

UNC: When you have to exhale after beating McNeese State, you've got some room for improvement. Unfortunately for the Heels, they're not going to be able to depend upon 397 all-purpose yards from Brandon Tate every weekend. If these guys have any hopes of crashing the Coastal, the rest of the offense needs to wake up.

Duke: Surprise. But guess what? They won, and the two teams below them didn't. Not to mention the fact the Blue Devils have the best quarterback of the bunch and three more home games lined up.

Virginia: Not only did the Cavaliers get clobbered, but they looked bad in the process. Yes, it was against a national championship-caliber team with a quarterback who put on a performance worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration. But things like four fumbles and a missed PAT will get you beat against almost anyone.

NC State: This team has major problems and no quarterback. Period. Did you realize that the Pack has now been blanked 71-0 in its last two games? Forget NC State's depth issues. This team has starter issues.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

What do you consider more impressive: A tight victory over a better opponent, or a blowout over a team that had no business being on the field with you in the first place?

That's the dilemma to determine whether Missouri or Oklahoma is the Big 12's best team. The determination here is it's still the Tigers, maybe by the margin of a long Jeff Wolfert field goal.   

Here's my Big 12 power rankings for this week.

1. Missouri: What concerns Gary Pinkel more -- leaky pass defense or Jeremy Maclin's foot injury?

2. Oklahoma: Only Mother Nature can derail Sooners' explosive offense.

3. Texas: Lamarr Houston's suspension isn't a good sign for Longhorns' green secondary.

4. Texas Tech: Sloppy opener could be a sign that Red Raiders might be a tad overrated.

5. Kansas: Lack of a running game is the biggest concern coming out of the first game.

6. Oklahoma State: Much-improved defense will get bigger test this week against Houston.

7. Colorado: Notched five sacks vs. CSU after posting 19 in 13 games last season.

8. Nebraska: Bo Pelini still has his work cut out with a struggling pass defense.

9. Kansas State: Five-TD outing shows that Josh Freeman might be playing up to his boasts.

10. Iowa State: Fantasy football player's dream after a huge night returning interceptions. 

11. Texas A&M: Aggies lose home opener for first time since 1987.

12. Baylor: Robert Griffin shows hope for future, but what about this season for rest of team?

Big Ten power rankings

September, 2, 2008
9/02/08
9:50
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

There's minimal shuffling in the ratings after some good performances, some bad ones and some impact injuries. Beanie or no Beanie, Ohio State remains at the top and should stay there for a while, but Illinois and Michigan State missed opportunities to move up.

1. Ohio State: Sure, it was Youngstown State, but the Buckeyes were sharp on both sides of the ball. A star-studded defense didn't let the Penguins cross midfield until the game's final play, Terrelle Pryor turned in a solid debut and starting quarterback Todd Boeckman was steady.

2. Wisconsin: The Badgers are barely hanging onto this spot, mostly because of health concerns on defense. P.J. Hill and the run game looked superb against Akron, but several key defenders are banged up, which could hurt in Week 3 at Fresno State.

3. Penn State: Playmakers abound for the Nittany Lions, as overmatched Coastal Carolina found out Saturday. New starting quarterback Daryll Clark should get plenty of help from wideout Derrick Williams and a run game that produced 334 rushing yards Saturday.

4. Illinois: The Illini deserved to drop after a poor defensive performance against Missouri, but both Michigan and Michigan State lost and no one else beat a decent team. Quarterback Juice Williams did all he could against the Tigers, but a defensive line that was billed as the team's strength fell short.

5. Michigan State: How do the Spartans move up after a loss? They inspired more hope than Michigan and received excellent performances from wide receiver Mark Dell (202 receiving yards) and running back Javon Ringer (200 all-purpose yards) on the road against Cal.

6. Michigan: There's a ton of work to do on offense, and the transition at quarterback will take time to click. But the Wolverines' defense dominated Utah in the second half Saturday and should keep games close until the offense gets on track. Linebacker Obi Ezeh's play was particularly encouraging.

7. Northwestern: The Wildcats were the only Big Ten team to beat a BCS foe, though Syracuse barely qualifies anymore. Still, Northwestern received the boost it sought from a much-maligned defense, which produced a touchdown and a safety in a 30-10 victory. Running back Tyrell Sutton also looked in top form.

8. Iowa: A 4-0 start seems very possible for the Hawkeyes after Pitt's loss, and a mostly unproven group of running backs looked superb against Maine. Iowa still needs more consistency from quarterback Jake Christensen, but linebacker A.J. Edds is developing into a star and will boost a decent defense.

9. Indiana: Quarterback Kellen Lewis can take this team a long way and got off to a strong start after reclaiming his starting job in camp. Defensive end Jammie Kirlew had a nice game, but I'm still not sold on that unit until it faces a sterner test (Ball State on Sept. 20).

10. Purdue: The Boilermakers are hurt a bit by not playing, but more by the season-ending loss of running back Jaycen Taylor. With uncertainty at wide receiver, it would have helped if Curtis Painter could count on two backs instead of only Kory Sheets, who has had fumbling problems. Linebacker depth is a major concern, but an improved secondary could vault the Boilers up the list.

11. Minnesota: Kudos to the Gophers for matching last year's win total in Week 1, but they were seconds away from a home loss to Northern Illinois. The secondary remains susceptible to big plays, which won't cut it this week against Bowling Green and Tyler Sheehan.

Big East power rankings

September, 2, 2008
9/02/08
9:45
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

1. West Virginia: Will the Mountaineers continue to pass as much as they did against Villanova? That's the question they want other defensive coordinators to ponder.

2. South Florida: Most of the Bulls' starters only played for a half in the blowout of Tennessee Martin. They should get some more work this weekend at Central Florida.

3. Cincinnati: The Bearcats were nearly flawless in dispatching Eastern Kentucky last Thursday. They'll have to be even better than that to compete at Oklahoma on Saturday.

4. Connecticut: Perhaps it's a sign of how far the Huskies have come that they weren't happy with their 32-point win over Hofstra last week.

5. Rutgers: The defense was solid against Fresno State, but special teams and an inability to finish off drives doomed the Scarlet Knights.

6. Pittsburgh: Conservatism will be celebrated at this week's Republican convention but not in Pittsburgh, where fans are criticizing the Panthers' overly conservative play calling.

7. Syracuse: This is the kind of week it was for the Big East: Scoring 10 points and losing by 20 actually helped the Orange moved up a spot.

8. Louisville: At least the Syracuse offense scored.

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

1. BYU: Quarterback Max Hall and tight end Dennis Pitta put on a show against FCS powerhouse Northern Iowa, and with Washington up next, BYU should hold the top spot for another week.

2. Fresno State: The Bulldogs traveled 2,800 miles for an ugly win, but it should bump them into the AP Top 25.

3. East Carolina: The ECU defense is one of the best in the country and if the Pirates can slip by West Virginia, they will have a chance to go undefeated.

4. Utah: Going to the Big House and beating Michigan is no small task even if Michigan isn't the team it used to be. Utah just made the race for the BCS a little more interesting.

5. Tulsa: Got over the UAB hump and showed that its offense is still one of the best in the country even without quarterback Paul Smith.

6. Central Michigan: Although it started the season against an FCS team, Central Michigan still has one of the biggest upsides of a non-BCS team. Georgia this weekend should be an interesting test.

7. Bowling Green: Pittsburgh got a little more credit than it deserved in the preseason and Bowling Green exposed the Panthers. It also put the MAC on notice.

8. Arkansas State: Didn't see the Red Wolves in the picture but strong defense and key turnovers got them a big win over what should be a tough Texas A&M team.

9. Boise State: Even with a freshman quarterback and several new offensive players, Boise State looked downright scary in its season opener.

10. TCU: Don't look now but the Horned Frogs are sitting on top of the MWC standings and can claim that spot for the next couple of weeks.

Others receiving votes: Ball State, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, Buffalo, Temple, Southern Mississippi

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