NCF Nation: power-rankings-100410

SEC Power Rankings: Week 6

October, 4, 2010
» Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Picking the best team in this conference isn’t the hard part.

It’s all those spots in the middle, and how do you slot the teams No. 8 through No. 12? That’s one jumbled mess.

We’ll give it the old college try with this week’s SEC power rankings:

1. Alabama: The scary part isn’t that Alabama defeated Florida 31-6. The scary part is that the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0) made it look so easy. When the game was 31-3, Alabama shut it down to run some clock, or the Crimson Tide could have easily scored in the 40s. This is a physical team, a team that can beat you a number of different ways offensively and a team that’s only going to get better on defense.

2. Auburn: Well, here the Tigers (5-0, 2-0) are again. They also started the season 5-0 a year ago, but lost five of their last six SEC games. This team has more firepower, though, and it also has Cameron Newton at quarterback. The defense has improved. There’s more depth across the board, and the schedule is about as favorable as it gets. Until proven otherwise, Auburn is the biggest threat to Alabama in the Western Division race.

3. Arkansas: Don’t forget about the Hogs, who’ve played Alabama better than anybody to this point. They had a chance to regroup last week with the bye and take on Texas A&M this Saturday at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington, Texas. Arkansas (3-1, 1-1) still needs to find a more consistent running game to help protect leads, but this is a team that has everything it takes to make a run and have a 10-win season. The Hogs are going to light up a few more scoreboards along the way. Their passing attack is that good.

4. Florida: On the surface, it’s just one loss. But the 31-6 beatdown by Alabama reinforced what we saw in the first three weeks from the Gators (4-1, 2-1). This offense has serious limitations, and junior quarterback John Brantley isn’t quite ready for All-SEC status like some in and around Gainesville pumped him up to be in the preseason. That’s not to say he won’t be a good quarterback, because you can see he has the skills. He’s just not there yet, and just as important, the guys around him have to play better and make more explosive plays down the field.

5. South Carolina: Following a bye week, the Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1) get their chance to do what nobody in this league has done since the end of the 2007 season -- and that’s beat Alabama in an SEC regular-season game. Not only would it be the biggest win in the Steve Spurrier era, but it would put be the Gamecocks back in great shape in the Eastern Division race. Steve Spurrier is going with Stephen Garcia as his quarterback. But if Garcia turns it over, the Head Ball Coach will have a quick hook.

6. LSU: This may be the first time in the history of the SEC power rankings that an unbeaten team has been ranked this far down five weeks into the season. No disrespect to the Tigers’ defense or their special teams, but there’s lucky and then there’s what happened Saturday in the 16-14 win over Tennessee. Maybe Les Miles just likes living on the edge. How else do you explain being so chaotic in late-game clock management situations? And, yet, the Tigers (5-0, 3-0) keep surviving. Reality, though, may be lurking around the corner.

7. Mississippi State: It’s dangerous to count your wins before they hatch, but the Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2) can see 4-2 from here. They travel to Houston Saturday after routing Alcorn State 49-16. One of the best things about this last game is that the Bulldogs got Chad Bumphis going on offense. He’s that dynamic playmaker they need to emerge in the passing game. The defense has given up more than 17 points only once in the first five games. A win over Houston would give Mississippi State a ton of momentum heading to Florida on Oct. 16.

8. Kentucky: Yes, I realize Kentucky just lost to Ole Miss and has given up 90 points in its last two games. Maybe we should just vacate all the spots after No. 7. However, the Wildcats (3-2, 0-2) get the slight nod here over some of the other teams because they have a winning record, but it’s the slimmest of edges. They get Auburn at home this weekend, a chance to prove they deserve this ranking. The defense has to get a lot better. They’ve been exposed on that side of the ball each of the past two weeks. The good news is that Auburn’s visit marks the first of three straight home games.

9. Tennessee: The Vols (2-3, 0-2) move up for two reasons. They’ve played tough for two straight weeks against top-10 foes, and they came up with a new, radical defensive concept -- the 7-3-3 defense. If not for having 13 men on the field at the end of the game at LSU, Tennessee would be celebrating a huge win right now. The Vols outplayed the Tigers for just about the entire game and probably deserved to win. But there’s no excuse for that kind of critical error on the sideline, especially when LSU was in total chaos and was already trying to give you the game.

10. Georgia: It’s as nasty right now in Athens as it’s ever been since the arrival of Mark Richt in 2001. The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-3) have now lost four in a row, including a 29-27 setback to Colorado on Saturday. They’re not getting blown out. Rather, they just haven’t been able to make the plays in the fourth quarter to win, and costly fumbles have killed them. At this point, it’s difficult to imagine the Bulldogs salvaging this season. Really, just scratching out a winning season might be a long shot.

11. Vanderbilt: The Commodores (1-3, 0-2) are showing signs of life offensively and led Connecticut 21-14 in the second quarter. But from there, the bottom fell out. The Huskies scored the last 26 points of the game and rode Jordan Todman’s 190 rushing yards to a 40-21 win. Tackling Todman was a problem for Vanderbilt, but an even bigger problem was three turnovers and a stream of costly penalties. This is a team that already doesn’t have a whole lot of room for error. But when it starts beating itself with turnovers and penalties, the result is going to be the same as last Saturday just about every time.

12. Ole Miss: The Rebels (3-2, 1-1) probably deserve to move out of the cellar after winning two straight, including beating Kentucky last week. But they have one more week to serve their automatic banishment to the cellar for losing to an FCS team and Vanderbilt in the same season at home. Give the offense credit, though. Jeremiah Masoli and crew have it rolling right now, but it’s still hard to figure out what’s happened to that defense. Ole Miss gets a week off before traveling to No. 1-ranked Alabama on Oct. 16.

Pac-10 Power Rankings: Week 6

October, 4, 2010
» Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

1. Oregon: Ducks moved up to No. 3 in the AP poll and announced themselves as national title contenders with a dominating win over Stanford.

2. Arizona: The Wildcats don't visit Oregon until Nov. 27. But during the bye weekend they surely got an eyeful of an Oregon State team that seemed to find itself. Beavers are in Tucson on Saturday.

3. Stanford: While the loss at Oregon was humbling, particularly after taking a 21-3 lead, there wasn't anything during the game that suggested the Cardinal aren't a top-15 team. Getting its receivers healthy would help, too.

4. Oregon State: What we know: Oregon State isn't good enough to win early-season games on the road versus top-five teams. What we suspect: The Beavers are still pretty good and getting better.

5. UCLA: With starting quarterback Kevin Prince on the bench with a knee injury, and coming off a huge win at Texas, the Bruins looked primed for a monumental upset against Washington State. But then they asserted themselves in the fourth quarter.

6. Washington: Nebraska embarrassed the Huskies and quarterback Jake Locker. Two ways to react: fold or fight back. Washington chose the latter and put its season back on track with a win at USC.

7. California: The Bears had a bye. We should start to figure them out Saturday when UCLA visits. The guess here is the second go-around against a pistol offense will go better than the first at Nevada.

8. USC: Now the question is how the Trojans react to a loss. If they don't bring their best, most physical game to Stanford, they are going to get rolled by what figures to be a pretty angry Cardinal team.

9. Arizona State: At some point close stops counting and you have to win. Too many mistakes to win -- see 10 interceptions and 85 yards in penalties per game.

10. Washington State: Close counts for the Cougars. It may be all they can hope for this fall.

Big East power rankings, Week 6

October, 4, 2010
» Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I had to get creative with last week's power rankings thanks to every Big East team losing to any opponent with a pulse. This week, I'm trying to get a more regular order going. It's still not easy.

1. West Virginia (3-1): A good way not to lose the top spot in the rankings is to not play. Mountaineers remain comfortably No. 1.

2. Connecticut (3-2): The Huskies leapfrog from a tie for fifth last week to the second spot. Why? They've beaten their past two opponents by a combined score of 85-42. Sure, it was just Buffalo and Vanderbilt, but do you know how many other Big East teams even have beaten more than one FBS opponent this year? I'll let you think about it for a moment.

3. South Florida (3-1): But not too long. The first three teams on this list are the only Big East teams with multiple FBS wins (though South Florida's -- Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic -- are clearly the worst of the bunch). The Bulls turned in a good all-around effort on Saturday and may be getting healthy at the right time. We'll find out more when league play arrives this week.

4. Cincinnati (1-3): The Bearcats needed a week off after a rigorous schedule in the first month. The key will be if they can continue the momentum they built in the Oklahoma loss.

5. Pittsburgh (2-2): The Panthers looked more like the team we expected them to be against Florida International, but not enough to say they're back. There were still too many penalties and mistakes, and Pitt led just 16-10 going into the fourth quarter.

6. Syracuse (3-1): The Orange have done all you can ask in dispatching opponents they should have beaten. It doesn't help that Akron might be one of the worst teams in the country. Syracuse can prove a whole lot more this week in Tampa.

7. Louisville (2-2): The Cardinals are better than I thought they were, though admittedly I held little optimism about their 2010 season. Charlie Strong has them playing above their talent level, which is more than can be said for No. 8 on this list.

8. Rutgers (2-2): Harsh, especially for a team so good on defense. But what's on the résumé? A five-point win over Florida International, an unimpressive victory over Norfolk State and home losses to a battered North Carolina program and, inexcusably, Tulane. Sounds like a bottom-rung team to me at this point.

Big Ten power rankings: Week 6

October, 4, 2010
» Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

The Big Ten race tightened a bit on the first Saturday of league play. Ohio State looked beatable at Illinois, while both Iowa and Michigan State delivered impressive performances against ranked opponents. Northwestern found a way to stay undefeated, and Michigan rode Denard Robinson to another win.

Here's the new rundown ...

1. Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten): Championship teams face adversity along the way, and Ohio State encountered plenty of it against pesky Illinois. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor played through an injury and finally got some help from a running back (Dan Herron) late in the game. Ohio State's defense shut down Illinois in the second half despite losing key contributor Tyler Moeller to a chest injury. The Buckeyes certainly didn't win many style points at Memorial Stadium, but they won a game.

2. Iowa (4-1, 1-0): The Hawkeyes return to their rightful place in the power rankings after a dominant defensive performance against Penn State. End Adrian Clayborn made an impact both on the field and in the stat sheet, Shaun Prater had a pick-six and the Hawkeyes kept Penn State out of the end zone with an impressive goal-line stand. Iowa has two weeks to prepare for Robinson and Michigan.

3. Michigan State (5-0, 1-0): Adversity is no longer the Spartans' Kryptonite. Coach Mark Dantonio's absence didn't faze Michigan State, and neither did three first-half turnovers. Michigan State controlled the game against Wisconsin and put things away with a 15-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that featured great execution by quarterback Kirk Cousins and great play calling by coordinator Don Treadwell. Now things get fun as the Spartans visit archrival Michigan.

4. Michigan (5-0, 1-0): The Wolverines are still pretty much a one-man show, but what a show he puts on. Robinson continued his assault on the record books against Indiana, racking up 494 yards of total offense and becoming the first player in FBS history to twice record 200 rush yards and 200 pass yards in a game. Robinson's brilliance rescued Michigan's defense again, however, and Greg Robinson's unit has to get a lot better quickly if the Wolverines want to keep winning.

5. Wisconsin (4-1, 0-1): Bret Bielema must really hate the state of Michigan. Bielema's teams continued to struggle in the Great Lake State, as the Badgers couldn't match Michigan State in all of the important categories Saturday. Wisconsin's veteran offense is underachieving right now, especially up front, and the defense sorely misses linebacker Chris Borland. No one will be impressed if Wisconsin pounds Minnesota next week, but a chance for redemption returns Oct. 16 against Ohio State.

6. Northwestern (5-0, 1-0): Michigan isn't the only Big Ten team that needs to find a new formula for winning. The Wildcats escaped Minnesota with a W despite doing all they could to give the game to the hapless Gophers. Coach Pat Fitzgerald finally has enough talent to win games despite mistakes, but Northwestern has a lot of things to clean up. The schedule continues to help the Wildcats, who face banged-up Purdue this week before a bye.

7. Penn State (3-2, 0-1): Yes, the Nittany Lions have lost to two outstanding teams on the road, but their body of work reeks of mediocrity. Tom Bradley's defense is strong enough to keep Penn State in games, but the offense remains inconsistent and continues to struggle along the line. Penn State's red zone woes continued early in the second half at Kinnick Stadium, as it couldn't convert an opportunity to get back in the game. If the execution doesn't improve on offense, Penn State is staring at a four- or five-loss season.

8. Indiana (3-1, 0-1): What a performance by Ben Chappell and Tandon Doss. You have to feel for Indiana's top quarterback and wide receiver as Chappell torched Michigan for 480 pass yards, 221 of which went to Doss. Indiana might have the Big Ten's best passing attack, but it doesn't translate into wins. I know I sound like a broken record, but until the Hoosiers significantly upgrade their defense, they'll be unable to get over the hump in Big Ten play. Still, IU can take several positives from the Michigan game and should reach a bowl.

9. Illinois (2-2, 0-1): The improvement on defense is legit, as Vic Koenning's unit did a good job against Pryor and the Buckeyes' offense until the fourth quarter. But Illinois really had some chances to win but couldn't overcome several inexcusable penalties and a questionable decision by coach Ron Zook to kick a field goal rather than go for a game-tying touchdown with 4:40 left. The Illini also had five fourth-quarter penalties, including an offside call right in front of the bench after stopping Ohio State on third-and-1. There's still a lot to clean up.

10. Purdue (2-2): Purdue clearly needed the bye week after learning quarterback Robert Marve would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. No team in America has had worse luck on the injury front, but Purdue needs to get young quarterbacks Rob Henry and Sean Robinson ready for this week's trip to Northwestern. More importantly, the Boilers have to tighten things up on defense, the unit that will determine whether Purdue turns things around or not.

11. Minnesota (1-4, 0-1): A potential season-turning win was right there for the Golden Gophers, and they still couldn't take it. Despite an eight-point fourth-quarter lead, a 3-0 edge in turnovers until the final minute, a very good offensive game plan and an opponent (Northwestern) making mistake after mistake, Minnesota once again couldn't finish. Tim Brewster's power of positivity will truly be tested as players have to be questioning themselves right now. At least Minnesota will recharge for a rivalry game this week at Wisconsin.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 6

October, 4, 2010
» Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

This shouldn't be surprising, but Week 5's games meant the most movement so far of the Big 12's young season.

1. Oklahoma (5-0, LW: 1) Theorize all you want about whether or not Nebraska would beat Oklahoma. They might if they played tomorrow, but look at who Nebraska's beaten and who Oklahoma's beaten. Almost weekly fourth-quarter miscues have produced some scores that were closer than they should have been, but Oklahoma was clearly the better team in all five wins.

2. Nebraska (4-0, LW: 2) Kansas State is well-equipped to beat Nebraska, especially in Manhattan, but if the Huskers play like they did against Washington, there aren't many teams who'll beat them anywhere.

3. Oklahoma State (4-0, LW: 4) It wasn't pretty, but in conference play, it doesn't have to be. Oklahoma State deserved to win the game and needs to keep the momentum rolling into Louisiana this week for a Friday night game against the Cajuns.

4. Kansas State (4-0, LW: 6) The Wildcats sat at home on Saturday, but have a gigantic opportunity on Thursday night against the Huskers to earn some national attention.

5. Missouri (4-0, LW: 7) Missouri's probably a pretty good team, but we may know less about them than any team in the Big 12. They have yet to play a team that's as good as they are, but they've trailed in the second half twice. They might be as good or better than Oklahoma State. They might be nowhere near as good. Either way, they have the least impressive resume of any of the Big 12's undefeated teams, but they should feel good about being members of a dwindling club that'll lose at least one more member after Thursday night.

6. Texas (3-2, LW: 3) The Longhorns may rebound when the schedule softens after Nebraska, but right now, they're making a beeline for 3-3 and their only somewhat impressive win was to a team that lost to Iowa State on Saturday. Texas has no reliable offensive options and when the defense isn't on point, (i.e., first half against Oklahoma, second half against UCLA) Texas looks awful.

7. Baylor (4-1, LW: 10) Don't forget that Baylor's only loss is to the No. 4 team in the nation, even if it was extremely one-sided. They've soundly beaten everyone else they've played and while Kansas is a bad Big 12 team, they're not historically bad. They are not the kind of team you look at and say, "Yeah, Baylor should handle them by almost 50." The Bears thumping the Jayhawks like they did on Saturday should put everyone in the Big 12 on notice. Like I said yesterday, the only teams I feel 100 percent confident in being better than Baylor are Oklahoma, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, especially when Robert Griffin is on like he was on Saturday. Art Briles has said since spring this is his most talented and deepest team at Baylor. We're seeing those results on the field.

8. Texas A&M (3-1, LW: 8) Math time! So, Texas A&M's only loss came to a ranked, undefeated team on the road by a last-second field goal that came after their fifth turnover of the game? A worse team would have lost that by double digits or worse. Jerrod Johnson's turnovers are still extremely perplexing and the only variables are his offseason shoulder surgery and a young offensive line that's played pretty well so far this season.

9. Iowa State (3-2, LW: 9) Should have moved up with the win over Texas Tech, but Baylor keeps them at No. 9. I said at the beginning of the year Texas Tech's aggressive style would make the defense look unstoppable at times and completely inept at others while giving up many big plays. When an offensive line plays like Iowa State's did, you see the latter. Austen Arnaud made plays to win and a handful of fantastic throws despite having an injured left shoulder, and Shontrelle Johnson is making sure the Cyclones will be just fine at running back after Alexander Robinson graduates.

10. Colorado (3-1, LW: 11) I didn't think Colorado would lose big against Georgia, but I didn't think they had a great chance to win. Give the Buffs some credit; it was a good win. But Georgia is still 1-4 with a win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

11. Texas Tech (2-2, LW: 4) This feels way, way low, but Texas Tech's wins are over a terrible New Mexico team and a decent SMU team. It took a valiant effort by the Red Raiders to dig out of a 24-0 hole, but looking at the rest of the division, they've been the least impressive team in the South and have an 0-2 conference record to show for it.

12. Kansas (2-3, LW: 12) That was embarrassing, Kansas. The only positive out of Saturday's performance is it's hard to see it getting much worse for the Jayhawks.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 6

October, 4, 2010
» Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Miami has been the ACC’s top team in the power ranking since this preseason and that hasn’t changed. The Hurricanes continued to prove worthy of it with their win at Clemson, going 2-1 in a difficult three-game stretch of road games. With its only loss coming on the road against Ohio State, Miami should be considered one of the top 15 teams in the country. The rest of the ACC? There was a bit of shuffling, including at the No. 2 spot where Clemson was bumped in favor of a Florida State team with some momentum. With Miami at No. 1 and Florida State at No. 2, it should make for an interesting Week 6 in South Florida. Here’s how the rest of the league shakes out:

1. Miami (3-1, 1-0 ACC, LW: No. 1) – The Hurricanes forced Clemson into six turnovers, quarterback Jacory Harris threw for four touchdowns and receiver Leonard Hankerson tied a school record with three touchdown receptions. There are still kinks to work out, but if Miami is playing its best football in November, look out for the Canes.

2. Florida State (4-1, 2-0 ACC, LW: No. 4) – Saturday will provide the Noles with their toughest competition since losing on the road to Oklahoma. Florida State dominated Virginia on the road and the defense has shown measurable improvement, but can it sustain it against Miami’s big-play offense?

3. Virginia Tech (3-2, 2-0 ACC, LW: No. 5) The overall record isn’t impressive, but right now the conference record is what counts, and the Hokies are right where they usually are -- in position to make a run. The Hokies took advantage of NC State’s mistakes and should continue to build some momentum against Central Michigan.

4. NC State (4-1, 1-1 ACC, LW: No. 3) – It must’ve been torture for NC State to watch the game film of its loss to the Hokies, but most of those wounds were self-inflicted. The Pack blew a 17-point lead at home and life in the Top 25 was short-lived. NC State is still one of the teams to beat in the Atlantic Division.

5. Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-1 ACC, LW: No. 5) – Send your thank-you notes to Mr. Joshua Nesbitt. He was a driving force behind the Jackets’ come-from-behind win, but this clearly isn’t the same team that won the ACC title last year. Credit Wake Forest’s defense for stuffing the option for most of the game, but Georgia Tech also has had turnover trouble.

6. Maryland (4-1, 1-0 ACC, LW: No. 7) – The Terps are in a favorable position heading into the bye week, and they need the break to heal before traveling to Clemson. Maryland continues to find a way to win, even if it’s not earning any style points in the process. Two wins shy of bowl eligibility is a big turnaround from a year ago.

7. Clemson (2-2, 0-1 ACC, LW: No. 2) – The Tigers have to regroup after tough back-to-back losses, but they’re not out of it yet. Last year can serve as a reminder not to count Clemson out after a rocky start. It has to take care of the ball better, though, in order to have any chance at defending its division title. This isn’t a bad team, but it’s going to have to earn its way back into the top half of the ranking.

8. North Carolina (2-2, 0-1 ACC, LW: No. 10) – The Tar Heels had two 100-yard rushers for the first time in six years against a porous East Carolina defense and have back-to-back wins despite still missing 11 players because of the impending NCAA investigation. They’ve got the momentum and home-field advantage heading into Saturday’s game against Clemson.

9. Wake Forest (2-3, 1-2 ACC, LW: No. 9) – The Deacs lost another heartbreaker to Georgia Tech, the second straight year the game has come down to the wire (last year’s was in overtime). The defense can take pride in its performance, but the quarterbacks are banged up.

10. Boston College (2-2, 0-1 ACC, LW: No. 11) – The Eagles couldn’t stop Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist, and freshman quarterback Chase Rettig was injured early. BC needs a quick fix on offense as it has back-to-back road trips against Atlantic Division opponents up next.

11. Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC, LW: No. 6) – FSU exposes weaknesses that two FCS schools and USC didn’t, and after USC’s loss to Washington, the Cavaliers' performance on the road seems less impressive. Saturday’s 34-14 loss to the Noles was a reality check, but there’s still a lot of football left.

12. Duke (1-4, 0-2 ACC, LW: No. 12) – The Blue Devils sunk a little farther with their loss at Maryland, as they were unable to hold onto a 9-0 lead. The prospects of a bowl appearance look grim.

Non-AQ Power Rankings, Week 6

October, 4, 2010
» Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Much of this looks the same heading into Week 6:

1. Boise State (4-0). The No. 4 Broncos dominated New Mexico State in a 59-0 win but still slipped in the national polls after Oregon beat Stanford. They are still the best non-AQ team out there.

2. TCU (5-0). The Horned Frogs have been less than impressive in back-to-back games. The latest was a 27-0 win over Colorado State in which they had a 6-0 lead at the half.

3. Utah (4-0). The Utes were off but still managed to move up to No. 10 in the rankings after other teams lost ahead of them. They have a big game this Saturday at Iowa State, coming off a win over Texas Tech.

4. Nevada (5-0). The Wolf Pack continued their best start since moving to FBS in 1992 with a 44-26 win over in-state rival UNLV. They have now won a series record six straight against the Rebels. The win, combined with other losses, moved them up to No. 21 in the AP poll.

5. Air Force (4-1). The Falcons beat Navy for the first time since 2002, winning 14-6 in a defensive struggle. Their only loss came on the road at Oklahoma. They moved into the AP Top 25 this week at No. 25.

6. Temple (4-1). The Owls erased a 15-point second-half deficit to rally and beat Army 42-35 behind Matt Brown, who had 226 yards rushing. They have a huge game this week at conference foe Northern Illinois.

7. Fresno State (3-1). The Bulldogs only led 21-17 over FCS Cal Poly at the half before pulling away 38-17. Injuries have started to really hurt the team. Running back A.J. Ellis is out for an extended period with a foot injury and the receiving corps also has been hit hard.

8. San Diego State (3-1). The Aztecs had a bye and have extra time to prepare for a big conference game at BYU, which is reeling after losing for the first time in 11 games to Utah State to drop to 1-4.

9. Southern Miss (4-1). The Golden Eagles dominated Marshall 41-16, holding the Thundering Herd to 180 yards of offense, the lowest total of any opponent in the two-plus seasons since Larry Fedora became coach.

10. Northern Illinois (3-2). The Huskies have beaten a team from an automatic qualifying conference (Minnesota) and came close to upsetting another (Illinois). They have won two straight road games and now get Temple at home.

Dropped out: Navy.