NCF Nation: power-rankings-110110

SEC Power Rankings: Week 10

November, 1, 2010
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

The state of Alabama can again be proud. Auburn and Alabama occupy the top two spots in the SEC Power Rankings as the calendar flips to November.

Here’s a look at this week’s entire SEC Power Rankings:

1. Auburn: The Tigers (9-0, 6-0 SEC) surpassed 500 yards in total offense for the fifth time this season in Saturday's 51-31 win over Ole Miss. The defense gave up a few too many big plays, but Auburn makes so many big plays itself that it doesn’t really matter. Onterio McCalebb had a long touchdown run for the second week in a row, and Cam Newton caught a touchdown pass. Auburn dropped to No. 2 this week in the BCS standings, but still controls its own destiny in the national title chase.

2. Alabama: The off week came at a good time for Alabama. The Crimson Tide (7-1, 4-1) go into Baton Rouge to face LSU this week rested, and giving Nick Saban extra time to prepare is never a good thing for the other team. Alabama was No. 6 this week in the BCS standings, but has a tough road ahead. The LSU game will be the first of three games remaining against nationally ranked SEC foes.

3. LSU: Here’s LSU’s chance to get back in it and make this a special season. A win over Alabama would keep the Tigers (7-1, 4-1) alive in the Western Division race, although those hopes would be faint. More realistically, LSU would keep its chances alive of landing an at-large berth in a BCS bowl. The Tigers are also coming off a bye week. To make a run this final month, they’re going to need more out of their passing game. But, then, that’s been the case all season.

4. South Carolina: The Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2) looked vulnerable at times last week in their 38-24 win against Tennessee and have serious issues right now when it comes to defending the pass. After saying the week before that the offensive play calling would be a "community" effort, Steve Spurrier said he called most of the plays against the Vols. Who knows what that’s all about? The bottom line is that South Carolina can clinch the Eastern Division championship with a win at Florida in two weeks. First, though, the Gamecocks have to deal with Arkansas this Saturday.

5. Arkansas: The Hogs (6-2, 3-2) rebounded from a sluggish start to trounce Vanderbilt 49-14 this past week, but it might have come at a price. Star receiver Greg Childs went down with an injury in the fourth quarter. The Arkansas radio broadcast said it was a knee injury. The Hogs were already missing Joe Adams, who didn’t play because of an ankle injury. The South Carolina game is an important one for the Hogs in terms of the bowl pecking order.

6. Mississippi State: Outside of Auburn, the hottest team in the league remains Mississippi State, which extended its winning streak to six games with a 24-17 win over Kentucky. The Bulldogs (7-2, 3-2) have shown a penchant for coming through in the clutch and did again Saturday when Johnthan Banks intercepted a pass at the goal line to seal the win. Mississippi State will be off this weekend before traveling to Alabama on Nov. 13.

7. Florida: The Gators (5-3, 3-3) awakened from their offensive slumber with Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps both putting a charge into the offense with big plays, and they edged Georgia 34-31 in overtime. It was Florida’s 18th win over Georgia in the past 21 meetings, and more importantly, keeps the Gators right in the middle of the Eastern Division race. They play at Vanderbilt this week and can win their third straight East crown by taking down South Carolina at home on Nov. 13.

8. Georgia: Just when you thought the Bulldogs might be making a move, they do what they always do -- lose to Florida. Give Georgia and redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray credit for battling back in the second half after falling behind 21-7, but there’s a mental block about this game that Georgia simply can’t seem to overcome. The Bulldogs (4-5, 3-4) still have considerable work to do if they’re going to finish with a winning season.

9. Kentucky: Nobody in the league has lost more close games this season than Kentucky. The Wildcats (4-5, 1-5) lost another one Saturday when Mississippi State held on for a 24-17 win in Starkville. Three of Kentucky’s losses this season have been by a touchdown or less. With Charleston Southern coming up this weekend, Kentucky will need to split with Vanderbilt and Tennessee those final two weeks to extend its bowl streak to five years.

10. Ole Miss: Injuries have taken a toll on the Rebels (3-5, 1-4). They’re a glimmer of what most people thought they would be defensively this season and could be without their two leading tacklers this coming week against Louisiana-Lafayette. Safety Damien Jackson was already suffering from a knee injury prior to the 51-31 loss to Auburn, and linebacker Jonathan Cornell left the game with an ankle injury. It’s been that kind of season for the Rebels, who’ve now lost three in a row.

11. Tennessee: For the first time since John Majors returned to Tennessee as coach in 1977, the Vols are 0-5 in the SEC. They had their chances against South Carolina, but were again hurt by a bad third quarter and lost 38-24 to the Gamecocks. The Vols (2-6, 0-5) were 0-for-October. If they’re going to make a bowl game, they will have to go unbeaten in November. That stretch starts at Memphis on Saturday. It looks like true freshman Tyler Bray will take over the quarterback duties.

12. Vanderbilt: The last three games have been a nightmare for Vanderbilt, which was thrashed 49-14 at Arkansas on Saturday and has now lost its past three games by a combined 113-21 margin. The Commodores (2-6, 1-4) scored touchdowns on their first two series with Des Kitchings taking over the play-calling duties. But from there, Arkansas and Ryan Mallett scored 43 unanswered points and absolutely carved apart the Commodores’ secondary.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 10

November, 1, 2010
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

The league looks like it's separating itself into three pretty distinct classes again, no? Top five, next five and bottom two? Looks like it to me.

1. Oklahoma (7-1, 3-1, last week: 2) Sooners still get the narrow nod over the Huskers in part thanks to the quality of loss. A road loss to a team that should win at least 10 games easily in front of a rabid crowd? Juuuuuust a little more impressive than a home flop against a team with four wins in the bottom half of the South. Nothing will come easy, though. If the Sooners want to win the division, they'll have to go out and get it over the season's final two weeks, with road games at Baylor and Oklahoma State.

2. Nebraska (7-1, 3-1, LW: 3) Huskers blew away Missouri in 15 minutes, but still have to get healthy and show up for the final four weeks of the season -- all games where the Huskers should be favored. Nebraska without Taylor Martinez looked pretty lost on offense, but was given a huge boost by three long touchdown runs from Roy Helu Jr.

3. Missouri (7-1, 3-1, LW: 1) Give the Tigers some credit: that game Saturday had the feel of a 51-10 embarrassment pretty quick. Missouri stabilized itself and didn't quit fighting after a nightmarish first quarter. When the Blackshirts are at their best like they were on Saturday, Nebraska is tough to beat anywhere, much less in Lincoln. The facts are pretty simple, though: Nobody's winning many games in this league when they give up three touchdown runs each longer than 50 yards.

4. Oklahoma State (7-1, 3-1, LW: 4) The Cowboys survived a week without Justin Blackmon, even with a handful of first-half mistakes. OSU could have beaten Kansas State a little more convincingly, but it was still a comfortable win, and it came on the road. Mike Gundy has to feel pretty good about that heading into a big, big game next week.

5. Baylor (7-2, 4-1, LW: 5) We found out exactly how good Missouri is over the past three weeks. Now, it's Baylor's turn, starting with a trip to Stillwater next week. Bowl eligibility is somewhat of an afterthought at this point; if Baylor knocks off the Cowboys next week, they'll most likely be hosting Oklahoma with a chance to win the South.

6. Texas A&M (5-3, 2-2, LW: 9) The Aggies have to wonder what might have happened if they'd made the switch to Ryan Tannehill earlier, but Texas Tech's secondary is giving up a lot of yards to a lot of teams. Texas A&M needs Oklahoma State to lose twice, but they're still not completely out of the South race with a renewed team behind Tannehill and Baylor and Oklahoma ahead of them on the schedule.

7. Kansas State (5-3, 2-3, LW: 7) The Wildcats couldn't take advantage of Oklahoma State's early mistakes and lack of Blackmon, but they'll still be battling Iowa State down the stretch for third place in the North.

8. Iowa State (5-4, 3-2, LW: 10) Iowa State will try to rediscover whatever it found (Guess: lots of Nebraska fumbles) to beat the Huskers last year, but outside of a shellacking at the hands of Utah, the Cyclones have been pretty salty at times in Ames.

9. Texas (4-4, 2-3, LW: 6) This season is definitely looking like a lost cause for the Longhorns at this point. Turning talent into production has been a losing battle for the defense, and elite, balanced offenses like Oklahoma and Baylor have made the unit look bad for stretches long enough to cost Texas wins.

10. Texas Tech (4-4, 2-4, LW: 8) Clearly, I was out of line to even suggest this transition might not go smoothly. The Red Raiders have a lot of talent on offense, but most of it has been inconsistent all year and Texas Tech hasn't been able to run the ball anywhere as effectively as coach Tommy Tuberville would like. Without the constant offensive production, giving up more than 300 yards a game through the air like the defense is doing is a nice way to sink to the bottom of the South. Tulsa is the only team in college football giving up more yards through the air than the Red Raiders; they are the only two teams in the nation giving up more than 300 yards a game.

11. Colorado (3-5, 0-4, LW: 11) Colorado AD Mike Bohn told the Denver Post after Saturday's 43-10 loss to Oklahoma that no decision would be made regarding coach Dan Hawkins this week, but it's almost certainly a matter of when, and not if, at this point.

12. Kansas (2-6, 0-4, LW: 12) Jayhawks took a step forward against Iowa State, but it's going to take a win to dig them out of this spot for the rest of the season.

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 10

November, 1, 2010
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Wisconsin moves into the top despite not playing a down on Saturday. Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State also make upward moves, while the Michigan schools both take a hit.

As a reminder, these rankings reflect how teams are playing right now. They're supposed to change each week.

1. Wisconsin (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten): After two huge wins, the Badgers received a well-earned open week before what looks like a very manageable November slate. Wisconsin should be healthy when it hits the road for Purdue this week, and barring a letdown, an 11-1 record is very possible. Bret Bielema's team still would like to see losses by Michigan State and Ohio State at some point.

2. Iowa (6-2, 3-1): That was what most of us had been waiting for from a talented and veteran Hawkeyes team. Iowa put it all together against Michigan State for its most complete performance in quite some time. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi should be on the Heisman radar, and safety Tyler Sash returned to his playmaking ways. Iowa now must handle its business on the road before the Nov. 20 showdown against Ohio State.

3. Ohio State (8-1, 4-1): Style points haven't been a problem for Jim Tressel's team this year. Ohio State eviscerated Minnesota on the road, piling up 52 points and 507 yards of offense. The offense is loaded with weapons, and the Buckeyes also scored touchdowns on defense and special teams. Ohio State enters its most successful month under Tressel, and the Buckeyes could run the table and reach the Rose Bowl.

4. Michigan State (8-1, 4-1): The Spartans looked like a different team at Kinnick Stadium, making far too many big mistakes to keep pace with Iowa. Quarterback Kirk Cousins must rebound after throwing three interceptions, and so must a defense that couldn't contain Stanzi. The good news is Michigan State's closing schedule remains favorable, and the Spartans hold the head-to-head tie-breaker advantage against Wisconsin.

5. Illinois (5-3, 3-2): Life is good right now for Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini, who could run the table the rest of the way to finish a surprising 9-3. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had a breakout performance Saturday, and the Illinois defense held Purdue scoreless for 49 minutes. It's too bad the Illini don't have more games against ranked opponents, because they look unstoppable right now. Up next is a trip to slumping Michigan.

6. Penn State (5-3, 2-2): Count me among those skeptical of whether Penn State could keep pace with Michigan in a shootout, but Matt McGloin and Evan Royster shut us all up. McGloin was outstanding in his first career start, and Royster recaptured his 2009 form with 150 rush yards and two touchdowns. Penn State will face better defenses in the coming weeks, but the Lions took a big step toward bowl eligibility and moved Joe Paterno one win away from No. 400.

7. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2): The flaws are still there with the Wildcats, but you can't argue with their record. If this is indeed a rebuilding year, coach Pat Fitzgerald and his players will gladly take a school-record third consecutive bowl appearance, which they all but locked up Saturday at Indiana. The defense stepped up nicely and the offense received big performances from Dan Persa, Mike Trumpy and Jeremy Ebert. Penalties remain a big problem, but NU avoided a turnover in Bloomington. Northwestern now enters a month where it has been very good under Fitzgerald.

8. Michigan (5-3, 1-3): I expected a lot more from Michigan after an open week, especially facing a banged-up Penn State team starting a new quarterback. Instead, we got more of the same from Greg Robinson's woeful defense, and the special teams weren't much better. Quarterback Denard Robinson certainly did his part, but Michigan isn't consistent enough to win a Big Ten game at this point. It will take a major improvement this week to beat red-hot Illinois.

9. Purdue (4-4, 2-2): Back-to-back blowout losses certainly change the mood in West Lafayette. Injuries continue to ravage Purdue, and the Boilers defense had no answer for Scheelhaase and Illinois. Danny Hope left Champaign ticked off at Ron Zook's fourth-quarter strategy, but he has got bigger problems on his hands. Purdue still needs two wins to make a bowl game, but it won't be easy.

10. Indiana (4-4, 0-4): The Hoosiers are playing better on defense, but they didn't get nearly enough from Ben Chappell and the offense against Northwestern on Saturday. Several curious play calls and no rushing attack made it tough for Indiana to finish drives. This team just can't get over the hump in Big Ten games, and it needs to win two of them to qualify for a bowl and ensure coach Bill Lynch returns in 2011.

11. Minnesota (1-8, 0-5): The Gophers moved the ball at times against Ohio State, but they still make far too many major mistakes to keep pace with elite opponents. Finishing drives has been a challenge all season for Minnesota, and it continued Saturday night. Gophers players continue to play hard, if not well, and they have another shot at a ranked opponent this week at Michigan State.

Big East Power Rankings: Week 10

November, 1, 2010
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Question of the week in the Big East: Who's No. 3?

1. Pittsburgh (5-3, 3-0 Big East): No 5-3 team in the country is in better shape than the Panthers. They have a virtual two-game lead in the conference race with just four games to play. Pitt has to be the favorite to win the league's BCS bid.

2. Syracuse (6-2, 3-1): No qualifications or backhanded compliments any more. The Orange have earned this spot.

3. West Virginia (5-3, 1-2): Unlike the Orange, the Mountaineers have not earned this spot in conference play. With two straight losses, West Virginia should probably be lower. But when I compare them to all the rest of the contenders for this spot, I don't see anyone who's clearly better.

4. Rutgers (4-3, 1-1): The Scarlet Knights are one of only three teams with one league loss or fewer, they beat the Connecticut team that just won over West Virginia and their only league loss is at Pitt. But I don't feel very confident about it.

5. Louisville (4-4, 1-2): The Cardinals had a bad game, especially offensively, in their 20-3 loss at Pitt. Still, as long as Bilal Powell comes back, they're capable of beating everyone else on the schedule.

6. South Florida (4-3, 1-2): Was the offensive rejuvenation against Cincinnati for real or just a product of the Bearcats' defense? We'll find out Wednesday when the Bulls play Rutgers.

7. Connecticut (4-4, 1-2): The Huskies showed some mental toughness by bouncing back from two tough losses to vanquish West Virginia. They still have to prove they can win on the road, however.

8. Cincinnati (3-5, 1-2): The two-time defending champs in last place? Can this really be true? Well, the Bearcats have the worst record of any Big East team, have lost two straight at home and still have a challenging schedule left. Odds are they won't go bowling. This also illustrates that, while there's no dominant team in the Big East, there's also no clear-cut last-place team.

Pac-10 Power Rankings: Week 10

November, 1, 2010
If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

1. Oregon: The Ducks' workmanlike overwhelming of USC in the Coliseum left little doubt about their standing in the Pac-10 and nationally.

2. Stanford: The dominant performance at Washington suggested that Stanford is a legitimate top-10 team. But can the Cardinal maintain the high level of play on both sides of the ball over the home stretch, starting Saturday vs. Arizona?

3. Oregon State: The extra two defeats don't look good on the record but perhaps -- as coach Mike Riley said when speaking of playing both TCU and Boise State -- those tough games prepared the Beavers for a tough Pac-10 schedule.

4. Arizona: Fourth? Well, the Beavers beat the Wildcats and blew out California, which the Wildcats needed a late drive to beat at home. And allowing UCLA to survive into the fourth quarter -- no matter the statistical domination with a backup quarterback -- isn't good. Of course, all the Wildcats need to do to move back to No. 2 is win at Stanford on Saturday.

5. USC: Some Trojans billed their game vs. No. 2 Oregon as their bowl game. So does that mean the season is over? How they react during the season's home stretch will be interesting.

6. California: Cal is like a box of chocolates. Sometimes your chocolate has a big load of stink inside. Wait. Your box of chocolates doesn't have that? Hmm. We're going to get an early preview of life after quarterback Kevin Riley, too.

7. Arizona State: Folks projecting a flat performance and an upset loss to Washington State proved wrong. Very wrong. But can the Sun Devils find some consistency and get to a bowl game?

8. UCLA: The Bruins fought hard against Arizona, but they couldn't make the plays needed to win.

9. Washington: A season of great hope for the Huskies has hit, to use coach Steve Sarkisian's term, "rock bottom."

10. Washington State: The Cougars are back firmly in the cellar after getting whipped at Arizona State.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 10

November, 1, 2010
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

With one month remaining in the regular season, there is a clear front-runner in the ACC -- Virginia Tech. The Hokies are no stranger to the No. 1 spot, but after starting the season 0-2, it didn't seem likely that's where they would end up. With upsets throughout the league this past week, the Hokies stayed safe with a bye week and moved up as others fell:

1. Virginia Tech (6-2, 4-0 ACC; LW: No. 2) – The Hokies are the lone team remaining undefeated in conference play, and have been the most consistent team since its Sept. 11 loss to James Madison. Virginia Tech has one of the most difficult schedules remaining, though, and it starts on Thursday night in Blacksburg against Georgia Tech.

2. NC State (6-2, 3-1; LW: No. 4) - The 28-24 win over Florida State has the Wolfpack bowl eligible and in position to win the Atlantic Division. Three of NC State’s final four games are on the road, though, including this weekend at Clemson.

3. Florida State (6-2, 4-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) – Quarterback Christian Ponder’s fumble in the fourth quarter was the difference in the game, and the game could be the difference in the Seminoles’ season. The good news for FSU is that three of the final four games are in Tallahassee, including the season finale against Florida.

4. Maryland (6-2, 3-1; LW: No. 6) – The bowl-eligible Terps can finally put last year’s 2-10 season behind them, but they’re still not satisfied, as the Atlantic Division title remains a realistic goal. The Terps still control their own destiny, as Florida State and NC State are still on the schedule. First, though, they’ve got a trip to Miami.

5. Miami (5-3, 3-2; LW: No. 3) – Two-loss teams have played in the ACC championship game before, but the Canes will need some help knocking the Hokies off their perch. Miami took a major step back in the Coastal Division race with its loss to Virginia, and injured quarterback Jacory Harris (concussion) is questionable for Saturday’s game against Maryland.

6. Clemson (4-4, 2-3; LW: No. 5) – The Tigers blew it. Clemson had a chance to get back in the Atlantic Division race but lost it with a 16-10 loss at Boston College. Now the Tigers will have to face a confident NC State team without leading rusher Andre Ellington, who will miss the next two games with a toe injury.

7. Georgia Tech (5-3, 3-2; LW: No. 7) – The Yellow Jackets have a tough task on Thursday in Blacksburg, as there are problems up front, in the passing game and on defense. It’s a well-coached team, though, that like Miami, isn’t out of it quite yet.

8. North Carolina (5-3, 2-2; LW: No. 8) – The Tar Heels were fortunate they didn’t lose to William & Mary on homecoming. It wasn’t pretty, but UNC was able to pull ahead in the fourth quarter for the win. It’s only going to get more difficult, though, starting this weekend at Florida State. If the Heels play as poorly as they did this past weekend, they might not win another game.

9. Virginia (4-4, 1-3; LW: No. 10) – It was a statement win for the program and the first ACC win for first-year coach Mike London. Virginia hasn’t quit once this season, so don’t expect it to down the stretch. Because the Cavaliers played two FCS opponents, only one counts toward bowl eligibility, so they need to win three of their last four to reach the postseason. Despite their effort, that’s still asking a lot.

10. Boston College (3-5, 1-4; LW: No. 11) – The Eagles surprised Clemson with a 16-10 win and suddenly bowl eligibility doesn’t seem so far-fetched. The Eagles have back-to-back road trips to Wake Forest and Duke before coming home to face Virginia. All three are winnable games.

11. Wake Forest (2-6, 1-4; LW: No. 9) – The Deacs looked hopeless and hapless in their 62-14 loss to Maryland, and the defense isn’t getting any better. It’s shaping up to be one of the most disappointing seasons under coach Jim Grobe.

12. Duke (2-6, 0-4; LW: No. 12) – The Blue Devils’ progress finally showed in the win column, and much of that can be attributed to a record-setting performance by quarterback Sean Renfree. Duke is still searching for its first ACC win, and could get it against Virginia this week if it continues to protect the ball and show improvement on defense.

Non-AQ Power Rankings, Week 10

November, 1, 2010
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

Not much has changed in this week’s power rankings. Here they are for Week 10:

1. Boise State (7-0). The Broncos dropped a spot in the BCS standings despite beating Louisiana Tech 49-20, but they have not done much to dissuade me from putting them right here in the top spot. They have won all of their games, beaten both teams from the power conferences they played and have terrific talent.

2. TCU (9-0). The Horned Frogs easily beat UNLV to set up a showdown at Utah on Saturday. They are now No. 3 in the BCS standings, but I am going to keep them here for now. I still think Boise State would win again in a head-to-head game.

3. Utah (8-0). The Utes struggled to put away Air Force, but they usually have problems with the Falcons. The important thing is they are undefeated going into their game against TCU. Utah has been slammed for having a weak strength of schedule to date. The Utes can’t help who they play, but Boise State and TCU have beaten ranked teams. Utah has not done so yet.

4. Hawaii (7-2). The Warriors are officially in the Hawaii Bowl after beating Idaho, the earliest they have ever secured a bowl invitation. They are still leading the nation in passing, and have a big game at Boise State on Saturday.

5. Nevada (7-1). The Wolf Pack survived a late rally from Utah State to become bowl eligible. After jumping out to a 35-0 halftime lead, Utah State crept back into the game, but Nevada came up with one answer after another. They are back in the human polls this week and ranked No. 23 in the BCS standings.

6. Northern Illinois (7-2). The Huskies have won six straight after surviving a 28-21 win over Western Michigan. That is their longest winning streak since 2004. Chad Spann reached 1,000 yards for the season in the victory.

7. UCF (6-2). About time I give some love to the Knights, right? Their two losses were heartbreakers. They fumbled away a chance to beat NC State, and lost in the closing minute to Kansas State. After feasting on the likes of Buffalo, Rice, UAB and Marshall, UCF finally recorded a quality win this past weekend, beating East Carolina 49-35.

8. San Diego State (6-2). The Aztecs are bowl eligible for the first time since 1998, but survived a serious threat from Wyoming on the road. They are usually a much more balanced team than what they showed, but the Cowboys took away the run and had several leads in the first half before coming up short.

9. Temple (7-2). The Owls posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since blanking Connecticut and Xavier during the 1971 season after blanking winless Akron 30-0. They beat Buffalo last week 42-0.

10. East Carolina (5-3). The Pirates lost to UCF, but look at the losses and the wins. They lost to two teams from the ACC, but beat NC State. They also have wins over Southern Miss and Tulsa, two teams that are likely to end up bowl eligible.

Dropped out: Navy