I took a week off from voting to coordinate with the first BCS standings coming out; my rankings, you’ll notice, look different than two weeks ago. I had a weekend to watch a lot of football, research stats and work out some gut feelings I may have had about certain teams. So here we go.
1. Alabama (6-0, Beat Missouri 42-10): The Crimson Tide’s offensive and defensive line play remind me of Nebraska and Florida State in the 1990s. Or Oklahoma in the 1970s, if I had been alive then. A road win at Arkansas is looking better. So is that neutral site win over Michigan.
2. Kansas State (6-0, Beat Iowa State 27-21): The Wildcats have the season’s best road win at Oklahoma. And a victory at Iowa State is a top 25 road win, I suspect. A rout of Miami looks good. A rout of Kansas — which tested Oklahoma State and TCU some — looks good.
3. Florida (6-0, Beat Vanderbilt 31-17): Gator quarterback Jeff Driskel looks like a prototypical passing quarterback, but he’s more of a Tim Tebow bruiser. The real story is a Gator defense playing the way Will Muschamp likes. Very aggressive front seven. UF gets this spot for beating LSU, which looked terrific in a 23-21 win over South Carolina.
4. Notre Dame (6-0, Beat Stanford 20-13): Wins at Michigan State and over Michigan and the Cardinal comprise an impressive trio. The Irish dominated Miami.
5. Oregon State (5-0, Beat BYU 42-24): The Beavers are 3-0 on the road, they’ve played four BCS teams (plus the Cougars, who are good enough to be one), and they won Saturday with a backup quarterback, scoring 42 points on a defense that ranks 7th nationally in scoring defense. This is a better resume than Oregon. It is.
6. LSU (6-1, Beat South Carolina 23-21): The Tigers outgained the Gamecocks 406-211 in one of the more impressive two-point wins you’ll ever see. But beating Auburn 12-10 doesn’t do much for me, and the 41-3 win over Washington has lost some luster.
7. Oregon (6-0, Bye): The Ducks’ offense has had one half of inefficiency. While the schedule hasn’t been very challenging yet — wins over Arizona and Washington aren’t that eye-popping — Oregon looks a step quicker than any team outside the SEC. But the Ducks’ schedule is backloaded, so the real tests remain. If Oregon passes them, it’ll move up fast.
8. Oklahoma (6-1, Beat Texas 63-21): The Sooners have a top-drawer road win at Texas Tech and a blowout win vs. Texas, who probably isn’t that good, but still: It’s a rival on a neutral site.
9. South Carolina (6-1, Lost to LSU 23-21): The Gamecocks blowout win over Georgia still looks good.
10. Ohio State (7-0, Beat Indiana 52-49): The Buckeyes’ best wins are Michigan State – which has three losses – and Nebraska at home. Oklahoma’s better right now, as is South Carolina.
11. USC (5-1, Beat Washington 24-14): Two straight road wins — tough road wins — are sprinkled in with a California win that looks better. I move the Trojans ahead of Stanford, which beat them, for doing what the Cardinal could not: Win at Washington.
12. Florida State (6-1, Beat Boston College 51-7): The Seminoles are the victim of a weak ACC. Its signature win is over Clemson, and the Tigers haven’t done much, either.
13. Georgia (5-1, Bye): The Bulldogs still have a terrific shot at the SEC East crown.
14. Texas Tech (5-1, Beat West Virginia 49-21): Leery of a big jump, but the Red Raiders have one of the year’s best wins along with a road win at Iowa State.
15. Mississippi State (6-0, Beat Tennessee 41-31): The Bulldogs have a fighting chance in upcoming games vs. LSU and Alabama.
16. Clemson (5-1, Bye): The Tigers are in some of same fix Florida State is until the end of the year, when South Carolina comes calling.
17. West Virginia (5-1, Lost to Texas Tech 49-14): Why are the Mountaineers here, ahead of three undefeated Big East teams? Part of it is just plum unfair projection: I don’t think any of those teams would be 5-1 with West Virginia’s schedule. Cincinnati, at 5-0, is not in my rankings at all because wins over Fordham, Delaware State and Miami, Ohio don’t get you there.
18. Rutgers (6-0, Beat Syracuse 23-15): The Scarlet Knights’ best win is a 35-26 win at Arkansas. The Razorbacks’ two straight wins make that victory look better.
19. Louisville (6-0, Beat Pittsburgh 45-35): The only win over a team with a winning record is a 39-34 victory over North Carolina.. The Cardinals’ other five opponents have a combined 5-28 record.
20. Michigan (4-2, Beat Illinois 45-0): The Wolverines appear to be finding their groove on offense. The two losses, however ugly, were to excellent teams.
21. Texas A&M (Beat Louisiana Tech 59-57): I respect the Aggies’ ability to win on the road in front of two fired up crowds. But I can’t help but think the other shoe’s going to drop. Soon. As in vs. LSU.
22. Stanford (4-2, Lost to Notre Dame 20-13): The Cardinal came close to forcing a second overtime.
23. Boise State (5-1, Beat Fresno State 20-10): Lone loss is a four-pointer at Michigan State to open the season. Terrific defense.
24. Ohio (Beat Akron 34-28): A season-opening win at Penn State is what gets the Fighting Frankies on the list. The other opponents are a combined 7-31.
25. TCU (5-1, Beat Baylor 49-21): Good road win over the Bears with a backup quarterback.