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1. Oklahoma (32)
The Sooners opened with a convincing win. It was nothing spectacular, but they didn’t have anything to fear from Tulsa. They just went about their business, and now they can prepare for the huge matchup with Florida State next week.
2. LSU (17)
After winning the opening weekend’s marquee matchup, it’s tough to deny that LSU deserves to be the No. 2 in the country. With another tough non-conference matchup with No. 19 West Virginia in a few weeks, they already control their own destiny. If they win out, they are almost guaranteed to make the BCS Championship. Relying on Les Miles to guide his team through an entire season unscathed is a precarious proposition, but at least the team has started out strong.
3. Alabama (9)
LSU played Oregon while Alabama played Kent State. No Crimson Tide fan should be upset about being leapfrogged by LSU. There’s no strong argument against it. Even if there was, these two teams play each other, so it doesn’t really matter. That’s down the road though, and Alabama goes to No. 23 Penn State this week. It will be a great game, and it should be played in black and white.
4. Boise State (2)
America’s Team continued its “We Belong” tour this week with a sound drubbing of the Georgia Bulldogs, whose uniforms were sponsored by Satan. More importantly, Boise State’s BCS Championship hopes were dealt a blow when TCU lost to Baylor, thus weakening Boise State’s strength of schedule and potentially robbing them of a second marquee win down the line. If you have any doubts about how convoluted the BCS is, know that Boise State went into a hostile SEC dome in what was essentially a true road game, drubbed a ranked SEC team, and still had to worry that they might fall short this season because of a game in Waco the night before.
5. Florida State
The Seminoles crushed Louisiana-Monroe last week. They will crush Charleston Southern this week. Here’s hoping they don’t get diabetes from all of the cupcakes they down before their clash with the Sooners.
7. Texas A&M
9. Oklahoma State
This is the “Where will we be next year?” clump of schools. Stanford will almost certainly be in the Pac-12, and Wisconsin will almost certainly be in the Big 10 (will they ever change the name to reflect the number of schools in the conference?). Beyond that, it is tough to say. Nebraska just moved to the Big Ten, but who can say with certainty that will stick? A&M is probably going to the SEC, but both sides seem tentative. Oklahoma State seems, today, like it might also wind up in the Pac-12, but who can be certain? Less importantly, all five of these schools crushed their opponents this week.
11. Virginia Tech
12. South Carolina
15. Ohio State
Oregon is the only school in this quintet that pushed themselves, and they lost. That does not appear to be a poor choice though. The other four schools rolled over patsies, and have very little idea of how they will fare this season. Oregon has immediate feedback, knows what to improve on, and is essentially in the same position as these schools that, for all intents and purposes, haven’t started their seasons yet.
16. Mississippi State
17. Michigan State
19. West Virginia
Baylor is going to wind up being the odd school out when conference realignment reaches its zenith. As much posturing as Oklahoma is doing about going to the Pac-12 without Texas and not continuing their rivalry, that’s just an attempt to get rid of The Longhorn Network, which is corroding the Big 12 into non-existence. Both schools will make the conference move west, and they’ll bring their younger brothers Oklahoma State and Texas Tech with them.
With five schools left, the Big 12 will cease to exist, and other conferences will pick at what is left. The most logical scenario has the Big Ten (Big Sixteen doesn’t look good in print) taking Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State. This makes sense geographically, and will allow them to numerically match up with what will then be the Pac-16. The SEC will also try to get to sixteen, but the only school in that group that it has shown interest in is Missouri. They have courted Texas A&M, but that doesn’t mean they’re interested in Baylor. They already have Vanderbilt. If Missouri does go to the SEC, the Big Ten will simply pluck a Big East school like Pittsburgh or Louisville.
The SEC will then turn to the Big East or ACC to fill out its ranks, and those two conference will be forced into a clumsy merger. This marriage will be awfully confusing, and they will probably have to pare down to sixteen, so there would be no home for Baylor there either. Where does that leave them? The Mountain West Conference, where they will get pounded by Boise State every year. As such, it is nice to see them ranked this year. It might be their last relevance for a while. They are also the only team in this group who played a compelling game. The other teams all won big in week one, as ranked teams are wont to do.
22. South Florida
23. Penn State
Notre Dame was ranked No. 16 last week, while South Florida was not ranked at all. Normally, teams ranked that highly are not knocked out of the rankings by a single loss unless that loss is to a truly terrible team. South Florida is not a truly terrible team though, because they are now ranked. How does that make sense? Why does South Florida get so much credit if Notre Dame is suddenly no good? Conversely, why is Notre Dame punished if South Florida is this good?
For an example of how this interaction should work, take a look at TCU. They lost to an unranked team, Baylor, which is now ranked. As such, TCU should remain in the rankings for at least one more week. The other teams in this grouping had non-descript openers, but will all have big challenges (Oklahoma, Alabama, Oklahoma) soon.