Some subtle movement in my AP top 25 poll this week, but not at the top where Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU and Alabama hold down the top four spots.
I shifted a few teams in the top 10, though, because of an impressive performance by Oklahoma State and not-so-impressive outings by Virginia Tech and Nebraska.
Arizona State, Auburn and Tennessee jump into my rankings, with Georgia, Missouri and Clemson falling out.
I’m eager to see what AU and the Volunteers do this week, both hitting the road for tough tests – Auburn at Clemson and UT at Florida.
The game of the week this Saturday is easy: OU at Florida State. There are some other interesting cross-sectional games between BCS conference teams to watch as well – Arizona State at Illinois, Michigan State at Notre Dame and Texas at UCLA.
And of course LSU is back in the national spotlight this week with a Thursday night junket to Mississippi State to face a desperate bunch of Bulldogs. I picked this game as a Tigers’ loss before the season, but I’m having some serious second thoughts on that.
Sept. 11 AP poll
1. Oklahoma (1-0): With a week to rest and recover, the Sooners will be tough to beat. But the task they face is a tough one: At Florida State this week in the next marquee non-conference of the young season. OU is loaded but going on the road in non-conference play hasn’t always been kind under Bob Stoops, especially against ranked foes.
2. Florida State (2-0): Seminoles have outscored their two foes 96-10 so far this season. Guessing the points will be a little harder to come by this week against the Sooners. Blown out last year in Norman, you have to figure FSU has a good-sized chip on its shoulder.
3. LSU (2-0): The Tigers’ cruised past Northwestern State as a nice respite from preparation for Oregon the week before and Mississippi State this week. They stayed relatively healthy, got plenty of players involved and now have to come out hungry for more on Th
ursday in Starkville, Miss.
4. Alabama (2-0): There shouldn’t be any questions about how rock-solid the Crimson Tide defense is after it smothered Penn State last week in Happy Valley. But the Alabama offense still has some progress to show.
5. Boise State (1-0): When will we next know how good the Broncos could be this season? Might not be until Nov. 12 when TCU goes to Idado. That said, Toledo did throw a scare into Ohio State last week.
6. Stanford (2-0): Andrew Luck is good, real good, but the key for the Cardinal this week will be to see if its defense can contain Arizona and Nick Folk in the first real test of the season.
7. Oklahoma State (2-0): The Cowboys made one of the more impressive statements of the season’s first two weeks by pummeling Arizona and Brandon Weeden put up more PlayStation-like numbers with 397 passing yards. His stats should be similar this week against Tulsa.
8. Virginia Tech (2-0): Hokies drop a few spots after a grind-it-out win against East Carolina, although the defense was still stingy – limiting East Carolina to only 112 total yards. Now Virginia Tech gets one more warmup before a tricky road trip to Marshall and the ACC slate.
9. Nebraska (2-0): The Cornhuskers might win some games as an offensive juggernaut, but that won’t sit well for long with Bo Pellini. Especially after they allowed 444 yards against Fresno State and had to win a shootout.
10. Oregon (1-1): It didn’t take the Ducks long to get over the disappointment over the loss to LSU as they rang up 69 points against Nevada for their first win of the season. Look for more of the same against Missouri State.
11.Texas A&M (1-0): Pretty hectic off week for the Aggies as they found a new conference home and apparently fended off in-state neighbor Baylor’s effort to block their move. Now A&M can get back to football.
12. South Carolina (2-0): The Gamecocks did plenty in a dramatic win at Georgia and the defense, while not exactly lock-down tough, produced a pair of touchdowns and set up a third. Sooner or later USC is going to have to show it can stop opposing offenses, though.
13. Florida (2-0): The Gators looked good when they needed to against UAB and still haven’t been pushed a whole lot. That should change this week in another key early SEC game against Tennessee.
14. West Virginia (2-0): Mountaineers played a complete game last week, sort of. WVU trailed Norfolk State 12-10 at halftime before piling up 45 second-half points behind QB Geno Smith (371 passing yards, 4 TDs).
15. Ohio State (2-0): Suspensions might be catching up the Buckeyes, or it might be the distraction of always wondering when the NCAA shoe might drop next. Whatever the cause, Ohio State looks vulnerable right now and now heads to Miami.
16. Wisconsin (2-0): So the Badgers can play a little defense, too, huh? Wisconsin blanked Oregon State 35-0 and got another nice performance from quarterback Russell Wilson. Two more weeks before first real test when Nebraska visits Madison.
17. Michigan State (2-0): The Spartans aren’t going to sneak up on anybody after last season, so the 2-0 start isn’t a surprise. What might be is how good their defense is – last week allowing one first down and 48 yards.
18. Arkansas (2-0): Razorbacks have buzzed through two wins easily with plenty of offense and aren’t likely to meet much more resistance against Troy. Alabama is looming, though.
19. South Florida (2-0): No letdown for the Bulls after the milestone victory at Notre Dame. Real test comes in a five-game stretch with four on the road in a few weeks.
20. Arizona State (2-0): Sun Devils jump into the poll after outlasting Missouri in overtime. A tricky road trip to Illinois is the reward.
21. TCU (1-1): Horned Frogs got back on track by handling Air Force, but the defense was again shaky – allowing 460 yards. Just like with Boise State, it will be a while before anybody knows how good TCU could be.
22. Mississippi State (1-1): A few inches kept the Bulldogs from a 2-0 start and arguably the biggest win in Dan Mullen’s three-year tenure. Can they get off the mat emotionally for visiting LSU this week?
23. Texas (2-0): A revolving door at quarterback overshadowed a stout effort by the Longhorns defense. Now UT gets a chance to exact revenge against the two teams that derailed last season, starting with a junket to UCLA.
24. Auburn (2-0): These Tigers might make it easy to keep them out of the rankings at some point, but last week’s win when people were heaping dirt on them is cause to Auburn back in.
25. Tennessee (2-0): The Volunteers are churning out 485 yards and 43.5 points a game, but are also allowing 371 yards and 19.5 points a contest. That was not against teams as talented and dangerous as Florida. This week is a huge test to see how far Tennessee has come.
Dropped out: Georgia, Missouri, Clemson