LSU climbed into the top spot in my poll this week, the result of a rock-solid first month of victories – three away from home against ranked opponents.
There’s not a lot separating the Tigers from Oklahoma and Alabama after the first month of the season, but the road grind gives LSU a slight edge.
There are two newcomers to my rankings this week as Georgia Tech and Michigan check in, replacing Southern Cal and Illinois.
Sept. 23 AP poll
1. LSU (4-0): All four wins this season have been impressive, but the last one – with the defense showing a human side – gave the Tigers offense and special teams the chance to prove this isn’t a one-trick pony.
2. Oklahoma (3-0): Sooners didn’t do anything to drop a spot. Their resume just isn’t quite as beefy or well-rounded as LSU’s yet.
3. Alabama (4-0): Defense keeps chugging along and now the Crimson Tide offense is starting to show some pretty scary signs for opponents.
4. Boise State (3-0): Quietly overlooked with the Broncos is a defense that has limited some pretty decent offense in check. Boise is for real.
5. Stanford (3-0): A week off may have nudged the Cardinal to the back of folks’ minds. Betting they make UCLA pay for that temporary fade.
6. Oklahoma State (4-0): Cowboys got a gritty come-from-behind win at Texas A&M and even showed some defensive toughness in the second half to do so.
7. Wisconsin (4-0): A weak schedule has kept the Badgers from claiming a spot in the national consciousness so far. That changes this week when the Huskers come calling in their Big Ten debut. First one to 50 wins?
8. Virginia Tech (4-0): If the Hokies are the ACC’s best team, this is the week to start showing it.
9. Florida (4-0): Gators climbed this high by playing great defense and producing enough offense to be comfortable. They better ratchet it up for a two-game gauntlet against Alabama and LSU.
10. Oregon (3-1): Since losing to LSU, the Ducks have hung up 181 points in three lopsided wins.
11. Clemson (4-0): Tigers have delivered an impressive two-step to knock off Auburn and Florida State.
12. Nebraska (4-0): See Wisconsin above. Big week coming for the defensively-challenged Cornhuskers.
13. South Carolina (4-0): The Gamecocks’ defense finally made an appearance against Vandy last week. If that holds up, USC is suddenly a serious threat in the SEC East again.
14. Florida State (2-2): National championship hopes are up in smoke, but a week off should help the Seminoles get healthy for a very manageable October slate.
15. South Florida (4-0): Bulls have outscored their four opponents 192-68 so far and seem to be comfortable as a Big East frontrunner.
16. Texas (3-0): With the new McCoy-Shipley combo entrenched, the Longhorns are an offensive force again.
17. Texas A&M (2-1): Tough-luck loss to Oklahoma State can’t be a lingering hangover with the Razorbacks up next.
18. West Virginia (3-1): Mountaineers’ offense showed it can hang with anybody, but the defense and special teams are still a ways away.
19. Baylor (3-0): Bears have held up well behind their offense but now they have to venture outside the Lone Star State to face a Kansas State team riding a wave of confidence.
20. TCU (3-1): As under the radar as Boise State is, does anybody remember that the Horned Frogs are a pretty good team?
21. Arizona State (3-1): Schizophrenic Sun Devils notched their biggest conference win in years against Southern Cal. Letdown on the way?
22. Arkansas (3-1): Hogs got skewered at Alabama and now get a Texas A&M team just as cranky. Could be a lot of points hung up on the Cowboys Stadium scoreboard.
23. Georgia Tech (4-0): Yellow Jackets are putting up huge numbers on offense, but still have some work to do on defense.
24. Michigan State (3-1): Spartans reach a fork in the road in October with games at Ohio State, vs. Michigan and Wisconsin in East Lansing and then at Nebraska. MSU could soar up the rankings or be a distance memory by Halloween.
25. Michigan (4-0): Remember when the Wolverines could score in bunches and not stop anybody? That was so Rich Rodriguez-era. Under Brady Hoke, Michigan is back to solid on defense and is methodically efficient on offense.