Top two stay the same obviously, and I shifted Oklahoma State to No. 3 in place of Virginia Tech after watching what transpired in Big 12 Conference and ACC games not involving the Cowboys and Hokies.
There's a lot more strength in the Big 12 and what Oklahoma State has done to get through with only the lone loss on a day when it played with heavy hearts impresses much more than getting through the ACC. I was also left scratching my head how Virginia Tech managed only three points against that Clemson defense.
Other than that minor tweak, the biggest adjustment in my poll was adding BYU and Arkansas State for the first time this season. The Cougars have hung around on the cusp of the top 25 all season and have one really bad loss – 54-10 to Utah. But BYU has established consistency since then.
Arkansas State was one I've wrestled with down the stretch of the season because it's hard for me to lump a Sun Belt Conference team among the elite in the country. But I truly believe the Red Wolves are in that mix because of how they've played since losing at Illinois and Virginia Tech in September.
Nov. 27 AP poll
|LSU's Tyrann Mathieu re-emerged as a big-time playmaker in the Tigers' 41-17 rout of Arkansas.|
1. LSU (12-0): No even some 14-0 adversity seemed to faze the Tigers as they closed out the regular season unscathed. Hard to think of anybody challenging them much except for Alabama, and all signs point to a rematch.
2. Alabama (11-1): After slogging through two wins post-LSU, the Crimson Tide regained its form to rout Auburn and remove a lot of doubt about a potential rematch with LSU. There's definitely an elephant-sized chip on those shoulders.
3. Oklahoma State (10-1): Cowboys may live to rue a field goal that sailed over the goal-post crossbar. But after watching what happened in the Big 12 and ACC this week, there's no doubt in my mind OSU is in the best of the rest after the SEC's two-headed monster.
4. Virginia Tech (11-1): The Hokies delivered their most impressive performance of the season against a good Virginia team and deserve to be counted among the national elite. Just not above Oklahoma State.
5. Oregon (10-2): Close call between who will wind up being the best two-loss team, although they just might meet in the Rose Bowl. Ducks are damn good when they're focused on the task at hand.
6. Stanford (11-1): Great season for the Cardinal that will likely get Stanford to Glendale for a Fiesta Bowl clash in January. But that loss to Oregon is a major, major blemish for me.
7. Boise State (10-1): Broncos may go down as the most anonymous great team in college football history after this season. One missed field goal knocked Boise out of a national championship shot and completely off the national radar.
8. Georgia (10-2): If the Bulldogs big offensive guns are healthy and clicking this week, they could make things really interesting against LSU. Defense has really become the backbone for Georgia.
|Marqise Lee and the Trojans set a strong foundation for 2012.|
9. USC (10-2): Love him or hate him, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin and his pops did an impressive job of getting their team to play week in and week out under the circumstances.
10. Arkansas (10-2): As impressive as the Razorbacks have looked most of their season, their two losses have been really bad. Still a top-10 team, but just barely.
11. Michigan State (10-2): After hearing how fluky their win over Wisconsin was for five weeks, you have to wonder just how motivated the Spartans will be in the rematch.
12. Wisconsin (10-2): After stewing about the fluky ending against Michigan State, you can figure out how motivated the Badgers are in the rematch.
13. Oklahoma (9-2): The Sooners played like a team with a hangover against Iowa State but got through with a win. Now can they play a major spoiler role against Oklahoma State or are they destined for a Cotton Bowl showdown with Bob Stoops old boss?
14. South Carolina (10-2): Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier ought to be all warm and fuzzy with season-ending wins against Florida and Clemson to offset missing the SEC Championship Game.
|First-year coach Brady Hoke and Michigan went fro, 5-7 to 10-2 this season.|
15. Houston (12-0) OK, now the Cougars have beaten somebody after they dismantled Tulsa. Still going to be hard for UH to climb a lot higher, although it could wind up in the Sugar Bowl.
16. Michigan (10-2): It's been quite a turnaround season for the Wolverines under Brady Hoke, now complete with a win over Ohio State and perhaps a BCS bowl berth.
17. TCU (9-2): Horned Frogs biggest claim to fame for 2011 will be spoiling Boise State's national crown hopes, which overshadows a nice comeback from a stunning opener.
18. Kansas State (9-2): Wildcats are the third best team in the Big 12 this season … as long as they can handle the Iowa State team that stunned Oklahoma State.
19. Baylor (8-3): If the Bears had found a way to beat K-State (36-35 loss), Robert Griffin might be clearing space for the Heisman Trophy. Baylor still has a chance for nine wins for the first time since 1986.
20. Nebraska (9-3): Wasn't all that long ago that 9-3 got Frank Solich a pink slip. Bo Pelini isn't feeling that kind of pressure yet, but winning a bowl game would make things more comfortable.
21. Southern Miss (10-2): The Golden Eagles got their 10 wins and have a chance to stun the country and throw a minor ripple into the BCS pecking order if they can topple Houston in the Conference USA Championship Game.
22. Clemson (9-3): Tigers thrived when their high-octane offense was clicking. But they've scored 17 points or fewer in three of the last four games – all losses – to fade down the stretch.
|Derek Lawson and Arkansas State have rolled through the Sun Belt Conference race unbeaten.|
23. BYU (8-3): As indecisive as the Cougars are about what conference they want to land in, they've delivered a solid season on the field and don't figure to have to jostle for affiliation much longer.
24. Penn State (9-3): After two weeks of playing solid against fellow Big Ten also-rans the Nittany Lions crashed to earth against one of the upper crust in a blowout loss to Wisconsin. You have to wonder if there's a bowl game waiting PSU this season with all the lingering controversy.
25. Arkansas State (9-2): As long as I fought off the urge to rank Arkansas State because it's hard to fathom a Sun Belt team being among the best 25 teams in the country, the Red Wolves have done nothing but win since a 1-2 start that includes losses at Illinois and Virginia Tech. I have a hunch that ASU would hold its own with an awful lot of BCS-level opponents.