My AP ballot: Off weeks, cupcake foes mean no change at top

by | College Football Insider

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- If you liked the top 10 teams in my Associated Press ballot last week, then you are in luck: You're going to love my ballot this week.

That's because it's exactly the same. Three of my top 10 teams were off last week -- Oklahoma, Boise State and Texas A&M -- and my remaining top 10 all posted comfortable victories.

Only one of my top 10 teams won by fewer than 16 points, and that was South Carolina's 45-42 victory at SEC East rival Georgia.

I promise next week's top 10 will be much different, with LSU at Mississippi State on Thursday night and Oklahoma visiting Florida State next Saturday.

There are three new teams on my ballot this week: Florida, Auburn and Michigan, while Penn State, Missouri and BYU dropped out.

My AP ballot for this week (last week's ranking in parentheses):

1. Oklahoma (1): The Sooners (1-0) are a much different team on the road, especially when playing ranked opponents. Saturday's trip to Florida State will be the Sooners' 14th game since 2008 against a ranked opponent played away from Norman, Okla. The Sooners were favored in 11 of them, but are only 7-6. Next: at Florida State, Saturday.

2. LSU (2): In a tuneup for its SEC opener, LSU throttled Northwestern State 49-3. Quarterback Jarrett Lee went 9 for 10 for 133 yards and a touchdown as the Tigers (2-0) built a 28-0 halftime lead. Junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger made his LSU debut, playing the second half. Mettenberger went 8 for 11 for 92 yards with one touchdown. Next: at Mississippi State, Thursday.

3. Alabama (3): Trent Richardson rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns as the Crimson Tide defeated Penn State 24-11. AJ McCarron took control of Alabama's starting quarterback position by completing 19 of 31 for 163 yards, but more important, no interceptions. The Crimson Tide (2-0) held Penn State to 251 yards and ended the Nittany Lions' 23-game home winning streak in non-conference games. Next: vs. North Texas, Saturday.

4. Boise State (4): After a week off following a win against Georgia, the Broncos now enter the part of their schedule referred to as the "cruise control" portion. The Broncos (1-0) will be favored by at least two touchdowns in each of their next seven games -- Toledo, Tulsa, Nevada, Fresno State, Colorado State, Air Force and UNLV -- before TCU comes to visit Nov. 12. Set your alarms accordingly. Next: at Toledo, Saturday.

5. Wisconsin (5): Wisconsin's defense stole the show as the Badgers blanked Oregon State 35-0. Quarterback Russell Wilson had another solid game. In two games with Wisconsin (2-0), Wilson is 27 of 34 (79.4 percent) for 444 yards and five touchdowns. Montee Ball pitched in 118 yards on 18 carries. Next: vs. Northern Illinois at Chicago, Saturday.

6. Florida State (6): The preseason portion of Florida State's schedule is now over after blasting Charleston Southern 62-10. FSU (2-0) outgained the Buccaneers 371-8 in the first half and finished with 647 yards on offense. That of course means absolutely nothing with No. 1 ranked Oklahoma coming to Tallahassee on Saturday. "Oklahoma is going to line up and be ready to play," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We know it's a different caliber football team." Next: vs. Oklahoma, Saturday.

7. Texas A&M (7): During last week's off week, the Aggies (1-0) likely spent some time working on their defense against Baylor President Ken Starr. Actually, Texas A&M hasn't fared well coming off bye weeks under coach Mike Sherman, losing five of six games. Idaho shouldn't pose much of a problem as the Vandals are 0-17 against ranked opponents. Next: vs. Idaho, Saturday.

8. South Carolina (8): It may sound weird after the Gamecocks (2-0) allowed 42 points and 436 yards, but South Carolina's defense actually was the difference in USC's 45-42 win at Georgia. The defense scored two TDs -- on Antonio Allen's 25-yard interception return and Melvin Ingram's 5-yard fumble return -- and Stephen Gilmore returned a fumble 57 yards to Georgia's 5, setting up another Gamecocks score. Marcus Lattimore did the heavy lifting on offense, carrying 27 times for 176 yards. Next: vs. Navy, Saturday.

9. Stanford (9): Another blowout victory for Stanford, this time 44-14 at Duke. Quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 290 yards and four touchdowns for the Cardinal (2-0), who broke out a tight game by outscoring the Blue Devils 27-7 after halftime. The Cardinal limited Duke to 30 yards rushing, but allowed 305 yards passing. The Cardinal secondary will get tested even more this week, facing Arizona's Nick Foles, who threw for 398 yards at Oklahoma State. Next: at Arizona, Saturday.

10. Oklahoma State (10): The Cowboys (2-0) were impressive in Thursday's 37-14 victory against Arizona. Quarterback Brandon Weeden completed his first 13 passes and finished 42 of 53 for 397 yards and two touchdowns and wide receiver Justin Blackmon had 12 catches for 128 yards and two scores. For Blackmon, it was an NCAA record 14th consecutive game with at least 100 yards receiving. Running back Joseph Randle (121 yards rushing, 99 yards receiving) was 1 yard receiving shy of becoming the first player in school history with 100 yards rushing and receiving. He might get that Saturday -- in the first half. Next: at Tulsa, Saturday.

11. Arkansas (12): The Razorbacks annihilated New Mexico 52-3, marking their second consecutive game with at least 50 points. Quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for 259 yards as part of the Razorbacks' 632 yard offensive onslaught. Arkansas (2-0) might keep its half-a-hundred streak alive this week against Troy, until the Razorbacks get their first real test Sept. 24 at Alabama. Next: vs. Troy, Saturday.

12. Oregon (14): The Ducks (1-1) returned to their high-flying ways, blasting Nevada 69-20. Quarterback Darron Thomas tied a school record with six touchdown passes, two going to freshman De'Anthony Thomas (no relation). Darron Thomas finished with 295 yards on only 13 completions. LaMichael James managed only 67 yards on 12 carries, making it look even less likely he will repeat as the nation's leading rusher. Next: vs. Missouri State, Saturday.

13. Arizona State (17): The Sun Devils (2-0) managed to survive blowing a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead to upend Missouri 37-30 in overtime Friday. Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler threw for 353 yards and three TDs. Wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad caught eight passes for a career-high 180 yards and two TDs. The Sun Devils ended a 10-game losing streak to ranked teams dating back to 2007 and halted Missouri's 22-game regular season non-conference winning streak. Next: at Illinois, Saturday.

14. Nebraska (11): Linebacker Will Compton said the Cornhuskers were "embarrassed" following their 42-29 victory against Fresno State. Nebraska's Blackshirt defense was shredded for 444 yards by the Bulldogs. QB Taylor Martinez rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns, giving him five so far. If Compton was embarrassed by the Huskers' performance vs. Fresno State, he certainly had much stronger thoughts about last year's 19-7 loss to Washington in the Holiday Bowl. Nebraska (2-0) gets its chance for revenge. Next: vs. Washington, Saturday.

15. Virginia Tech (13): Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer became the 10th coach to win 200 games at one school, but it certainly wasn't as easy as he expected. The Hokies (2-0) rallied for a 17-10 victory at East Carolina. David Wilson rushed for 138 yards, while Virginia Tech's defense limited the Pirates to minus-15 yards rushing and 112 yards of offense. Next: vs. Arkansas State, Saturday.

16. Michigan State (21): How dominant were the Spartans in their 44-0 blowout against Florida Atlantic? Michigan State had 44 points, Florida Atlantic had 48 yards of offense. Michigan State (2-0) punted one time, FAU had one first down. QB Kirk Cousins hit 16 of 21 for 183 yards and two TDs in the blowout. So far, Cousins has completed 79 percent (34 of 43) for 407 yards. Next: at Notre Dame, Saturday.

17. West Virginia (16): This week the Mountaineers (2-0) visit Maryland, led by new coach Randy Edsall. While at UConn, Edsall was 1-6 against West Virginia, with his only win coming last year 16-13. New WVU coach Dana Holgorsen finally got to see what his club could do in a full 60 minutes -- although it slept through the first 30 before demolishing Norfolk State 55-12 Saturday. Geno Smith threw for 371 yards and four TDs as the Mountaineers outscored the Spartans 45-0 in the second half. Next: at Maryland, Saturday.

18. Baylor (19): Although the Bears (1-0) were off last week, Baylor president Ken Starr was named Big 12 Player of the Week. His threat of a lawsuit has slowed -- and possibly even stopped -- the implosion of the Big 12. If only stopping QB Robert Griffin III was as easy. After throwing for 359 yards and five TDs against TCU last week, who knows how much damage Griffin will inflict on FCS member Stephen F. Austin. Next: vs. Stephen F. Austin, Saturday.

19. Florida (NR): In two games under new coach Will Muschamp, the Gators defense certainly has had more bite. Florida (2-0) has allowed only three points, including Saturday's 39-0 shutout of UAB, UF's first since 2006. Quarterback John Brantley (195 yards passing) also looks much more comfortable directing Charlie Weis' offense. Against UAB, Chris Rainey added 119 yards on 16 carries. Next: vs. Tennessee, Saturday.

20. Ohio State (20): The Buckeyes were once again without eight suspended players but managed to hang on against Toledo 27-22, completing their Mid-American Conference two-step to open the season. Ohio State (2-0) was outgained by Toledo 338-301 but avoided the upset thanks to two TD runs from Carlos Hyde and Chris Fields' 69-yard punt return. Tight end Jake Stoneburner caught his fourth touchdown pass of the season. Next: at Miami, Saturday.

21. South Florida (24): Any fear the Bulls (2-0) might be suffering a post-Notre Dame hang over against Ball State quickly disappeared as USF scored in the first eight seconds -- the fastest score to start a game in school history. USF's Mark Joyce scooped up a BSU fumble and returned it for a touchdown on the opening kickoff and the Bulls never looked back. Quarterback B.J. Daniels threw for a career-high 359 yards. Next: vs. Florida A&M, Saturday.

22. TCU (25): The Horned Frogs (1-1) returned to their winning ways, defeating Air Force 35-19. The victory was the Horned Frogs' 18th consecutive in Mountain West play, tying BYU's record from 2006-08. QB Casey Pachall was 20 for 25 for 206 yards and two touchdowns, but the Horned Frogs were outgained by the Falcons 416-410. Next: vs. Louisiana-Monroe, Saturday.

23. Auburn (NR): Just another last-second nail-biter for Auburn, which extended the nation's longest winning streak to 17 games. This time it was a goal-line stand that lifted the Tigers past Mississippi State 41-34. Auburn (2-0) has now won its past three games, dating back to last year's national title, on plays decided in the final seconds. Michael Dyer rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns, but it was safety Ryan Smith's tackle of Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf inches shy of the goal line on the game's final play that was the difference. Next: at Clemson, Saturday.

24. Michigan (NR): The Wolverines (2-0) certainly made their first night game at Michigan Stadium a memorable one, rallying for a 35-31 victory against Notre Dame. Michigan (2-0) came back from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit, but needed two touchdowns in the final 72 seconds to get the win. Denard Robinson accounted for 446 yards on offense (108 yards rushing, 338 yards passing), hitting Roy Roundtree from 16 yards out with the winning touchdown with two seconds remaining. In two games against Notre Dame, Robinson has 948 yards offense and has accounted for eight TDs. Next: vs. Eastern Michigan, Saturday.

25. Mississippi State (15): The Bulldogs (1-1) rolled up 531 yards on offense and outgained Auburn by 150 yards but still came up short in their 41-34 loss. With 135 yards rushing, Vick Ballard topped 100 yards for a second consecutive week. Quarterback Chris Relf added 106 yards rushing and 195 yards passing but was stopped short of the goal line on the game's final play. Next: vs. LSU, Thursday.

More on the polls: Top 25 | Conference-by-conference poll reactions


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