My AP ballot: LSU is No. 1 after passing road tests

by | College Football Insider

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- No one has played a tougher schedule to this point than LSU and is still undefeated.

While LSU coach Les Miles isn't ready to proclaim his team No. 1, I certainly am. LSU replaces Oklahoma as No. 1 on my Associated Press ballot this week.

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The Tigers have defeated three ranked teams. All away from Baton Rouge, La., by an average margin of more than 17 points a game.

Clemson and Illinois made the biggest improvement on my ballot this week. The Tigers, who defeated Auburn last week, defeated Florida State on Saturday and zoomed up to No. 12 on my ballot. Although the Fighting Illini edged Western Michigan, Illinois moved up to No. 13 in part because of Arizona State's victory over Southern California, making Illinois' victory against the Sun Devils last week even more impressive.

The only team to fall out of my rankings this week was USC. The Trojans were replaced by Georgia Tech.

Here is my AP ballot for this week. Last week's ranking in parentheses.

1. LSU (2): The Tigers (4-0) catch a breather this week with Kentucky, but then it's another ranked team when Florida visits Baton Rouge on Oct. 8. It will mark LSU's fourth ranked opponent in its first six games. Next: vs. Kentucky, Saturday.

2. Oklahoma (1): Oklahoma junior quarterback Landry Jones threw two interceptions in Saturday's win against Missouri. It's the first time Jones has thrown more than one interception in consecutive games in his career. Next: vs. Ball State, Saturday.

3. Alabama (3): The Crimson Tide's last visit to Gainesville came in 2006 under Mike Shula, a 28-13 loss. Since Nick Saban arrived at Alabama (4-0), the Crimson Tide are 12-4 in road SEC games. Next: at Florida, Saturday.

4. Oklahoma State (7): Last season Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden averaged a school-record 329 yards passing a game. This season, he's averaging 398 yards a game and is on pace to throw for more than 5,000. Next: vs. Kansas, Oct. 8.

5. Boise State (4): The Broncos (3-0) have scored at least 30 points in 22 consecutive regular-season games and 32 of their past 34 regular-season games. Next: vs. Nevada, Saturday.

6. Wisconsin (5): While rolling to a 4-0 start, Wisconsin has scored in 15 of 16 quarters this season, including 12 straight since getting blanked in the fourth quarter of the season-opening win against UNLV. Next: vs. Nebraska, Saturday.

7. Stanford (6): After a week off, the Cardinal (3-0) face UCLA. Two of the past five meetings between Stanford and UCLA have resulted in a shutout -- Stanford won 35-0 in 2010 and UCLA 31-0 in 2006. It's doubtful Stanford, which has won six consecutive games by at least 27 points, will be blanked. Next: vs. UCLA, Saturday.

8. South Carolina (9): The Gamecocks (4-0) are off to their best start under Steve Spurrier. Ironically it occurred with one of South Carolina's worst offensive efforts against Vanderbilt. Next: vs. Auburn, Saturday.

9. Oregon (11): LaMichael James has 492 yards rushing in his past two games, including a school-record 288 in Saturday's win against Arizona. James and the Ducks (3-1) are off this week before taking on Cal and its 52nd-ranked rushing defense. Next: vs. Cal, Oct. 6.

10. Nebraska (12): The Cornhuskers (4-0) play their inaugural Big Ten contest at Wisconsin on Saturday. While in the Big 12, Nebraska was 13-2 in conference openers. Next: at Wisconsin, Saturday.

11. Florida (16): Will Muschamp might be in only his first year at Florida, but he has the Gators up to old tricks. Florida is off to a 4-0 start for the fifth time in the past six seasons. Next: vs. Alabama, Saturday.

12. Clemson (24): The Tigers are off to only their third 4-0 start since 1990 and first under Dabo Swinney. Each of Clemson's most recent 4-0 starts -- in 2007 and 2000 -- resulted in nine-win seasons: 9-4 in 2007 and 9-3 in 2000. Next: at Virginia Tech, Saturday.

13. Illinois (21): Ron Zook, in his 10th season as a head coach at Illinois and Florida, is 4-0 for the first time in his head coaching career. Next: vs. Northwestern, Saturday.

14. Virginia Tech (13): The Hokies are 4-0 for the first time since 2006. The last time they started 4-0 they lost their ACC opener to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech's ACC opener is Saturday. Next: vs. Clemson, Saturday.

15. Baylor (17): This sums up the unbelievable start quarterback Robert Griffin III is having: 13 touchdown passes, only 12 incompletions. Next: at Kansas State, Saturday.

15. Texas A&M (8): This marks the third consecutive season Texas A&M (2-1) plays Arkansas and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weeks. The Aggies have gone 0-2 in each of the past two seasons vs. OSU and Arkansas and are coming off Saturday's 30-29 loss to OSU. Next: vs. Arkansas in Arlington, Texas, Saturday.

17. South Florida (18): The Bulls (4-0) have scored more than 50 points in back-to-back games for the first time in school history. Now they try for another first: winning on Thursday night nationally televised contest, having gone 0-6. Next: at Pittsburgh, Thursday.

18. Michigan (20): This is the third consecutive season Michigan has started 4-0. The previous two years didn't end so well -- 5-7 in 2009 and 7-6 in 2010. Next: vs. Minnesota, Saturday.

19. Arizona State (23): The Sun Devils (3-1) ended an 11-game losing streak to USC, beating the Trojans 43-22 on Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict's 21st birthday. Next: vs. Oregon State, Saturday.

20. Georgia Tech (NR): Georgia Tech (4-0) has been an absolute Rambling Wreck on opposing defenses. Tech ranks first in the country in scoring (53.2 points) and total offense (630.5 yards) and second in rushing offense (398.7). Next:at NC State, Saturday.

21. TCU (19): The Horned Frogs (3-1) have won their past 22 home games and welcome rival SMU to Fort Worth on Friday. TCU has won the past four meetings with the Mustangs by an average margin of 24 points. Next: vs. SMU, Saturday.

22. Texas (22): The Longhorns (3-0) will be seeking revenge against Iowa State after the Cyclones pulled off a 28-21 upset in Austin last season. Texas is 3-0 in Ames and won the last visit 56-3 in 2007. Next: at Iowa State, Saturday.

23. West Virginia (15): Quarterback Geno Smith threw for 463 yards in Saturday's loss to LSU. In the Tigers' first three games, they had allowed only 480 yards passing. The Mountaineers (3-1) finished with 533 yards and four costly turnovers. Next: vs. Bowling Green, Saturday.

24. Arkansas (10): Since 2009, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino is 0-3 against Alabama and 21-6 against everyone else. Saturday's loss in Tuscaloosa was the fifth consecutive against the Crimson Tide for the Razorbacks (3-1). Next: vs. Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, Saturday.

25. Florida State (14): The Seminoles are off to a 2-2 start for the second time in the past three seasons. Prior to 2009, the last time Florida State started a season 2-2 was way back in 1989. Next: at Wake Forest, Oct. 8.


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