My AP Ballot: Seismic moves at both the top and bottom

by | College Football Insider

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- After a relatively quiet first two months, the college football season is finally starting to deliver what we expect in college football: big-time upsets.

In the past two weeks, three of the nation's top five-ranked teams -- Stanford, Boise State and Alabama -- have lost home games as favorites. It's jumbled my Top 10 rankings more than the Oklahoma landscape and its rash of earthquakes.

More from Week 11

On my Associated Press ballot this week, LSU and Oklahoma State remain Nos. 1 and 2, while Alabama climbs to three, followed by No. 4 Oregon and No. 5 Arkansas.

There could be even more shakeup in the final weeks as No. 5 Arkansas visits No. 1 LSU in two weeks and No. 6 Oklahoma visits Oklahoma State on Dec. 3.

Not only have there been a lot of upsets among the nation's top teams, but also among teams in the bottom half of the Top 25. Five teams on my Top 25 ballot last week lost: Georgia Tech, Auburn, Texas, Ohio State and Cincinnati. They have been replaced by TCU, Notre Dame, Tulsa, Baylor and Southern Miss.

My AP ballot for this week. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

1. LSU (1): The Tigers (10-0) emerged from their post-Alabama hangover just long enough to pull away from Western Kentucky and give coach Les Miles his 100th career victory. Next: at Ole Miss, Saturday.

2. Oklahoma State (2): The Cowboys are 10-0 for the first time in school history and lead the nation with most games with at least 50 points (six). Oklahoma State also has won a school-record 10 consecutive games, one shy of the school record. Next: at Iowa State, Friday.

3. Alabama (4): The Crimson Tide (9-1) emerged from their post-LSU hangover just long enough Saturday to pull away from Mississippi State. Saturday's 24-7 victory was the fifth time Alabama has held its opponent to seven points or fewer. Next: vs. Georgia Southern, Saturday.

4. Oregon (6): The Ducks (9-1) are back in the BCS national title picture after blitzing Stanford for a second consecutive season. LaMichael James also is back, after missing two games with an elbow injury. James leads the nation, averaging 150.8 yards rushing a game. Next: vs. USC, Saturday.

5. Arkansas (7): Suddenly, Arkansas' regular-season finale at LSU in two weeks could be very, very interesting. Since losing to Alabama, the Razorbacks (9-1) have won six consecutive games, and if they can upset LSU, they would create a potential three-way tie atop the SEC West. Next: vs. Mississippi State, Saturday.

6. Oklahoma (8): The Sooners' Big 12 hopes are pretty simple. Oklahoma (8-1) just needs to win out against Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State to win it and remain in BCS national title game contention. Next: at Baylor, Saturday.

7. Stanford (3): The Cardinal's Pac-12 and national title hopes came crashing down in Saturday's loss to Oregon. In the past three years, Stanford (9-1) is 1-2 against Oregon, with the winning team scoring at least 50 points each game. Next: vs. Cal, Saturday.

8. Boise State (5): Saturday's loss to TCU was only the third in four years for the Broncos (8-1). In that span, Boise State is 46-3 with its three losses by 1, 3 and 1 point. Next: at San Diego State, Saturday.

9. Clemson (9): The Tigers (9-1) clinched the ACC's Atlantic Division title and a berth in the championship game, but it wasn't easy as they rallied to edge Wake Forest 31-28. They most likely will play Virginia Tech on Dec. 3. Next: at NC State, Saturday.

10. Houston (10): The Cougars (10-0) have scored more than 70 points in two of their past three games and have also topped 50 points in five consecutive games. With Boise State's loss, the soon-to-be Big East-bound Cougars could reach their first BCS bowl in program history. Next: vs. SMU, Saturday.

11. Michigan State (11): The Spartans (8-2) control their own fate in the Big Ten's Legends Division. Wins against Indiana and Northwestern the next two weeks will put Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten title game. Next: vs. Indiana, Saturday.

12. Wisconsin (12): The Badgers (8-2) lead the nation in red zone scoring with 45 touchdowns in 52 trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line. The Badgers will win the Big Ten's Leaders Division by winning out against Illinois and Penn State the next two weeks. Next: at Illinois, Saturday.

13. South Carolina (13): The Gamecocks (8-2) likely won't win the SEC East -- OK, they definitely won't win the SEC East -- but they are two victories away from only their second 10-win season in more than 100 years of football. Next: vs. The Citadel, Saturday.

14. Kansas State (14): It shouldn't be a surprise, but the Wildcats (8-2) continue to surprise folks -- this time a four-overtime 53-50 win against Texas A&M. In its past three games, Kansas State has allowed at least 50 points. Next: at Texas, Saturday.

15. Georgia (16): The Bulldogs (8-2) will be prohibitive favorites Saturday against Kentucky and only need to beat the Wildcats for the SEC East title and a berth in the SEC championship game. Georgia has been very impressive since starting 0-2. Next: vs. Kentucky, Saturday.

16. Nebraska (15): It wasn't pretty, but the Cornhuskers (8-2) remained alive in the Big Ten Legends Division by holding on for a three-point win at Penn State. Nebraska has to win out and hope Michigan State loses one of its final two games to Indiana or Northwestern to advance to the Big Ten title game. Next: at Michigan, Saturday.

17. Virginia Tech (17): Of Virginia Tech's nine victories, only two are against teams that currently have winning records (Georgia Tech and Sun Belt member Arkansas State). The Hokies (9-1) appear a lock to reach at least 10 wins for an eighth consecutive season. Next: vs. North Carolina, Thursday.

18. USC (19): Don't be surprised if the Trojans (8-2) treat this week's visit to Eugene, Ore., as their bowl game. On probation, USC would like nothing better than to eliminate Oregon's hopes for a BCS title game appearance. Next: at Oregon, Saturday.

19. TCU (NR): The Horned Frogs (8-2) ended Boise State's 65-game regular-season home streak in dramatic fashion. TCU coach Gary Patterson is 12-7 against ranked teams and has won four of the past five. Next: vs. Colorado State, Saturday.

20. Michigan (25): Remember last season how bad Michigan (8-2) was on defense? Neither do the Wolverines. This year Michigan ranks No. 7 in scoring defense (16.1 points allowed per game) and No. 17 in total defense (322 yards). Next: vs. Nebraska, Saturday.

21. Notre Dame (NR): Don't look now, but if the Fighting Irish (7-3) can close with victories against Boston College and Stanford the next two weeks, they could receive an at-large BCS bowl berth. Next: vs. Boston College, Saturday.

22. Penn State (18): With or without coach Joe Paterno, Penn State (8-2) continues to struggle offensively. Saturday's 17-14 loss to Nebraska was the sixth game the Nittany Lions were held to 16 points or fewer. Next: at Ohio State, Saturday.

23. Tulsa (NR): The Golden Hurricane (7-3) visit Houston on Nov. 26 in what should be one of this year's most entertaining/high scoring games. Tulsa's three losses were to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Boise State, which are a combined 26-2. Next: at UTEP, Saturday.

24. Baylor (NR): The Bears (6-3) awoke from their first-half hibernation to squeak past Kansas. Quarterback Robert Griffin III (29 passing TDs, five interceptions) continues to put up Heisman-like numbers, but with Baylor out of national title contention, he has no shot at winning. Next: vs. Oklahoma, Saturday.

25. Southern Miss (NR): Like Baylor, the Golden Eagles (9-1) needed a failed two-point conversion to win Saturday against UCF. Southern Miss has defeated only three teams that currently have a winning record (Virginia and Louisiana Tech) and their final two regular-season games are against UAB and Memphis, a combined 4-16. Next: at UAB, Thursday.


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