Time once again for our Top 25. Last week's rank in parentheses, followed by brief analysis.
1. Ohio State (1) The Buckeyes only have one good win right now, and it's at Austin against our beloved Longhorns. The Big 10's just bad this year; it's pretty much Ohio State, Michigan, and a bunch of gunk below them. Wisconsin is solid, but I don't think anyone should be mistaking the Badgers for a top ten team. The Buckeyes got by Illinois on Saturday, but they really ought to count on beating Michigan if they want to lock up that trip to Glendale.
2. Michigan (2) The most tenuous of holds on this spot for Michigan, what with their reasonably soft schedule and this week's sleepwalk in Ann Arbor. The blowout of Notre Dame in South Bend was among the most impressive victories we've seen from any team this season, but as with Ohio State, the Wolverines aren't going to get much credit for their conference wins. I think they're now in a position where they -have- to beat Ohio State to reach Glendale.
3. Florida (3) The resume is solid, and they may just be in the best position to capitalize on a Louisville loss. If Louisville lost and the Gators won out - including the SEC championship game - I think you might just see them playing the Ohio State-Michigan winner.
4. Texas (4) The Oklahoma win remains a solid one thanks to the four game winning streak from Stoops' crew. Ideally, the Sooners would win out against Texas Tech, Baylor, and Oklahoma State to finish at 10-2. The Longhorns also need Nebraska to handle Texas A&M and Colorado to finish out the year, setting up a relatively interesting rematch in the Big 12 title game. But most of all, Texas needs to beat the living crap out of everyone else on the schedule. If Saturday night's performance is any indication, this team is peaking at the right time. They'll have to prove it as they hope for help around them.
5. California (6) Ya think November 18th might be a fun Saturday? Michigan-Ohio State and USC-California? Yes, please! The Golden Bears lack a marquee win, and the 18th will be their only chance to earn some much-needed improvement in the human polls.
6. USC (7) Imagine if USC wins out. They'll have wins over: Nebraska, Arkansas, Notre Dame, California, and Oregon. They'll also have a rather glaring loss in Corvallis. Can they get back in the title game mix? With their remaining schedule, I think they can, but the wins will have to be convincing; they've got some serious ground to make up in the human polls. Perhaps too much.
7. Louisville (13) And an official welcome to the Top 10 for Louisville, who got a big bounceback game from Brian Brohm to enter the national title picture. Still, they only have one quality win, and in that win, their defense left a lot to be desired. For the Cards, they need to handle Rutgers and Pittsburgh in impressive fashion. If they do, missing Glendale would be a pretty big upset. They're right on track.
Update [2006-11-5 22:40:32 by HornsFan]: I had a couple people ask me if Louisville could, and would, move up over the remainder of the season. The short answer is "yes," they'll move up as they add Rutgers and Pitt to the resume, assuming they win.
8. Arkansas (9) That offense is pretty nifty, huh? You have to admire the creative use of the Razorbacks' many offensive weapons. And, really, they've got a tough enough remaining schedule that we'll have to consider this team for much more than this if they run through it unblemished.
9. Auburn (8) This team can't blow anyone out; not even Arkansas State. The defense is certainly above average, but there's little big play ability on offense. The remaining schedule is plenty manageable, but this team needs to show more to earn a higher ranking.
10. Notre Dame (11) The Irish handled North Carolina, as expected, and really only have Southern Cal between them and an 11-1 finish. Would it be enough to get them into the national title mix? Sure, but it would still be an outside shot, depending who else was left standing with one loss. Would Notre Dame be able to jump a one-loss Michigan team, for example? Hard to say that they would. Their best chance is to absolutely destroy Southern California. And I don't see that happening.
11. LSU (15) The Tigers escape Neyland with a huge win to justify some of the love they've been getting from Las Vegas and from the MOV-aided computers. Still, Tennessee very nearly won. In the final analysis, this game hurt Tennessee more than it helped LSU, who still sit on two conference losses.
12. Tennessee (5) A tough hit for the Volunteers, but they are -just- flawed enough to not be a top ten team. The real problem is that they're stuck with one marquee win (Cal) and two near-marquee wins (Florida, LSU). They're an impressive football team, but just short of an elite one. That's not a bad thing, but it shows how small the margin for error is in this sport we love.
13. Rutgers (14) They occupy this spot for their impressive record and statistical fortitude, but the resume needs some work. Enter: Louisville! Rutgers sits in the range where Louisville and West Virginia sat last week. On Thursday night, they'll have their chance to move into the top ten. Texas fans need to root like crazy for the Scarlet Knights in this game.
14. Oklahoma (19) Here come the Sooners... And, really, they should only have one loss, right? I mean, they beat Oregon, no? I think the job Stoops has done this season might be his most impressive to date. Perhaps deserving of Big 12 Coach of the Year. Texas fans now want to see OU win out to finish 10-2.
15. Boise State (18)The Oregon State win is nice, but outside that, there's not much there. The Hawaii win was solid, but not outstanding. Texas fans who want a sexier BCS opponent need to root for San Jose State or Nevada to knock off the Broncos. Don't hold your breath.
16. Wake Forest (NR) The resume isn't outstanding, but they -should- have beat Clemson, at which point we'd be talking about this team a lot more. For now, a huge win over Boston College that gives them the inside track to the ACC championship game. Must beat a surging Terrapin squad in College Park first, though.
17. West Virginia (12) The defense is porous. What else is there to say? Too bad for their outstanding offense, but they'll need better athletes on defense to take the next step.
18. Boston College (9) It was a bad, bad weekend for Boston College. Not only did they lose, but Clemson lost, knocking their resume down a peg. Now the Eagles sit a game behind both Maryland and Wake Forest. Tom O'Brien's missed a pretty good opportunity this season.
19. Wisconsin (20) Got it done in Madison against Penn State. That's as close to "Wisconsin" and "quality win" as you're going to see, though.
20. Georgia Tech (24)These ACC teams are hard to sort out. Georgia Tech's at 7-2, 5-1 in the conference, and can play themselves into the ACC title game with wins at North Carlina or verse Duke.
21. Virginia Tech (21) The Hokies have rebounded from a little swoon and sit at 4-2 in the ACC. They're coming together on defense, while the run game improves.
22. Oregon State (23)Their surge is good news for Boise State, and they've probably got some new fans in central Los Angeles. The Trojans would like the Beavers to finish out the season strong.
23. BYU (25) Nothing flashy here; just a strong football team.
24. Nebraska (NR) A much-needed win for Nebraska, after dropping back to back games to Big 12 south teams. The title game in Kansas City is back within reach.
25. Oregon (NR) I can't figure this team out. They're not that good, but they've got some real weapons on offense. We'll find out more about them in the Colliseum.