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Top 25 Draft Ballot

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Another weekend, another set of ridiculous outcomes to shake things up. Let's give this thing a first stab. As always, suggested revisions accepted through Tuesday.

This is not a power poll. Last week's ranking in parentheses.

Rank Team Delta
1 South Florida 3
2 Ohio State 1
3 Arizona State 3
4 Boston College 1
5 LSU 4
6 Oklahoma 5
7 Oregon 3
8 South Carolina 1
9 Kentucky 4
10 California 8
11 Kansas 1
12 Auburn 2
13 Florida 4
14 West Virginia 4
15 Virginia Tech 4
16 Kansas State 10
17 Missouri 10
18 Tennessee 4
19 Southern Cal 2
20 Cincinnati 12
21 Georgia 4
22 Virginia 4
23 Texas Tech 3
24 Hawaii 4
25 Illinois 9

Dropped Out: Florida State (#15),
Connecticut (#23), Colorado (#24).
1. South Florida (4) Meaningful games for USF: at Auburn (+3), North Carolina (+27), West Virginia (+5), UCF (+52). Believe it or not - like it or not -  the Bulls sit atop the rankings. As SMQ noted prior to the weekend's games, the mainstream press expects USF to stumble. Hell, I'd guess most fans expect South Florida to drop one at some point. Perhaps, but right now, they've got the best resume in the nation. I love it. [Next game: Thursday night at Rutgers]

2. Ohio State (3) Meaningful games: at Washington (+19), at Northwestern (+51), at Minnesota (+23), at Purdue (+16). The Buckeyes whipped Kent State this weekend, a win which bumps them up to #2 on the ballot. The name of the game is survival, and OSU's doing just dandy in that regard. [Next game: vs Michigan State]

3. Arizona State (6) Meaningful games: Colorado (+19), Oregon State (+12), at Stanford (+38), at Washington State (+3), Washington (+24). There's not much national love for the Sun Devils, but I'm not worried about that just yet if I'm Dennis Erickson. Arizona State is off this weekend before a trying four-game stretch: vs Cal, at Oregon, at UCLA, and vs USC. If they managed to run through that stretch unscathed, they'd be in terrific shape. [Next game: Bye]

4. Boston College (5) Meaningful games: Wake Forest (+10), NC State (+20), at Georgia Tech (+14). The Eagles' resume is a notch below the top three contenders, but they'll have a chance to make their own case for a spot in the top three this weekend as they travel to Virginia Tech. It's still too early to look too far down the line, but this is BC's best chance to make a loud case for being a title contender. [Next game: at Virginia Tech]

5. LSU (1) Meaningful games: at Mississippi State (+45), Virginia Tech (+41), South Carolina (+12), Florida (+4), at Kentucky (-6). If you don't know how delighted I was by Kentucky's upset on Saturday, you haven't been paying close attention. LSU let Kentucky hang around, made several critical mental errors, and lost a game they were in a solid position to win. I have to say, for all the chaos we've seen this season, at least one thing remains true: Les Miles team will always cough up one, probably two, games they should have won. Also, the week one concerns raised about Matt Flynn have proven prescient. He's killing this offense to the tune of a 110.3 passer rating. LSU fans should be upset this week; other than Miles' excellent game management in the second half against Florida, the coaching staff has been far too slow to make critical adjustments. [Next game: vs Auburn}

6. Oklahoma (11) Meaningful games: Miami (+38), at Tulsa (+41), at Colorado (-3), Texas (+7), Missouri (+10). Sam Bradford is having a hell of a great redshirt freshman season. He was damn good against Missouri, while Stoops flustered his more seasoned counterpart out of the pocket and into turnovers. Oklahoma had a pretty simple gameplan that they executed well. Missouri, of course, got Pinkeled. [Next game: at Iowa State]

7. Oregon (10) Meaningful games: at Michigan (+32), at Stanford (+24), California (-7), Washington State (+46). That fumble into the end zone against Cal may just wind up one of the most important plays of this entire season. The Ducks decimated Washington State and are a team I wouldn't want any part of the rest of this season. Scary good offense. [Next game: at Washington]

8. South Carolina (9) Meaningful games: at Georgia (+4), at LSU (-12), Mississippi State (+17), Kentucky (+15), at North Carolina (+6). Spurrier has his most consistent team since he arrived at South Carolina. The game to circle on the schedule is in two weeks when the Gamecocks travel for a game at Neyland. [Next game: Vanderbilt}

9. Kentucky (13) Meaningful games: Louisville (+6), at Arkansas (+13), at South Carolina (-15), LSU (+6). That's a hell of a way to bounce back from a disappointing Thursday night loss to South Carolina, isn't it? The Wildcats could have faded at several points in this contest, but picked up critical scores every time LSU threatened to put too much distance between the two. Great to see Andre Woodson and the 'Cats having such a stellar year. [Next game: vs Florida]

10. California (2) Meaningful games: Tennessee (+14), at Oregon (+7), Oregon State (-3). Last year - a loss to Arizona. This year - a loss to Oregon State. Jeff Tedford doesn't wanna win the Pac 10, does he? [Next game: at UCLA]

11. Kansas (12) Meaningful games: at Kansas State (+6). The resume looks a little bare in terms of meaningful games, but we have to note first that the Jayhawks' win in Manhattan is a damn solid one, and second that Kansas has thus far buried every weak opponent they've played. That's what good teams do. Weird, huh? Kansas is a good team. [Next game: at Colorado]

12. Auburn (14) Meaningful games: Kansas State (+10), South Florida (-3), Mississippi State (-5), Florida (+3), at Arkansas (+2). They sure haven't looked good doing it, but Auburn's managed to put together a solid little resume. The ugly loss to Mississippi State means Auburn has to find a way to win in Baton Rouge on Saturday if they want a realistic shot at the SEC West. [Next game: at LSU]

13. Florida (17) Meaningful games: Tennessee (+39), Auburn (-3), at LSU (-4). Florida's resume is pretty thin outside the beatdown of the Volunteers. Nonetheless, neither of their losses were bad ones and they still control their destiny in the SEC East. Of course, Lexington isn't the same place it has been to play in recent years. Huge, huge game next week. [Next game: at Kentucky]

14. West Virginia (18) Meaningful games: at Maryland (+17), at South Florida (-8). The Mountaineers handled Syracuse easily enough and now host Mississippi State in Morgantown before turning to a critical three-game stretch of conference play - at Rutgers, vs Louisville, and at Cincinnati. They can easily work themselves back into the top ten if they run through these next four. [Next game: vs Mississippi State]

15. Virginia Tech (19) Meaningful games: at LSU (-41), North Carolina (+7), at Clemson (+18). After the blowout loss to LSU, the Hokies have put together five straight solid wins. This week they'll host Boston College in what's easily the most important game in the ACC this year. [Next game: vs Boston College]

16. Kansas State (NR) Meaningful games: at Auburn (-10), at Texas (+20), Kansas (-6), Colorado (+27). Consistency, Ron. Consistency. Kansas State got back to playing good football this week and hammered Colorado in Manhattan. The loss to Kansas last week means this team needs help to reach the Big 12 championship game, and I think we'll learn a lot about just how far this team has come when the Wildcats travel to Stillwater. [Next game: at Oklahoma State]

17. Missouri (7) Meaningful games: at Illinois (+6), at Oklahoma (-10). I do still love the talent on this Tigers team, but the coaching remains inconsistent. Missouri still controls their destiny, but the back half of this schedule is twice as difficult as the front. [Next game: vs Texas Tech]

18. Tennessee (22) Meaningful games: at Cal (-14), at Florida (-39), vs Georgia (+21). Winning in Tuscaloosa isn't a walk in the park, but the Vols should still be slight favorites. If they emerge victorious, they'll square off with South Carolina in Knoxville with the SEC East lead likely on the line. Remember how lost the Vols' season seemed after the thumping in Gainesville? They're not dead yet. [Next game: at Alabama]

19. Southern California (21) Meaningful games: Washington State (+30), at Washington (+3), Stanford (-1). Let's face it: this is a pretty weak resume at the moment. The Trojans limped past Arizona this past week. (Arizona. Coached by Mike Stoops. Who loses football games. That's just what he does.) The closing schedule is pretty unforgiving; if Pete Carroll doesn't get this team playing better football, the run atop the Pac 10 will end this season. [Next game: at Notre Dame]

20. Cincinnati (8) Meaningful games: Oregon State (+31), at Rutgers (+5), Louisville (-4). Cincinnati lost a backbreaker to Louisville Saturday night and now get to try to rebound on the road against Pittsburgh before trying to take down South Florida in Tampa. [Next game: at Pittsburgh]

21. Georgia (24) Meaningful games: Oklahoma State (+21), South Carolina (-4), at Alabama (+3), at Tennessee (-21). This Georgia team is not a good one offensively. They'll get a much-needed bye week to prepare for Florida, but if they don't play better football over the back half of the schedule, they're looking at four losses, if not five. [Next game: Bye]

22. Virginia (NR) Meaningful games: at North Carolina (+2), Georgia Tech (+5), Connecticut (+1). I have very little to say about this. Virginia's getting by on excellent run and third-down defense, which is enough for now. [Next game: at Maryland]

23. Texas Tech (NR) Meaningful games: Texas A&M (+28). This team would be a really, really interesting story if they'd won the shootout with Oklahoma State. As is, they remain on the fringe a bit, though Saturday's dominant win over A&M nets them a nice pelt for the wall. [Next game: at Missouri]

24. Hawaii (20) Meaningful games: None. Contrast Hawaii's 7-0 start with Kansas'. If you're not playing anyone of note, you need to punish the inferior teams. Right now, they aren't. It's just impossible to move them up right now. [Next game: vs New Mexico State]

25. Illinois (16) Meaningful games: Missouri (-6), at Indiana (+13), Penn State (+7), Wisconsin (+5), at Iowa (-5). Losing to Iowa certainly takes a lot of the shine off this team, though it's worth noting how young the Illini are. They host Michigan this week and can reassert themselves into the conference title picture with a win. [Next game: vs Michigan]

--PB--