First, we don’t know anything.
More prosaically: This year’s Ohio State team may be better than last year’s. South Florida is the best team in the Big East, so far. The real Texas and Oklahoma finally showed up; both render the Red River Shootout moot from a national title perspective. Wisconsin can win a meaningful game. Cal has a defense. Oregon, as always, ultimately disappoints. Colt Brennan’s pseudo-Heisman campaign ended after five INTs. Florida can be beaten, and at home. And Kentucky has some nice wins, but is not a Top 10 team. Well, maybe this year they are.
On to the Big Board (as per AP rankings):
1. LSU: UNCHANGED
It doesn’t really matter who is No. 1 and who is No. 2, but it’s ridiculous to punish a team for winning. Southern Cal won a tough league game on the road and drops.
2. Southern Cal: UNCHANGED
Still my No. 1.
3. Cal: UP SHARPLY
Sigh. This could have been WVU if the Mountaineers had TCB in Tampa. Do I think Cal is the third-best team in the country? I have no idea. However, if the Bears beat USC and win out in the Pac-10, and Florida beats LSU, Cal will be in the title game if they maintain the No. 3 spot.
4. The Ohio State: UP
As the Monkees sang (and Neil Diamond wrote), “I’m a believer.” The Big 10 is theirs.
5. Wisconsin: UP
I’m not a believer but at least the Badgers finally score a win over a quality opponent. Won’t get past the Buckeyes in the Big 10. (Or maybe even the surging Illini!)
6. South Florida: UP SHARPLY
Does not have the offense for a title run but a fast, aggressive defense can carry them a long way.
7. Boston College: UP
Now that Clemson has faltered, Eagles are the class, such as it is, of the ACC.
8. Kentucky: UP SHARPLY
Enjoy it for now, Wildcats fans. South Carolina, LSU, Florida, and Georgia loom.
9. Florida: DOWN
Shocker in the Swamp all but knocks Gators out of title hunt. However, if Florida wins out and takes the SEC title game, with some breaks, they could be back in it.
10. Oklahoma: DOWN SHARPLY
Should have dropped further after loss to unranked Colorado. Could win out and still won’t have a shot at the title.
DELISTED FROM THE BIG BOARD: (Where to start?)
No. 13 WVU: Considering South Florida’s soft schedule the rest of the way, best realistic hope for Mountaineers is to go 11-1 and hope for an at-large BCS bid. Do you see two losses on South Florida’s schedule? I don’t.
No. 14 Oregon: Won’t matter now if Ducks beat USC. This Duck don’t hunt.
No. 19 Texas: Exposed as faux title contender.
No. 21 Rutgers: As bad as WVU’s loss to South Florida was, at least it was on the road. To be an elite team, you have to own your home field against non-conference foes.
No. 22 Clemson: Lost duel with Boston College to stay atop ACC.
HOT STOCKS TO WATCH:
None. At this point in the season, the leader pack is established. The next opportunity will be for a Georgia, WVU, or Arizona State to keep winning and for a leader to falter around Week 9 or 10.