Ranking The Earned Elite Eight After Week Two

Bert HancockCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2010

Penn State backs felt a lot of this Saturday night
Penn State backs felt a lot of this Saturday nightKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

What a difference a week makes. The first weekend featured role-reversals galore, with the non-BCS schools often thumping their more privileged counterparts. Boise beat Virginia Tech in a hostile environment, TCU sent Oregon State home beaten in multiple ways, and Utah stymied Pitt's hopes for national respect. While none of those three lost this past Saturday, they all felt the sting from games they couldn't control.

Boise may still have a shot at the national title game, but that dream was dampened by James Madison's shocker in Blacksburg over Virginia Tech, Boise's week one victim. The Broncos are still number three in the AP, but as far as "Earned" points go, it's hard to think of them that high. Likely, James Madison loses that game 99% of the time, but if we're sticking to merit based on this season, you just see that Boise's only opponent thus far (Chris Peterson's bunch did not play Saturday) has barely beaten a team that lost to a non-FBS school. For that reason, the Broncos fall out of the Earned Elite Eight this week.

On the flip side, Alabama vaulted from eighth to the top spot. As noted in last week's, the "Crimson Tide may be the best program of ‘em all and gets chance to show that this Saturday against Penn State after vanquishing pedestrian San Jose State." Oh did the Tide ever show that, hammering the Nittany Lions from the get-go in front of the world, 24-3.

Maybe most surprising of any squad thus far is Michigan, which sits at the No. 3 slot behind Ohio State. It's like old times for both these schools to look this strong. The Wolverines obviously haven't convinced the voters (No. 20 in the AP, No. 22 in the USA Today), but that's where this ranking and theirs differ so much. They're bound by groupthink and expectations a lot more. Sure,it's early, but from what we can go on so far, a whipping of Connecticut and a clutch come-from-behind win in South Bend over Notre Dame (talented, regardless of recent history) exceed what most schools have done.  

1. Alabama-Tide rolled over Joe Pa’s Lions (finished No. 9 in the AP last year) with relative ease, giving Nick Saban’s bunch the most impressive ‘W’ of the season.
2. Ohio State-Buckeyes almost as impressive as the Tide, as their whipping of Miami would have been far more decisive if not for allowing two kick returns for scores. Shore up that and you have a national title contender.
3. Michigan-Wolverines may not have made believers of many yet, but two relatively impressive wins garner respect. Denard Robinson, such a devastating dual-threat (nearly 900 yards of total offense in two games!) as to be considered a short Vince Young, led the clutch comeback after the Irish had fought back to take the lead. 
4. South Carolina –well, after several seasons, maybe Steve Spurrier finally has the Gamecocks where his supporters expected when he was hired. Two noteworthy wins—a wallop of the solid if not spectacular Southern Miss squad followed by a beat down of Georgia to start the SEC campaign.
5. Oregon-in one sense, what the Ducks had done to New Mexico (72-0) meant little last week. But migrating to Tennessee and destroying the Vols (35-0 second half explosion), 48-13, is a different sort of double-take.
6. TCU-Frogs, simply by having the weekend off while playing (Tenn Tech, 62-7), lose ground to the several schools with impressive wins.
7. Utah-the Utes win again, this time albeit against UNLV, but by a bigger margin than the voter favored Wisconsin Badgers (AP’s No. 11, vs No. 14 for Utah) managed, to go nicely with their week one so-called upset of a decent Pitt program (ranked No. 15 pre-season).
8. Tie: Oklahoma and Air Force—on the one hand, the Sooners’ blow out of Florida State makes them look dominant. On the other, their home squeaker over outmanned Utah State just the week before makes them look deeply vulnerable.
With Air Force, the week one result (blowout of Northwestern State, not Northwestern) meant next to nothing. But the Falcons’ high-flying ground attack ate up BYU, 35-14, this past Saturday in the most convincing manner while stifling a historically prolific aerial attack to a measly 88 yards. Fun to see that these two will meet this Saturday, though for the third straight week, OU gets to be the host.

Some schools are ranked here much higher than the AP has them, while others such as Texas, Nebraska, and Iowa don't quite make the cut due to who they've played thus far. I think the early weeks should be more fluid than what the mind-set of the voters produce, so we can expect to see more big changes the following few Saturdays.