Appalachian State players carried coach Jerry Moore off the field after their monumental win in the Big House.
Tony Ding/Icon SMI
Deciding how far to drop Michigan was actually the easy part about filling out this week's ballot. I can't speak for other voters, but the Wolverines were out of my rankings the moment Appalachian State safety Corey Lynch's hand met pigskin on Michigan's last-second field goal attempt. With all due respect to the Mountaineers, there's no justifiable reason to rank a team that lost its first game to a I-AA opponent ahead of any of 25 other teams that did take care of business (or, in the case of Tennessee, lost on the road to a quality opponent).
The harder part was deciding what to do with a handful of teams that didn't produce anywhere near as disastrous an opening outcome as Michigan -- but did not look particularly good, either. I've always said that once the games begin, preseason perceptions go out the window, but one game does not constitute a body of work, either. Do you chalk up a team's ugly performance as a case of opening-day jitters? Or do you take it as a sign of trouble ahead?
As long as a team wins, even if much closer than expected, I'm not going to send it spiraling down the polls. But in the case of three teams -- Texas, Virginia Tech and Auburn -- I thought their opening-day performances were troubling enough to merit dropping them a spot or two. (One other team also dropped despite winning, but for entirely different reasons; see below). We'll find out the truth soon enough; all three face teams ranked elsewhere in this poll next Saturday.
One other note: Many of you have asked if or where I would rank Appalachian State this week if I-AA teams were eligible for the poll. The answer is, yes, I would rank the Mountaineers, at least for this week (realistically, they're not one of the 25 best teams in America), because they accomplished as much as any other team in the country last weekend. The harder part was figuring out where.
Most likely, I would have just stuck them at 25th -- I could think of no logical criteria for deciding which teams they should be ranked above and/or which teams they'd remain below. Although, if one were to take opinion completely of the equation and base these rankings solely on the quality of each team's wins last weekend, either Appalachian State or Cal would be No. 1.
|NCAA Football Power Rankings|
||Playing without both top receiver Patrick Turner and top tailback Chauncey Washington, USC averaged 5.5 yards per play against Idaho. USC's defense is so strong the Trojans hardly need to average 500 yards per game this year, but they will need more big-play capability than that.
Last game: Beat Idaho, 38-10.
Next game: Sept. 15 at Nebraska.
||Like the Trojans, LSU's offense was good, but not great, against Mississippi State. Defensively, on the other hand, I'm not sure which is more impressive: That the Tigers intercepted six Michael Henig passes or that they held the Bulldogs to 10 rushing yards on 26 attempts.
Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 45-0.
Next game: Saturday vs. Virginia Tech.
||According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Western Michigan attempted a "Cover Zero" defense against WVU, bringing both safeties to the line to stop the run. The Mountaineers managed just 16 yards on their first eight rushes. But then Pat White started throwing, and the rest was history.
Last game: Beat Western Michigan, 62-24.
Next game: Saturday at Marshall.
||For the first time in school history, Florida started two true freshmen in its opener against Western Kentucky, guard Maurkice Pouncey and cornerback Joe Haden. Twelve other newcomers played. Urban Meyer called Pouncey, "one of the best freshmen I've ever seen on the offensive line."
Last game: Beat Western Kentucky, 45-3.
Next game: Saturday vs. Troy.
||Considering I expect Washington State to be no worse than a .500 team this year, and possibly a Pac-10 surprise, the Badgers' 42-21 win last Saturday -- particularly the unexpected air show by new QB Tyler Donovan -- qualified as the Big Ten's lone proud moment of opening weekend.
Last game: Beat Washington State, 42-21.
Next game: Saturday at UNLV.
||New coach (Steve Kragthorpe), new offense, same Brian Brohm. The senior Heisman hopeful went 16-of-21 for 375 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions and clocked out by the third quarter as the Cardinals torched Murray State for their highest scoring output since 1926.
Last game: Beat Murray State, 73-10.
Next game: Thursday vs. Middle Tennessee.
||Congratulations, Sam Bradford. In your first career start, you broke Josh Heupel's school record for passing yards in a half (350) and tied Jason White's record of 18-consecutive completions. Your reward? A date with Calais Campbell, Kenny Phillips and the rest of Miami's ridiculous defense.
Last game: Beat North Texas, 79-10.
Next game: Saturday vs. Miami.
||Why the big jump from last week? Because, a) The Dawgs were one of the few teams to throttle a decent, major-conference opponent; and b) QB Matthew Stafford delivered a near-flawless performance. If he keeps playing like that, Georgia has a shot at its fourth division title in six years.
Last game: Beat Oklahoma State, 35-14.
Next game: Saturday vs. South Carolina.
||What can you say? Texas' 21-13 win over Arkansas State was the ugliest opener this side of Michigan's. QB Colt McCoy started out hot, then went into an absolute funk, while RB Jamaal Charles (27 carries, 112 yards) never broke the type of big run UT fans have been waiting to see.
Last game: Beat Arkansas State, 21-13.
Next game: Saturday vs. TCU.
||(Remember, football only in this space.) If you're a Hokies fan, you've got to be absolutely petrified right now at the thought of the offensive line from last Saturday's East Carolina game going against Glenn Dorsey and LSU. The Hokies allowed four sacks and managed just 33 rushing yards.
Last game: Beat East Carolina, 17-7.
Next game: Saturday at LSU.
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