These rankings reflect the opinion of the Boise Sports Examiner and are not a representation of the Associated Press poll or the polls that make up the BCS rankings. Click the links for teams 11-20 and 21-25.
1. LSU 4-0
Previous Rank: 3; Last Game: W 47-21 West Virginia; Next Game: vs Kentucky
LSU continued its dominant early-season run with a solid performance on the road against West Virginia. The defense struggled against Heisman-candidate Geno Smith and the Mountaineers, giving up 533 yards including 463 through the air. They also forced four turnovers and added a kickoff return for touchdown by Morris Claiborne to put the game away. Jarrett Lee threw for three touchdowns and Michael Ford added two more on the ground to keep the Tigers perfect through their opening-month gauntlet.
2. Oklahoma 3-0
Previous Rank: 1; Last Game: W 38-28 Missouri; Next Game: vs Ball State
Oklahoma’s defense was not as dominant as it had been the previous week against Florida State but they did enough to slow down James Franklin and the Tigers. Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles were electric with Jones throwing for 448 yards and three touchdowns, all to Broyles, and adding a rushing touchdown as well. The senior receiver finished with 13 catches for 154 yards to go with the three scores. The Sooners allowed 532 yards and Missouri converted only 3-12 on 3rd down attempts. Franklin led the Tigers with a passing touchdown and two scores on the ground.
3. Alabama 4-0
Previous Rank: 2; Last Game: W 38-14 Arkansas; Next Game: @ Florida
Trent Richardson had an outstanding game, leading the Crimson Tide in rushing and receiving. He compiled 211 yards of offense and scored once on a 61-yard reception from A.J. McCarron. The Tide added defensive and special teams touchdowns to put the Razorbacks away. The potent Arkansas offense was held to just 17 rushing yards and 226 yards of total offense and turned the ball over twice. The SEC slate does not get any easier as Alabama now travels to the Swamp to play undefeated Florida.
4. Boise State 3-0
Previous Rank: 4; Last Game: W 41-21 Tulsa; Next Game: vs Nevada
Boise State was a little bit shaky in their home opener despite jumping out to an early 27-0 lead. Kellen Moore played only one series in the 2nd half yet managed to complete 23-29 passes for 279 yards and four scores. Boise State again struggled to run the ball, averaging less than three yards per carry. The defense allowed all 21 Tulsa points in the final 20 minutes of the game to make it appear more interesting than it really was. Four interceptions, including two by Jerrell Gavins, kept Tulsa from staying in the game.
5. Stanford 3-0
Previous Rank: 5; Last Game: W 37-10 Arizona September 17th; Next Game: vs UCLA
The Cardinal had the week off following their blowout win over Arizona and now return home to face UCLA in another Pac-12 contest. The Cardinal are currently 9th in the country with 46 points per game while allowing only nine per contest, good for 4th nationally. Andrew Luck has yet to put together a signature performance but he has not had to be at his best to dominate their early-season competition. San Jose State, Duke and Arizona are not a good gauge of where the Cardinal are through the season’s first month but the slate begins to get tougher, especially without standout linebacker Shayne Skov who was lost for the season with a knee injury.
6. Wisconsin 4-0
Previous Rank: 6; Last Game: W 59-10; Next Game: vs Nebraska
Wisconsin tuned up for their huge Big Ten showdown with Nebraska by running all over South Dakota at Camp Randall Stadium. Russell Wilson threw for 345 yards and three touchdowns and four different Badgers combined for five touchdowns on the ground. Nick Toon caught two touchdown passes and had 155 receiving yards to lead the Badger onslaught. The defense held the Coyotes to 173 yards of offense and only nine 1st downs. To date the Badgers have played a miserable schedule as UNLV, Oregon State, North Illinois and now South Dakota have all been sub-par. Road games at Michigan State and Ohio State loom after the Cornhusker battle.
7. Oregon 3-1
Previous Rank: 9; Last Game: W 56-31 Arizona; Next Game: vs California October 6th
LaMichael James had the biggest single-game rushing performance of his career as he set a school record with 288 yards on the ground against the Wildcats. The junior scored two touchdowns and piled up over 350 all-purpose yards. Darron Thomas completed only 11-20 passes but had two touchdowns through the air and added two more on the ground. Kenjon Barner returned from an injury to score three touchdowns as the Ducks ran for a total of 415 yards on the evening. The defense struggled to stop Nick Foles who threw for 398 yards but Foles was hit on virtually every throw. The Wildcats were sloppy with nearly 100 yards in penalties and several big drops in the passing game.
8. Nebraska 4-0
Previous Rank: 8; Last Game: W 38-14 Wyoming; Next Game: @ Wisconsin
Rex Burkhead led the Cornhuskers with 170 rushing yards and two touchdowns as Nebraska overcame a slow start to put Wyoming away in the 2nd half. Leading just 14-7 at halftime, Burkhead’s touchdowns less than three minutes into the 2nd half jump-started the Cowboys who eventually piled up 333 yards on the ground. Taylor Martinez was not terribly efficient throwing the ball, completing just 12-21 passes for 157 yards. The offense will have to be much better in the Big Ten opener that will give the winner a big leg up on the Rose Bowl and perhaps the National Championship.
9. Oklahoma State 4-0
Previous Rank: 11; Last Game: W 30-29 Texas A&M; Next Game: vs Kansas
The Cowboys battled back in the 2nd half behind Brandon Weeden’s 438 yards passing to overcome a big 20-3 halftime deficit. Oklahoma State scored 27 unanswered points to take a 30-20 lead before fighting off a late Texas A&M charge to preserve the win. Weeden completed 47-60 passes and Josh Cooper and Justin Blackmon each caught 11 passes, for 123 and 121 yards respectively. The Aggies turned the ball over four times to cough up the lead. Oklahoma State resumes Big 12 play with a home game against Kansas before a big showdown at Texas in two weeks.
10. South Carolina 4-0
Previous Rank: 14; Last Game: W 21-3 Vanderbilt; Next Game: vs Auburn
The Gamecock defense shut down Vanderbilt and Melvin Ingram scored another defensive touchdown to lead South Carolina to a 4-0 start. The Commodores managed only four yards on the ground and 77 yards of total offense to go with five 1st downs and converted only 1-14 on 3rd down attempts. Stephen Garcia struggled throwing the ball as he tossed four interceptions, but Marcus Lattimore scored on the ground and through the air as he finished with 150 yards of total offense.
BSE 2011 Preseason Poll
As usual, comments are welcome and appreciated.