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 8-0
Previous Rank: 1; Last Game: W 45-10 Auburn; Next Game: @ Alabama November 5th
Even without missing stars Tyrann Mathieu and Spencer Ware, the Tigers had no trouble with SEC West rival Auburn. The offense exploded for 35 points over the 2nd and 3rd quarters to blow open a close game. Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson combined for 219 yards passing and three touchdowns with each throwing a strike to Rueben Randle in the 2nd quarter. Randle finished with 106 yards and two scores while Kenny Hilliard stepped in for Ware and added two touchdowns on the ground. The defense held Auburn to just 87 yards rushing and their only touchdown came with just 2:22 remaining in the game. LSU now has the week off to prepare for their showdown with Alabama, to likely decide one half of the National Championship Game.
2. Alabama 8-0
Previous Rank: 2; Last Game: W 37-6 Tennessee; Next Game: vs LSU November 5th
The Tide held their opponent under 10 points for the 3rd consecutive game and took over the title as top scoring defense in the country with their 37-6 win over Tennessee. The Volunteers managed only 155 yards of total offense and just six 1st downs as Alabama pulled away in the 2nd half. With the score tied at 6, A.J. McCarron led a scoring drive early in the 3rd quarter to put the Tide on top for good and they proceeded to reel off 31 consecutive points. Trent Richardson had only 77 yards rushing but scored twice and McCarron added 284 yards passing and a touchdown. The Tide also enjoy a week off before hosting LSU in the biggest regular season game of the season.
3. Boise State 7-0
Previous Rank: 4; Last Game: W 37-26 Air Force; Next Game: @ UNLV November 5th
The Broncos struggled but eventually outlasted a tough Air Force team as Kellen Moore was a sparkling 23-29 for 281 yards and three touchdowns. The defense struggled to get Air Force off the field as they had four drives of 10 plays or longer and converted 4-5 4th down attempts. A Falcon fumble in a fake punt was returned for a touchdown by Hunter White late in the 2nd quarter to give BSU a 20-7 lead but Air Force hung around all afternoon, getting within seven points on multiple occasions in the 2nd half. Doug Martin led the Broncos with 125 yards on the ground and Byron Hout had 18 tackles to lead the defense. Boise State gets a week off followed by a trip to UNLV before a showdown in Boise with TCU.
4. Oklahoma State 7-0
Previous Rank: 6; Last Game: W 45-24 Missouri; Next Game: vs Baylor
Brandon Weeden threw for three touchdowns and Joseph Randle scored three on the ground and another through the air to lead the Cowboys past the Tigers on Saturday. Oklahoma State forced four turnovers including an interception and fumble recovery by Shaun Lewis that led directly to Randle touchdowns. Missouri quarterback James Franklin fumbled at the Oklahoma State 4-yard line before the Cowboys drove the other way for a 38-17 lead to put the game away. The Cowboys now prepare to face Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III and the explosive Baylor offense, hoping to remain undefeated heading into a showdown with undefeated Kansas State.
5. Stanford 7-0
Previous Rank: 7; Last Game: W 65-21 Washington; Next Game: @ USC
In their first big test of the season, the Cardinal responded with a school-record 446 yards rushing in a dominant 65-21 win over the Huskies. Anthony Wilkerson was seven yards shy of giving the Cardinal three 100-yard rushers for the game as Stanford proved it can win without Andrew Luck putting up big numbers. Luck finished with 169 yards passing and two 2nd quarter touchdowns and Michael Thomas closed the 28-point 2nd quarter with a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown to blow open a close game. Chris Polk kept the Huskies in it in the 1st half with two touchdown runs of 46 and 61 yards and finished with 144 yards on just 15 carries. Washington turned the ball over three times, however, and struggled to finish drives despite racking up 430 yards of offense. The Cardinal now travel to USC for a tough game against the hot Trojans.
6. Clemson 8-0
Previous Rank: 9; Last Game: W 59-38 North Carolina; Next Game: @ Georgia Tech
A week after coming from behind to knock off Maryland and keep their unbeaten streak alive, the Tigers jumped on North Carolina with a 35-point 3rd quarter to leave no doubt. Tajh Boyd continued his outstanding play, throwing for 367 yards and five touchdowns and adding a 1-yard rushing touchdown as well. The Tigers scored from all over the field as Kourtnei Brown had both an interception return and fumble return for touchdown. The defense allowed 418 yards to the Tar Heels but forced six turnovers and Clemson’s lack of a running game did not hurt them on this day with Boyd leading the way offensively. Bryn Renner found Jheranie Boyd with two 1st half touchdown passes and Marcus Houston added two 4th quarter touchdowns on the ground for the Tar Heels but the turnovers and inability to stop Clemson’s passing game doomed them from the start. The Tigers travel to Atlanta to face a frustrated Georgia Tech team that has lost two in a row since moving into the Top 10 with a 6-0 record.
7. Oregon 6-1
Previous Rank: 8; Last Game: W 45-2 Colorado; Next Game: vs Washington State
No Darron Thomas or LaMichael James? No problem for the explosive Ducks. Bryan Bennett and Kenjon Barner stepped in two replace the two stars, leading the Ducks to 29 1st quarter points in an easy win over the Buffaloes. The Ducks piled up 527 effortless yards and held the Buffs to 231. Michael Clay returned an interception 32 yards for a score in the 3rd quarter and the only Duck miscue was by punt returner Cliff Harris who fielded a punt deep in his own territory and retreated into the end zone where he was tackled for a safety. Oregon finished with 371 yards rushing led by Barner’s 115 and two scores on 10 carries. True freshman Tra Carson added 80 yards and a touchdown. Bennett threw for only 156 yards but had two touchdowns and added 69 yards on the ground on just six carries. Thomas and James are expected back this week against Washington State in preparation for tough road games at Washington and Stanford the next two weeks.
8. Kansas State 7-0
Previous Rank: 13; Last Game: W 59-21 Kansas; Next Game: vs Oklahoma
Collin Klein and the Wildcats jumped all over their in-state rivals, aided by 45 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Klein had 195 yards passing and a touchdown to Tyler Lockett and added 92 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Lockett led the Wildcats with 110 receiving yards and a score while also returning a kickoff for a touchdown to open the 3rd quarter. The Jayhawks were held to 286 yards and fumbled twice early in the 2nd half to give the Wildcats two touchdowns to ice the game. Kansas State hosts Oklahoma this week in a matchup that could put them in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 championship.
9. Michigan State 6-1
Previous Rank: 12; Last Game: W 37-31 Wisconsin; Next Game: @ Nebraska
The Spartans dialed up a Hail Mary in the final seconds and their prayers were answered as Kirk Cousins found Keith Nichol on the desperation pass to push Michigan State past previously unbeaten Wisconsin. Russell Wilson and Montee Ball had led the Badgers back from a 14-point 4th quarter deficit to tie the game with 1:26 remaining but Cousins led the team down to the Wisconsin 44-yard line where they lined up for the final pass. Wisconsin had built a 14-0 1st quarter lead before Michigan State ran off 23 consecutive points in the 2nd quarter to take a halftime lead. Cousins finished with 290 yards and three touchdowns. Keshawn Martin caught a 4th quarter touchdown and added a 34-yard touchdown run in the 2nd quarter. The Badgers out-gained the Spartans but Wilson threw two interceptions. A trip to Nebraska may be all that stands between the Spartans and a Big Ten title game berth.
10. Arkansas 6-1
Previous Rank: 10; Last Game: W 29-24 Mississippi; Next Game: @ Vanderbilt
The Razorbacks struggled mightily, falling behind by 17 points in the 1st half, before rallying for 29 consecutive points and holding on to beat Mississippi. Tyler Wilson failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season but scored two 1-yard touchdowns in the 3rd quarter to first tie, and then take the lead. Eric Bennett intercepted the Rebels’ final pass to seal the win. Dennis Johnson ran for 160 yards and a touchdown for Arkansas. Randall Mackey led Mississippi with 219 yards passing and a touchdown while running for another. The Razorbacks combined for only eight rushing yards on their first three drives but managed to finish the game with 206 yards on the ground. The Hogs travel to Vanderbilt before returning home for three straight in Fayetteville.
BSE 2011 Preseason Poll
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