1. Ohio State (3)---Duh!
O.K., they're No. 1. (Photograph from The Lantern.)
2. Notre Dame (17)---I can't stand the Fighting Irish, but they survived a scare on the road against a Georgia Tech team that has a tendency to rise up and bump off higher-rated foes, then they proceeded to wax a Penn State squad that looked like it was reloading rather than rebuilding. If the season ended today, I couldn't conscientiously prevent the Fiesta Bowl rematch to decide the national title. Now, please . . . somebody beat these guys already!
3. Louisiana State (11)---I don't know what to make of this team, but L.S.U.'s talent and firepower are undeniable. I'll have to keep the Bayou Bengals in the top five until Les Miles manages to blow it somewhere along the way.
4. Southern California (2)---It wasn't entirely fair to drop the Trojans during an open date, but, as I said, I was starting from square one this week and the performances of the teams now ranked ahead of them warranted the promotion.
5. Louisville (12)---Without the burden of lofty expectations, Bobby Petrino's squad appears well on its way to having the season this year that the Cardinals were supposed to have last year, even without their star tailback.
Coach Petrino is looking to have a stellar season in 2006 before breaking his long-term contract and bolting for a higher-paying job at a school with a better pedigree.
6. Oregon (6)---The Ducks' win on the road against a bruising Fresno State squad impressed me. Forget about Cal; the Pac-10 title will be decided in Los Angeles on November 11.
7. Texas (1)---I hated to knock the Longhorns all the way down to No. 7 after their loss, but the Buckeyes' margin of victory left me no choice. The good news for the Burnt Orange is that it's a long season and Texas will have its chance to rise back to the top.
8. Auburn (4)---The Plainsmen are like a blue collar version of L.S.U., only with more reliable coaching.
9. Virginia Tech (23)---I overlooked the Hokies in the preseason, but I won't make that mistake a second time. Ignore V.P.I. at your peril; suddenly, Frank Beamer's bunch looks like the best team in the A.C.C. . . . again.
Even without Marcus Vick, the Hokies are still a baaaaaaaaaaaaaad bunch of dudes.
10. Georgia (14)---If you weren't impressed by that performance, try sending your team to Columbia, S.C., to play a night game against Steve Spurrier's squad. If I were the athletic director at a university whose football team is scheduled to play the Bulldogs late in the year, I'd be calling U.A.B. and asking to swap spots on the slate. This squad will get better as Matthew Stafford matures and, if the Red and Black can avoid an early stumble, Georgia once again could have something to say about the S.E.C. title.
11. Michigan (13)---The Wolverines are methodical, steady, and reliable, but they haven't yet done anything eye-popping enough to earn a place in the top 10.
12. Florida (9)---Right now, the Gators look like the Maize and Blue of the S.E.C.: machine-like, effective, capable of beating any other team on any given Saturday . . . but not so dominant as to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition as they once did.
13. Boston College (N.R.)---Apparently, without meaning to do so, I allocated the slots just outside the top 10 among the teams most likely to line up and beat you in a manner that produces few "SportsCenter"-style highlights yet nevertheless impresses those of us who (like the old men at the end of "The Incredibles") believe there's no school like the old school.
"B.C., YOU'RE MY BOYS!"
14. West Virginia (10)---For now, I'm putting the Mountaineers in the "methodical" category, but W.V.U. has more explosive potential than the three or four teams ranked immediately above it, so Rich Rodriguez's squad could be No. 14 with a bullet, depending upon how the Mountain Men perform as the season progresses.
15. Florida State (5)---If you can't put away Troy at home, you don't deserve a spot in the top 10.
16. Arizona State (N.R.)---Despite a nasty preseason quarterback controversy, the Sun Devils appear to be settling into their usual niche as the offensive engine of the desert. A month from now, we'll know how good A.S.U. really is, as the squad plays at Colorado, at California, against Oregon, and at U.S.C. over the course of the next four games.
17. Nebraska (22)---I don't yet know what to make of the Cornhuskers, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt . . . at least until next weekend.
How little regard do I have for this yutz? If Nebraska fired Bill Callahan and hired Les Miles, the Cornhuskers' ranking would go up.
18. Tennessee (7)---Remember what I said about F.S.U.? That goes double for teams that have to stop a two-point conversion attempt late in the game in order to survive a scare from a visiting Air Force squad.
19. Boise State (N.R.)---The Broncos, like the Gamecocks, are far more fearsome when playing on their home field than when going on the road, but, when a team is down 14-0 early against a visiting B.C.S. conference opponent and comes back to win in a blowout, that's a team that has gotten my attention.
20. Texas Tech (N.R.)---So far, the Red Raiders haven't given me the opportunity to say, "I told you so." That, plus the fact that Texas Tech has upgraded its non-conference slate, earns Mike Leach's crew a spot in the top 20 . . . for now.
21. Clemson (19)---The three surest signs of autumn's arrival are the turning of the leaves, the chill in the air, and the Tigers' early season collapse in a heartbreaking loss.
22. Rutgers (N.R.)---Slowly but surely, the Scarlet Knights are developing into the Big East's third-best program. Not only is Greg Schiano building something at the State University of New Jersey, but he has the perfect name for a Rutgers head coach. I mean, come on . . . Greg Schiano, head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights? That's like "Mack Brown, head coach of the Texas Longhorns" or "R.C. Slocum, head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies."
Rutgers alumna Kristin Davis can barely contain her excitement at her alma mater's inclusion in the Dawg Sports top 25. (Photograph from Yahoo! Movies.)
23. Miami (Florida) (15)---Frankly, I don't know what to do with these guys. I promoted them after a loss and demoted them after a win. I'm just glad the Hurricanes will be playing Louisville next week so I can get some idea where to rank them.
24. Cal (21)---The Golden Bears looked good against Minnesota. Then again, it was Minnesota. We'll find out what this team is made of when California hosts Arizona State on September 23.
25. Oklahoma (24)---The Sooners struggled mightily against overmatched U.A.B. and Washington teams at home. What will happen when the O.U. from Norman travels to take on the O.U. from Eugene?
This could get ugly . . . and I don't just mean the Ducks' home uniforms.
Other teams receiving consideration: Alabama (25), Georgia Tech (N.R.), Iowa (8), Missouri (N.R.), Navy (N.R.), Texas Christian (16), U.C.L.A. (18).
Team that dropped out that, quite frankly, didn't receive consideration at all: Penn State (20).
Teams that were never ranked, were never considered, and, after Friday night's game, are unlikely ever to be considered for my top 25 from now until the end of time: Cincinnati and Pitt.
Games I watched: Boise State-Oregon State; Cincinnati-Pitt; Auburn-Mississippi State; Boston College-Clemson; Notre Dame-Penn State; Georgia-South Carolina; Fresno State-Oregon; and portions of Illinois-Rutgers, North Carolina-Virginia Tech, Army-Kent State, Arizona-L.S.U., and Ohio State-Texas.
Additional observations: I'm glad next weekend will help shake things out a bit more. Looking back on it, I'm not at all sure that, if they had played yesterday, Cal wouldn't have beaten Miami, Rutgers wouldn't have beaten Clemson, or Boise State wouldn't have beaten Tennessee, so I'll be glad to get some clarification on just how good some of these teams really are.
Feel free to note your approval or apoplexy in the comments below.