At the end of Rivalry Week, we have a couple of changes in the top 10. As we head into Championship Week, every team won’t play this weekend, but the ones that do will have a lot on the line. Here is how my top 10 looks as we head into the conference championships.
1. LSU (Last week: No. 1) — The Tigers simply dismantled Arkansas 41-17 last week, and they’re poised to take on UGA at the Georgia Dome on Saturday with the SEC on the line. More on that later this week. But the Tigers retain their top spot in the poll as the lone remaining undefeated team in major college football (excluding Houston).
2. Alabama (Last week: No. 2) — ‘Bama waxed rival Auburn on Saturday, and now they wait. Will they get another shot at LSU in the BCS Championship game? It’s looking very likely right now, even though they won’t even win their own division. Obviously, you can see that winning your own division doesn’t weigh too highly with me this year either, since I have them at No. 2 in my poll.
3. Stanford (Last week: No. 4) — The Cardinal beat Notre Dame last week, capping off a pretty good regular season with a win over a ranked opponent. But they only have two wins against ranked teams, and that will likely keep them from playing for a championship.
4. Virginia Tech (Last week: No. 5) — The Hokies were hearing a lot of talk about how Virginia had a good chance to upset them last weekend, but that was all silenced when VT blanked the Cavaliers 38-0 on their home field to win the ACC Coastal. Now, they will play a fading Clemson team for the ACC title. The winner will play in the Orange Bowl, but if the Hokies win, they may still have a shot to play for something even bigger.
5. Oklahoma (Last week: No. 6) — The Sooners did just enough against Iowa State, beating the Cyclones 26-6 in Norman. But Bedlam lies ahead this weekend — they’ve built a pretty good body of work this year, but beating Oklahoma State would be huge, especially with the game being in Stillwater. It would be OU’s fourth win over a ranked opponent in 2011, with all of those teams being ranked in the top 11 when they played.
6. Arkansas (Last week: No. 3) — The Razorbacks haven’t really beaten a good opponent in a while, but hadn’t lost in a while, either. So they continued to rise in the polls when everyone else above them got picked off. That’s how it works. But they looked horrible against LSU, and they had to fall several spots in my poll as a result.
7. Oklahoma State (Last week: No. 7) — The Cowboys were off last week and have been preparing for Oklahoma for two weeks. If they win this game, I believe they will be back in the national title hunt, as they should. They would have four wins against ranked opponents, and I would be more than happy to see them play LSU for the championship at that point.
8. Oregon (Last week: No. 8 ) — The Ducks remain steady after their 49-21 victory over Washington State, and they will now take on UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship game. Oregon is a 30-point favorite in that game, so prepare for fireworks.
9. Georgia (Last week: No. 9) — The Bulldogs cleaned up on their rivals last week, beating Georgia Tech 31-17 in Atlanta. They’ll return to Atlanta this weekend, where they’ll meet a much tougher foe in the SEC Championship game.
10. Kansas State (Last week: No. 10) — The Wildcats will wrap up a great regular season with a home game this weekend against Iowa State. If they win, K-State will finish 10-2 with a bowl game left to play. Wins against two ranked opponents. Their two losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Impressed? I sure am.