Alabama, LSU Week 10 battle will simplify SEC, Power Rankings

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The BCS propagandists’ mantra of “every game counts” seems awfully tough to swallow when a national title contender (Auburn) opens November against an FCS opponent (Chattanooga), but the underlying logic isn’t a complete crock. The current system does imbue certain regular-season games with added significance.

It may not make up for all the payday slop we have to watch in September or the gross injustice certain schools suffer every December, but days such as Saturday — Auburn-Chattanooga notwithstanding — certainly help. Alabama and LSU will face off in Baton Rouge to decide which one-loss SEC power can cling to its national title aspirations. Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City, TCU and Utah will play an elimination game that will decide the Mountain West Conference title. It also will (most likely) elevate the winner into a BCS bowl and leave the loser in the also-ran bowl dust. Most importantly, it will push the winner closer to a berth in the BCS title game.

Saturday also will simplify my ballot. Only one SEC team besides Auburn will remain in striking distance of the top. One top five team is guaranteed to lose, and I’ll only have to imagine how four undefeated teams might fare if they played one another. The joy of the day won’t make me run and hug BCS coordinator Bill Hancock, but for 24 hours, I won’t be a completely insufferable pro-playoff loudmouth.

NCAA Football Power Rankings

#1 Oregon Ducks (8-0)

Last Week: 1

A lot of Auburn fans believe the Tigers have a better résumé than the Ducks. That’s debatable. Auburn has four very good wins (at Mississippi State, South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU), while Oregon only has two (Stanford, at USC), and Auburn’s opponents have a far better cumulative record than Oregon’s opponents. But the Cardinal could beat either three or all four of Auburn’s best vanquished foes, and Oregon beat Stanford by three touchdowns. Until someone besides Arizona State gets within 20 points of the Ducks, it’s going to be tough to downgrade them.

Last game: Beat USC, 53-32

Next game: Saturday vs. Washington

#2 Boise St. Broncos (7-0)

Last Week: 2

Only two teams left on Boise State’s schedule can offer the Broncos even the slightest challenge. Hawaii is one of them. The Warriors lead the nation in passing at 395.4 yards per game. Unfortunately, Hawaii ranks 111th in the nation in rushing. Boise State’s defense doesn’t even have to make the Warriors’ offense one-dimensional. It already is. That won’t work on the blue turf.

Last game: Beat Louisiana Tech, 49-20

Next game: Saturday vs. Hawaii

#3 TCU Horned Frogs (9-0)

Last Week: 3

Looking for an impressive, under-the-radar win? Auburn’s road win at Mississippi State looks quite awesome in hindsight, but the gold standard for these wins might be TCU’s 45-10 annihilation of Baylor (currently 7-2) in Week 3. If the Horned Frogs can get past Utah, that win could loom larger — especially if Baylor continues to stun the members of the Big 12 South. Of course, it would be foolish to assume the Horned Frogs will win easily in Utah. The Utes haven’t lost at home since September 2007.

Last game: Beat UNLV, 48-6

Next game: Saturday at Utah

#4 Auburn Tigers (9-0)

Last Week: 4

Auburn fans constantly want to know why I hate their team so much. On the contrary, I don’t hate the Tigers at all. They’re a fabulous team, and they have the nation’s most dominant player in Cam Newton. I’m not ignoring Auburn’s résumé, either. It is excellent. But at the top of the poll, I’m asked to compare apples (AQ-conference teams) with oranges (non-AQs). So I have to try to guess what would happen if Auburn played against Boise State or TCU. My personal opinion is that Boise State or TCU would win because they have prolific offenses and disciplined defenses. I could be wrong, but that’s my opinion. Fortunately for Auburn, the voters in the coaches’ poll and Harris poll and the computer rankings disagree with me. Guess who you’d rather have on your side? This week’s Disgrace to the University doesn’t care about that. Here’s what Gail in Atlanta has to say, unedited: “just a comment on you article about Oregon and their breakneck speed over USC- you forgot to mention that Auburn has beaten 4 ranked team (that are actually still ranked this morning and all who won yesterday while Oregon has beaten two-one that will be no longer ranked taday- and outside of UCLA and Standford the rest of their opponets have loosing records. Thanks for the luv. If Auburn wins the NC, I would prefer that you don’t jump on our bandwagon. Call in sick that day…” Folks, if you’re going to misspell the name of the school in Palo Alto, at least call it Stansbury. Then I’ll just think you’re a big Saved By The Bell fan.

Last game: Beat Ole Miss, 51-31

Next game: Saturday vs. Chattanooga

#5 Utah Utes (8-0)

Last Week: 5

Utah is staging a Blackout for Saturday’s showdown. As any faithful reader of the Power Rankings knows, this is a terrible idea because the football gods frown on such high-school shenanigans. But the football gods might let this one slide. Utah will wear special black-and-camouflage jerseys that will be auctioned off later to help support the Wounded Warrior Project, which aids wounded combat veterans. The football gods smile on this.

Last game: Beat Air Force, 28-23

Next game: Saturday vs. TCU

Full story: Alabama, LSU Week 10 battle will simplify SEC, Power Rankings – Andy Staples –