The AP Top 25 and Coaches Top 25 College Football polls are nationally recognized, but after more than 50 years of watching and/or covering college football games, and being a sports editor for a daily newspaper, here’s another opinion:

No. 1 is now clearly Auburn, and here’s why:

1) Auburn (11-0) – Saw Georgia 3 rushing touchdowns, but still won by 18 points, 49-31. Only a trip to Alabama stands between the Tigers and a perfect regular-season record. Despite all the bad press last week for Auburn and Heisman candidate Cam Newton, they responded well to the pressure. There are no wimps in Auburn’s hometown right now. Only 1 of the top 25 AP teams has beaten 4 ranked opponents, and that’s Auburn. Only 8 other teams among the 25 have beaten even 2 opponents. Stop talking about Boise State and TCU, who have each beaten only 1 ranked opponent all year – talk about the lack of competition.

2) Oregon (10-0) – The potent Duck offense (national leader in scoring offense and total offense) suddenly looks like it can be beaten, barely escaping California with a 15-13 win they could have easily lost. Still ahead are games against Arizona and at Oregon State. Oregon has beaten 2 ranked teams: Stanford and Southern California.

3) LSU (9-1) – Beat an inept Louisiana Monroe team in state, 51-zip. Feeling your oatmeal. He has beaten 2 currently ranked opponents, Mississippi State and Alabama, and has only lost to Auburn. Receive Mississippi next.

4) Wisconsin (9-1) – Destroyed Indiana 83-20, the Badgers’ best offensive performance in 95 years! He has beaten two Top 25 teams, Ohio State and Iowa. Now he travels to the Michigan Big House and faces Denard Robinson.

5) Boise State (9-0) – Slapped a limping Idaho team, 52-14. Fresno State follows; the Bulldogs should be a little tougher than the Idaho Vandals. They have only beaten 1 ranked team, Virginia Tech. Only here because they are 1 of 4 undefeated teams left.

6) TCU (11-0) – The Horned Frogs, who led the nation in scoring defense and total defense, gave up 35 points and 300 yards to State Diego State before winning 5, 40-35. It has beaten only 1 ranked team, Utah, which lost this week to Notre Dame, 28-3. He plays New Mexico ranked 173rd in his last game, a real laugh for the tough competition. Only here because they are 1 of 4 undefeated teams left, not surprising considering their level of competition.

7) Michigan State (9-1) – Was inactive this week. They have as many wins as any team below them, but they have also beaten only one ranked team, Wisconsin, a very good team that is also 9-1. Next, it hosts Purdue, ranked 93rd and not exactly a powerhouse at 4-6.

8) Stanford (9-1) – Not impressive in a 17-13 win against Arizona State. He has beaten 2 ranked opponents: Southern California and Arizona. Now he must travel to California, where the Bears just lost to No. 1 Oregon, 15-13. The Cardinal better be ready, or they may be beaten for the second time this year. A big win against California would give Stanford extra stature.

9) Nebraska (9-1) – The pesky Cornhuskers limited Kansas to 87 yards total offense, 5 first downs and 6 sacks as they won 20-3. It’s nice that Nebraska has a defense with their off-and-on offense. He has beaten two ranked teams: Oklahoma State and Missouri. Travel to Texas A&M this week.

10) Alabama (8-2) – Eliminated 17th-ranked Mississippi State 30-10. He has wins against two ranked teams: Arkansas and Mississippi State. He’s still holding on despite losses to South Carolina and LSU. Play AA Georgia State below, an absolute joke. The Crimson Tide better cheat the state of Georgia into staying here.

11) Arkansas (8-2) – Just beat UTEP 58-21. He has beaten 2 ranked teams: Texas A&M and South Carolina. It has only lost to Auburn and Alabama. Next, travel to the state of Mississippi.

12) Oklahoma State (9-1) – Defeated Texas, 33-16, but the Longhorns are weak this year. Winning wasn’t that important, but no other team is doing that well either. Has beaten 1 ranked team: Texas A&M. Travel to Kansas next. He should score more points against the Jayhawks than Nebraska.

13) Southern California (7-3) – Shocked 18th-ranked Arizona 24-21. The Trojans are starting to feel their mojo. Arizona was Cal’s first win over a ranked team. Travel to the state of Oregon next and you must win to stay here.

14) South Carolina (7-3) – Convincingly beat 24th-ranked Florida, 36-14, to wrap up the SEC East title and snap a 12-game losing streak straight against Florida. Never underestimate Steve Spurrier on the road in The Swamp. When he coached the Florida Gators, his record was 122-27-1 with 9 SEC East Division titles or outright, and the National Championship in 1996.

15) Ohio State (9-1) – Penn State thrashed 38-14. Has beaten 1 ranked team, Miami, FL. Travel to Iowa next, and you better win big to stay here. Buckeyes isn’t a big deal, but neither are the teams below.

16) Texas A&M (7-3) – Outscored Baylor 42-30. He has beaten 1 ranked opponent, Oklahoma. They host Nebraska next in what should be a great opportunity for the Aggies or Cornhuskers.

17) Virginia Tech (8-2) at Took North Carolina in school, 26-10. He has not beaten a ranked opponent this season. He then travels to Maimi (not Ohio, but Florida). He must have an unexcused victory to stay here.

18) Oklahoma (8-2): Defeated Texas Tech, 45-7, but has yet to beat a ranked team this year. Get the Baylor Bears below.

19) Nevada (9-1) – He nearly croaked and choked against Fresno State, ultimately winning 35-34. Has not beaten a ranked team. Only here because the wolf pack has 9 wins with lousy defense.

20) Missouri (8-2) in Slid for Kansas State 38-28. He has beaten 2 ranked teams: Texas A&M and Oklahoma. He then travels to Iowa State and should have a field day with an easy win.

(Editor’s note: I’m just tired of Iowa, Utah, Arizona, Mississippi State, and Central Florida all missing again this week, so I’m ditching them and looking for some new blood. My new options may not be much better, but they could use some recognition.)

21) San Diego State (7-3) – Woke up 11-win TCU by scoring 35 points in the nation’s best scoring defense, only losing to the Horned Frogs by 5. Hosts Utah next. Good luck to the Utes, they may really need it.

22) Northwest (7-3) – Upset 13th-place Iowa 21-17. The Wildcats have the 11th-best passing efficiency in the nation and the 18th-best passing quarterback in Dan Persa. Northwestern now has a win over a ranked team, something Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Nevada can’t say. Up next will be hosts Illinois, a real test against a solid team.

23) Northern Illinois (8-2) – Doesn’t have really good wins over tough teams, but has 8 wins, similar to Nevada. Travel to Ball State next and you should win.

24) Temple (8-2) – Has no big win royales, but has 8 wins. The next host is Ohio.

25) Notre Dame (5-5) – Hey, don’t freak out. He just beat the Utah Brats 28-3. He did college football a huge favor by exposing a team that was undefeated and 8-0 two weeks ago. The Utes first lost to TCU 47-7 and are now beaten by Notre Dame 28-3. TCU was the first real team Utah played all year, apparently Notre Dame was the second. Notre Dame has a chance to be eligible to bowl this week when the Fighting Irish host the Army.

Key games next week include just 3 games with opposing ranked teams: Ohio State at Iowa, Arkansas at Mississippi State, and Nebraska at Texas A&M. Other games of interest are Utah at San Diego State, Wisconsin at Michigan and Fresno State at Boise State. Watch college football on Saturday, it’s better than raking leaves or shoveling snow.

Copyright © 2010 Ed Bagley

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