NCAA Football

College Football Power Rankings: Week 1

| by Sports Nickel
The first weekend of games is in the books, and we have our first visuals to go off of for 2010 when gauging each team’s relative chances at busting into the BCS this season. Four of the top-five teams from the preseason Power Rankings ended up winning their season opener; it was the fifth, which lost in the most surprising fashion possible, that set the BCS Buster world a-spinning. The first game can’t seal your spot in a BCS bowl, but it can cause it to fade away before the chance ever really materialized. The Midshipmen found that out the hard way, while past Busters like Boise State and TCU and Utah simply found ways to get that opening win no matter how ugly it had to come. 

Unfortunately, though, there are still those people who will be quick to discount a team like Boise State simply because they didn’t annihilate Virginia Tech in the only battle between top-ten teams in the opening weekend and needed a comeback performance for the ages from QB Kellen Moore. There are those that will look at TCU’s win over Oregon State and declare that, since it was a de facto home game despite the neutral site, the Horned Frogs really didn’t get the marquee victory they had intended. And with Utah needing overtime to beat Pitt, and Houston not even playing a team from the FBS, plenty of questions still hang over.

So who has the best chance to bust the BCS after the first games of the season concluded? Let’s walk through the Power Rankings…


  • LAST WEEK: 1st
  • LAST GAME: W 33-30 v. Virginia Tech (@ Landover, MD)
  • NEXT GAME: September 18 @ Wyoming

The Broncos went to FedEx Field for what was effectively a Virginia Tech home game and walked away from their opener looking just a little more magical for their efforts. Boise State’s offense staked out a 17-0 lead after the first quarter, but a defense that really looked to be missing its one departed starter — CB Kyle Wilson, now in the NFL with the New York Jets — allowed the Hokies right back into the game through the second and third. Most voters will likely only remember that game-winning drive in which QB Moore went 4-of-5 for 43 yards and the deciding touchdown, but the resilience Boise State showed was tempered by their shaky D. For now the Broncos remain the team with the best shot at both busting the BCS and potentially becoming the first to play in a BCS National Championship game… but they will have to rediscover that defensive swagger and avoid cold streaks on offense to remain in position for the elusive, exclusive BCS selection in their last year as a WAC team before moving to the Mountain West in 2011.


  • LAST WEEK: 2nd
  • LAST GAME: W 30-21 v. Oregon State (@ Arlington, TX)
  • NEXT GAME: September 11 v. FCS Tennessee Tech

The Horned Frogs were sloppy at times, but they got the job done. QB Andy Dalton was outplayed through the air by Oregon State’s freshman Ryan Katz, but his experience, leadership and underrated rushing ability (15 carries, 64 yards and 2 rushing TDs) carried the day. In the process the senior surpassed Sammy Baugh as the school’s all-time winningest quarterback. The TCU defense performed impressively, keeping the defending MWC champions in the game despite Dalton’s two interceptions. Containing the versatile Rodgers brothers, WR James and RB Jacquizz, in their Texas homecoming, TCU allowed just 73 rushing yards on 25 carries and nearly 200 fewer total yards of offense than Dalton and crew scored. Watch out for RB Ed Wesley in coming weeks as well — the redshirt sophomore from Irving scorched a Beavers defense that was 25th in the nation against the run last year for 134 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, singlehandedly outrushing the average allowed by OSU per game in 2009 by twenty yards. Dalton doesn’t have to be perfect in the air with a player like Wesley in the backfield.


  • LAST WEEK: 12th
  • LAST GAME: W 28-14 v. Cincinnati
  • NEXT GAME: September 18 @ Utah State

The Bulldogs have been amongst those preseason teams over the past few years that have harbored great expectations. Yet while Pat Hill’s squads seem to have always played relentlessly in marquee matchups against big-time BCS-conference opponents in the early going year after year, they have lacked that marquee victory to vault them into more serious contention. At least that was before last night, when Fresno State hosted two-time defending Big East champion Cincinnati. While the Bearcats were dealing with the loss of head coach Brian Kelly, QB Tony Pike and others, Fresno had their own retooling to do after losing last year’s national leader in rushing, Ryan Mathews, to the NFL. The ground game didn’t suffer, as the Bulldogs put the ball into the hands of QB Ryan Colburn (18-of-24 for 230 yards and 4 touchdowns) and let their passing game do the talking. Unfortunately their remaining BCS-conference opponents, Ole Miss and Illinois, lost their luster some after suffering demoralizing defeats snatched from the jaws of victory, but Fresno State is still the real deal and a serious threat to Boise State in both teams’ last year in the WAC.

4. UTAH UTES (MWC/1-0)

  • LAST WEEK: 5th
  • LAST GAME: W 27-24 (OT) v. Pittsburgh
  • NEXT GAME: September 11 v. UNLV

In a rematch of the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, Utah had a harder time knocking off Pitt this go-around yet still found a way to prevail after the Panthers’ senior kicker Dan Hutchins tied the contest with no time remaining — and three tries to do it, going 2-for-3 after Utah coach Kyle Whittingham tried to ice him twice. The second kick was shanked, but it very well seemed as though it was Whittingham’s second timeout being whistled in that distracted the kicker. In overtime, though, Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri — strong in his debut for the departed Bill Stull — telegraphed his pass and watched it helplessly get picked off. Utah went on to score a field goal after RB Matt Asiata, in his sixth year as a Ute due to medical redshirts and waivers, pounded the ball inside the Pitt 5 and set up a Joe Phillips chip shot. With their next three games — UNLV, @ New Mexico, San Jose State — all tilting toward high point spreads, the Utes will have to keep games out of reach and dominate their lesser foes ahead of an October road swing to Iowa State and Wyoming in back-to-back weeks to start next month.


  • LAST WEEK: 6th
  • LAST GAME: W 23-17 v. Washington
  • NEXT GAME: September 11 @ Air Force

It is crazy when you think about it, but the by-now-traditional early-season logjam at the top of the BCS Buster standings always seems to contain three main Mountain West teams… and two of those teams won’t even be in the conference next year. Brigham Young University might be going independent next year, but they have the foundation to be good for years to come with freshman QB Jake Heaps spelling Ryan Nelson throughout the game as the post-Max Hall era began in Provo. The BYU defense still needs some work, the Cougars conceding nearly 400 total yards to the Huskies. The MWC hopefuls bent, but they didn’t break often, forcing two turnovers on downs in the fourth quarter to prevent the Jake Locker comeback and inevitable hype machine roaring into overdrive. It may not have been pretty, but the Cougars beat quality on-the-rise BCS-conference competition and ironed out a few wrinkles in their new-look roster in the process.


  • LAST WEEK: 3rd
  • LAST GAME: W 68-28 v. FCS Texas State
  • NEXT GAME: September 10 v. UTEP

Why drop the Cougars three spots after they won their season opener by 40 points after putting in their benchwarmers for the final 25 minutes of the game? Quite simply, the wins by the two teams which leapfrogged them in the standings were more impressive given the level of competition. Houston may have put up more points (their 68 was second-most of the weekend for any team, behind only Oregon’s 72 against New Mexico) but they did it in a far less challenging game. The perception of the Mountain West as a stronger conference than Conference USA also assists those teams when it will come BCS selection time, something which must certainly be factored into the Power Rankings. QB Case Keenum threw his customary five touchdowns (albeit with two interceptions as well) before coming out of the game; all told this Houston team still has a lot of work to do to get back up to speed before their date in two weeks with UCLA and the return match against Mississippi State to begin October.


The rest of the teams listed below could still potentially play their way into the competition – but it would take either unseating their conference foes listed in the top six, putting up gaudy numbers to boost their national name recognition, beating a future big-time non-conference opponent and/or a complete apocalypse at the top of the game whereby every BCS team (EVERY BCS team) would have to incur at least two losses. In other words, don’t hold your breath… but definitely keep your eyes open and these teams in your peripheral vision, because they could become more relevant in the weeks to come and with the right results:



Idaho Vandals (WAC/1-0)

  • PREV: 9th
  • W v. FCS N. Dakota 45-0
  • NEXT: @ Nebraska



Central Michigan Chippewas (MAC/1-0)

  • PREV: 13th
  • W v. FCS Hampton 33-0
  • NEXT: @ Temple (9/9)



Temple Owls (MAC/1-0)

  • PREV: 7th
  • W v. FCS Villanova 31-24
  • NEXT: v. Cent. Michigan (9/9)



Air Force Falcons (MWC/1-0)

  • PREV: NR
  • W v. FCS N’Western St.  65-21
  • NEXT: v. BYU



Wyoming Cowboys (MWC/1-0)

  • PREV: 11th
  • W v. FCS So. Utah 28-20
  • NEXT: @ Temple (9/9)


Troy Trojans (SUN BELT/1-0)

  • PREV: NR
  • W v. FCS Hampton 33-0
  • NEXT: @ Temple (9/9)


Nevada Wolf Pack (WAC/1-0)

  • PREV: 14th
  • W v. FCS E. Washington 49-24
  • NEXT: v. Colorado State


UCF Golden Knights (C-USA/1-0)

  • PREV: 16th
  • W v. FCS S. Dakota 38-7
  • NEXT: v. NC State


The BCS is an unforgiving mistress for those teams outside her harem that are trying to catch her eye and earn her favor. No BCS Buster has ever emerged that has reached one of the four big bowl games with a blemish on their regular-season record. Unless everything goes to hell, we’re unlikely to see any of these four teams in the hunt anymore. After a preseason in which all four were touted as potential busters, they’re now just fighting to spoil other teams’ seasons and reach the best bowl game possible that is afforded to a team from their conference. So we now bid adieu to this quartet (preseason BCS Buster ranking in parentheses):