It's time for a new installment of Deadspin's college football rankings. As always, the teams are ranked according to the logic and values of college football, no matter how bizarre or contradictory they may be.
1. Auburn (2-0) Last week: 1
Did someone say "heart of a champion"? Why, we did, last week. Then, on Saturday, the ESPN scoreboard had an "Upset Alert"—not because the undefeated reigning national champs were losing, but because they were shocking the mainline pollsters by holding a lead on less accomplished, more highly rated Mississippi State, 41-34.
But the Bulldogs were driving, and how. Through the final two minutes, the Mississippi State option slashed through the Auburn defense for one long run after another, all the way down to the goal line. The Tigers stuffed a conventional run play, the Bulldogs used their final timeout, and then, with 10 seconds left, Mississippi State went back to the unstoppable option. Quarterback Chris Reif kept the ball and cut to the left, with the end zone open before him.
We watched the play half a dozen times, and we're still not totally sure where Auburn safety Ryan Smith came from. One instant, Reif was rolling into the end zone; the next, he was wrapped up low and dropped two inches shy of the goal line. The clock expired. Auburn has won 17 games in a row.
2. Ohio State (2-0) Last week: 2
The Buckeyes remain the Best Team in Ohio, but it was close. Ohio State had to stop Toledo on the 17-yard line in the final minute to survive with a 27-22 victory. Heart of a (state) champion! According to the AP, it was the most points Ohio State had surrendered to an in-state foe since Oberlin beat them 26-6 in 1909. Oberlin also was the last other school to hold the title of Best Team in Ohio, with a 7-6 victory in 1921.
3. Oklahoma (1-0) Last week: 3
The Sooners took a week off to study and to attend the Oklahoma Memorial Union's Eighth Annual Foam Party.
4. LSU (2-0) Last week: 4
Suspended quarterback Jordan Jefferson recovered 33 of the 49 pairs of his shoes police had seized as they investigated the brawling-and-stomping accusations against him. Non-suspended quarterback Jarrett Lee went 9 for 10 for 133 yards in the first half, then took the rest of the game off as the Tigers beat—hang on, let's look it up—Northwestern State, 49-3. Congratulations to Demons kicker John Shaughnessy, the first Northwestern State player ever to score against LSU.
5. Baylor (1-0) Last week: 5
The Bears took the weekend off to study and to attend the university's annual "Howdy," which is "a night of boot scootin', BBQ, sweet tea, and some good ole country music."
Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes, two of them to Coby Fleener, and the Cardinal beat Duke, 44-14, on the road. The reported attendance was 24,785. Remember how the ACC trashed its nice compact, elite basketball conference because it wanted to get into big-time football?
7. (tie) Oklahoma State (2-0) Last week: 7
7. (tie) Texas (2-0) Last week: 7
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden went 42-for-53 for 397 yards as the Cowboys beat Arizona, 37-14. Backup Texas quarterback Case McCoy went 7-for-8 for 57 yards, taking turns with fellow backup QB David Ash (9 carries, 36 yards), rallying the Longhorns to a 17-16 victory over BYU after starter Garrett Gilbert was pulled. What's better: plain dominance, or teamwork in the clutch? The standoff continues.
9. Wisconsin (2-0) Last week: 9
Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns, two more than the Badgers strictly needed, as they beat Oregon State 35-0. Getting a little flashy there, aren't you, Wisconsin? But it was sensibly counterbalanced by 43 rushes, none longer than 25 yards, for a total of 209 yards on the ground.
10. Florida State (1-0) Last week: 10
Coach Jimbo Fisher's throwback to the Bowden Era continued with 647 yards of offense in a 62-10 victory over still-winless Charleston Southern:
Charleston Southern didn't complete its first pass and get a first down until the third quarter.
"We have to continue to get better," said Fisher.
And then, if history is our guide, the Seminoles have to get beaten by Miami and/or Florida. Till then, though, they get ranked.
11. [Vacant] Last week: 11
A reader writes:
Your anti-Nebraska sentiments are not as nuanced as they could be.
Blatantly refusing to comment on them in your rankings wreaks of petulance.
You are a decent writer, but your NCAA analysis is shit.
Get better or hand off the assignment to someone who cares.
There are two accomplishments that would make Nebraska worth mentioning: beating Oklahoma or winning the national championship. The Cornhuskers ran away and hid from the Sooners. Nothing Nebraska does can possibly matter unless it's in the title game, ideally against Oklahoma.
12. South Carolina (2-0) Last week: 12
The Gamecocks beat Georgia, 45-42, in Athens, helped by a 68-yard touchdown run on a fake punt, with 276-pound defensive end Melvin Ingram carrying the ball. Ingram also scored on a fumble recovery and recovered a Georgia onside kick attempt late in the game. Coach Steve Spurrier:
"Georgia outplayed us. Give 'em credit. They definitely outplayed us. But we won the game. Sometimes it happens like that. Somebody was looking out for us tonight."
Somebody named Melvin Ingram! Sorry, Andrew Luck. We're switching our Heisman vote.
13. South Florida (2-0) Last week: 14
14. Michigan State (2-0) Last week: 15
The Spartans followed up their Week One win over Youngstown State with a 44-0 victory over Florida Atlantic. The parade of patsies continues. Fans will have to wait till the Oct. 1 game against Ohio State before Michigan State plays any teams of consequence.
15. Navy (2-0) Last week: 13
Navy continued sailing toward the Army-Navy game with a 40-14 win over Western Kentucky, but the Mids drop in the rankings because they agreed to wear absurd Nike football pajamas on their big day. Which aspect of the uniform is stupider—the Tea Party-pandering/naval-historical "Don't Tread on Me" motto? Or the "Nike Pro Combat" brand name? We're going with the latter. Note to Phil Knight: Your marketing word "combat" has an actual meaning. According to the Navy, as of February 2010, 1,059 members of the Navy and Marine Corps had been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 10,257 had been wounded.
16. Boise State (1-0) Last week: 16
The Broncos took a week off to study. If they do really well on their exams, the BCS still won't put them in the top two.
17. Michigan (2-0) Last week: 17
A thrilling last-second victory over a lackluster foe keeps the Wolverines firmly at No. 17.
18. Arkansas (2-0) Last week: 18
Perplexing AP college-football headline of the week:
Kickoff return helps No. 14 Arkansas whip New Mexico
Without the return in question—85 yards for a touchdown, by freshman Marquel Wade—Arkansas would have had to settle for 632 yards of offense and a mere 45-3 win, rather than the real 52-3 result.
19. Virginia Tech (2-0) Last week: 19
A 17-10 victory over East Carolina established that the Hokies are slightly better than East Carolina. Oh, ACC.
20. Texas A&M (1-0) Last week: 20
The Aggies took a week off to brainstorm new ways to sneak out of their conference. This is going to end with them dressing up as a women's volleyball team and infiltrating the Patriot League.
21. Alabama (2-0) Last week: 21
Beat Penn State, which is not Auburn, 27-11.
22. West Virginia (1-0) Last week: 23
Overcame a 12-10 halftime deficit to beat Norfolk State, 55-12, advancing its claim to be Champion of All Virginias.
23. Maryland (1-0) Last week: 24
The Terrapins took the week off to rest in the glow of their lurid and fantastic helmets.
120. Oregon (1-1) Last week: 120
The Ducks beat Nevada, 69-20. Hooray, Ducks. Maybe Nike will let you borrow those Back to the Future Part II shoes and you can get in the DeLorean and travel back in time and apply some of those points you rolled up on Nevada to the LSU game, so you won't be doomed losers with no chance of a national championship.