Christopher Smith
Author Power Dozen: New No. 2 Oregon Impresses

Created on Sept. 16, 2013 8:10 AM EST

It's hard to believe Tennessee ever led Oregon. Or that a competitive first quarter ended with a 10-7 Ducks lead.

Marcus Mariota, De'Anthony Thomas and friends are averaging more than 61 points per game, and have a chance to hold that figure against a Cal team that just gave up 52 to Ohio State.

Granted, the Vols may turn out to be a bottom-tier BCS conference school, just as previous opponent Virginia will, but at least UT had some physical talent and athleticism.

The only caveat with Oregon is that it's like watching an erosion time-lapse video. The damage appears on a relatively larger scale because the Ducks play so fast, so any advantage they have gets compounded.

Stanford continues its slow fade after beginning the season as a strong No. 3 in our Power Dozen. The Cardinal may have fallen more had voters watched the first half against Army (20-13 thanks to a last-second 47-yard field goal). Kevin Hogan is the only quarterback in our Top 10 without clear stud status (AJ McCarron, Mariota, Braxton Miller, Tajh Boyd, Zach Mettenberger, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Aaron Murray and Johnny Manziel are the others). Hogan's collective numbers are great (69.5 percent completion rate, 14 touchdowns, 4 interceptions in eight career starts and three mop-up appearances).

But Hogan's thrown for more than 200 passing yards in less than half his starts and has only topped 211 yards once (254 against Oregon State last November).

Yes, in the back row before your hand gets tired? What's that, you say? So you noticed?

Mettenberger has to be counted in the stud category at this point. He's excelled under new OC Cam Cameron (65.2 percent completion rate, nine touchdowns, no interceptions and a whopping 11.6 yards per attempt). By comparison, Bridgewater is averaging 11.4 yards per attempt and has 10 touchdowns against one interception.

LSU still faces five ranked teams, including three of the Top-10 persuasion. But the Tigers have crept to No. 6 after starting out 10th. (Humblebrag Brag: I ranked LSU No. 6 in our preseason poll, the only person of 15 to rank them that high. I also had Clemson in my Top 5.)

Texas A&M falls just two spots to No. 10 after the loss to Alabama, but with that defense, the Aggies will endure other close games. South Carolina leapfrogs Michigan, which slipped out after a near-loss to Akron, and Georgia held at No. 9, giving us three one-loss SEC teams in our Power Dozen. No other school with a loss even registered in our poll.

Methodology: First-place votes equate to zero points. Voters rank their Top 13 to help differentiate marginal teams. Teams ranked 2-13 get a point total equivalent to their rank. If a team is not ranked in a person's Top 13, they are automatically assigned 15 points. The lowest aggregate score is ranked No. 1, second-lowest No. 2 and so forth.

Rank Team Record Score Gap Next Prev. Rank
1 Alabama (2-0) 0 vs. Colorado State 1
2 Oregon (3-0) 38 +38 vs. Cal (Sept. 28) 3
3 Ohio State (3-0) 44 +6 vs. Florida A&M 2
4 Clemson (2-0) 60 +16 at N.C. State (Thursday) 4
5 Stanford (2-0) 76 +16 vs. Arizona State 5
6 LSU (3-0) 98 +22 vs. Auburn 7
7 Louisville (3-0) 114 +16 vs. Florida International 6
8 Florida State (2-0) 124 +10 vs. Bethune-Cookman 10
9 Georgia (1-1) 128 +4 vs. North Texas 9
10 Texas A&M (2-1) 151 +23 vs. SMU 8
11 Oklahoma State (3-0) 169 +18 at West Virginia (Sept. 28) 12
12 South Carolina (2-1) 197 +28 at UCF (Sept. 28)

Less Than Max Score Of 225: Oklahoma (203), UCLA (204), Michigan (208), Miami (211).

Dropped Out: Michigan (11).

Power Dozen Scuttlebutt

Rank Team Buzz
1 Alabama OL, secondary look vulnerable at times in '13, but Tide keeps winning.
2 Oregon Cal, Colorado next on hit list (outscoring opponents 184-27).
3 Ohio State Did Kenny Guiton, more of a passer than Braxton Miller (out), earn PT?
4 Clemson Early 13.5-point favorite over N.C. State, best opponent before Oct. 19.
5 Stanford Fringe Top 15 or true title contender? We'll know next weekend.
6 LSU Much-improved Auburn team kicks off brutal SEC schedule.
7 Louisville Bad first half against team that lost to Western Kentucky hurts. 
8 Florida State Won't shed "yeah, but" sentiments until they beat Clemson/Miami.
9 Georgia Temporary lull before third Top 10 opponent in five weeks.
10 Texas A&M Porous defense will struggle with Ole Miss, LSU, both road games.
11 Okla. State Off field: loud, ugly SI scandal. On: cruising under the radar.
12 South Carolina Should glide through October after solid win vs. Vanderbilt.

Comparing Rankings

Team AP Coaches
Alabama 1 1 1
Oregon 2 2 2
Ohio State 3 4 3
Clemson 4 3 4
Stanford 5 5 5
LSU 6 6 7
Louisville 7 7 6
Florida State 8 8 8
Georgia 9 9 10
Texas A&M 10 10 9
Oklahoma State 11 11 11
South Carolina 12 12 Range

The voters seemed much more settled this week. One indicator is the near replica of the AP poll. Our first four teams have a three-slot range maximum. Even a school like Texas A&M (7/—) is deceiving. The Aggies have had at least a 5/— split all season, and are no worse than the "plus one" 13th slot on any ballot for the first time (four voters ranked A&M just outside their Power Dozen). That gives them a true range of six. Louisville is the one team causing confusion, with a poll-high range of eight spots. The Cardinal beat a bad Kentucky team by just two touchdowns despite a dominant second half. Can you imagine any of our Top 5 struggling to put away the Wildcats? Yet Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville's offense is one of the best in the country and they won't face much opposition.

Team High Low
Alabama 1 1
Oregon 2 4
Ohio State 2 4
Clemson 3 5
Stanford 3 8
LSU 5 9
Louisville 4 12
Florida State 6 11
Georgia 7 12
Texas A&M 7
Oklahoma State 10
South Carolina 11

Voters: Christopher Smith, David Seigerman, Joe Coughlin, Joe Jenkins, John Jackson, Dan Harralson, Ken Pomponio, Matt Natali, Jon Coffey, Veair Green, Budd McLaughlin, Bill Gelman, Chris Stephens, Henry McKenna and Eric Russell.

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