Overwhelming Oregon makes case for No. 2 in Top 25

Associated Press
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, right, avoids Arizona defender Sir Thomas Jackson as he looks for a receiver during the second half of their NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.   Mariota threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns as Oregon won 49-0.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
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Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, right, avoids Arizona defender Sir Thomas Jackson as he looks for …

Breaking down the AP college football poll after Week 4 of the regular season.

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MAKING A STATEMENT

Oregon was overwhelming and now the Ducks are No. 2 in the AP Top 25, jumping LSU to get in line behind No. 1 Alabama.

And No. 4 Florida State (1,340 points) is right behind the third-ranked Tigers (1,346).

A case could be made for all three as the second-best team in the country and the jockeying should continue for a while.

First, a quick recap: While LSU was slogging through a 12-10 victory at Auburn, Florida State was racing away from Clemson, 49-37 on Saturday night.

Oregon was last up and Ducks were at their breath-taking best against Arizona, beating the Wildcats 49-0 at Autzen Stadium. The Wildcats came into the game unbeaten and ranked No. 22.

The voters in the media poll were swayed. Oregon received 1,414 points.

Less than a month into the season, voters are still trying to sort through bits and pieces of evidence when determining the best teams. While most have played four games, some three, none have played that many truly meaningful games.

Oregon has outscored its opponents 211-73 but hasn't played a road game. LSU had been just as dominant at home before going to Auburn (1-3). LSU did play a Pac-12 team at home and beat Washington 41-3. How much better is Arizona than Washington? Fair question.

As for Florida State, the Seminoles also have yet to play outside their home stadium, and started the season with two games against FCS teams, including the sadly overmatched Savannah State.

So where is this going?

The Ducks finally hit the road this week, playing at Washington State on Saturday. The arrival of Mike Leach has folks pumped on the Palouse, but the Cougars just lost to previously winless Colorado. After that Oregon has Washington at home before a week off.

Florida State also has to pack its bags for the first time this week. The Seminoles play at South Florida, before getting back into the Atlantic Coast Conference with a road trip to North Carolina State.

LSU is back at home next week to face Towson, which should be a lot like Florida State playing Savannah State, before going to Florida. Beat the unbeaten Gators and the Tigers could easily get back whatever they have lost.

Conclusion: Lots still be learned.

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MOVING UP

Bill Snyder is up to big things again in the Little Apple. No. 7 Kansas State moved up eight spots after beating Oklahoma 24-19 in Norman on Saturday night.

The architect of the Miracle in Manhattan has a top-10 team for the first time since September 2003, led by tough-running quarterback Collin Klein.

As always, there were plenty of people skeptical about the Wildcats coming into this season. They won 10 games in 2011, but eight came by a touchdown or less. Were they lucky or good.

Well, they've been awfully good again. Snyder has become a master at hiding his team's deficiencies. Klein and John Hubert give the Wildcats a powerful running game, and their deliberate pace helps keep a defense that has trouble defending the pass off the field.

Whether anybody else believes in K-State hardly matters. The Wildcats believe in themselves and their 72-year-old head coach.

"All wins are important, and when you play somebody as good as Oklahoma it means something special. But it's not like our players have never been there before. They had confidence going into the ballgame," Snyder said.

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MOVING DOWN

While Snyder and the Wildcats celebrated, Bob Stoops and the Sooners were sent tumbling in the rankings, and left to explain another home loss.

"The players' attitude has been good," Stoops said. "There's no excuses about it. We have to do a better job as coaches to polish things and get things to be sharper and more precise."

Oklahoma went from No. 6 to No. 16 after falling to Kansas State at Owen Field, a place where the Sooners are 78-4 under Stoops, but have now lost games the past two seasons when they were ranked in the top 10.

Many Sooners fans are restless. The critics say Stoops, now in his 14th season in Norman, has become complacent. The record suggests otherwise. But the Sooners haven't won a national title since 2000, and don't stand above most of the Big 12 the way they used to.

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IN AND OUT

No. 18 Oregon State, Rutgers and Baylor made their first appearances of the season in the Top 25 after winning on the road Saturday.

Oregon State went into UCLA and knocked off the Bruins 27-20 behind Sean Mannion's career-high 379 yards and two touchdowns. The loss dropped UCLA out of the rankings, somewhat surprisingly. The Bruins offense is in good hands with redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley. Their defense needs work.

It's been a terrific and odd start to the season for the Beavers. Their first game with Nicholls State was postponed. They beat Wisconsin the next week in Corvallis, Ore., then had another week off. But the 2-0 start is huge for longtime coach Mike Riley, who is coming off consecutive losing seasons.

Along with UCLA, Michigan and Arizona exited the poll.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Another first for the SEC. The best football conference in the country became the first to have four of the top six teams in the AP rankings with No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 LSU, No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 South Carolina.

Six times previously one conference has had four of the top seven teams in the AP poll. The last time was 2009 when the SEC did it. In 2008, the Big 12 did it twice. Before that the Big Ten did it for a week in 1960 and twice in 1942.

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ODDS AND ENDS

No. 10 Notre Dame is in the top 10 for the first time since 2006. Florida State has its best ranking since October 2005 and South Carolina checks in with its best ranking since 2006. ... A big game in the Big Ten seems like an oxymoron considering the uninspiring way the season has started for its teams. Conference play starts next week and No. 14 Ohio State hosts No. 20 Michigan State, with both teams coming off victories that had their coaches griping more than celebrating. ... The other game matching ranked teams next week is in Morgantown, W.Va., where No. 9 West Virginia plays Baylor in game could test the scoreboard keeper at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Bears are averaging 51 points, the Mountaineers 47.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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