Dropped Out: Michigan (#22).
I gave Ohio State a bounce not so much because they beat a good or healthy team on Saturday, but rather because their defense is outstanding and I'm always a sucker for teams that play great defense. Say hello to the pre-season #1 next year, assuming that the Bucks don't lose too many of their juniors. Gholston and Malcolm Jenkins seem to be the most likely departures and that might cause some concern on the defensive side of the ball, but the Buckeye defense has a Hydra thing going on right now and I hate it.
I also gave Arizona State a bounce because they are easily the quietest one-loss team from an excellent conference this year. The Pac Ten is vying with the Big XII for the #2 spot in the conference pecking order this year (I suppose the Big East is in the picture, as well) and Arizona State has run through the conference impressively with the only blemish at Oregon. Why exactly aren't the Sun Devils in the discussion for a shot at New Orleans?
I gave Oklahoma less of a hiding than I did Oregon in part because losing to Texas Tech is more respectable than losing to Arizona (suck it, Klinsi!) and in part because Sam Bradford will return this year, but Dennis Dixon won't. Oregon presents a real "Cincinnati without Kenyon Martin" problem. Their resume is very impressive, but they are dependent on Dennis Dixon and without him, they aren't a top ten team. I basically split the difference between their resume, which would have them at about #6, and their merit as a team without Dixon, which would have them in the mid-teens. Dixon's absence is going to illustrate that they never had a championship-caliber defense. Dixon's absence also illustrates a failing of the spread option: the quarterback is a little more likely to get knocked out when he gets hit a lot and quarterbacks who can properly run and throw as required by the offense are not easy to find, which means that there will often be a major drop-off to the back-up.
I'm probably being a little harsh on Kentucky for losing a competitive game at Georgia, but I'm getting the sense that their lack of depth is coming back to haunt them. The offense has really lost its mojo after the Florida game and the likely culprit is the fact that they can't replace injured starters in the same way that their conference rivals can. I've been selling the meme all year that the Cats would usher Phil Fulmer out of the ranks of the employed by passing the Vols silly, but now that everyone seems to be predicting a victory by the Cats, my suspicions have been raised. On the other hand, Tennessee has been the luckiest team west of Charlottesville this year and that has to end at some point, right? Here's a question for Georgia fans to ponder before Saturday: if a Tennessee victory is the difference between Phil Fulmer keeping or losing his job, is a Kentucky victory really worth a trip to the SEC Title Game? The answer is probably "yes," but it's not at all clear-cut.