No. 1 Alabama struggled, No. 2 Texas Tech romped, and sportswriters voted to tighten the gap between the two teams to just 30 points this week. The biggest change in the Top 25 occurred when Penn State lost a nail-biter to Iowa, dropping out of the third slot and any further discussion as a national title contender. There’s still a lot of flux at the bottom of the rankings as the teams occupying the No. 22-25 slots were not ranked last week.

1. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (10-0). The Crimson Tide conquered LSU in overtime and earned the West Division berth in the SEC title game on Dec. 7. They need to be aware of Mississippi State this weekend. They are unpredictable.
2. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (10-0). OK, I’m willing to accept the Red Raiders are for real now after they completely dismantled a very good Oklahoma State team, 56-20. They have a bye this week and then face Oklahoma on the road Nov. 22.
3. FLORIDA GATORS (8-1). The Gators knocked of Vandy, 42-14, and welcome back former coach Steve Spurrier and his No. 24-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks to The Swamp this weekend.
4. TEXAS LONGHORNS (9-1). Texas handled conference foe Baylor, 45-21, and the remainder of the season looks very manageable now that Kansas is on a major downswing. The Longhorns will face the Jayhawks on the road this Saturday.
5. OKLAHOMA SOONERS (9-1). The Sooners completely demolished Texas A&M on Saturday, 66-28. They’ll gladly use a bye this week to prepare for their shootout with Texas Tech on Nov. 22.
6. USC TROJANS (8-1). The Trojans continue to excel on defense and under-perform on offense as evidenced by an uneven 17-3 home win over Cal on Saturday night. They head to Palo Alto this weekend to avenge last year’s monumental upset loss to Stanford.
7. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (9-1). Penn State failed to get the job done in Iowa City against the Hawkeyes, losing 24-23 on a last-second field goal. Still, if they handle Indiana this week and Michigan State on Nov. 22, they can punch their ticket to Pasadena and the 2009 Rose Bowl Game.
8. UTAH UTES (10-0). The Utes survived ranked conference rival TCU last Thursday night, 13-10, leaving them two wins short of a return visit to a January bowl game. Utah travels to San Diego this Saturday to take on the Aztecs.
9. BOISE STATE BRONCOS (9-0). The Broncos took care of 2-8 Utah State on their puke blue smurf turf last Saturday and this week head across the state to take on 2-8 Idaho. While BSU has the easiest schedule of all the ranked teams, you have to admire that the Broncos never slip up against the weaker teams like USC did against Stanford last year or Florida did against Ole Miss this season.
10. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (8-2). The Buckeyes knocked off a tough Northwestern team on the road last week (45-10) and are eager to avenge last year’s home loss to Illinois this week in Champaign-Urbana.
11. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (8-2). The Cowboys ran into the Red Raider buzz-saw in Lubbock on Saturday night, losing 56-20. They hit the road again this week to take on Colorado in Boulder.
12. MISSOURI TIGERS (8-2). Mizzou got back on track with a decisive 41-24 victory over Kansas State and will continue mowing through the bottom of the Big XII this weekend as they travel to Ames to take on Iowa State.
13. GEORGIA BULLDOGS (8-2). Georgia survived a tenacious Kentucky Wildcat squad on the road last weekend, 42-38. Instate rival Auburn stands in the Dawgs’ way of a last-ditch attempt to earn a BCS bowl invitation this Saturday.
14. BALL STATE CARDINALS (9-0). The Cardinals get one last breather this Tuesday night against a MAC bottom feeder (Miami of Ohio) before the two toughest games of their conference schedule threaten their improbable run at a January bowl game.
15. TEXAS CHRISTIAN HORNED FROGS (9-2). The Frogs beat themselves more than Utah did last Thursday night, missing two chip-shot field goals en route to a bitter 13-10 defeat. Now, amid rumors that coach Gary Patterson is leaving for a better-paying BCS head coaching gig, TCU will need to regroup during its bye week and get ready to take on a very gritty Air Force Academy team on Nov. 22.
16. BYU COUGARS (9-1). Brigham Young easily handled San Diego State on Saturday, 41-12, breaking a school record with its 18th straight victory at home. The Cougars will try to stay in the MWC title picture when they take on the Air Force Falcons in Colorado Springs this weekend.
17. NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (7-2). The Tar Heels soundly defeated a strong Georgia Tech team at Chapel Hill on Saturday, 28-7. Another ACC roadblock faces them this weekend when they take on the Terrapins at College Park, Md.
18. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (9-2). The Spartans officially pushed Purdue off the ledge and out of bowl contention with a 21-7 victory last weekend. They have this week off to prep for their most important battle of the season at Penn State on Nov. 22.
19. LSU TIGERS (6-3). The Tigers lost an overtime heartbreaker to rival Alabama, effectively ending their SEC title hopes and a chance of playing in a BCS bowl game this season. Another Alabama school (Troy) visits Baton Rouge this weekend.
20. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (7-2). The Seminoles smacked down Clemson last weekend, 41-27, and welcome Boston College to Tallahassee on Saturday for a key ACC contest.
21. PITTSBURGH PANTHERS (7-2). Pitt dominated Louisville on Saturday, 41-7, and staked its claim to a share of first place in the Big East title race. Only problem is that they’ll have to get through Cincinnati on the road Nov. 22 to remain on top. They get a bye this week.
22. CINCINNATI BEARCATS (7-2). The Bearcats squeaked by West Virginia in overtime, 26-23, setting them up for a huge Big East battle with Pitt on Nov. 22. They’ll take a slight detour thru Louisville this Friday (Nov. 14) before worrying about the Panthers.
23. OREGON STATE BEAVERS (6-3). The Beavers laid the UCLA Bruins to rest for the bowl season with a workmanlike 34-6 victory on Saturday. The Cal Bears invade Corvallis this weekend in Pac-10 action.
24. SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (7-3). The Gamecocks took care of business with Arkansas on Saturday, knocking off the Razorbacks, 34-21. Can they deliver head coach Steve Spurrier an upset win against Florida this weekend? Don’t bet on it.
25. TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE (8-1). Tulsa had the week off to nurse wounds from its loss to Arkansas last week. They return to C-USA action this Saturday on the road at Houston.