Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis said it best Sunday when asked about the Fighting Irish's jump to No. 10 in the Associated Press poll: "If a real good team gets blown out by somebody, why are they still hanging around [in the poll]? I think that too many times rankings are based by reputation, not really by what happens."
He's exactly right, which is why if you consider the best teams strictly on this season's performance, only two teams can make strong cases for No. 1. Texas and Notre Dame are the only schools that defeated teams ranked in the top five on the road. The Irish appeared to possess the most impressive early-season resume by beating then-No. 23 Pittsburgh and then-No. 3 Michigan on the road. But the Panthers' overtime loss to Ohio weakened the quality of Notre Dame's victory.
Comparing Notre Dame's victory at the Big House to Texas's triumph at the Horseshoe is splitting hairs. However, no one had ever beaten Ohio State at night at Ohio Stadium. What's more, the countdown to the so-called Columbus Day began minutes after quarterback Vince Young rallied the Longhorns past Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State senior A.J. Hawk even said it was the most hyped home game since 2002, when the Buckeyes beat then-No. 10 Washington State.
One team that could push Texas and Notre Dame for the top spot will be Tennessee. If the Volunteers can solve their murky quarterback predicament and beat Florida and LSU on the road, how can they not be No. 1? Of course there is a program from Los Angeles that could find a way to the top of our poll, but we will wait until it faces a quality team, which will not be until Oct. 1 at Arizona State.