Twenty-six teams are undefeated as October dawns, including a preposterous eight teams from the Big 12. Regardless of which of the four polls one prefers, even the new Master Coaches Survey, there appears a consensus about the top five teams. Put them in any order you wish, but no one has done more this season than Texas, Southern California, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Florida.

Each has at least one marquee victory on its resume, unlike a team such as unbeaten Texas Tech, which continues to slap around poor Division I-AA teams. As many as four of the five could finish the regular season unbeaten. Florida State and Florida have the toughest roads. The Seminoles visit the Gators on Nov. 26 and then likely will need to beat Virginia Tech a week later in the inaugural ACC title game. It's far too early to talk undefeated with Florida, considering its adverse schedule.

We'll keep Texas ahead of Southern California, albeit barely. The Longhorns' victory at Ohio State on Sept. 10 still stands as the benchmark for a quality victory this year. But the Trojans' mastery at Oregon after falling behind 13-0 in the first half was surprising, even considering the allotment of offensive weapons Coach Pete Carroll has at his disposal. Should USC toy with Arizona State in a similar fashion, it will make next week's argument easy.

Virginia Tech also has offered a compelling case as the nation's best team based strictly on performance. The Hokies have outscored their last three opponents -- Duke, Ohio University and Georgia Tech -- by a combined score of 141-7.