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October 25, 2011

Power rankings: Smarts, not luck, lift Luck

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
Coaches Power Rankings: Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator

A look at the box score might give you the idea that Stanford hardly needed Andrew Luck to breeze past Washington last week.

Chalk that up as one more example of how stats can be deceiving.

Luck had season-lows in attempts (21) and passing yards (169) Saturday because Stanford rushed for 446 yards in its 65-21 blowout of Washington, but he still was one of the dominant performers on the field. Only in this case, he led with his mind rather than his arm.

"Andrew's the coach on the field," Stanford coach David Shaw told reporters after the game. "That phrase gets completely overused, but Andrew's the truth of it. On every single play, he can audible to a fourth or fifth play. He has it all at his fingertips, and every single play today he got us to the right play."

[BCS analysis: Upsets shake up Top 10]

The presumed No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Luck has thrown for 1,888 yards and 20 touchdowns with only three interceptions while leading Stanford to a 7-0 start. His consistency has helped make him the new No. 1 quarterback in the Rivals.com College Football Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

Luck took over the top spot from Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, who threw for 223 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 37-31 loss to Michigan State.

While Luck moved to the top of the power rankings, Stanford teammate Coby Fleener lost his status as the nation's No. 1 tight end. Clemson's Dwayne Allen moved ahead of Fleener after catching six passes for 51 yards and a touchdown in a 59-38 rout of North Carolina. Fleener's lone catch against Washington resulted in a 1-yard touchdown.

[Game tickets: Watch your favorite team in action]

Allen has 33 receptions for 432 yards and five touchdowns this season. Fleener has 17 receptions for 384 yards and seven touchdowns.

In the other change atop the power rankings, Oklahoma State kicker/punter Quinn Sharp fell from the No. 1 spot in the special teams category after missing a 34-yard field goal Saturday in a 45-24 victory over Missouri. The new No. 1 special teams player is Texas kick returner Fozzy Whittaker, whose team was off last week.

Whittaker is the nation's leading kickoff returner with an average of 46.5 yards per attempt. He has scored on kickoff returns in each of his past two games.

Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles, Boise State offensive tackle Nate Potter, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, Alabama coach Nick Saban, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris and LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis remained atop their respective positions.

The rankings put a special emphasis on recent performances while also taking career achievements into consideration. Our coordinator rankings exclude coordinators who don't call their own plays or signals.

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST
Coaches Power Rankings: Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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