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October 31, 2006

Woodley takes over top spot

Rivals.com Power Rankings
Week 9 Video Highlights
The College Football Wire

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The biggest upset of the season caused a major shakeup in the Rivals.com College Football Power Rankings.

Sammie Stroughter's 70-yard punt return in a 33-31 victory over Southern California made the Oregon State wide receiver the No. 1 special teams player in the power rankings, which measure the nation's best players and coaches at each position.

Stroughter's big play marked the third time he has returned a punt for a touchdown this season. He also moved up to second in the nation in punt return average while supplanting Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. atop the Rivals.com power rankings.

That wasn't the only change atop our rankings.

Michigan defensive end LaMarr Woodley took over as the No. 1 defensive lineman after recording two sacks and forcing and recovering a fumble in the Wolverines' 17-3 victory over Northwestern.

Woodley has recorded two sacks in each of his last three games. That helped Woodley move ahead of Clemson's Gaines Adams, who fell from the top spot despite recording a sack for the seventh consecutive week in a 24-7 loss to Virginia Tech on Thursday.

That one-sided loss to Virginia Tech also caused Clemson's Rob Spence to tumble from the top of our offensive coordinator rankings. Tennessee's David Cutcliffe regained the No. 1 spot in that category after helping the Volunteers rally for a 31-24 victory over South Carolina.

Players or coaches maintaining their status as the best at their respective positions included Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Minnesota tight end Matt Spaeth, Mississippi linebacker Patrick Willis, California defensive back Daymeion Hughes, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Heacock.

Peterson remains atop the power rankings despite breaking his collarbone two weeks ago because of the possibility that he could return in time for a bowl game. Players who suffer season-ending injuries are automatically removed from consideration.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week depending on how they fared the previous Saturday, but the power rankings measure their overall careers as well as their most recent performances.

For example, Southern California wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett caught four passes for 63 yards in that loss to Oregon State. USC's Steve Smith collected 11 receptions for 258 yards and two touchdowns in that game.

Smith undoubtedly had a better game and climbed in our rankings, while Jarrett moved down a couple of spots. But we still feel Jarrett has the better track record after scoring a combined 29 touchdowns in 2004 and 2005, which explains why he remains ahead of Smith in our power rankings.

By the end of the season, our power rankings should provide an accurate indicator of which players and coaches were the best at their respective positions.

Click here to check out the complete rankings after Week 9.

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