THE TIMES' RANKINGS

Rankings by Chris Dufresne (2000 record in parentheses):

1. OREGON (10-2)--Bellotti: "Some people say we were nuts to turn down USC, Dennis."

2. OREGON STATE (11-1)--"Not now, Mike, the witch doctor just arrived to stomp on that SI cover."

3. TEXAS (9-3)--Rankman's No. 1 last season returns with hook 'em horns a plenty.

4. OKLAHOMA (13-0)--What if we said last season was actually a rebuilding year?

5. MIAMI (11-1)--Head coaching experience for Happy Valley opener: Joe Paterno (415 games), Larry Coker (0).

6. FLORIDA (10-3)--Can't wait to watch Coach Gator work his quarterbacks this year.

7. NEBRASKA (10-2)--39 consecutive winning seasons and four players arrested since June.

8. FLORIDA STATE (11-2)--Bowden may not be able to "dad-gum" his way out of this receiver-thin predicament.

9. VIRGINIA TECH (11-1)--To be safe, Hokies inquire about farm house rentals near Rose Bowl.

10. TENNESSEE (8-4)--Volunteers look well rested coming off their bye season.

11. GEORGIA TECH (9-3)--Victory against Florida State could expunge horrid memories of Atlanta Olympics.

12. UCLA (6-6)--Recovered 1998 Internet spy report suggests Bruins may have to outscore Miami.

13. KANSAS STATE (11-3)--Schedule might be too difficult to make a national title run.

14. WASHINGTON (11-1)--School rejected Rankman's media cover headline proposal: Blond Ambition.

15. NOTRE DAME (9-3)--School awards ABC's Sean McDonough honorary degree for "Fiesta Bowl face saving."

16. MICHIGAN (9-3)--Those Damn Yankees may have cost us the Big Ten title.

17. LOUISIANA STATE (8-4)--Season could be more thrilling than Billy Cannon's punt return.

18. CLEMSON (9-3)--Tommy delivers two wideouts to Daddy as part of Bowden "lend lease" program.

19. MISSISSIPPI STATE (8-4)--Not sure team can recover from loss of Pork Chop Womack.

20. NORTHWESTERN (8-4)--Won't be surprised if traumatic summer carries over to season.

21. SOUTH CAROLINA (8-4)--Let it be known that USC does not wish to be referred to as "Southern Car."

22. NEVADA LAS VEGAS (7-5)--School hires an athletic director Robinson can get along with.

23. USC (5-7)--Coaches read freshmen kids the nursery rhyme: How Now Norm Chow.

24. ALABAMA (3-8)--Program requests blindfold and cigarette before taking NCAA bullet.

25. WISCONSIN (9-4)--Sadly for Badgers, the Big "Ten" this year is the number of returning starters.

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