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K-State hangs onto top spot of UPS Performance Index with Texas Tech rout

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

By MIKE LIPKA

STATS Editor

(AP) -- Alabama is once again the unanimous No. 1 in the AP poll, but the defending national champions haven't quite caught up with Collin Klein and surprising Kansas State in the UPS Team Performance Index.

Coach Bill Snyder's Wildcats topped the efficiency ratings for the second straight week following another lopsided win over a ranked opponent, although the second-place Crimson Tide tightened their deficit after cruising to their 12th consecutive victory.

Oregon jumped five spots to No. 3 in the index, meaning the AP's top three teams also comprise the top three in the UPS ratings - albeit in a different order.

Using an advanced proprietary formula featuring offensive yards per play, defensive yards allowed per play, various special teams statistics and a microindex of miscues that rewards disciplined teams, UPS has teamed with STATS LLC to normalize those numbers across 120 FBS schools.

From there, balance is measured for all of a team's individual units, with the final index weighted toward excellence in those areas and overall winning percentage.

One week after surging to the top of the index with a 55-14 win at then-No. 17 West Virginia, Kansas State (8-0) stayed there following Saturday's 55-24 victory over 15th-ranked Texas Tech. Klein also maintained his course toward a possible Heisman Trophy, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and running for two more to give him a combined 28 TDs compared to only two turnovers this season.

The Wildcats rank so highly in large part because of Klein's ability to move the ball while taking great care of it, although strong special teams are also a major factor. In addition, they've been rewarded for impressive discipline: Their 29 penalties and four turnovers are both among the lowest totals in the FBS.

"I'm so proud of our guys because of the way they've handled things up to this point in time," Snyder said.

Kansas State is less than a full point ahead of Alabama in the UPS index - 136.5-135.6, with 100.0 being average - after leading by 2.2 last week. The Wildcats moved up one spot in the AP poll to No. 3 after Florida lost for the first time.

The Gators received one first-place vote last week, but Alabama currently has all 60 after dominating then-No. 13 Mississippi State 38-7. It's no secret that a consistently suffocating defense has powered the Tide, with the unit having allowed 14 points or fewer in every game while holding each opponent under 300 total yards.

Alabama (8-0) came within five minutes of its third shutout Saturday before allowing a late touchdown, and according to the index had the nation's third-best performance of Week 9.

"For all of the young players we have, if you would have told me that we would be in the position statistically and scoring defense-wise that we are in right now, I would have said, probably, no way," coach Nick Saban said. "These guys have really set out with an attitude that they want to prove something and we have had some guys that have really stepped up as playmakers."

The Tide face what should be their toughest remaining regular-season test this weekend when they visit AP No. 5 LSU. The Tigers (7-1) rank 11th in the index, with a defense that sits third (131.9) behind Florida State (136.3) and Alabama (135.8).

Last season, of course, LSU and Alabama met in the BCS title game - the Tide won 21-0 - and also finished in the top two spots in the index.

Oregon (8-0) is No. 2 in the AP poll, but the Ducks still have some work to do to break into that tier in both the BCS and UPS rankings. Coach Chip Kelly's team rose to third in the index after a 70-14 rout of Colorado, but is still hurt by having turned the ball over at least once in each game, and 17 times total.

The Ducks remained fourth in the BCS despite Florida's tumble, staying behind Alabama and Kansas State and now trailing Notre Dame (8-0).

The UPS rankings weren't as kind to the resurgent Fighting Irish, even after a 30-13 win at then-No. 8 Oklahoma on Saturday night. Notre Dame is ninth in the index, trailing five one-loss teams, including fourth-place Boise State, No. 5 Florida State and Mid-American Conference teams Northern Illinois and Ohio.

The Irish have been relying heavily on a stifling defense, hurting their balance and thus their overall team efficiency score. Notre Dame's offense is rated as barely above average by the index, and its special teams are well below average.

"We really don't care what other people think of us," coach Brian Kelly said.

Ineligible for the postseason, Ohio State (9-0) isn't involved in the BCS rankings, but the index may be a sign that the team wouldn't be doing as well there as its undefeated record might indicate. The Buckeyes rank 20th, the lowest of the six FBS unbeatens, having outgained opponents by an average of just 42.2 yards.

SMU was rated as the most efficient team of Week 9, dominating lowly Memphis 44-13.

Updated October 29, 2012

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