There are numerous variables at play, chief among them who a team has beaten and where. But while we have a "what have you done for me lately?" mindset, we consider the rankings a snapshot of the whole season, not just one week; that's why - at times - teams are ranked below a team they may have beaten.
We update these every Tuesday at 1:20 p.m. Eastern time, so if your team isn't where you think it should be, check back in a week.
On to the rankings:
Mike Huguenin's Rivals 120
1. LSU (11-0) BUZZ: The defense has been dominant, but you can be sure the Tigers know that Arkansas has beaten them in three of the past four seasons behind its passing attack.
NEXT GAME: Friday vs. Arkansas
2. Alabama (10-1) BUZZ: Last season, Alabama almost ruined Auburn's hopes of playing for the national title. Can the Tigers spoil the Tide's hopes this season?
NEXT GAME: Saturday at Auburn
3. Arkansas (10-1) BUZZ: Arkansas fell way short when it played top-ranked Alabama in September. Now the Hogs get a shot at top-ranked LSU.
NEXT GAME: Friday at LSU
4. Stanford (10-1) BUZZ: As long as the Cardinal beat the Irish on Saturday, it almost certainly will be in a BCS game.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Notre Dame
5. Virginia Tech (10-1) BUZZ: Just call the Hokies the "stealth team." Quietly, they have won six in a row and find themselves on the periphery of the national title discussion.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at Virginia
6. Oklahoma State (10-1) BUZZ: A potential dream season ended in the cold of Ames, Iowa. Or did it? Some help this weekend and a victory over the Sooners next weekend could put the Cowboys in the national title game.
NEXT GAME: Dec. 3 vs. Oklahoma
7. USC (9-2) BUZZ: The Trojans have won six of their past seven, and a case can be made that - right now - they are the best team in the Pac-12. They won at Oregon last week, and the only loss since Sept. 24 is a three-overtime setback to Stanford.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. UCLA
8. Oregon (9-2) BUZZ: The Ducks had trouble getting started on offense against USC. And the defense plain had trouble, period. Still, a Rose Bowl bid beckons.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Oregon State
9. Oklahoma (8-2) BUZZ: This is the seventh season in a row the Sooners have lost at least two games, and Saturday's loss was the second time this season their secondary got absolutely toasted.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Iowa State
10. Michigan State (9-2) BUZZ: The Spartans have locked up the Big Ten Legends Division title, but they sure don't want to go into the Big Ten title game off a loss.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at Northwestern
11. Wisconsin (9-2) BUZZ: The Badgers welcome in Penn State with the Big Ten Leaders Division title on the line. A victory means another shot at Michigan State, in the league's championship game.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Penn State
12. Houston (11-0) BUZZ: The Cougars' schedule was back-loaded. They got past SMU last week but face their toughest test this week.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at Tulsa
13. South Carolina (9-2) BUZZ: The Gamecocks are going for just the second 10-win season in school history when their in-state rivals come calling this weekend.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Clemson
14. Boise State (9-1) BUZZ: Man, given the results from this past weekend, you have to figure that the Broncos are … um … kicking themselves for losing to TCU.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Wyoming
15. Clemson (9-2) BUZZ: Losing to N.C. State is one thing. Getting blown out by N.C. State is another.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at South Carolina
16. Penn State (9-2) BUZZ: The Nittany Lions take the Big Ten Leaders Division title with a victory in Madison.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at Wisconsin
17. Kansas State (9-2) BUZZ: K-State is seeking its first 10-win season since 2003. The Wildcats also have a chance at a BCS at-large bid if Houston loses a game.
NEXT GAME: Dec. 3 vs. Iowa State
18. TCU (9-2) BUZZ: The Horned Frogs are looking good for their fourth consecutive 10-win season and their sixth in seven seasons.
NEXT GAME: Dec. 3 vs. UNLV
19. Michigan (9-2) BUZZ: The Big House should be rocking Saturday. The Wolverines have a chance to play their way into BCS at-large contention and step on their archrival in the process.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Ohio State
20. Georgia (9-2) BUZZ: The Bulldogs have won nine in a row, and a victory over their in-state rival would mean the seventh 10-win season in coach Mark Richt's 11-year tenure.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at Georgia Tech
21. Notre Dame (8-3) BUZZ: An upset of Stanford keeps alive the hopes for a 10-win season, which would be just the Irish's third since 1993.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at Stanford
22. Baylor (7-3) BUZZ: QB Robert Griffin is the single most exciting player in college football. Without him, the Bears would be 4-6 at best.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Texas Tech in Arlington, Texas
23. Nebraska (8-3) BUZZ: The Huskers got mashed by Michigan last week. Their hopes for a Jan. 1 bowl rest on beating Iowa.
NEXT GAME: Friday vs. Iowa
24. Virginia (8-3) BUZZ: Coach Mike London has done a remarkable job in turning the Cavs around quickly. Heck, a win Saturday and he has them in the ACC title game for the first time.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Virginia Tech
25. Georgia Tech (8-3) BUZZ: Tech's triple option will test Georgia's rush defense, which is second in the nation. Tech has lost nine of its past 10 to the Bulldogs.
NEXT GAME: Saturday vs. Georgia