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September 13, 2011

Power Rankings: Fleener has luck on his side

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

When Andrew Luck is passing to you every week, you're bound to get plenty of scoring opportunities.

Give credit to Stanford tight end Coby Fleener for making the most of the situation.

Fleener continued his recent hot streak -- and his mastery of ACC foes -- by catching two touchdown passes Saturday in a 44-14 rout of Duke. Fleener has caught six touchdown passes in his past three games, a stretch that began when he reached the end zone three times during last season's Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.

Five of those six touchdown catches came from Luck, who remains the top quarterback in our rankings. Luck went 20-of-28 for 290 yards with four TDs against Duke, though he also threw an interception that was returned for a score.

"I guess you could say Andrew makes a lot of hard throws look easy," Fleener told reporters after the game.

Fleener opened the scoring with a 3-yard catch in the first quarter and added a 60-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. He took over the top spot in the tight end rankings from Georgia's Orson Charles, who didn't catch a pass in the Bulldogs' 45-42 loss to South Carolina.

That wasn't the only change atop the power rankings.

Alabama's Mark Barron moved to the top of the defensive back rankings after making seven tackles, picking off a pass and recovering a fumble Saturday in a 27-11 victory over Penn State. Barron, a strong safety, wrested the No. 1 spot from Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley, who had three tackles and a pass breakup in a 17-10 win vs. East Carolina.

West Virginia's Tavon Austin took over as the nation's No. 1 special teams performer after delivering a 64-yard punt return in a 55-12 victory over Norfolk State. One week earlier, Austin had scored on a 100-yard kickoff return in a 34-13 triumph over Marshall.

Austin leads the nation in kickoff-return average (48.0) and ranks fourth in punt-return average (22.0). He took over the top spot in the special teams rankings from Arkansas' Joe Adams, whose only punt return in a 52-3 rout of New Mexico last week netted minus-1 yard.

Although his team was off, Boise State's Billy Winn still moved up from the second spot to the top of the defensive line rankings. Winn moved ahead of Nebraska's Jared Crick, who recorded three assists Saturday in a 42-29 victory over Fresno State. Nebraska won despite allowing 190 rushing yards on 40 carries.

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, Boise State offensive tackle Nate Potter, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, Alabama coach Nick Saban, Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster remained atop their respective positions.

The rankings put a special emphasis on recent performances while also taking career achievements into consideration. Our 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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