College Football Polls 2012: Week 5 AP and Coaches Poll Analysis

Zach DirlamSenior Analyst IISeptember 23, 2012

College Football Polls 2012: Week 5 AP and Coaches Poll Analysis

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    With multiple Top-25 matchups in Week 4 of the college football season, the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls were inevitably going to shift on Sunday afternoon.

    Did the Oregon Ducks supplant the Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 1 after pummeling the Arizona Wildcats at home? Where did Florida State wind up after their impressive offensive performance against the Clemson Tigers? Can Oregon State finally get some love after shutting down the UCLA Bruins rushing attack?

    All of those questions and more will be answered in this slide show!

Who's in and Who's out at the Back of the Top 25?

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    There were four new teams in the coaches poll this week and the AP poll added three new members to its ranks. 

    The Michigan Wolverines, UCLA Bruins and Arizona Wildcats all fell out of the national rankings this week after losing in very different fashions on Saturday. Still, whether a team at the back end of the poll is blown out or plays a close game, it usually cannot avoid tumbling out of the rankings for a week. 

    The Virginia Tech Hokies are back in the coaches poll at No. 25 after bouncing back from their loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers last week with a 37-0 rout of the Bowling Green State Falcons, however Frank Beamer's squad is still trying to climb back into the AP poll. 

    The undefeated Rutgers Scarlet Knights made their Top-25 debut this season by tying for the No. 25 spot with the Hokies in the coaches poll and jumping ahead of the Boise State Broncos to take the No. 23 spot in the AP poll. 

    The Baylor Bears avoided being upset by the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks over the weekend to take over the No. 25 spot in the AP poll and were three points ahead of Rutgers and Virginia Tech in the coaches poll. 

    Finally, the Oregon State Beavers climbed into the Top 25 this week.

Nos. 20-16 Breakdown

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    The Clemson Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners both suffered losses to nationally ranked foes and fell to No. 16 in the major polls. The Sooners are the No. 16 team in the AP poll, with Clemson right behind at No. 17. The Tigers fill the No. 16 spot in the coaches poll. 

    One of the most surprising teams this season has been the Oregon State Beavers, who break into the AP poll for the first time this season at No. 18 and are ranked No. 21 in the coaches poll after a 2-0 start. 

    The Beavers topped the nationally ranked Wisconsin Badgers in their season opener two weeks ago and followed that up with a 27-20 upset victory on the road against the UCLA Bruins in Week 4.

    Oregon State's defense held the nation's leading rusher, Johnathan Franklin, to 56 total yards on 13 touches. 

    The Louisville Cardinals are the most highly ranked team from the Big East Conference at No. 17 in the coaches poll and No. 19 in the AP poll, which is a one-spot improvement from last week's rankings.  

    The bump is only because of losses by teams at the back end of the Top 25 over the weekend; the Cardinals were not impressive in their 28-21 victory over the 1-3 Florida International Golden Panthers. 

    The Michigan State Spartans were another team that won ugly against a weak opponent and still managed to move up in the polls. The Spartans offense struggled all Saturday afternoon in their 23-7 win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles and a clearly frustrated Mark Dantonio was not exactly friendly with the media in his post-game press conference (video courtesy of YouTube.com). 

    Michigan State came in at No. 20 in the AP poll—up one spot from No. 21 last week—and were ranked one spot ahead of the Mississippi State Bulldogs at No. 18 in the coaches poll. 

    Speaking of the Bulldogs, head coach Dan Mullen and company scored a 30-10 victory over the South Alabama Jaguars and moved up to No. 19 in the coaches poll and No. 21 in the AP poll. 

    Rounding out the Top 20 in the coaches poll are the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who blew the doors off of the Idaho State Bengals 73-7. The Cornhuskers moved up from No. 25 to No. 22 in the AP poll, as the voters were left with no other quality teams at the back end of the Top 25 due to the losses suffered by the teams mentioned previously.

Nos. 15-11 Analysis

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    Coming in at No. 11 in the AP poll for Week 5 are the Florida Gators, who shut out the Kentucky Wildcats 38-0 on Saturday. The Gators were ranked No. 14 in both polls last week and moved up to No. 12 in the coaches poll. 

    The USC Trojans bounced back from last week's loss to Stanford with a 27-9 rout of the California Golden Bears, which did not help them move up in the AP poll and only bumped them up one spot in the coaches poll.  

    Heisman-trophy candidate Matt Barkley and the Trojans are ranked No. 13 in both major polls, which is a fair ranking, given their struggles in Week 3 and victory over a mediocre opponent in Week 4. 

    The Ohio State Buckeyes were far from impressive against the UAB Blazers on either side of the football, but the losses by other ranked teams helped Urban Meyer and his crew move up two spots to No. 14 in the AP poll on Sunday. 

    The Buckeyes are not eligible for the coaches poll, which allowed the TCU Horned Frogs to occupy the No. 14 spot this week after their victory over the Virginia Cavaliers. Quarterback Casey Pachall is among the nation's leaders in quarterback efficiency and has the Horned Frogs looking like a contender in the new-look Big 12 Conference. 

    The Horned Frogs moved up to No. 15 in the AP poll, which may be a few spots too low. TCU will have plenty of opportunities to prove itself against opponents in the Big 12 and move up in the rankings soon enough, though.

Examining the Bottom Half of the Top 10

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    Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks were bumped up to No. 6 in both polls after their 31-10 rout of SEC newcomer Missouri. The Wildcats are nipping at their heels in the AP poll. 

    Collin Klein and Kansas State took advantage of Oklahoma's miscues to secure a 24-19 victory on the road against the Sooners. The Wildcats moved up five spots to No. 8 in the coaches poll and jumped from No. 15 to No. 7 in the AP poll. 

    Voters recognized the Wildcats are a legitimate contender after frustrating Oklahoma's offense all night. They gave Kansas State plenty of credit for defeating a Top 10 opponent on the road.

    The voters also realized the Sooners were overrated to start the season and pushed the Sooners back ten spots in each poll. Oklahoma is now ranked No. 16 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the coaches poll. 

    Rounding out the Top 10 in the polls are the West Virginia Mountaineers, Stanford Cardinals, Texas Longhorns and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. 

    West Virginia remained at No. 7 in the coaches poll; however, the AP voters were rightfully disappointed with the Mountaineers' inconsistency in their 31-21 victory over the Maryland Terrapins, who are a mediocre ACC team this season. As a result, the Mountaineers slid back to No. 9 this week. 

    The Stanford Cardinals were one of the biggest winners of this week's polls. David Shaw's club moved ahead of the Mountaineers in the AP poll and were bumped up two spots to No. 9 in the coaches poll. 

    The Notre Dame Fighting Irish took advantage of six turnovers by the Michigan Wolverines and only allowed six points in their sloppy win under the lights of Notre Dame Stadium.  

    There appears to be a dispute between the AP and coaches-poll voters as to whether or not the Fighting Irish were impressive enough defensively to move into the Top 10. Notre Dame climbed four places to No. 11 in the coaches poll, and the AP voters have the Fighting Irish at No. 10 this week. 

    Obviously, the voters believe Notre Dame's defense is for real this season, but the difference in the two polls is likely due to the Fighting Irish's offensive ineptitude on offense against a defense that has struggled to contain the run in their first four games. 

    The Texas Longhorns were idle in Week 4 and remained at No. 12 in the AP poll and No. 10 in the coaches poll.

Breaking Down the Top Five

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    The Alabama Crimson Tide remained the nearly unanimous No. 1 in both Week 5 polls as a result of their dominating 40-7 victory over the Florida Atlantic Owls.  

    The pollsters clearly believe A.J. McCarron's development at the quarterback position, the Crimson Tide's impressive stable of running backs and the team's ferocious defense are all more than good enough to put them ahead of the Oregon Ducks, who moved up to No. 2 in this week's rankings after steamrolling the previously ranked Arizona Wildcats 49-0. 

    Although the Ducks improved to 4-0 and allowed the Wildcats to gain only 332 yards on offense (well below the 605 yards Arizona averaged through their first three games), the voters simply do not yet believe Oregon could slow down the Crimson Tide's offense or have success against Alabama's defense. 

    This year's Oregon team may be much different than the 2010 Ducks that were shut down by the Auburn Tigers in the 2011 BCS National Championship game. However, their recent struggles against the SEC are likely lingering in the minds of the voters. 

    The only other team to receive a first-place vote in this week's AP poll were the LSU Tigers, who came in just 10 points behind the Ducks. 

    The Tigers held the No. 2 spot in both polls last week, but after an underwhelming 12-10 victory over the struggling Auburn Tigers, and after LSU's defeat by Oregon, fans had to know LSU would drop back this week. 

    Meanwhile, the Florida State Seminoles did not fail to impress in their 49-37 shootout win over the Clemson Tigers in the only game of the week to feature two Top 10 teams. 

    Senior quarterback E.J. Manuel turned in a performance for the ages against a Clemson defense that has a lot of work to do before the Tigers can contend for a national championship. Manuel threw for 380 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 102 rushing yards on 12 carries. 

    Seminoles running backs Chris Thompson and James Wilder Jr. were unstoppable as well. The two combined for 256 total yards and four touchdowns.  

    As a result, the Seminoles held the No. 4 spot in both polls for the second straight week. Clemson fell seven spots to No. 16 in the coaches poll and No. 17 in the AP poll. 

    The Georgia Bulldogs come in at No. 5 in the AP poll for the second week in a row, and they have moved up one spot for an equivalent ranking in the coaches poll. The Bulldogs topped the Vanderbilt Commodores 48-3, and were helped by the Oklahoma Sooners loss to the Kansas State Wildcats.