NCAA Football Rankings 2013: Hits and Misses from Week 2 Polls

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2013

NCAA Football Rankings 2013: Hits and Misses from Week 2 Polls

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    With every Week 1 game officially behind us, the Week 2 Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls were quickly compiled and released on Tuesday afternoon.

    Alabama, even after a not-quite-dominant win over Virginia Tech, still graced the top spot in both rankings—but behind it, teams were jockeying for position throughout. 

    Only two teams dropped out of both polls: No. 19 Boise State and No. 25 Oregon State. The Broncos lost in blowout fashion (38-6) at Washington, while the Beavers dropped a home game to FCS powerhouse Eastern Washington.

    Those were some of the many smart maneuvers in the rankings, but just like always, this week's polls were also mitigated by some questionable calls.

Hit: Clemson Shoots Up the Polls

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    Clemson, fresh off a thrilling 38-35 win over then-No. 5 Georgia, shot up the polls to varying degrees in Week 2. The AP moved it from No. 8 to No. 4, while the coaches capped it at No. 5.

    It's nice to see some cohesion between the polls, even if it's not identical. No team above Clemson did anything to warrant dropping, but no team in the country did more to warrant ascension. That deserves to be recognized.

    Idle Stanford might well be the better and more complete team, but these rankings are a reflection of what a team has done this season. Clemson went out and made a booming statement, while the Cardinal stayed at home.

    The Tigers deserved to pass them in the AP poll, which they did, and are merely 17 points behind them in the coaches'.

Miss: Coaches Take It Easy on Nebraska

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    Nebraska's defense picked up right where it left off in Week 1, allowing 602 yards and 34 points to lowly Wyoming, and needing to stop a late-game two-minute-drill to clinch the victory at home.

    That's not what Husker Nation was hoping for, especially on the heels of last year's final two games, where the team surrendered 115 points to Georgia and Wisconsin.

    The AP got Nebraska's case right, moving it down from No. 18 to No. 22—about where it belongs after its woeful first impression. But the coaches poll moved it down just one spot to No. 19, ahead of conference-mate Northwestern, which went to a foreign timezone and beat an explosive Cal team in Berkeley.

    What kind of message does that send?

Hit: TCU Is Still Ranked

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    TCU was severely outplayed by LSU, even more than the 10-point final deficit indicates—which made it likely the then-No. 20 Horned Frogs would drop out of the poll.

    But alas, voters in both polls elected to keep TCU ranked, which was a much-deserved surprise. LSU looked like a legitimate national title contender on Saturday—seriously, when has a Les Miles-coached team ever looked that good on offense?—and TCU still managed to stay close for four quarters.

    They did it all without Devonte Fields, too, who was the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year as a true freshman in 2012. Jadeveon Clowney-lite will be back in the lineup going forward (he was suspended for the first game), and should help the Frogs defense do better down the line.

    It didn't win, but TCU showed enough to stay in the Top 25.

Miss: USC Is Still Ranked

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    On the other side of the coin, USC, which started at No. 24 in each poll, was also included in both Week 2 rankings—only this time, it was an oversight.

    The Trojans won 30-13 in Honolulu, but their performance left more than a lot to be desired. Hawaii was, perhaps, the worst team in FBS last season, but it led 5-3 through most of the second quarter and stifled USC's offense throughout.

    Lane Kiffin is still calling the plays in Los Angeles, and he continues to have little grasp on his quarterback situation. From the dominant defense to the bungling offense, what, exactly, is the difference between USC and Michigan State?

    With Baylor unranked in one poll and Miami unranked in the other—after both teams dominated inferior opponents in Week 1—it's hard to reconcile USC's ranking (especially after the coaches moved them up to No 22).

Hit: Ohio State Drops to No. 3 in AP

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    Ohio State didn't look bad, per se, against Buffalo, but it didn't look like the well-oiled machine its fans were expecting.

    Now in year two under Urban Meyer, the season opener was redolent of the first year. The Buckeyes got the win and were clearly the better team, but long stretches of dullness allowed an inferior opponent to hang around.

    If not for an illegal hands-to-the-face call in the third quarter, Buffalo would have recovered a strip sack on the Ohio State goal line. Had it punched in that touchdown, it would have trailed just 27-30 in Columbus. That's unacceptably close.

    Again, it wasn't a bad performance from OSU, but it wasn't the kind a No. 2 team should have. Moving down a spot in the AP will, hopefully, serve as a wake-up call to the Buckeyes.

Miss: Drew Sharp's AP Ballot

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    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and those credentialed to vote in the AP poll, ostensibly, have done something worthy to merit that inclusion. 

    But it's hard not to question Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free-Press, who ranked Boise State—the same Boise State that allowed 592 yards and lost by 32 points against Washington—at No. 23 on his Week 2 ballot.

    These rankings, in their idyllic form, are based wholly on how a team performs this season. Boise State's body of work this year, no matter whom or where or when it was playing, and no matter how small the sample, is that of an unranked team.

    And that's an understatement.

Hit: Bowling Green Gets (Some) Respect from AP

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    Nobody seemed to notice—which is kind of understandable—but Bowling Green notched one of the week's most impressive wins, dominating Tulsa, the reigning C-USA champion, by a score of 34-7.

    Unlike its conference peers, BGSU's version of #MACtion involves suffocating defense, led by star linebacker Gabe Martin and safety BooBoo Gates. The Eagles returned 19 starters this year from a team that went 8-5 and might make a surprise run in America's favorite non-BCS conference.

    They didn't threaten to crack either poll, but they did receive votes in each, including nine points from AP voters. Good for the media for paying attention to the little guy, as they placed Bowling Green ahead of power conference teams like Georgia Tech and Penn State.

Miss: Coaches Still Don't Rank LSU Top 10

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    The coaches began the season tepid on LSU's chances, ranking it No. 13 after losing most of its defensive front seven and bringing in Cam Cameron to run the offense.

    After the Tigers' thorough victory over TCU, they probably expected to hear a mea culpa from opposing coaches. Who among them would honestly want to play Les Miles' club? How could they possibly leave them out of the top 10?

    But that's exactly what they did, moving them up to just No. 11, still behind teams like Florida and Louisville, which played MAC opponents in Week 1.

    The coaches rewarded 0-1 TCU by keeping it in the Top 25, mostly because its assailant, LSU, was so good that losing was understandable.

    So why not any reciprocal love?