College Football Polls 2013 Week 7: 5 Who Should Be In, 5 Who Should Be Out
As we inch closer to the halfway point in the 2013 college football season, it becomes easier to distinguish the contenders from the pretenders.
But while the Top 10 remains relatively intact, several teams seem to enjoy toeing the line between being ranked and unranked each week.
Regardless of how we saw teams last Sunday, however, Saturday gave us another chance to see what everybody is made of, and it's time once again to decide who belongs in the polls and who gets the boot for Week 7.
In: Missouri Tigers
The nation continues to do its best to figure out the pecking order in the SEC, and Missouri continues to go about its business, piling up win after win.
You can certainly make the argument that the Tigers have yet to play a quality opponent, and that's mostly true.
But quarterback James Franklin and his guys just posted a 23-point victory at Vanderbilt, which is more than a team like South Carolina can say.
Gary Pinkel's team is undefeated, but the real test begins next Saturday with a visit to Georgia. That will be followed by home games against Florida and South Carolina, by which point we'll know exactly what this team is capable of doing.
The Tigers may not be anywhere near the top tier of the SEC, but they are a much improved squad from 2012 and deserve to be ranked.
Out: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Two valuable lessons were learned in Notre Dame's 37-34 victory over Arizona State Saturday evening.
The first is that the Sun Devils will officially be blacklisted from ever having a chance to join the "in" side of this piece. Unless Todd Graham's team manages to knock off UCLA, it does not deserve to be ranked, now or ever.
The second is that while Notre Dame is now enjoying its regularly scheduled bounce-back week, the Irish have a lot of work to do.
Consider that Arizona State had just allowed 41 points to USC the week before, and the Trojans offense is as pitiful as they come in 2013. The offensive output by Notre Dame was refreshing, but there are still too many questions about Tommy Rees' ability to make plays when it counts against good teams.
As it stands, Brian Kelly's team has two losses to ranked teams and just one mildly impressive victory if we're counting Arizona State. A date with USC in two weeks should be interesting, and if the Irish can prove that this contest was more than just a fluke effort, they'll be back in the rankings by the end of the month
In: Virginia Tech Hokies
Remember when Alabama played lousy football back in Week 1 and still managed to dominate Virginia Tech 35-10?
That narrative set the Hokies back quite a bit, but Frank Beamer's team has reeled off five straight victories since then and deserves to be back in the rankings.
None of the wins will raise any eyebrows, and a triple-overtime battle against Marshall was pathetic. But Logan Thomas is starting to do some things to match his physical abilities, and the team has two straight wins over ACC foes.
A pair of home games against Pittsburgh and Duke will be followed by a trip to Boston College, so it's conceivable that this team could be sitting at 8-1 heading into a game at Miami.
Many had written off Virginia Tech in September, but this team is starting to play some quality football when it counts.
Out: South Carolina Gamecocks
Where would South Carolina be without Mike Davis?
The star running back has kept Steve Spurrier's team from suffering embarrassing losses the past two weeks, but that doesn't mean this team should be ranked.
The list of reasons for why it belongs in the Top 25 is short: It has just one loss.
As for why it should be on the outside looking in, well, that's a bit easier to explore. Consider that Connor Shaw and Co. lost their only game against a ranked opponent, which was Georgia in Week 2.
Then consider that of the four wins, only one came by more than 10 points. Over the past two weeks, the Gamecocks have nearly been clipped by UCF and Kentucky!
This team won't fall out of the rankings if it keeps winning, but it sure isn't playing like one of the 25 best.
In: Auburn Tigers
We jump from one SEC team who isn't playing well to another that may find itself in the Top 25 very soon.
Don't look now, but the Auburn Tigers have officially emerged from recluse and have become a threat to every team on the schedule.
If we're talking resumes, this one stacks up with some of the best one-loss teams out there.
The lone defeat came at the hands of LSU in Death Valley, but it's countered with wins over Washington State, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
For those wondering about the respective placements of the Gamecocks and Tigers, this isn't to say that Auburn would beat South Carolina. But at this moment, Gus Malzahn's team is playing better football, and the days of playing football from outside the polls will soon be over.
Out: Oklahoma State Cowboys
If something stinks today, it might just be Oklahoma State, which was exposed as a major fraud over the past two weekends.
It started with an embarrassing loss at West Virginia (and we all saw what Baylor did to the Mountaineers on Saturday) and ended with a narrow victory over Kansas State.
Given the poor effort effort in Morgantown, you'd expect more than a four-point win at home over a Wildcats team that lost to Texas by 10.
And if this is the real Oklahoma State, how in the world can it keep up with Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Baylor?
Mike Gundy's team has talent and we've seen it for a while now. But if that talent can't come together soon, the 2013 season will begin to slip away quickly.
In: Northwestern Wildcats
The Northwestern Wildcats couldn't hang on to a 23-13 lead and fell to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, 40-30.
But in the loss, Pat Fitzgerald's team proved its might, and it belongs in the Top 25.
In one of the biggest games in the history of the program, the Wildcats gave the Buckeyes everything they could handle and more, coming within inches of a first down on a last-gasp drive that could have sealed a win.
But in the end, it was the proven, more experienced team that got the breaks and made the timely plays. Still, nobody who watched the entirety of this prime-time matchup can say that Northwestern wasn't ready for the spotlight.
A visit to Wisconsin next Saturday will be extremely difficult, but even after a tough home loss, it's clear that this is a Top 25 team.
Out: Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss belongs next to Arizona State in the group of teams that aren't likely to get a piece of the pie anytime soon. And to think, just eight days ago the Rebels were thought of as a team that could knock off Alabama.
A lot has changed since then, and it's safe to say that Hugh Freeze and Co. will be happy to steer clear of the state of Alabama for the foreseeable future.
The loss to the Tide was nothing to be ashamed of, but Saturday saw the Rebels drop a second consecutive game, this time to Auburn.
Like the Sun Devils, this team has a lot of talent. But with upcoming games against Texas A&M and LSU, it's hard to imagine them being any better than 3-4 heading into a late-October game against Idaho.
In: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Hop back on the Nebraska train while you still can, folks.
After a disappointing loss to UCLA, the Cornhuskers have righted the ship, with the latest victim being Illinois on Saturday.
Part of the consideration for putting Nebraska on this list is the fact that it plays in a weak conference and should continue to pile up wins over the next few weeks.
Only Purdue and Minnesota stand in the way of a perfect October, and Bo Pelini's team should be able to get the kind of momentum in needs heading into games against Northwestern and Michigan to open up November.
The embarrassing defeat to the Bruins seemed to serve as a wake-up call, and without any scary teams remaining on the schedule, Nebraska has a legitimate shot to make it back to the Big Ten Championship Game.
Out: Central Florida Knights
Central Florida jumped into the conversation of teams that might deserve a ranking by virtue of its close loss to South Carolina on September 28th.
One week later, and it's pretty clear that this team doesn't deserve a place just yet.
For starters, the Knights beat Memphis by just seven points. Any respectable Top 25 team should be able to do a bit more than that, and it's slightly concerning with Louisville up in two weeks..
But speaking of the the Cardinals, that matchup will give Georgie O'Leary's team a chance to earn respect. If quarterback Blake Bortles can keep his team within striking distance throughout the game, it will certainly be a squad deserving of a shiny new ranking.
Another factor that leads us to believe this team isn't quite there yet was the subsequent performance by South Carolina in which the Gamecocks squeaked by Kentucky. Perhaps the three-point loss to Steve Spurrier's team wasn't as impressive as it looked initially?
In any case, the Knights will have plenty opportunities to show what they're made of, starting with Louisville.