College Football Polls 2013 Week 8: 5 Who Should Be In, 5 Who Should Be out
Polls are subjective. It's the nature of the beast that, when votes are involved, opinions will differ depending on who you ask.
And after a week like this last one, with the first significant crop of upsets involving top teams, the variance is likely to be even bigger.
The latest AP and USA Today Coaches polls saw movement all over, with the exception of the very top. This included the usual shuffling of teams in and out of the bottom of the rankings, where knee-jerk reactions to one bad loss or a surprising victory can often lead to some strange results.
Here's our look at five teams that deserve to be (or remain) in the polls, along with five who should be (or remain) outside the Top 25.
In: Auburn Tigers
Auburn deserves to be back in the rankings for the most simple of reasons: It's playing well and seems to keep getting better.
The Tigers (5-1) crushed FCS foe Western Carolina 62-3 on Saturday, setting a school record for yardage gained (712) while churning out 511 yards on the ground.
But even before that walkover victory, Auburn was showing week-by-week improvement under first-year coach Gus Malzahn. The Tigers have already swept the Mississippi schools and, after a rough first half against LSU earlier this year, rebounded to play LSU even after halftime.
Whether Auburn deserves to remain in the rankings, though, will depend a lot on how it fares this weekend at Texas A&M (5-1).
Out: Florida Gators
Just having a solid defense isn't going to cut it anymore for Florida (4-2), especially not now that the SEC is jumping on the score-in-bunches bandwagon.
The Gators managed just a pair of field goals their latest game, a 17-6 loss at LSU that wasn't that close. Florida cannot move the ball no matter who is at quarterback, and not being able to score won't fly when the next four opponents (Missouri, Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina) all are averaging 33 or more points per game.
Florida may be able to keep those opponents under their average, but until it figures out a way to generate some offense, the season will continue to be a stressful one for Will Muschamp.
In: Michigan State Spartans
While its defense had its first subpar performance of the season, allowing 28 points to Indiana, Michigan State (5-1) had its most complete offensive effort in scoring 42 points. That's the most the Spartans have scored against an FBS opponents since tallying 55 against Indiana in November 2011.
The offense has been a work in progress in East Lansing, but sophomore quarterback Connor Cook is starting to assert himself and the rest of the offense has followed suit. The Spartans probably could be unbeaten had they been able to put together an offense against Notre Dame last month.
With games the next two weeks against Purdue and Illinois, look for MSU to continue to progress offensively, meaning by the time it faces Michigan on Nov. 2, it could be a complete team.
Out: Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern (4-2) is probably going to still win at least eight games this season, but considering the expectations the team had this year, that's going to feel like a disappointment.
The Wildcats are also experiencing the textbook malaise that comes with nearly toppling a highly ranked opponent (Ohio State) one week, then falling flat on their face (against Wisconsin) the next.
Nothing went right in the 35-6 loss Saturday in Madison, so it looks like it's time to go back to the drawing board for the Wildcats. While that retooling goes on, though, Northwestern doesn't deserve to be in the rankings.
In: Houston Cougars
At this point in the season, being undefeated means you must be doing something right.
Houston (5-0) hasn't looked particularly spectacular in any of its games, but the Cougars haven't put themselves in a position to lose to any of their foes to this point either. There's plenty of room to improve, and in a weak league like the American Athletic Conference, the Cougars will get many improvement opportunities.
There are 14 unbeaten teams left in the FBS, and Houston is understandably getting the least respect of any of them. But if the wins continue to mount, that is going to need to change.
For now, though, Houston deserves at least some token attention, like maybe the No. 25 spot in the polls. It's a throwaway position, anyway.
Out: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska (5-1) has feasted on two of the Big Ten's worst teams (Illinois and Purdue) to gain confidence, especially with its suspect defensive unit, and the momentum should continue this week against Minnesota.
What's really helped the Cornhuskers has been how strong their run game has been of late. At nearly 285 yards per game, they're No. 8 in FBS, and the amount of clock all that running uses up helps keep the defense fresh and off the field.
But the Cornhuskers still aren't worthy of a ranking until they can show that the issues on defense that existed earlier this season against UCLA and Wyoming haven't just been masked by playing against weak opponents.
The return of Taylor Martinez from a turf toe will help determine just what kind of team Nebraska is from here on out.
In: Oregon State Beavers
Is there some sort of unwritten rule—like not bunting to break up a no-hitter—that says a team that opens the season by losing at home to an FCS opponent must not be ranked?
Sure seems like that for Oregon State (5-1), which, after losing 49-46 to Eastern Washington on Aug. 31, has crushed both opponents it has played at home and executed stellar comebacks to win all three of its road games.
The Beavers are 3-0 in the Pac-12, having already beaten the same Utah team that just shocked Stanford, and they sport the nation's top passing offense, anchored by the pass-catch combination of Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks.
But OSU hasn't gotten one of those sexy upset wins that unranked teams usually need to get in order to receive attention. Maybe that will happen Oct. 26 against Stanford.
Out: Utah Utes
Speaking of trendy picks based on one upset victory, Utah (4-2) is suddenly a known commodity again because it upset Stanford at home on Saturday.
But the week before, it had a chance to do the same thing to unbeaten UCLA, also at home, but couldn't overcome six interceptions thrown by quarterback Tyler Wilson.
Utah is certainly the best it's been since joining the Pac-12 Conference, but it will have to do a lot more to justify being considered among the country's better teams. Winning at Arizona this weekend is a start.
In: Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State (4-2) hasn't made the most of its two previous stints in the rankings, falling behind 29-0 at Stanford last month and then making too many mistakes to defeat Notre Dame two weeks ago in Texas.
It's a shame, really, because ASU has looked really good for most of the season, absolutely crushing its last two Pac-12 opponents with an average of 58 points in those games.
The Sun Devils have a skilled veteran quarterback in Taylor Kelly and a touchdown machine in tailback Marion Grice, and their defense has a number of playmakers despite allowing 27 points per game.
ASU gets another shot at a high-profile win this weekend when it hosts Washington.
Out: Texas Longhorns
Congrats, Mack Brown. You didn't get fired after the Red River Shootout, as many were predicting if another bad loss to Oklahoma occurred.
Instead, Texas (4-2) played its best game of the year, especially on defense, in the 36-20 victory, and now sits atop the Big 12 standings with a 3-0 mark.
The Longhorns aren't ready for the prime time, though, not until they can show their defensive improvements are consistent and not just flukey. The next three games are all winnable, even though two (TCU and West Virginia) are on the road. In between, there's a visit from Kansas.
Take down all three of those and Texas will certainly be in the rankings with a load of momentum heading into the season-ending gauntlet of Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor.