College Football

NCAA Football Rankings 2013: Hits and Misses from Week 9

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2013

NCAA Football Rankings 2013: Hits and Misses from Week 9

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Week 7 was quickly dubbed "Upset Saturday" when it happened, but compared to what took place this past weekend, it was chalkier than a police outline.

    Chaos met the Associated Press and Coaches Polls after a thrilling Week 8, to the point where both sets of rankings are almost unrecognizable from previous iterations.

    Losses by highly ranked teams like Clemson, LSU, Texas A&M, Louisville, UCLA, South Carolina, Georgia and Washington all made for some difficult voting decisions.

    Who did the pollsters do right by?

Hit: Baylor over Miami in Both Polls

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Before Saturday's trip to Waco, Iowa State had shown some pluck in close losses to Texas and Texas Tech. It was a team capable of hanging around with better squads for the full 60 minutes.

    Against Baylor, though, the Cyclones might as well have been Wofford. Bryce Petty shredded them like a hot knife through butter, and the Bears once again cruised to an easy win.

    Miami started the week ranked ahead of them and also remained undefeated. But the 'Canes needed some late-game heroics to beat one-win North Carolina.

    It's clear which one of these teams is playing better football.

    Baylor hopped the Hurricanes in both polls, ranking No. 5 in the coaches and No. 6 in the AP.

Miss: Texas A&M over Auburn in Coaches Poll

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    Texas A&M has two losses this year: one to Alabama, which can be forgiven, and one to Auburn on its home field.

    Auburn has one loss this year—an also-forgivable defeat at LSU—and just beat Texas A&M in College Station.

    So naturally, because screw everyone who watches college football, A&M ranked No. 15 in the coaches poll and Auburn ranked two spots below at No. 17.

    Reminder: This is the poll that does count toward one-third of the BCS rankings. The college football playoff system needs to get here—and pronto.

Hit: Auburn Makes Massive Jump in AP

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    That's more like it.

    Unlike the coaches, who ranked Auburn way down at No. 17, AP voters recognized how well the Tigers are playing and moved them all the way up to No. 11.

    What Gus Malzahn has done in his first year is nothing short of amazing. 2012 was the program's worst season in decades—plural—and in the blink of an eye, Malzahn has it flirting with the Top 10.

    Alabama's season-ending game at Jordan-Hare Stadium looks much, much trickier than it did at the start of the year.

    War Damn Eagle.

Miss: Louisville over UCF in Both Polls

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    Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

    I guess you could argue that UCF's win was a fluky one. The Knights did benefit from a couple of lucky fumbles by Louisville's skill players.

    But the Cardinals also scored on a bobbled punt touchdown, so that argument is kind of moot. Louisville came out intense on its home field, knowing that a win might springboard it to an undefeated year.

    And UCF was simply better.

    Both teams now have one loss, but Central Florida has the head-to-head advantage and lost to another ranked team in South Carolina.

    Why Louisville is ranked ahead of the Knights—in both polls—is a little hard to figure out.

Hit: Florida State over Ohio State in Both Polls

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    This one was predictable, but it was refreshing to see nonetheless.

    No single-game performance this year was more impressive than Florida State's at Clemson. The Seminoles walked into Memorial Stadium and embarrassed their biggest rival, leaving no shred of doubt concerning ACC supremacy.

    Far too often, and even in spots this week, voters adhere too strictly to their preseason rankings. If one team ranks behind another to start the season, it must wait for the higher seed to lose before leap-frogging it.

    But that wasn't the case in Week 9, when voters in both polls assessed the discrepancy between FSU and Ohio State—which struggled with Iowa—and moved the Seminoles into a consensus No. 3 position.

    Even Buckeye fans can't complain with that one.

Miss: Continued Disconnect Between Fresno State and Northern Illinois

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    On the flip side of what happened with Florida State and Ohio State is the continued disconnect between Fresno State and Northern Illinois.

    These are the two remaining undefeated teams from non-AQ conferences, but since the Bulldogs entered the polls sooner and had more preseason hype, they get to rank eight spots higher in the AP and four spots higher in the coaches.

    The consistency (or lack thereof) is what's problematic. Either both undefeated non-BCS teams should be rewarded and ranked ahead of Virginia Tech and South Carolina, or neither of them should.

    Fresno State has struggled just as much as NIU has in certain spots this season. Both teams have all-world quarterbacks (Derek Carr and Jordan Lynch) who are coming off huge games.

    Why do the Huskies get no love? Why do the Bulldogs get so much?

Hit: Stanford over Texas Tech in Both Polls

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    Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

    It's tempting, this late in the season, to rank the undefeated teams from every power conference ahead of any team that has lost.

    In theory, that is a sound principle; but in practice, it's inherently flawed.

    Texas Tech still has yet to play any real competition, and though it was nice to see the Red Raiders come back in Morgantown this week, they still almost lost to a mediocre West Virginia team.

    Stanford, meanwhile, did a defensive number on undefeated UCLA and has also beaten Washington (back when the Huskies were fresh enough to play well).

    Does anyone doubt that Stanford would be favored over Texas Tech on a neutral field? Exactly. It only makes sense for the Cardinal to be ranked higher in both polls.

    That's precisely what happened.

Miss: Oregon State Still Unranked

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Both polls still don't include Oregon State, which has tried its best to atone for a Week 1 loss to Eastern Washington but has yet to earn back voters' trust.

    I guess that's the price you pay for losing to an FCS team. No matter how impressive you look the next six games, that bridge is indelibly burned.

    The Beavers have the best offense that nobody is talking about, with quarterback Sean Mannion and receiver Brandin Cooks both threatening to shatter some single-season records.

    Has Michigan really been better this year? Because the Wolverines are ranked in both polls.

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