The AP and USA Today Coaches Polls have been released. Numerous teams have seen jumps in the rankings, while others have either hit steep declines or received minimal reward for breakout performances.
Whether fair or foul, numerous teams are entering the final stretch of the regular season with underwhelming rankings. Much could change between now and bowl season, but at this juncture, some squads aren't receiving a fair level of love.
Here are the teams that deserve to be ranked higher.
Michigan State Spartans
AP Poll: No. 18
Coaches Poll: No. 19
It's difficult to complain when a team goes from No. 24 to No. 18 in the AP Poll and No. 19 in the Coaches Poll. In this rare instance, however, the fact that moving a team up more than six spots is an absurd practice is the only thing separating the Michigan State Spartans from cracking the Top 15.
Unfortunately, that's where Michigan State belongs.
The Spartans moved to 8-1 after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 29-6 in a rivalry game between ranked opponents. It was the third consecutive game in which Michigan State held an opponent to six or less points and the eighth time that it won by double-figures.
Say what you will about the strength of the Big Ten in 2013, but the Spartans are the real deal.
Michigan State currently ranks No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense. Its only loss was a 17-13 defeat on the road against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish—a team ranked No. 24 in the AP and No. 25 in the Coaches Polls.
There's logic behind not moving Michigan State up more than six spots in one cycle, but it shouldn't have been underrated in the first place.
Northern Illinois Huskies
AP Poll: No. 22
Coaches Poll: No. 20
After watching the Northern Illinois Huskies post a dud during the 2013 Orange Bowl, I'm on board with the skeptics in saying that the MAC leaders shouldn't see the Top 10. I'm also shocked that the voters would actually drop Northern Illinois in the rankings after a 63-19 win.
Love them or hate them, the Huskies are undefeated and led by one of the best players in the nation. That warrants a higher ranking than No. 22.
Quarterback Jordan Lynch has thrown for 1,871 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions on a completion percentage of 63.6. He's also run for 1,150 yards and 12 touchdowns, giving him 31 total for the season.
That gives Lynch more points, 186, than 23 FCS schools, including the Arkansas Razorbacks and Florida Gators.
The competition hasn't been stiff, but at 9-0, there's no way to justify the AP placing four two-loss teams ahead of Northern Illinois. 2013 left a bad taste in the mouths of voters, but with a superstar quarterback and an undefeated record, Northern Illinois should be inside of the Top 20.
Instead, it's moving closer to falling out of the Top 25 than remaining in it.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Record: 7-1, 4-1 Big 12
AP Poll: No. 15
Coaches Poll: No. 11
In this instance, the coaches actually got it right by moving the Oklahoma State Cowboys up to No. 11. The AP Poll, however, has the Cowboys all the way down at No. 15.
18-point wins over the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Texas Tech Red Raiders don't seem to mean much these days.
Rising quarterback Clint Chelf continues to shine in relief of J.W. Walsh, coming up with four total touchdowns against Texas Tech. Desmond Roland, meanwhile, has 315 rushing yards and seven touchdowns over his past two games.
Right behind Roland is senior Jeremy Smith, who has eight rushing touchdowns this season.
The difference between No. 11 and No. 15 may seem small, but it's huge when we're talking potential BCS Bowl bids. Oklahoma State has done enough to warrant a Top 12 ranking, and the 18-point win over Texas Tech displays that.
Until teams ahead of it loses, however, Oklahoma State will continue to receive limited respect from the AP Polls.
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