College Football Polls 2013: Analyzing Week 11 AP and Coaches' Polls
Who is the real No. 2, Florida State or Oregon? Which one-loss team has the best chance to sneak into the national title discussion? Can a non-BCS team make it to a BCS bowl game for the second year in a row? Is Ohio State really going to put together a second consecutive undefeated season and be left out of the title game?
All of these will be answered in the next month, and like it or not, it's the polls that will give us the answers.
Let's analyze this week's rankings before the season switches into high gear on Thursday night.
The AP and Coaches Polls look remarkably similar when it comes to Nos. 21-25. In fact, both have Arizona State, Wisconsin, Texas Tech and Notre Dame as part of the group.
The main difference between the two is that the Coaches Poll ranks Central Florida 21st, while the AP has Northern Illinois at No. 22.
So what to make of it all?
First, Central Florida sitting outside the Top 20 with a lone loss to South Carolina and wins over Penn State and Louisville is a travesty. The Cardinals only have one loss as well, but it came against the Knights!
Northern Illinois presents another interesting conundrum, because the Huskies are undefeated and laying waste to a cupcake schedule. They also have wins over Purdue and Iowa of the Big Ten. But the win over the Hawkeyes was by three points, while the Badgers just won at Iowa by 19 on Saturday.
Some may call Jordan Lynch and company underrated, but they still don't look like a team capable of hanging with the big boys.
As for Arizona State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin, all three appear to be very much on the rise.
With an easy slate the rest of the way, the Badgers should win out and potentially squeak into the Top 15, where they belong. Arizona State has a major test at UCLA on Nov. 23rd, and could also climb up into the rankings if it reaches the Pac-12 title game. The Fighting Irish are likely to tack on a couple more wins before a visit to Stanford to close out the regular season.
Texas Tech has lost two straight games, and with upcoming contests against Texas and Baylor, expect the slide to continue.
Once again, both the AP and Coaches Polls look extremely similar in the 20-16 range, with the only difference being that the AP includes Central Florida and the Coaches Poll has Northern Illinois.
Aside from the Huskies and Knights, UCLA, Louisville, Michigan State and Fresno State make up the spots in this range.
Lets start with Teddy Bridgewater and company, as Louisville sits at No. 20 in the AP but No. 16 in the Coaches. Where do they really belong?
If you're looking at the resume, you gotta believe that the AP has it right given the lack of quality victories. The Cardinals lost to the only ranked team they played.
The Fresno State Bulldogs are No. 17 in both polls, and that seems about right for a team with a suspect defense and highlight-reel offense, led by quarterback David Carr.
UCLA also appears to be fairly ranked, as the Bruins have a dominant win over Nebraska but not much else, although the two losses on the schedule came against Stanford and Oregon.
Michigan State is the one team in this grouping that is being severely underrated, for a couple reasons.
First, the Spartans now have a dominant win over Michigan, and they look like a completely different team than the one that fell to Notre Dame in September. Fortunately for Mark Dantonio's squad, they sit in a great position to reach the Big Ten championship game where they'll likely be facing Ohio State.
Here we start to see some separation, as the Coaches Poll tends to give a little more credit to the one-loss teams, while the AP remains SEC-lean.
In the Coaches, you'll find, in order from 15 on down: South Carolina, Miami, Texas A&M, LSU and Oklahoma State.
The AP looks like this: Oklahoma State, Miami, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
The biggest difference between the two, as mentioned, is that the AP doesn't seem to take losses as seriously as the Coaches Poll, thus teams like Texas A&M, South Carolina and LSU (which is at No. 10) being ranked ahead of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Miami.
But which one is right?
Well, there is no "right answer," but the Coaches seem to have things together in this grouping, because Oklahoma State now has a quality win to go along with just one loss. LSU, meanwhile, is given a lot of credit in the Coaches and yet, it has losses to unranked Georgia and unranked Ole Miss.
The SEC teams here may continue to beat up on each other, with LSU and Texas A&M squaring off on Nov. 23rd, but the same could happen in the Big 12, because Oklahoma and Oklahoma State meet on Dec. 7th.
As for Miami, the schedule is pretty easy until the ACC Championship game, but you have to wonder if voters will hesitate to move the Hurricanes back up given the performance against Florida State.
The two polls start to join together once again in the 10-6 grouping, with the only exception being that the Coaches Poll has Oklahoma at No. 8 while the AP puts the Sooners 12th and has LSU at No. 10.
Aside from that switch-up, Clemson, Auburn, Missouri and Stanford all make up the 10-6 spots.
Stanford is No. 6 in both polls, but will get a chance to move up with a game against the Oregon Ducks on Thursday. That contest will also likely decide who wins the Pac-12 North division.
Auburn sits at No. 10 in the Coaches Poll with just the lone loss to LSU, but is all the way up at seven in the AP. Of course, the Tigers host Alabama at the end of the season and will have plenty of opportunities to squeeze into the Top 5.
Clemson is an interesting team, because you shouldn't ever lose by 37 at home and be able to call yourself a Top 10 squad. That said, the Tigers boast a victory over Georgia, and haven't been seriously challenged in any of their wins.
Missouri is the final team in the grouping, and the Tigers still have a stranglehold on the SEC East. However, Gary Pinkel's team hosts Texas A&M to close out the regular season, so holding on to that lead won't be an easy task.
Don't be surprised to see either Missouri or Auburn make a dash toward the Top 5 before it's all over.
The AP and Coaches Polls are in complete agreement over the Top 5 teams, which are as follows, from five to one: Baylor, Ohio State, Florida State, Oregon and Alabama.
Obviously, Baylor has a big game versus Oklahoma on Thursday and several other notable tests in the month of November. Ohio State, without a marquee matchup left on the schedule, must hope that Michigan State wins out so the two teams can square off in the Big Ten championship.
After that, you'll find the biggest debate in college football at the moment: Who is number two?
The polls say Oregon, although the resumes probably lean toward Florida State, with huge wins over Miami and Clemson. The Ducks counter with easy victories against Washington and UCLA, but the Seminoles' 51-14 victory at Clemson remains the most impressive win by any team this season.
Oregon will get a chance to impress the nation on Thursday against Stanford, and barring a major change of heart in the voters, the Ducks are likely to remain No. 2 until the end of the season, because Florida State doesn't have any major challenges left.
Alabama is the clear-cut number one, and can further cement its place with upcoming games against LSU and Auburn.