Saturday was filled with notable blowouts (Florida State staking itself as the Sunshine State’s best against Miami and Michigan State cementing the pecking order in the Mitten State come to mind), and as a result, there weren’t many dramatic changes in the AP Poll.
While the AP Poll may not directly impact the BCS formula, human voters have the largest influence on the national title race. Let’s dig into the latest AP Poll, which is below, as the national title race begins to shape up.
A couple of tidbits jump out immediately upon first glance. For one, Florida State garnered six first-place votes (while Oregon landed two), which doesn’t mean much but is worth pointing out as we continue to live in an Alabama-dominated world.
Texas Tech had the biggest fall (No. 15 to No. 25) after its second straight conference loss, and Michigan State had the biggest jump (No. 24 to No. 18) after making rival Michigan’s offense look like something out of Pop Warner football.
You can classify the Spartans as winners in this AP Poll for more than just the simple fact that they climbed the furthest in the actual rankings. Mark Dantonio has built an intimidating defense that has flown under the national radar for much of the year. Now that Michigan State is in the Top 20 it will have a greater chance to show the nation just how talented it is on that side of the ball.
If the Spartans continue to win behind their lockdown defense they will keep rising in the polls. It could set up a clash in the Big Ten title game where something would have to give between that defense and the explosive Ohio State offense.
As for the Buckeyes, with the release of every new poll it becomes even clearer that they will not be playing in the national championship game without some serious help. All Urban Meyer has done is win since he arrived in Columbus, but thanks to the national perception of the Big Ten, the gap in the polls between his team and Oregon and Florida State grows every week.
Assuming all are undefeated, who plays an undefeated Alabama in the title game?
Speaking of the Seminoles, it may sound counterintuitive to call them “losers” in regards to the latest poll considering the six first-place votes they received and the beatdown they put on Miami, but that may be the case. If Florida State wasn’t going to pass Oregon after its latest performance, it certainly won’t without an Oregon loss as the Ducks face Stanford and Oregon State down the stretch and the Seminoles destroy Wake Forest, Syracuse and Idaho.
That makes the Ducks big winners with the latest poll even though they had Saturday off.
Also of note is the fact that Fresno State fell to No. 17 despite a convincing victory over Nevada. The Bulldogs need to keep climbing the polls (in particular the BCS one) if they want to assure themselves a seat at the BCS bowl table after the season plays out.
There is still plenty of time to go until the national title picture is decided, but the release of any poll in November is sure to send shock waves across the nation.