College Football Polls 2013: Analyzing Week 12 AP and Coaches' Polls
After an exciting Week 11 of college football that saw upsets, dominant performances and thrilling finishes, the new polls were bound to see some changes.
Of course, Oregon falling from the Top 5 is the main eye-grabber after the Ducks' loss to Stanford, but several other players have entered the one-loss discussion, which will grow louder with another upset or two.
Who sits in great position with just several weeks left? Which teams appear poised to make a run at the Top 10, and who got a raw deal?
The last few weeks have given us remarkably similar pictures in the AP and Coaches polls, but that all begins to change with the release of the most recent editions.
Three teams are in the 25-21 slot in each poll: Texas, Miami and Arizona State. All three teams have a pair of losses on the season, though their current trajectories are very different.
Both Texas and Arizona State are on winning streaks and control their destinies in conference play. The Longhorns have mixed great performances with mediocre ones, but the result is six straight wins and a reappearance in the rankings.
As for the Sun Devils, an Oct. 12 loss to Notre Dame marred what would otherwise be a special season, although Todd Graham's team has just one loss in conference play. The Miami Hurricanes are a different story, having lost two straight, and they appear to be stumbling headfirst into a brick wall near the finish line.
In the Coaches Poll, the other two teams in this grouping are Minnesota and Northern Illinois. The Golden Gophers are a new face to the rankings, but their spot is more than justified after four straight Big Ten victories.
The AP substitutes Minnesota with Georgia, although the Bulldogs stay could be short-lived unless they can come up with an upset over Auburn. The other team falling near the edge of the rankings is Oklahoma.
But the Sooners should count their blessings for being ranked ahead of rival Texas because both schools have two losses, and the Longhorns own a head-to-head victory. The landscape of this part of the rankings is ever changing and will look different next Sunday.
LSU and Wisconsin are the only two teams that reside in the 20-16 slot in both the AP and Coaches polls.
The Tigers, despite three losses on their record, are given plenty of respect after going toe-to-toe with top-ranked Alabama for two-and-a-half quarters. You have to wonder, however, with losses to Georgia and Ole Miss, if they aren't getting a little too much respect.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, is a team that nobody wants to play at the moment. The Badgers boast a powerful rushing attack led by running backs Melvin Gordon and James White, and the defense is holding teams to just over 15 points per game.
In the Coaches poll, Michigan State, Oklahoma and UCF all set up camp in this grouping, with the Spartans getting the most respect at No. 16. Mark Dantonio's team has nearly sewn up the Legends Division, though it will need a win at Nebraska next Saturday.
Oklahoma is still seen as a great team in the Coaches' eyes despite embarrassing losses to Baylor and Texas. UCF is finally starting to get some respect, although it still sits lower than Louisville, which is a travesty considering the teams' head-to-head result.
The AP swaps the three aforementioned teams with Northern Illinois at No. 20, Louisville at No. 19 and Fresno State at No. 16. Say what you want about the Bulldogs, but they've gone undefeated and have looked impressive in doing so. It's hard to really call them overrated at this point.
Louisville is about where it should be, although the Cardinals A-game would probably trounce that of several teams ahead of them. As for Northern Illinois, the Huskies are in the difficult position of not getting much respect with voters due to a lackluster schedule. They'll face perhaps their stiffest challenge to date against Ball State on Wednesday.
Once again, only two teams are in the 15-11 slot in both the AP and Coaches polls.
That would be UCLA and South Carolina, and it's an interesting pair partly because of the losses they've suffered. The Bruins fell at Stanford and Oregon, which is certainly forgivable given the quality of the two teams. The Gamecocks lost at Georgia and Tennessee, although they boast an impressive win over Missouri.
Looking strictly at the 15-11 spots in the Coaches poll, you'll find Fresno State at No. 14, Louisville at No. 13 and Texas A&M at No. 11. We've discussed both the Bulldogs and the Cardinals, and while each has had a nice season thus far, they might be in a little over their heads with their current rankings.
That's not to say they can't compete with the teams around them, but you'd probably take Texas A&M over Fresno State every day of the week and twice on Saturdays. As for the Aggies, we're not quite sure what to make of them. Obviously the offense is doing unparalleled things behind the arm and legs of quarterback Johnny Manziel, but the defense just gave up 41 points to Mississippi State.
In the AP poll, you'll find UCF at No. 15, Michigan State at No. 14 and Oklahoma State at No. 12. The Knights are likely done ascending through quality wins and will have to hope for chaos up above to move any further toward the top.
It's nice to see the Spartans getting respect with their vaunted defense, though they might not be challenged until a potential Big Ten championship game with Ohio State. Oklahoma State has had to tread water since losing to West Virginia, but the Cowboys will get a chance to make a statement with upcoming games against Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma.
Moving forward, the 10-6 spots begin to look very similar between the two polls.
The only difference has Oklahoma State in at No. 10 in the Coaches Poll while the Aggies hold the same spot in the AP.
After that, Missouri, Auburn, Clemson and Oregon all make up this grouping, though they appear in a different order.
The Coaches poll has Clemson in the lead at No. 6 followed by Oregon, Missouri and Auburn. This appears to be the more sensible of the two, as the Ducks' poor effort in a national showcase game should subsequently dock them.
Clemson is the only team that may have difficulty rising any higher because the Tigers don't have the potential to make the ACC championship game due to their loss to Florida State.
Oregon is the most likely of the three to win out, although the Ducks will need a Stanford loss to reach the Pac-12 title game. As for Missouri and Auburn, the two control their own destinies in the SEC, but each has some major roadblocks in the way of that goal.
Missouri will have to slip by Texas A&M in the regular season finale, while Auburn will face Alabama in the annual Iron Bowl rivalry game. Without any major upsets to the Top 5, this grouping will stay very much the same in the coming weeks.
The Top 5 looks exactly the same in both polls and is as follows, from five to one: Stanford, Baylor, Ohio State, Florida State and Alabama.
Every team in the bunch was a big winner in Week 11 for a variety of reasons.
Top-ranked Alabama knocked off LSU in an impressive display of physicality on both sides of the ball. If there was any doubt as to who should hold the top spot, it's all but gone.
Florida State took care of business against Wake Forest and then received a gift from Stanford, which knocked off Oregon. What that means for the Seminoles is that they won't have to worry about jockeying for the No. 2 spot any longer. If Jimbo Fisher's team wins the rest of its games, it will play for a national title.
Ohio State simply took one step forward and now sits that much closer to a spot in the title game, which could happen should one of the top two teams drop a game.
The same can be said for Baylor, although the Bears also managed to make a statement of their own by beating Oklahoma 41-12. We don't know how good Art Briles' team is compared with Florida State or Alabama, but we do know it is elite on both sides of the ball and can play with anybody.
Stanford also jumped up a spot after beating the Ducks, and the Cardinal remain in the best position out of the one-loss teams to nab a spot in the title game should chaos ensue.