Week 12 of the 2013 college football season is in the books and new editions of the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls have been released. The Top 10 looks entirely different from No. 3 on down, fresh faces have cracked the Top 25, and the media and coaches continue to be at odds.
The question is, what were the biggest hits and misses from the updated polls?
|1.||Alabama Crimson Tide||1||Alabama Crimson Tide||1|
|2.||Florida State Seminoles||2||Florida State Seminoles||2|
|3.||Baylor Bears||4||Ohio State Buckeyes||3|
|4.||Ohio State Buckeyes||3||Baylor Bears||4|
|5.||Oregon Ducks||6||Oregon Ducks||7|
|6.||Auburn Tigers||7||Clemson Tigers||6|
|7.||Clemson Tigers||8||Auburn Tigers||9|
|8.||Missouri Tigers||9||Missouri Tigers||8|
|9.||Texas A&M Aggies||10||Oklahoma State Cowboys||10|
|10.||Stanford Cardinal||5||Texas A&M Aggies||11|
|11.||Oklahoma State Cowboys||12||South Carolina Gamecocks||12|
|12.||South Carolina Gamecocks||11||Stanford Cardinal||5|
|13.||Michigan State Spartans||14||Michigan State Spartans||16|
|14.||UCLA Bruins||13||UCLA Bruins||15|
|15.||Fresno State Bulldogs||16||Louisville Cardinals||13|
|16.||Wisconsin Badgers||17||Fresno State Bulldogs||14|
|17.||UCF Knights||15||Wisconsin Badgers||20|
|18.||LSU Tigers||18||Oklahoma Sooners||17|
|19.||Arizona State Sun Devils||21||LSU Tigers||18|
|20.||Northern Illinois Huskies||20||UCF Knights||19|
|21.||Louisville Cardinals||19||Northern Illinois Huskies||21|
|22.||Oklahoma Sooners||22||Arizona State Sun Devils||22|
|23.||USC Trojans||NR||Minnesota Golden Gophers||25|
|24.||Ole Miss Rebels||NR||Duke Blue Devils||NR|
|25.||Duke Blue Devils||NR||USC Trojans||NR|
http://collegefootball.ap.org/poll & http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/polls/
AP Poll Hit: Baylor at No. 3
The AP Poll made a controversial decision by putting the Baylor Bears at No. 3 and the Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 4. It was yet another display of the polls disrespecting an Ohio State team that has won 22 consecutive games.
If only for one week, it was also the right move.
Which team should be ranked No. 3?
I'd take Ohio State in a head-to-head meeting, but the Bears have played better football up to this point. Only one game has been decided by fewer than 29 points, and that includes a 41-12 win over the Oklahoma Sooners and a 63-34 decimation of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Baylor has now topped 60 points in six separate games.
The Buckeyes don't deserve to be as disrespected as they have been, but that doesn't mean Baylor shouldn't be subject to respect. No. 3 and No. 4 are interchangeable at this point, and neither Baylor nor OSU has a shot at leapfrogging Alabama or Florida State without one of those squads losing a game.
For that reason, an overreaction isn't such a bad thing.
Baylor's offense has been playing at a record-setting pace, and Ohio State continues to fall victim to the inconsistency of its conference. Both teams are in line for BCS bowl games, and neither will suffer from dropping to No. 4 to make way for the other.
This week, the AP got it right after Baylor earned a second consecutive dominant win over a good team.
AP Poll Miss: Stanford Still a Top 10 Team
The most significant development in the most recent AP Poll release was the fall of the Stanford Cardinal. Previously ranked No. 5, Stanford lost 20-17 to the USC Trojans and fell all the way down to No. 10 in the country.
The question is, is that too high?
Should Stanford still be ranked in the Top 10?
I don't question Stanford's status as one of the best 10 teams in the nation, but the No. 11 Oklahoma State Cowboys are an explosive 9-1, and the No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks actually survived their scare. At least one of those teams deserves to be ranked over the Cardinal after last week.
Instead, South Carolina dropped in the rankings after Steve Spurrier's group won 19-14 against Florida.
Stanford has a roster that's loaded with talent and an especially dominant defense. It's won five games over teams that were ranked at the time of the game being played, but there is something that should be questioned.
If the defense falters, can the passing attack lead the charge? I'm inclined to say no.
Tyler Gaffney is a world-class running back, but Kevin Hogan hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in any of his past three games. Prior to that stretch, he posted three consecutive outings with just one touchdown pass—that's three total passing touchdowns in six games.
Stanford's defense can compete with the best in the country, but after losing in Week 12, the Cardinal should be ranked outside of the Top 10 with other teams rising.
Coaches Poll Hit: Fresh Faces in Coaches Poll
The most pleasant sight in the most recent release of the USA Today Coaches Poll is the infusion of new teams in the Top 25. As contenders falter and the household names wither into the realm of insignificance, fresh faces are emerging.
This week, it's the Duke Blue Devils at No. 24 and the USC Trojans at No. 25.
Which team will finish the season with the higher ranking?
No. 24 Duke has been the single most surprising success story of the 2013 regular season. During its past three games, it's defeated formerly ranked opponents Virginia Tech, 13-10, and the Miami Hurricanes by a score of 48-30.
David Cutcliffe has a grind-it-out football team that's now in control of its own destiny in the ACC.
USC has been an entirely different football team since Lane Kiffin was relieved of his duties as head coach. The Trojans have worked their way to a record of 8-3 and capped it all off with a 20-17 upset of the previously No. 5 Stanford Cardinal.
It's been a tumultuous season, but USC deserves to be ranked.
It's also worth noting that the Minnesota Golden Gophers remain in the rankings at No. 23. Minnesota has gone from a team that starts hot and closes out poorly to a very inspired 8-2 squad with three players who have run for at least six rushing scores.
The Coaches Poll has all three teams ranked, and that's the biggest hit of the week.
Coaches Poll Miss: Where's Ole Miss?
The most significant omission on the USA Today Coaches Poll is the Ole Miss Rebels. Hugh Freeze's club lost three straight games when it came across the Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies—three Top 10 teams—but has since won four in a row.
Unfortunately, the coaches don't think that Ole Miss is a Top 25 football team.
Should the Ole Miss Rebels be ranked in the Top 25?
Ole Miss moved to 7-3 with a 51-21 demolition of the Troy Trojans. That's not the most impressive victory, but the Rebels have been a consistently strong football team that played well in each of its three losses.
It's too young to truly contend, but that doesn't mean Ole Miss isn't a Top 25 club.
Ole Miss will face the No. 8 Missouri Tigers in its next game, and it would've made sense to rank the Rebels entering that contest. Freeze has prepared his team well for every game, and Bo Wallace has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.
For as promising as this team is, it's clear that the coaches aren't sold on its present-day ability to win.
A loss to Missouri would essentially eliminate Ole Miss from contending for the Top 25 polls. That's an unfortunate truth considering the Rebels deserved to be ranked in the most recent release before that fate could be encountered.
If Ole Miss pulls out the upset, there won't be any way to ignore its status as one of the game's best.
Shared Hit: Wisconsin Is Rising
The Wisconsin Badgers are one of the best football teams in the country. If not for an infamously bizarre 32-30 loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils—a Top 25 football team—Wisconsin would've been undefeated when it lost 31-24 to the Ohio State Buckeyes—a Top Five football team.
Where will the Wisconsin Badgers finish the 2013 college football season?
Finally, Wisconsin is getting some love.
The AP Poll has the 8-2 Badgers at No. 16 in this week's poll, and the Coaches Poll places Wisconsin at No. 17. This is a fitting ranking for a two-loss team that's good enough to crack the Top 10 with its quality of play thus far.
If Wisconsin wins out, don't be shocked to see it in the conversation for a January bowl game.
Wisconsin has the No. 5 scoring defense and two players who have rushed for more than 1,000 yards through 10 games. Melvin Gordon is at 1,306 yards and 12 scores on the ground, while James White has 1,156 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Even Corey Clement has 515 rushing yards and seven touchdowns to fuel this dominant attack.
With a dominant rushing attack and smothering defense, Wisconsin can play it close against any team in the country. Its passing attack hasn't been spectacular, but Joel Stave has proven capable of posting big numbers in big games.
Both the AP and Coaches Polls got it right by showing Wisconsin some respect.