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NCAA Football Rankings 2013: Biggest Hits and Misses from Updated Polls

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 16: Melvin Gordon #25 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after making a touchdown during the first half of play against the Indiana Hoosiers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIINovember 17, 2013

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?

Updated College Football Polls
RankAPPreviousCoachesPrevious
1.Alabama Crimson Tide1Alabama Crimson Tide1
2.Florida State Seminoles2Florida State Seminoles2
3.Baylor Bears4Ohio State Buckeyes3
4.Ohio State Buckeyes3Baylor Bears4
5.Oregon Ducks6Oregon Ducks7
6.Auburn Tigers7Clemson Tigers6
7.Clemson Tigers8Auburn Tigers9
8.Missouri Tigers9Missouri Tigers8
9.Texas A&M Aggies10Oklahoma State Cowboys10
10.Stanford Cardinal5Texas A&M Aggies11
11.Oklahoma State Cowboys12South Carolina Gamecocks12
12.South Carolina Gamecocks11Stanford Cardinal5
13.Michigan State Spartans14Michigan State Spartans16
14.UCLA Bruins13UCLA Bruins15
15.Fresno State Bulldogs16Louisville Cardinals13
16.Wisconsin Badgers17Fresno State Bulldogs14
17.UCF Knights15Wisconsin Badgers20
18.LSU Tigers18Oklahoma Sooners17
19.Arizona State Sun Devils21LSU Tigers18
20.Northern Illinois Huskies20UCF Knights19
21.Louisville Cardinals19Northern Illinois Huskies21
22.Oklahoma Sooners22Arizona State Sun Devils22
23.USC TrojansNRMinnesota Golden Gophers25
24.Ole Miss RebelsNRDuke Blue DevilsNR
25.Duke Blue DevilsNRUSC TrojansNR
http://collegefootball.ap.org/poll & http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/polls/

 

AP Poll Hit: Baylor at No. 3

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 16:  Bryce Petty #14 of the Baylor Bears celebrates a touchdown against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at AT&T Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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.

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

Kevin Hogan has three touchdown passes in his past six games.
Kevin Hogan has three touchdown passes in his past six games.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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?

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

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 16:  Players dump Gatorade on coach David Cutcliffe of the Duke Blue Devils to celebrate a win over the Miami Hurricanes at Wallace Wade Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 48-30.  (Photo by Grant Halvers
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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.

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?

OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI - NOVEMBER 9:  Bo Wallace #14 of the Ole Miss Rebels throws a pass against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

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.

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

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 16: Melvin Gordon #25 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs with the football during the first half of play against the Indiana Hoosiers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Image
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

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.

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.

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