NCAA Football Rankings 2016: Hits and Misses from Week 3 Polls

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2016

NCAA Football Rankings 2016: Hits and Misses from Week 3 Polls

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    Week 2 in college football looked boring on paper. It was the opposite on the field. As such, there was plenty of intrigue when the Week 3 rankings were released.

    How would the Associated Press and USA Today Amway Coaches Polls react to the madness—and the near-madness—that occurred? How much would teams be punished and rewarded?

    What did the polls get right, and where did they err?

    Here are some hits and misses from Sunday's rankings.

Hit: Louisville Cracks the Top 10

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    USA Today Amway Coaches Poll: No. 10 (previously No. 15)

    Associated Press Top 25: No. 10 (previously No. 13)

    Week 2 Result: Defeated Syracuse 62-28

    You don't want to overreact to the first couple of weeks. But you also don't want to get anchored to preseason rankings.

    Beating up on Charlotte and Syracuse doesn't say much, but it says more than looking good on paper and over the summer.

    So it's good that the pollsters have recognized Louisville's dominance. What quarterback Lamar Jackson is doing is out of control. In 1.5 games, he has 1,015 total yards and 13 touchdowns, including 610 yards in last week's ACC opener.

    "You get mad because they couldn’t catch the guy," Syracuse head coach Dino Babers told reporters after the game, per the school's official website. "He’s the fastest guy on the football field, on both teams.

    "I saw him outrun contain, where three guys were exactly where they were supposed to be and we should have tackled for a two‐yard loss, and he runs all the way to the other side for an eight-yard gain."

    This isn't a fluke. The Cardinals are for real.

Miss: Georgia's Short Drop in the Coaches Poll

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    USA Today Amway Coaches Poll: No. 13 (previously No. 9)

    Associated Press Top 25: No. 16 (previously No. 9)

    Week 2 Result: Defeated Nicholls State 26-24

    Georgia won by two points against Nicholls State—and it's somehow even worse than it sounds. Unlike most close calls against FCS teams, this didn't come against an FCS playoff contender. It came against a team that's won nine games in five years.

    "We did not play with the intangibles, the enthusiasm, the passion and relentless energy that we expect," head coach Kirby Smart said afterward, per John Frierson of Georgia's official website. "We hold these kids to a standard of excellence and we didn't perform to it today. Very disappointed."

    As such, the Bulldogs tumbled to No. 16 in the AP Poll. But in the Coaches Poll, they only fell to No. 13. Why are they still ranked ahead of Tennessee? 

    Appalachian State, the team the Vols went down to the wire with, is much better than Nicholls State. And Virginia Tech, the ACC team Tennessee beat on a neutral field, is comparable to North Carolina.

    Georgia doesn't look right and should probably be out of the Top 15. Even the AP poll, which has it at No. 16, ranks it ahead of Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Ole Miss. That's a little too much trust in a team with a first-year head coach and freshman quarterback.

Hit: Clemson Falls Below Florida State

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    USA Today Amway Coaches Poll: No. 3 (previously No. 2)

    Associated Press Top 25: No. 5 (previously No. 2)

    Week 2 Result: Defeated Troy 30-24

    Speaking of teams that don't look right, what's up with Clemson?

    The offense finally clicked in the fourth quarter against Troy, but through seven quarters, it had scored just 33 points. That's disappointing for a unit with Wayne Gallman, Mike Williams, Deon Cain, Artavis Scott, Jordan Leggett and some guy named Deshaun Watson.

    Based on the Tigers' potential and the fact that they won a road game at Auburn, they don't deserve to plummet. But Florida State's second half against Ole Miss looked better than any team in the country not named Alabama has looked all season. At this point, the Noles should be slight ACC favorites.

    Accordingly, both polls dropped the Tigers down from the No. 2 spot. The AP dropped them lower to No. 5, while the coaches dropped them below Florida State to No. 3.

    That seems fair enough.

Miss: No Love for South Florida

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    USA Today Amway Coaches Poll: Unranked (previously Unranked)

    Associated Press Top 25: Unranked (previously Unranked)

    Week 2 Result: Defeated Northern Illinois 48-17

    USF made quick work of Northern Illinois, beating the perennial MAC favorite 48-17. Dating back to last year, it has now won six straight regular-season games, with four of those wins coming by more than 30 points.

    Willie Taggart's team has turned a corner and looks like the biggest threat to beat Houston (should they meet in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game). The sooner it gains respect from voters, the better the optics of all AAC resumes.

    That respect is deserved based on how the conference has performed thus far. As Chip Patterson of CBS Sports noted, it's the only league without a two-loss team, and its 16-5 record in non-conference play is third-best in the country (ahead of the SEC).

    South Florida looks like the second-best team in a competitive, pseudo-power conference. So why did it come nowhere close to the rankings?

    In general, these polls seem stacked against Group of Five teams, including Boise State, which just beat Washington State.

    The little guys deserve more love.

Hit: Arkansas Cracks the Rankings

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    USA Today Amway Coaches Poll: No. 24 (previously Unranked)

    Associated Press Top 25: No. 24 (previously Unranked)

    Week 2 Result: Defeated TCU 41-38

    Things are looking up for Arkansas, which deservedly cracked the rankings at No. 24 in both polls.

    It looked a little rusty in Week 1 against Louisiana Tech, but when viewed within the context of this season, that's forgivable. Higher-ranked teams have struggled against Troy, Nicholls State and Furman. Louisiana Tech is a perennial bowl team.

    So the worse of the Razorbacks' two games can be forgiven. The better of their games was Week 2's overtime win at TCU. Even though the Horned Frogs appear to be down this year, that's a road win against a team with 23 wins over the past two seasons.

    As Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel said, that deserves a reward.

Miss: Michigan State Holds Steady

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    USA Today Amway Coaches Poll: No. 8 (previously No. 8)

    Associated Press Top 25: No. 12 (previously No. 12)

    Week 2 Result: Did Not Play

    Michigan State had a bye week and didn't move in either poll.

    But why is that? The Spartans' only game this year was a close call against FCS foe Furman. Like Georgia's close call against Nicholls State, that is not an FCS playoff contender. It's a team that finished last year 4-9.

    So why are the Spartans still ahead of more accomplished teams? The four teams directly behind them in the Coaches Poll—Washington, Louisville, Iowa and Wisconsin—looked dominant in Week 2. They all looked scary in Week 1 as well.

    MSU ranks lower in the AP Poll, but it's still ahead of Iowa and Tennessee. The latter has beaten two teams (Appalachian State and Virginia Tech) that are much better than Furman.

    Ironically, the team synonymous with "disrespekt" is getting too much love based on recent years' performances.

    If these polls are weighted toward this year, Sparty should have dropped.