NCAA Football Rankings 2017: Hits and Misses from Week 10 Polls

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2017

NCAA Football Rankings 2017: Hits and Misses from Week 10 Polls

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    The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday, a Halloween treat for fans to savor. And those initial standings will be full of intrigue after the selection committee was handed a basket of tricks in the form of a chaotic Week 9 slate.

    Seven ranked teams were knocked off Saturday, including two of the ever-dwindling group of unbeaten squads. Additionally, strong playoff cases were made by a handful of one-loss teams, making Tuesday's playoff rankings release arguably the most anticipated since the first one in 2014.

    We still have to wait a few days to see how that's going to turn out, but in the meantime, there are the latest Associated Press poll and Amway Coaches Poll to pore over and dissect.

    Follow along as we note how the voters in those polls fared, where they nailed the rankings perfectly and where they could have done a little better.

Hit: Consensus at the Top...For Now

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    Losses by unbeatens Penn State and TCU on Saturday meant two new teams would occupy one of the top four spots in the Associated Press and Amway polls, which aren't associated with the College Football Playoff rankings but do serve as a nice blueprint for how they will look. And if that's the case, we're in store for only two conferences making the semifinals.

    Both the AP and Amway polls have the same four teams in the same order at the top, with idle Alabama remaining No. 1 in each. Fellow SEC school Georgia, which demolished rival Florida 42-7, moved up to No. 2, followed by Big Ten teams Ohio State and Wisconsin.

    OSU jumped up three spots from sixth after rallying from trailing 18 points in the second half to down previously unbeaten Penn State 39-38. Wisconsin, which registered a very Badger-like 24-10 win at Illinois, moved up one spot in each poll.

    If this is how the playoff selection committee orders the top four, there are going to be some angry folks from several other power leagues.

Miss: Consensus Doesn't Always Equate to Correctness

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    There's no denying Ohio State's win over Penn State will have huge playoff implications, since it gives the Buckeyes the leg up over PSU in the Big Ten's East Division. But that victory shouldn't completely erase from our memories what happened earlier in the season, though that's what it looks like has happened.

    Have Associated Press and Amway voters forgotten that Oklahoma owns a pretty darn impressive 31-16 win at Ohio State in Week 2? Seems that way, since Oklahoma still remains several spots behind No. 3 OSU in the polls.

    The Sooners are No. 8 in the AP poll and No. 9 in the Amway rankings. They also trail the Penn State team that Ohio State just knocked off, as the Nittany Lions fell from second to seventh in both polls.

    Yes, the polls are generally meant to illustrate who voters think are the best teams in the country at the moment. But it's also a good idea to remember what occurred in the past when filling out those ballots.

Hit: Iowa State Storms Further Up Rankings After TCU Win

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    It had been 12 years since Iowa State found itself in the Top 25 before entering at No. 25 in the Associated Press poll last week. Following a 14-7 upset of then-No. 4 TCU at home Saturday, the Cyclones have risen even further—to a point they haven't been for a long time.

    Iowa State moved up 11 spots to 14th in the AP poll and debuted in the Amway rankings at 16th. The AP ranking is its highest since Oct. 13, 2002, when the Cyclones were ninth in the country.

    They didn't stay that high for long, falling 49-3 at Oklahoma in their next game. The current ISU squad goes to West Virginia on Saturday before hosting Oklahoma State, 11th in the AP and 10th in the Amway, Nov. 11.

    Despite being the hottest team in the Big 12, the Cyclones are actually the lowest-rated of the league's four ranked teams. That includes two (Oklahoma and TCU) they've knocked off.

Miss: Voters Disagree Greatly on Miami, Notre Dame

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    For all the consensus that exists in the top four spots of both polls, the next few places are a land of chaos. Each has the same nine teams slotted somewhere between fifth and 13th, but only No. 7 Penn State are in the same spot in both rankings.

    The polls vary most when it comes to Miami, one of five remaining unbeaten teams, and one-loss Notre Dame. Amway voters have the Hurricanes, who escaped at North Carolina on Saturday, at No. 5, while the AP slotted them at No. 9. The AP voters have Notre Dame—a 35-14 winner over North Carolina State—fifth compared to eighth in the Amway poll.

    There's some irony to the fact that Notre Dame, which refuses to join a conference yet is an unofficial ACC member by virtue of its scheduling agreement with that league, is the subject of a ranking debate with an ACC squad. If only there was a way this argument could be settled on the field.

    It can—when Notre Dame goes to Miami Nov. 11.

Hit: Surging Arizona Arrives on National Stage

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    Arizona has been one of the most exciting teams in the country since sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate stepped into the lineup. In the past four games, all wins, he has run for 840 yards and eight touchdowns and thrown for 743 yards with six scores, with the Wildcats averaging 48.8 points per game.

    Yet Tate and Arizona have done this in relative anonymity since each game had been shown on the Pac-12 Network, which can't be viewed by the majority of fans across the country. That will change Saturday when Arizona plays at No. 17 USC on ESPN—and as a ranked team for the first time in two years.

    The Wildcats are No. 23 in the Associated Press poll and No. 25 in the Amway rankings. Two spots ahead of them in the AP is Washington State, whom they beat 58-37 Saturday behind 433 yards of total offense and three total TDs from Tate.

Miss: It's Time to Recognize Toledo

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    For plenty of schools, getting ranked isn't that big of a deal because it happens all the time. Toledo isn't one of those schools, and that's one of many reasons why the Rockets should be in the Associated Press and Amway polls.

    The biggest reason: At 7-1, they are the only one-loss team in FBS that hasn't been in the Top 25 at one point this season.

    Based on the latest voting, they're not even close, getting just 19 votes in the AP poll and 10 from Amway voters. The latter tally is quite surprising since roughly half of the 65 coaches who have ballots are from non-power conferences, including four from Toledo's Mid-American Conference.

    Toledo, which won 58-17 at Ball State Thursday, is on a four-game winning streak since losing 52-30 at unbeaten Miami. The Rockets led that game 16-10 at the half, and had they held on, they'd no doubt be in the polls instead of remaining unranked since late in the 2015 season.

    Maybe voters will catch a glimpse of Toledo on TV in the next few weeks, when the Rockets participate in a trio of nationally televised weeknight #MACtion games, starting with Thursday against Northern Illinois.

            

    Statistics are provided by CFBStats unless otherwise noted. Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.