NCAA Football Rankings 2017: Hits and Misses from Week 14 Polls

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2017

NCAA Football Rankings 2017: Hits and Misses from Week 14 Polls

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    When the top two teams in the country lose on the same weekend, change is to be expected. And now that the latest Associated Press and Amway Coaches Polls are out, we see just how much is different from a week ago.

    Top-ranked Alabama's Iron Bowl loss at Auburn and Miami's setback at Pittsburgh have cut the number of unbeaten teams in college football down to two: Wisconsin and UCF. Yet neither of them is No. 1 in either poll, one of many notable things to come out of the latest rankings.

    What else stands out from the most recent Top 25s, both positively and negatively? Follow along as we break it all down.

Hit: Defending Champs Back Atop Polls

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Clemson ended the 2016 season at No. 1 in both the Associated Press and Amway rankings by virtue of downing Alabama in a stellar national championship game. But throughout this fall, the Tigers had never been ranked higher than second.

    Until now.

    The Tigers (11-1) parlayed losses by Alabama and Miami as well as their 34-10 destruction of rival South Carolina to move to No. 1 in both polls, though its hold on those spots is tenuous. Clemson got 27 of 61 first-place votes on AP ballots and 25 of 62 from Amway voters.

    Oklahoma (11-1) is second in both polls, with Wisconsin (12-0) and Auburn (10-2) third and fourth, respectively.

Miss: 4 Coaches Rank Auburn No. 1

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Unlike the Associated Press ballots, which are made public on a weekly basis, we don't know which coaches voted for whom in the Amway polls, other than in the final version after the national title game. That means it's anyone's guess which four of the 62 who submitted a ballot this week decided Auburn should be No. 1.

    Sure, the Tigers were very impressive in beating previously unbeaten (and formerly top-ranked) Alabama 26-14, but there are still Auburn's two losses to consider. One of those was to Clemson, which meant that quartet of voters felt what Auburn just did to Alabama holds more weight than what Auburn had done to it earlier this year by Clemson.

    Auburn is No. 4 in both the Amway and AP polls, one spot ahead of Alabama. That makes much more sense than having the Tigers ranked over a team they've lost to and which has one fewer defeat.

Hit: Miami Plummets After Loss at Pittsburgh

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    It's fair to say the U is back after the way Miami has played this season, starting 10-0 to get up to No. 2 in both polls. That was the Hurricanes' highest ranking since 2003.

    Now we get to see if Miami can bounce back after suffering its first loss, 24-14 at Pittsburgh on Friday. The Hurricanes dropped five spots to seventh in both the Associated Press and Amway rankings after falling to a 5-7 team, which seems fair.

    Compare this to how far Clemson fell earlier in the season when it lost at Syracuse, which finished 4-8 but at the time was 3-3. The Tigers also dropped from second to seventh, though now they're No. 1 in both polls ahead of the ACC title game against Miami.

Miss: The Pac-12 Has Lost All Respect From AP Voters

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Go back through previous Associated Press polls and you'll see plenty of teams moving up in the rankings despite being on a bye. And then there's USC, which remained at No. 11 in the AP poll after sitting out the final week of the regular season.

    That's after moving up just one place a week ago following the win over rival UCLA to clinch the Pac-12 South title.

    Penn State, which won 66-3 over a 4-8 Maryland team, moved ahead of the Trojans from No. 12 to No. 9, while TCU stayed at No. 10 because its 23-point win over a 1-11 Baylor team apparently was quite impressive.

    AP voters also didn't care much for Washington beating then-No. 14 Washington State 41-14, since it only moved the Huskies up two spots to No. 13 (the same place it sits in the Amway rankings). At least Stanford made a big jump, to No. 14 in the AP and No. 15 in the Amway, but that's because the Cardinal downed Notre Dame. Had they beat a Pac-12 team, it probably wouldn't have resonated nearly as much.

Hit: Hello, Fresno!

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    Gary Kazanjian/Associated Press

    Fresno State went 1-11 last season, three years removed from an 11-win campaign behind quarterback Derek Carr. The school fired coach Tim DeRuyter and replaced him with Jeff Tedford, who won 82 games in 11 seasons at California before getting let go in 2012.

    That change is looking pretty good right now, as the Bulldogs are 9-3 and will play Boise State in the Mountain West championship game Saturday. They're also ranked in the Associated Press poll for the first time since 2013, sitting at No. 25.

    Fresno barely missed out on making the Amway rankings, with its 70 vote points just 16 behind No. 25 San Diego State (which it beat 27-3 on the road in October). It also has a win over Boise, beating the Broncos on Saturday.

    The Bulldogs have won eight of nine since starting 1-2, with consecutive losses at Alabama (41-10) and at Washington (48-16).

Miss: And Mississippi State is Still Ranked Because …?

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    This week's installment of "why is this team still ranked?" focuses on Mississippi State, which lost 31-28 at home to rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving. The result itself might warrant dropping the Bulldogs out of the rankings even if it wasn't their fourth loss of the season.

    Yes, fourth. We're ranking four-loss teams; it's come to that.

    Mississippi State is No. 24 in both polls, down eight spots in the Associated Press rankings and seven places in the Amway Top 25.

            

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