College Football Rankings: Who Got Screwed in the Week 8 Polls?
Week 8 of the College Football season has come to an end, and the two human-controlled sets of rankings have been released ahead of the Week 9 action. The AP and Coaches' Polls are in agreement in about the top two teams, as Oregon and Boise State sit at No. 1 and No. 2 in both polls at the conclusion of the week.
But what teams were spurned by these two lists? Each week offers college football fans ample opportunities to second-guess the positioning of a certain number of teams, and here you'll find a little food for thought on who deserved better from the AP and Coaches'.
We'll cover 10 cases of potential mistreatment here, but feel free to chime in with other teams that should have been ranked differently. And who knows how these polls will compare to the second installment of the BCS rankings, due later this evening.
Auburn Tigers (No. 3 AP and Coaches')
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To me, Auburn belongs in the second spot in both national polls after their win over LSU in Week 8, a top 10 team in their own right and a bitter SEC rival. They've beaten three in-conference, quality teams (South Carolina, Arkansas and LSU) that have all been ranked in the top 15 at different points this year. They've been, in my opinion at least, tested the most of all the top teams in the nation and have aced every test thus far.
Their ascent would come at the expense of Boise State, and while I am not trying to belittle the Broncos, the fact that they had a bye this week, and also haven't conquered the caliber of opponent comparable to Auburn, would have them come in at No. 3 in my personal top 25.
Ultimately, I would have no problem with Boise State being a top two team should they win out, but right at this moment, I think Auburn deserves to be ranked second.
Michigan State Spartans (No. 5 AP and Coaches')
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Michigan State battled through for a tough win over Northwestern in Week 8, but to me, their impressive showings in Weeks 5 and 6, combined with the rest of their resume, should push them up one spot to No. 4 in both polls, leapfrogging (no pun intended) the TCU Horned Frogs.
Both teams are an identical 8-0 on the year, but to me, Michigan State's eight wins should place them slightly higher than TCU's eight wins. TCU has smothered its weaker opponents, but their biggest test to date has been Oregon State on opening night. Michigan State has battled through for tough Big Ten wins against Wisconsin and Michigan, stopping Michigan on the road at the Big House, no less.
Both of these teams have big tests coming up (Michigan State heads to Iowa next week, TCU goes on the road to Utah in two weeks), but at this moment, I would argue flip-flopping these two teams in the rankings is the correct ordering.
Missouri Tigers (No. 7 AP, No. 8 Coaches')
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Both polls have Missouri—unbeaten and fresh off knocking the BCS' previous No. 1 team, Oklahoma, from the ranks of the unbeaten—trailing one-loss Alabama. I don't question the fact that Alabama remains in the top ten, but I think they are ranked a bit high considering they've suffered a loss and Missouri is coming off their most impressive and emphatic victory.
While it's clear that Mizzou is only just beginning to enter the teeth of their season schedule (upcoming games vs. Nebraska, Texas Tech and Kansas State consecutively), they still beat a highly regarded Big 12 team to move to 3-0 in conference play.
I think they belong a notch above the one-loss Crimson Tide, and while it's entirely possible that this is Missouri's absolute peak in the rankings, they deserve the chance to be just a bit higher in both polls.
Utah Utes (No. 8 AP, No. 7 Coaches')
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Utah has the same argument as Missouri for poll positioning, as they've yet to lose yet are looking up the rankings at Alabama. I would argue that Missouri belongs one spot ahead of Utah, but both teams deserve to be ranked above 'Bama right now.
Utah has yet to be really tested outside of an opening week win over Pittsburgh and a trouncing of Iowa State, but they have convincingly dispatched their opponents so far. They have a huge date circled on the calendar with TCU coming up on November 6, and until then I see no reason for Utah to be looking up at a one-loss team. Yes, the level of conference competition is different, but given the fluid nature of the polls this season, teams like Utah in particular deserve their chance to be higher up in the rankings.
LSU Tigers (No. 12 AP, No. 13 Coaches')
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The third team of tigers on this list, I think LSU fell a little too far on the heels of their loss on the road against Auburn. Given that I think Auburn deserves a place as the No. 2 team in the nation, to me a road loss at Auburn—and after knocking off teams like North Carolina, West Virginia and Florida—should not have pushed LSU this low.
My biggest gripe is that they're ranked below Ohio State (No. 10 in both polls), a fellow one-loss team that only counts one victory against a previously ranked team in its credentials. Granted, the Buckeyes came into the season with much loftier rankings and expectations, but I think LSU deserves to be pegged above the Buckeyes at this juncture of the season.
Florida State Seminoles (No. 16 AP, No. 15 Coaches')
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In Jimbo Fisher's first year running the show, the Seminoles' only loss has been to Oklahoma on the road early in the season. They posted an impressive, resounding victory over in-conference ACC rival Miami before having a bit of a letdown and only scraping by Boston College at home in Week 7. I think they are victimized by their ACC affiliation, as they remained down around 15 and 16 in the rankings, even though, to me, their victory over Miami outweighs Stanford's accomplishments thus far in 2010.
Stanford appears above Florida State in both polls, and I believe this shouldn't be the case. Stanford's biggest win thus far has been at home against USC, an impressive result. But Florida State deserves to leap over the Cardinal for now.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (No. 20 AP and Coaches')
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I understand that Oklahoma State has only played one ranked opponent and they lost (this week, at home against Nebraska), but they've beaten other quality Big 12 opponents that don't crack the top 25 in Texas A&M and Texas Tech. To me these wins—and the fact that they battled with Nebraska and ultimately lost by 10—should be enough to have Oklahoma State and their one loss ranked above the three two-loss teams currently above them in both polls.
South Carolina and Arkansas have absorbed both their defeats via tough SEC opponents in tightly contested games, and Iowa can boast of knocking off Michigan and Penn State, but to me Oklahoma State has to be above at least one of these squads. The choice would be Iowa, in my ranking, but either way, Oklahoma State deserves to be a notch or two higher.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (No. 23 AP and Coaches')
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At this moment Mississippi State deserves to be one spot higher on both rankings, as they're currently looking up at fellow two-loss owner Miami. MSU's two losses have come at the hands of Auburn and LSU, two teams that have emerged to sit at the top of the SEC. They beat two SEC rivals experiencing down years in Georgia and Florida, and to me their two losses were to far tougher opponents than Miami's.
Miami bowed to Ohio State and Florida State, two quality ranked teams, but not teams on the level of Auburn or LSU. Their biggest wins were over Pittsburgh and Clemson, and neither team was ranked at the time. Florida was in the top 25 when the Bulldogs shut them down two weeks ago. I think MSU deserves to jump a spot.
Michigan Wolverines (Unranked AP, No. 25 Coaches')
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Michigan is reeling coming off two straight losses, but their losses were tough ones to quality teams in Michigan State and Iowa. Their bye week seemed to push them out of the tail end of the top 25, and I think they deserve a spot in the rankings above a team like USC. To be unranked in the one poll is the injustice I see with Michigan's ranking. It's arguable that neither USC nor Michigan have earned a truly impressive victory so far this year, but Michigan's losses have been against higher-quality competition.
Both the Big Ten and the Pac-10 are strong conferences, but I find it strange that USC would be placed in the rankings above Michigan, given the fact that the Big Ten is experiencing a very balanced year for its football programs. The Pac-10, however, has been buoyed by top-heavy showings from Oregon, Stanford and Arizona.
Baylor Bears (No. 25 AP, No. 24 Coaches')
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Much like Mississippi State, Baylor is a quality team playing in a tough conference, posting a 6-2 record and still finding itself ranked below the Miami Hurricanes. Not trying to pick on Miami, but Baylor also deserves to be a few spots higher in the top 25, especially following their upset victory over Kansas State.
Baylor has dropped a lopsided decision to TCU on the road, and also lost to Texas Tech in a nail-biter. But their win over Kansas State should have pushed them up above the Hurricanes at least, and you could argue that they deserve to jump over Mississippi State as well. Their next two games are against Texas and Oklahoma State, so Baylor will have plenty of opportunities to make a name for themselves and further climb the rankings.