NCAA Football Rankings 2017: Hits and Misses from Week 3 Polls

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2017

NCAA Football Rankings 2017: Hits and Misses from Week 3 Polls

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    A weekend packed with clashes between ranked opponents did not disappoint, with the four matchups between ranked teams decided by just a combined 42 points. Now comes the tangible aftermath: How those results affected the polls.

    The latest Associated Press and Amway Coaches Polls are out, and there's been plenty of movement from top to bottom...well, other than at the No. 1 spot, where Alabama solidified its hold atop both polls with a 41-10 drubbing of Fresno State in its home opener.

    The Crimson Tide were one of just two teams not to move in the Amway poll and three in the AP poll, a byproduct of the weekend's results and voters' adjustments to their ballots thanks to two weeks of results. The current polls are far more accurate than the ones that came out before the season began, but there are still some anomalies that we detail below.

Hit: Oklahoma Justly Rewarded For Big Road Win

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The marquee matchup of Week 2 came in Columbus, Ohio, where Oklahoma and Ohio State waged war in the second meeting of Top Five teams in as many weeks. And when all was said and done, the Sooners got to plant their flag at midfield following a 31-16 victory.

    Such a big win deserves a boost in the rankings, and Oklahoma got that, though more so in the Associated Press poll than in the Amway poll. The Sooners moved from fifth to second in the AP and moved up three spots to third in the Amway.

    Two AP voters even felt Oklahoma's win was worthy of being first overall, meaning they considered that win more impressive than when Alabama downed Florida State in a Top Five clash in Week 1.

Miss: Penn State's Win Vs. Rival Barely Registers

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    Chris Knight/Associated Press

    On a weekend highlighted by so many great nonconference battles, the attention given to a longtime rivalry that's recently been rekindled was minimal. Penn State hosted Pittsburgh for the first time since 2000 and thoroughly dominated en route to a 33-14 victory over the Panthers.

    How did that resonate with voters? Meh.

    Penn State fell one spot in each poll to fifth, getting leapfrogged by both Oklahoma and USC and moving ahead of Ohio State.

    The dip isn't that significant and such minor drops appear all over the polls, though it does speak to the importance of who you beat as much as how you go about doing so. Because Pitt wasn't ranked, the Nittany Lions didn't get as much credit as they would if their in-state rivals been in the Top 25.

Hit: Voters Staying Consistent With Losses For Top 10 Teams

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Florida State and Ohio State don't have much in common, but they are kindred spirits as far as how this year's poll voters are thinking. A week after Florida State took a tumble after losing to top-ranked Alabama, OSU saw a similar drop in the Associated Press and Amway polls after falling at home to Oklahoma.

    The Buckeyes dropped to eighth in the AP poll and ninth in the Amway rankings, down six and seven spots, respectively. FSU fell six spots in the Amway and seven in the AP last week.

    OSU's fall was far steeper than for any other ranked team—and rightfully so. Stanford's 18-point loss at USC, which moved up to fourth in both polls, resulted in a five-spot drop in each ranking, while Auburn losing by eight at defending national champion Clemson caused the Tigers to fall two spots in the AP poll and four in the Amway poll.

Miss: Did Strong Fan Support Water Down Georgia's Big Road Win?

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    At various times during Georgia's 20-19 win over Notre Dame, including in the waning moments after Davin Bellamy's strip-sack sealed the victory, loud cheers could be heard from the crowd in attendance.

    Why is that a big deal? Because the game wasn't played in Athens or at a neutral site where large numbers of Georgia fans could be expected. It was at Notre Dame Stadium, where plenty of red could be seen (and heard) among those wearing navy and gold.

    "It felt like a home game, man," Georgia's Lorenzo Carter told Nicole Saavedra of OnlineAthens.

    It's possible Associated Press and Amway voters filled out their ballots with that unique atmosphere in mind, because Georgia only moved up two spots to 13th in each poll. Road wins over ranked teams—Notre Dame was 24th and 25th, respectively—usually lead to a bigger push than that.

Hit: TCU Appears in Both Polls After Impressive Win at Arkansas

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    It's not uncommon early in the season to have different teams at the bottom of Associated Press and Amway polls. Uncertainty about the quality of certain teams makes it so those last few spots on voters' ballots are often reserved for those programs until more games are played.

    There's no longer a need to be unsure about TCU, though, not after a dominant 28-7 win at Arkansas.

    The Horned Frogs, who were 23rd in last week's AP poll, moved up to 20th with that victory. It's the same spot they hold in the Amway poll, moving into the Top 25 after being unranked a week ago.

    With TCU in both polls, there are now 26 teams ranked by one or the other, with only one unique school found in each.

Miss: UCLA Joins Utah As One-Poll-Only Members

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    Utah was 23rd in last week's Amway poll but sits one spot lower after its 19-13 win at rival BYU. Seems weird, but the dip was more due to TCU getting a boost from winning at Arkansas than how voters rated Utah's victory.

    At least enough coaches who vote in the Amway poll value the Utes enough to get them in the Top 25, unlike AP voters. They have Utah sitting in the equivalent of 26th place, its 101 vote points 18 behind new poll entrant UCLA at 25th.

    The Bruins moved into the AP poll by virtue of a 56-23 win over Hawaii, a much less stressful result than its 45-44 comeback victory against Texas A&M the previous week. Whether those two wins make the Bruins truly worthy of being ranked, though, remains uncertain as evidenced by them being in only one poll while they're only the fourth-highest vote-getter of unranked teams in the Amway poll.


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