NCAA Football Rankings 2017: Hits and Misses from Week 6 Polls

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2017

NCAA Football Rankings 2017: Hits and Misses from Week 6 Polls

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    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    Another week, another set of results that had an impact on the national polls.

    Not at the top, where Alabama maintained a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot in both the Associated Press and Amway coaches polls after a 66-3 bludgeoning of Ole Miss. Clemson, Oklahoma and Penn State held firm in second through fourth, but after that there was plenty of change.

    How did the media and coaches who cast weekly ballots do with their rankings? We've broken down where they got it right and where they could have done a little better.

Hit: Washington State's Win over USC Impresses Mightily

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    William Mancebo/Getty Images

    Most poll voters probably treat Fridays as a day off, the calm before the storm that is wall-to-wall college football on Saturday. But this week they had a reason to be tuned to their televisions as USC and Washington State squared off in a battle of unbeatens.

    It was the Cougars that came out on top, winning 30-27, and that victory led to a major boost in the rankings. WSU jumped five spots to 11th in both the Associated Press and Amway coaches polls, its highest ranking since 2003.

    The Pac-12 Conference regularly deals with an image problem, mostly because its games tend to be on late at night. Having this big matchup all by itself on Friday shined a much bigger light on it, which enabled WSU to get the praise it deserves, but it also led to USC taking a major tumble because of the loss.

    The Trojans slid from fifth to 14th in the AP poll and 15th in the Amway rankings.

Miss: Media Starting to Warm to Clemson; Coaches, Not So Much

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    Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

    Defending national champion Clemson is 5-0, with three of those wins coming against ranked teams. The Tigers have beaten Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech, the latest an impressive 31-17 win on Saturday for their 12th consecutive road victory.

    Clemson remains No. 2 in both polls, but the Associated Press voters seem to be more swayed by its results than the coaches who are involved with the Amway poll. The Tigers picked up eight more first-place AP votes, now sitting atop 17 ballots while No. 1 Alabama is first on 44 ballots.

    The Crimson Tide are still first on 59 coaches ballots, the same as they were before Saturday's 66-3 drubbing of Ole Miss. Clemson added two first-place votes, from four to six, the result of two more coaches ballots being cast than in the previous poll.

    Sure, Alabama has done nothing to warrant dropping in the rankings, not when its won its first two SEC games by a combined 125-3. But none of its five wins have come against currently ranked teams—Florida State was No. 3 at the time but is now unranked—while Clemson has dominated against a much tougher slate and should be rewarded for that performance.

Hit: NC State Enters Rankings Ahead of Weeknight Showdown

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    After it lost to South Carolina to open the season despite a massive statistical advantage it was hard to imagine seeing North Carolina State in the rankings any time soon. Then the Wolfpack ran off four straight, knocking off Florida State on the road along the way.

    NC State didn't get into the polls after that win but instead a week later, after holding off Syracuse at home to improve to 2-0 in the ACC, for its first Top 25 appearance since 2010. The Wolfpack are No. 24 in both polls after being just outside the rankings a week ago.

    Their time being ranked could be short-lived, since next up on the schedule is a Thursday night matchup with No. 17 Louisville. A win in that game could move NC State into the Top 20 of the polls, a place it last reached in 2003.

Miss: Too Many Unbeaten Teams to Warrant Having Ohio State in Top 10

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    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Losing at home to Oklahoma a few weeks back didn't eliminate Ohio State from playoff contention, not when it still has plenty of resume-building games left on the schedule from Big Ten play. But that doesn't mean the Buckeyes need to be ranked as highly as they are at this point in the season.

    The Buckeyes, who cruised to a 56-0 walkover win at Rutgers on Saturday, moved up one spot to 10th in the Associated Press poll. They're ninth in the Amway poll, the same spot they held last week.

    The criticism here isn't so much about where Ohio State is ranked but who it is ranked ahead of. Unbeaten TCU, which is eighth in the AP poll, is 10th in the Amway rankings despite having a much better resume than the Buckeyes thanks to wins over Oklahoma State and Arkansas.

    Other teams that probably should be ahead of Ohio State, at least for now, include Washington State and maybe even Miami (Florida).

Hit: UCF Gives Sunshine State Four Ranked Teams

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    College football in Florida has long been dominated by its big three teams: Florida, Florida State and Miami. But times are changing.

    While Florida and Miami remain ranked, as they've been all season, Florida State is out of both polls (though it was 25th in the Amway poll last week, despite being 0-2). And there are two other Sunshine State squads in the polls, with UCF getting ranked 25th by the Associated Press and coaches.

    The Knights join fellow American Athletic Conference team South Florida, which is 16th in the Amway poll and 18th in the AP.

    Sitting at 3-0 after a 40-13 win over Memphis, UCF is ranked for the first time since 2013 when it rose to as high as 10th. Its schedule has been in constant flux because of the effects of Hurricane Irma, having games against Georgia Tech and Maine canceled and the Memphis tilt rescheduled from Week 2.

    Losing the Georgia Tech game, which was to be at home, robbed UCF of a chance to pick up a second win over a power-conference opponent to go with the Week 4 victory at Maryland.

Miss: Coaches Still Bearish on Georgia After Another Blowout

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Georgia rolled to a 41-0 win at Tennessee on Saturday, a week after thumping then-No. 17 Mississippi State 31-3. The Bulldogs have allowed 46 points in five games, with two of those wins over ranked opponents.

    The Associated Press voters have taken notice, moving Georgia up to fifth in the latest rankings. It was 15th to begin the season, the highest overall rise of any current Top 10 team.

    The climb in the Amway coaches poll hasn't been as steep, though. The Bulldogs are sixth this week, up two spots, but they remain behind a Washington team that has only one victory over an FBS team with a winning record. Georgia began the season 15th in the Amway poll.

    It's unlikely wins the next two weeks over Vanderbilt or Missouri will do much to sway those voting coaches, so Georgia may have to wait until the Oct. 28 showdown with rival Florida in Jacksonville to get full credit for its play.


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