NCAA Football Rankings 2017: Hits and Misses from Week 13 Polls
Not every week can be filled with massive upsets and rankings-shifting results. Occasionally there's a Saturday like the past one, where very little happens to alter the polls.
And yet the Associated Press and Amway rankings still end up looking a little different as a result of voters changing their opinions on certain teams based on information other than straight wins and losses. This can be both good and bad, depending on the reasons for the change.
In a week without much turmoil, finding things that stand out in the polls isn't as easy as normal. But rest assured, we still found some rankings' hits and misses to highlight.
Hit: 2 Different Polls, Same 25 Teams
With 61 media members voting in the Associated Press poll and another 65 or so coaches casting Amway ballots, the likelihood of consensus isn't strong. Yet for one week, at least, they're all in sync at least in terms of the teams deserving of being ranked.
The same 25 teams are ranked in both polls, the first time that's happened since the end of October. Even more surprising was that both sets of voters elevated the same three teams (Boise State, Northwestern and Virginia Tech) into the polls to take the place of teams that bowed out.
If only there was that kind of consistency within the Top 25, but that may be asking too much.
Miss: Toss-Up at No. 10
The Associated Press and Amway polls both have the same teams in the top nine spots, with the only discrepancy coming between third and fifth as AP voters stuck with Oklahoma/Clemson/Wisconsin and Amway ballots went with Clemson/Wisconsin/Oklahoma.
It's not until No. 10 that we start getting different teams, where the AP poll has TCU moving up to the spot previously held by fellow Big 12 school Oklahoma State and Amway voters went with Pac-12 South Division champion USC. The Trojans are right behind the Horned Frogs in the AP poll, but TCU is down at 13th in the Amway.
Putting their results from Saturday side-to-side, TCU's should have garnered more praise. It won 27-3 on the road against a 5-5 Texas Tech team known for having a strong offensive attack, while USC underachieved against a lackluster defense in squeaking past a 5-5 UCLA team that ended up firing its coach the morning after.
Hit: Big Year for Northwestern Athletics Continues
In March it was the men's basketball team, which made the NCAA tournament for the first time ever after being one of just a handful of original Division I programs to never get a bid. Now, Northwestern's football team is back in the Top 25.
Sure, there's a bit of a difference in terms of how big those feats are, but don't doubt Wildcats fans aren't just as ecstatic about the latter as they were about the former.
A 39-0 home win over Minnesota moved Northwestern to 8-3, extending a winning streak to six games following a 2-3 start. That moved the Wildcats to No. 23 in both polls, the first time they've been in the Associated Press ranking since the final poll of the 2015 season.
Northwestern replaces Michigan as the Big Ten's fifth-ranked team behind Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State.
Miss: Why Did LSU's Win Matter so Much to Voters?
Tennessee is a dead team walking, having lost six of seven with no league victories in a year. But because the Volunteers are in the SEC, that automatically means beating them carries extra weight, right?
That's what the Associated Press and Amway voters must believe, since LSU's 30-10 win at Tennessee on Saturday served as a motivation to lift LSU up in both polls. The Tigers moved up two spots to 19th in the AP, jumping over Stanford, and they climbed three places to 18th in the Amway to pass South Florida.
Sure, it's a 20-point win on the road but it also came against a team that just fired its coach and has been playing like a group without a rudder for weeks. It's not a needle-shifting victory.
Miss: South Carolina Warrants Some Credit
Normally we advocate for non-power conference teams to get a sniff at the final spots in the Associated Press and Amway polls, but with voters including a 9-2 Boise State team this week, the attention shifts to power schools that are worthy of being ranked.
And our pick for this week is South Carolina, which improved to 8-3 with a 31-10 win over Wofford on Saturday.
It's probably because it was an FCS school that the Gamecocks beat that kept AP voters from only giving them 30 total votes, good for 28th place, while Amway voters' collective 69 points awarded were good for 26th. But that Wofford team was 9-1 and tied for seventh in the last FCS Coaches Poll, so the Terriers weren't slouches.
It's a guarantee South Carolina, which was last ranked in September 2014, will be in the polls if it wins its next game: It hosts in-state rival Clemson on Saturday.