Like anything else that uses input from several dozen people, the aggregated Associated Press Top 25 poll typically leans toward “safe” results and groupthink (example: “Where was this team ranked last week?” instead of using a clean slate to make decisions).
So, naturally, we have some problems with the Week 4 poll. Here’s how we’d fix it:
First teams out: Oklahoma (1-2), Utah (3-0), Georgia Tech (3-0)
25. North Dakota State (3-0)
(AP: Unranked) This is akin to trolling — because the Bison don’t play any more FBS games this season — but NDSU honestly might be the 25th-best team in the country. They are 6-0 in their past six major-college games, and Saturday’s upset at No. 13 Iowa was probably the most impressive.
24. San Diego State (3-0)
(AP: 22) Much like the early-1990s Aztecs leaned on Marshall Faulk, this team is riding D.J. Pumphrey to the national spotlight. The running back now has two straight 200-yard games and leads the country with 599 yards through three weeks, which is 135 more than the No. 2 guy (Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson).
23. TCU (2-1)
(AP: Unranked) Failing to crush Iowa State is somewhat worrying (final: 41-20), but the Horned Frogs offense is up there with just about anybody in the country. With the Big 12 apparently wide open, TCU is looking like an attractive pick to win.
22. Ole Miss (1-2)
(AP: 23) Oklahoma and Ole Miss are in similar situations: 1-2 after a pair of losses to some of the country’s best teams. The difference? Mississippi has remained competitive in those losses, while Oklahoma looked outmatched in both.
21. Texas (2-1)
(AP: 21) What a difference a week makes. Charlie Strong is already conducting an official staff review after the Longhorns gave up 50 points in a close loss to California.
20. Nebraska (3-0)
(AP: 20) Former Oregon State boss — and current Nebraska coach — Mike Riley got revenge on Oregon with a thrilling 35-32 win in Lincoln. He was 4-10 against the Ducks as Beavers coach. The Huskers should only rise from here. Their next four games: at Northwestern, vs. Illinois, at Indiana, vs. Purdue.
19. Florida (3-0)
(AP: 19) The loss of starting quarterback Luke Del Rio (knee) could loom large, but this Saturday’s opponent — Tennessee — has one heckuva monkey on its back.
18. Arkansas (3-0)
(AP: 17) Saturday, we’re going to find out which West dark horse is serious about getting to Atlanta: the Razorbacks or Texas A&M. The Hogs will be trying to win a big game away from home for the second time in three weeks.
17. LSU (2-1)
(AP: 18) Nothing about this season has been pretty. But that doesn’t change the fact that LSU is 1-0 in conference play with one of the country’s most stacked rosters.
16. Tennessee (3-0)
(AP: 14) Simply put, the Volunteers don’t look ready to end their 11-game losing streak to Florida, and a rash of injuries to key defensive players won’t help.
15. Georgia (3-0)
(AP: 12) True freshman Jacob Eason threw a last-minute touchdown to Isaiah McKenzie for his second career fourth-quarter comeback win. The Bulldogs trailed for most of the second half at Missouri, but intercepted Drew Lock 3 times in final 30 minutes to help snag the win.
14. Wisconsin (3-0)
(AP: 11) A 6-point home win over Georgia State is about as unimpressive as victories come. But the Badgers’ opening-week win against LSU keeps them ahead of the preceding SEC parade.
13. Miami (3-0)
(AP: 15) Outside of Louisville and Norman, the most impressive Week 3 win might have been Miami’s beatdown of Appalachian State in Boone, N.C. Mark Richt appears to have his Hurricanes in ship shape for their ACC opener at Georgia Tech.
12. Baylor (3-0)
(AP: 16) Is Baylor the Big 12’s last hope? Right now, it’s the conference’s only undefeated championship contender. If the Bears can survive Oklahoma State this week, they get back-to-back gimmes against Iowa State and Kansas.
11. Florida State (2-1)
(AP: 13) Giving up 63 points is not the Seminole way. In fact, it had never happened in the history of the Florida State football program until Saturday in Louisville. Up next? Another tough road test at undefeated USF.
10. Texas A&M (3-0)
(AP: 10) Every win creates another layer of skepticism. Are the Aggies for real? Okay, but are they for real for real? We’ll find out against Arkansas this week, after which all eyes will turn toward a trio of October tests: at South Carolina, vs. Tennessee, at Alabama.
9. Washington (3-0)
(AP: 9) Things still look great in Seattle. The Huskies took care of FCS Portland State and now must avoid slipping in their conference opener at Arizona.
8. Stanford (2-0)
(AP: 7) Maybe next year, USC. The Cardinal continued their rivals’ descent into discontent with a thorough 27-10 victory. And, for those curious, Christian McCaffrey is still playing at an All-American level.
7. Clemson (3-0)
(AP: 5) Maybe a 59-0 blowout of South Carolina State will be enough to wake up the defending national runner-up.
6. Michigan State (3-0)
(AP: 8) For the umpteenth year in a row, Michigan State has silenced the doubters. A 36-28 win at Notre Dame featured an early 36-7 lead for the Spartans, who look like they have the talent to beat Michigan and Ohio State (again).
5. Michigan (3-0)
(AP: 4) The Wolverines looked like they might slip up at home against Colorado, but they easily erased a 14-point deficit to bring their fans’ heart rates back to normal before halftime.
4. Houston (3-0)
(AP: 6) Louisville has taken the crown as “America’s darling,” but don’t forget about the Cougars, who figure to have things easy until a Nov. 17 showdown with the Cardinals.
3. Louisville (3-0)
(AP: 3) Nobody saw that 63-20 win over Florida State coming, and now all of college football is waiting to see what Jackson will do next. The Cardinals have a potential trap game at Marshall this Saturday before traveling to Clemson for a huge ACC game on Oct. 1.
2. Ohio State (3-0)
(AP: 2) Urban Meyer has reloaded with another crop of future NFL picks, and the Buckeyes are 19-0 in road games with Meyer as coach. If Jim Harbaugh and Mark Dantonio weren’t around, the university probably would be sending out a “College Football Playoff tickets” email to the student body this week.
1. Alabama (3-0)
(AP: 1) The Crimson Tide escaped a tough situation in Oxford, breaking Ole Miss’ two-game rivalry winning streak in the process. Alabama looks strong as ever in an iffy year for the SEC West.