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 9 poll. Here’s how we’d fix it:
First teams out: Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech
25. Navy (-3)
24. Western Michigan (-4)
23. Washington State (+3)
Nothing against the MAC, but Western Michigan has been giving up too many points to bad teams. Washington State has won five straight (including four straight Pac-12 games) but still has not been deemed worthy of Top 25 status, for whatever reason.
22. Penn State (+2)
21. Colorado (+2)
20. North Carolina (+1)
Was Penn State-Ohio State the biggest upset of the season? That’ll be tough to beat over the second half of the schedule. PSU is 5-2, with the only losses coming at Michigan (blowout) and at Pittsburgh (last-minute thriller). Colorado is having its best season since 2002.
19. Florida (-5)
15. Florida State (-3)
Hear me out: Florida’s passing game needs plenty of work, and the Gators (5-1) don’t deserve to be placed in front of the Volunteers (5-2) after UF’s choke in Knoxville. Jim McElwain’s team will get a chance to prove the offense is back in working order against Georgia this weekend.
14. LSU (+5)
13. Auburn (+2)
12. Boise State (+1)
Auburn and LSU look like two completely different teams from the first month of the season. Both scored impressive conference wins over the weekend, and their power running games should be able to keep them consistent down the stretch. But is either good enough to knock off Alabama?
11. Nebraska (-4)
10. Baylor (-2)
9. Wisconsin (+2)
8. West Virginia (+2)
7. Texas A&M (+2)
Nebraska’s schedule has been softer than the verbal commitment Mac Jones gave to Kentucky, but it’s about to get real for the Huskers; back-to-back trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State will likely spell doom for playoff hopes in Lincoln.
Despite a disappointing loss in Tuscaloosa, Texas A&M would still be an easy head-to-head favorite over Baylor and Nebraska. Trevor Knight gives them a good chance against anybody, and I think they’d come away victorious from neutral-site games against WVU and Wisconsin.
6. Louisville (-1)
5. Ohio State (+1)
4. Clemson (-1)
3. Washington (+1)
I believe that the playoff field will be made up of four of these six schools. Alabama is the most impressive team in the country right now, and Michigan is right behind it. We’ll get a better idea of how good the Wolverines are this Saturday at Michigan State, but Jim Harbaugh’s team will not get a truly top-notch test until its trip to Columbus in late November.
Washington (at Utah) and Clemson (at Florida State) both face tough road trips this weekend, and Ohio State and Louisville — the country’s best one-loss teams — should both feel great about their playoff chances if No. 3 or No. 4 falls.