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 post-Week 9 poll. Here’s how we’d fix it:
First teams out: San Diego State (AP unranked), Washington State (AP No. 25)
25. Boise State (-1)
24. Florida State (-5)
23. Colorado (-2)
22. North Carolina (-4)
21. Virginia Tech (+2)
A loss to Clemson proved once and for all that this is not Florida State’s year. The Seminoles have tons of talent, but are now 0-3 against teams currently ranked in the Top 25. Fellow ACC squad North Carolina is unjustly ranked ahead of Virginia Tech — a team that blew out the Tar Heels earlier this month — and Colorado needs to show more consistency before it’s crowned as a legitimate Pac-12 contender.
20. Penn State
19. USC (+8)
18. Utah (-2)
17. Western Michigan
Penn State is rolling, but Ohio State’s poor performance Saturday was not good for the Nittany Lions. (If OSU is not as good as we thought they were, then PSU is not far behind in the perceived value department.) Three-loss Southern Cal was a joke at the beginning of the season, but the Trojans have ripped off four straight conference wins since falling to Utah by 4 points in late September.
16. West Virginia (-2)
15. Oklahoma State (+7)
14. Florida (-4)
13. Oklahoma (-1)
12. Baylor (+1)
11. LSU (+4)
Oklahoma State has two losses on its resumé, but one of those was to Baylor, and the other (vs. Central Michigan) was the result of an officiating error. The Cowboys now have won four straight Big 12 games by at least a touchdown each. Florida still has too many issues on offense (beginning with the inefficient Luke Del Rio), while LSU has completely transformed since Les Miles got the boot.
10. Nebraska (-1)
9. Wisconsin (-1)
I give credit to Nebraska: I didn’t think the Huskers were a top-10 team, and they hung with Wisconsin (admittedly, another iffy top-10 team) into overtime. I’d be surprised if either of these schools makes the playoff, but not shocked. All it takes is a Big Ten championship game win over Michigan/Ohio State, and a little bit of luck elsewhere.
8. Auburn (+3)
7. Texas A&M
6. Ohio State
This SEC West race is white-hot. Alabama has two more big obstacles — at LSU and vs. Auburn — before the regular season is complete, while Texas A&M must defeat both Ole Miss (eliminated, but talented) and LSU to remain in the playoff picture. If the Aggies would’ve kept it close against Alabama two weeks ago, they might be ahead of OSU and Louisville.
4. Clemson (-1)
3. Washington (+1)
Clemson is by far the shadiest team among the top four. It feels as if it’s only a matter of time until the Tigers topple over. But Dabo Swinney’s team is out of the woods. Four games remain against four far inferior teams — Syracuse, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and South Carolina — meaning the Tigers likely need to lose the ACC championship game to get bounced from the final four.
Washington pulled out an impressive road victory against Utah, and the Huskies need to keep playing great football in order to finish undefeated. Games at Cal, vs. USC and at Washington State all loom as potential upsets.
Michigan makes a trip to Iowa on Nov. 12, but everyone’s eyes are on “The Big Game” two weeks later at Ohio State. If OSU wins a close, well-fought contest, both teams might get into the field. Meanwhile, Alabama has the nation’s toughest one-two punch remaining. We’ll see if LSU still wants a say in the playoff race this Saturday.