The race for the Top 4 in the polls is starting to look a bit like the race for the SEC East division title. We have a new No. 1 team in the land, at least in one of the polls and in a really crazy way.
|1||Florida State (27)
||Florida State (26)
|10||Michigan State||Michigan State|
|11||Ole Miss||Ole Miss|
|20||Ohio State||Southern Cal|
|21||Oklahoma State||East Carolina|
|22||East Carolina||Kansas State|
|23||Kansas State||Oklahoma State|
Florida State continues to hemorrhage No. 1 votes, a pattern that started after the Seminoles nearly lost to Clemson at home and continued when they nearly lost to N.C. State on the road. FSU lost seven votes in the AP poll, with at least some of them going to Alabama; the Tide gained seven supporters for No. 1, more than anyone else picked up this week. Oklahoma and Oregon received three and one more first-place votes, respectively, while Texas A&M lost all four of its supporters for the top spot.
The coaches poll is where we have something truly bizarre: FSU has a strong lead in first-place votes over Alabama and yet ends up in second place. Florida State did lose some first-place votes this week, 10 in fact, with the Tide picking up four, Oregon grabbing four and Oklahoma gaining two. But for Alabama to pick up this narrow, nine-point lead on FSU, voters have to be putting Alabama no lower than No. 2 pretty consistently and dropping Florida State to No. 3 (at least). There seems to be a consensus among the coaches (or the sports information directors) that Alabama is one of the best two teams in the nation, but there's no agreement on the other team or whether it should be No. 1 or No. 2.
Auburn and Texas A&M stayed the same in both polls, with the exception of the first-place ballots the Aggies lost.
UCLA powers its way into the Top 10 with an impressive win Thursday night against Arizona State, conspiring with Ole Miss' uninspiring victory over Memphis to knock the Rebels out of the Top 10 in the AP and put the SEC West back to three teams in that range. You could argue that if Ole Miss had played Memphis earlier and UCLA had played them this week, the positions would be reversed, but the Rebels have a chance to change all of that this weekend.
Georgia pulls off the neat trick of going from No. 12 to No. 13 in the AP while going from No. 13 to No. 12 in the coaches poll. Because no one understands anything in the SEC East anymore. Mississippi State moves up two spots in both polls ahead of their clash with Texas A&M, while LSU re-enters the Top 15 in both cases.
I'm a little surprised to see South Carolina fall out of the Top 25 completely, given that they have two wins against ranked teams in both polls and had what I thought to be enough of a cushion (13 spots in the AP poll and 11 spots in the coaches) to weather a one-point gut-punch loss at home. Mind you, I'm not saying that South Carolina should be ranked after Saturday night's performance; it's perfectly defensible and probably the right call not to rank them right now. It's just mildly unexpected given the way that polls usually work. If voters are willing to make more radical adjustments once we get a few weeks into the season based on new information, that's all for the better. Missouri is back in the rankings in the AP.
The SEC is now more or less back where it started in the preseason, with eight teams in the AP poll and seven in the coaches. The cast of characters is a little bit different, but the number of spots is essentially the same. That's still more than or equal to half of the teams in the conference and still pretty solid ground to claim that it's best league in the country.