We're still a few weeks away from the College Football Playoff selection committee releasing its first set of rankings, which means the polls are still going to drive the discussion about the college football season. And, alas, we have yet another example of one of the polls going completely haywire. You get one guess which one it is!
|Associated Press||Change||Points||USA Today||Change||Points|
|1||Ohio St. Buckeyes (27)||--||1,411||Ohio St. Buckeyes (47)
|2||Baylor Bears (13)||+1||1,390||Baylor Bears (8)
|3||TCU Horned Frogs (3)||-1||1,354||TCU Horned Frogs (5)
|4||Utah Utes (16)||+1||1,350||Michigan St. Spartans (1)
|5||Clemson Tigers (1)||+1||1,260||
LSU Tigers (1)
|6||LSU Tigers||+1||1,231||Clemson Tigers||--||1,245|
|7||Michigan St. Spartans||-3||1,139||Utah Utes (1)
|8||Florida Gators||+3||1,075||Florida St. Seminoles||--||1,080|
|9||Texas A&M Aggies (1)||--||1,046||Alabama Crimson Tide||+1||1,052|
|10||Alabama Crimson Tide||-2||1,034||Texas A&M Aggies||+1||1,028|
|11||Florida St. Seminoles||+1||937||Florida Gators||+1||1,001|
|12||Michigan Wolverines||+6||894||Ole Miss Rebels||+1||837|
|13||Ole Miss Rebels||+1||803||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||+2||786|
|14||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||+1||766||Michigan Wolverines||+7||760|
|15||Stanford Cardinal||+1||662||Oklahoma St. Cowboys||+4||689|
|16||Oklahoma St. Cowboys||+5||614||Stanford Cardinal||+2||677|
|17||Iowa Hawkeyes||+5||520||Iowa Hawkeyes||+6||525|
|18||UCLA Bruins||+2||487||UCLA Bruins||+2||466|
|19||Oklahoma Sooners||-9||342||Oklahoma Sooners||-10||432|
|20||Northwestern Wildcats||-7||317||Boise St. Broncos||+4||321|
|21||Boise St. Broncos||+4||260||Northwestern Wildcats||-7||242|
|22||Toledo Rockets||+2||237||Memphis Tigers||+3||185|
|23||Cal Golden Bears||--||204||Cal Golden Bears||-1||174|
|24||Houston Cougars||+3||121||Duke Blue Devils||+3||154|
|25||Duke Blue Devils||+2||114||Toledo Rockets||+4||149|
|ORV||Temple 96, Memphis 59, Arizona St. 27, Mississippi St. 19, Georgia 16, Texas Tech 10, BYU 8, Southern Cal 5, W. Kentucky 5, Kentucky 4, Penn St. 4, Navy 3, North Carolina 1||Houston 75; Temple 71; Georgia 61; Arizona State 33; Mississippi State 21; Wisconsin 20; Kentucky 13; Kansas State 11; Penn State 6; Southern California 4; Texas 4; Texas Tech 4; West Virginia 3; North Carolina 3; Navy 2; Washington 2; Tennessee 1; Illinois 1; Arizona 1.|
If you want to see the difference between what happens when voters can at least hypothetically watch more games and what happens when they can't, look no further than the distribution of first-place votes in the two polls. (There's more than that, but we'll get to the other things shortly.) As Ohio State has continued to struggle, the Buckeyes have hemorrhaged first-place votes in the AP poll, where Ohio State lost 11 more supporters this week and is now receiving 44.3 percent of No. 1 ballots. In the USA Today survey, the Buckeyes lost three first-place votes this time and still pull in 74.6 percent of votes for the top spot.
What that suggests -- and this is no slam dunk theory, but it seems to be borne out by the evidence -- is that the coaches are going to stick by their preseason projections no matter what. Having Ohio State remain at No. 1 is not indefensible, given that the Buckeyes are still undefeated and most of the other contenders seem to be struggling. And the Buckeyes did beat Maryland by 21 points, though MaryLOLand. But having them at the top by an overwhelming margin seems to be checking to make sure they won, and then keeping them in first as long as they do.
There's also one other major thing that the coaches are getting wrong right now: Why is Utah behind Michigan State at this point? Both have played Oregon. Michigan State beat the Ducks by three points at home; the Utes eviscerated Oregon by 42 points on the road. Utah beat Michigan -- which has now shut out three straight games -- and also dealt Cal its only loss of the season so far. The Spartans' other Power 5 wins are at Rutgers by seven and against Purdue by three. There is literally no rational basis other than preseason expectations to have Michigan State ranked ahead of Utah right now. None. But, hey, one coach put Utah at No. 1, so someone is at least sort of paying attention.
Just out of sheer novelty: When was the last time that Memphis and Duke were both ranked in a poll? And Toledo?
Your other major takeaway is that the SEC remains locked out of the Top 5 in the AP poll, though at least LSU is hanging on in the coaches poll. So, the worse of the two surveys is firmly behind the SEC. Good to know. It might stay that way for a while; with the possible exception of Utah's game against Arizona State this weekend, there are no good chances at an upset in the near future. And even that is stretching things a bit.
And the SEC is down to five teams in both polls, as the loss to Tennessee knocks Georgia out of the rankings. That also seems unlikely to change unless one of the unranked teams rips off several upsets in a row.