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College Football Rankings: Alabama Remains No. 2 in Polls; Arkansas, Mississippi St., Tennessee (But Not Auburn) Drop Out

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The rankings don't make any sense, but they're going to drive the discussion for the next few weeks anyway

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the establishment of the college football playoff selection committee, the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls still matter a great deal in driving the discussion, and especially early in the year, when the committee isn't meeting. This week, though, contains a perfect example of why the polls shouldn't even be as important as they are, and why basing who played in the BCS National Championship Game on one of those polls was a bad idea. First, your polls.

Associated Press Change Points USA Today Change Points
1 Ohio St. Buckeyes (59) -- 1,523 Ohio St. Buckeyes (62) -- 1,574
2 Alabama Crimson Tide -- 1,423 Alabama Crimson Tide (1) -- 1,472
3 TCU Horned Frogs -- 1,366 TCU Horned Frogs -- 1,430
4 Michigan St. Spartans (2) +1 1,354 Michigan St. Spartans +2 1,383
5 Baylor Bears -1 1,240 Baylor Bears -1 1,324
6 Southern Cal Trojans +2 1,146 Florida St. Seminoles +2 1,119
7 Georgia Bulldogs +3 1,031 Southern Cal Trojans +3 1,116
8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish +1 1,012 Georgia Bulldogs +1 1,108
9 Florida St. Seminoles +2 973 Clemson Tigers +3 948
10 UCLA Bruins +3 928 Notre Dame Fighting Irish +1 903
11 Clemson Tigers +1 926 Ole Miss Rebels +3 851
12 Oregon Ducks -5 833 UCLA Bruins +1 850
13 LSU Tigers +1 787 Oregon Ducks -8 847
14 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets +1 716 LSU Tigers +1 806
15 Ole Miss Rebels +2 713 Auburn Tigers -8 784
16 Oklahoma Sooners +3 705 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets -- 731
17 Texas A&M Aggies -1 703 Oklahoma Sooners -- 664
18 Auburn Tigers -12 519 Texas A&M Aggies +1 590
19 BYU Cougars NR 349 Arizona Wildcats +1 423
20 Arizona Wildcats +2 342 Missouri Tigers +1 320
21 Utah Utes +3 290 Utah Utes +4 279
22 Missouri Tigers -1 264 BYU Cougars +8 204
23 Northwestern Wildcats NR 170 Wisconsin Badgers +1 202
24 Wisconsin Badgers NR 158 Northwestern Wildcats +5 95
25 Oklahoma St. Cowboys NR 48 Oklahoma St. Cowboys +3 71
ORV Temple (2-0) 38; West Virginia (2-0) 37; Mississippi State (1-1) 32; Tennessee (1-1) 30; Toledo (1-0) 29; Kansas State (2-0) 26; Arizona State (1-1) 20; Houston (2-0) 16; Boise State (1-1) 16; NC State (2-0) 14; Florida (2-0) 12; Minnesota (1-1) 9; Arkansas (1-1) 6; Iowa (2-0) 5; California (2-0) 5; Miami (Fla.) (2-0) 3; Stanford (1-1) 3; Virginia Tech (1-1) 2; Western Kentucky (2-0) 2; Duke (2-0) 1 West Virginia 49; Tennessee 43; Kansas State 39; Arizona State 36; Mississippi State 35; Duke 32; Temple 24; Miami (Fla.) 16; Boise State 14; Memphis 13; North Carolina State 13; Kentucky 8; Minnesota 8; Florida 8; Illinois 8; California 6; Toledo 6; Iowa 5; Michigan 5; Nebraska 3; Arkansas 3; Houston 2; Pittsburgh 2; South Carolina 1; Texas Tech 1; Western Kentucky 1

There was a little SEC blood on the floor this week after a pretty bad weekend. Three teams dropped from the AP poll: Arkansas, which lost to Toledo; Tennessee, which lost in gut-punch fashion to Oklahoma; and Mississippi State, which lost to LSU. Arkansas and Tennessee also fell out of the coaches' Top 25, but Mississippi State wasn't there to begin with.

Which brings us to one of the more outrageous things about both of these polls: Auburn is still ranked. Auburn's two wins are a seven-point victory over a Louisville team that could not beat Houston at home and an overtime victory against FCS program Jacksonville State. If Auburn had not been ranked at the beginning of the season, it is almost unfathomable that they would be ranked now. But the preseason narrative and the name brand of Auburn keeps them in the Top 25 despite having done nothing to earn it.

The wording of the AP's alert about its poll puts captures the bizarre way most people still think about polls.

Sure, it was an ugly win against a team that would not seriously be considered for the Top 25 right now -- but it's a win, so Auburn should remain ranked, right? I mean, that is how it works, right?

More context: Auburn needed overtime to beat Sagarin's No. 80 team -- ranked below Colorado and Washington State -- and remains in the rankings. Mississippi State, which lost by two points to either the 13th- or 14th-ranked team in the country, depending on your poll of choice, is in the others receiving votes category. That's the power of narrative and preseason opinion. And while the selection committee might help us clear our heads of that in a few weeks, it's the only real way the average fan has of comparing teams in the interim.