Sunday, October 11, 2015

Poll Position: October 11th

With the introduction of the College Football Playoff last season, polls are a superfluous endeavor. However, they still give us a rough approximation of the general consensus of teams. With six weeks of the college football season in the books (frowny face), and with the internet being invented so that random people can bitch about trivial things they have no control over, here are my thoughts on the latest AP Poll.

Ohio State (1st) - The Buckeyes continue to receive the benefit of the doubt from the pollsters despite underwhelming play on the field. For comparison's sake, they beat Maryland by roughly the same margin as Bowling Green did. The competition will stiffen a little this weekend when they host Penn State.

Michigan State (7th) - Another escape, this time against Rutgers.

Alabama (10th) - At least all the teams in front of them are undefeated. Still, it would be hard to make an objective case that Michigan State is better.

California (23rd) - Kudos to the pollsters for keeping the Bears in the rankings. Three of their wins (@Texas, @Washington, and Washington State) look a lot better this week.

Leaving the Poll:
Southern Cal - The Trojans feel a lot like the 00's version of Florida State. 'USC is baaaaaaack. For reals this time.'

Georgia - The Bulldogs still have a chance to get back to Atlanta if they can beat the Gators in Jacksonville.

Joining the Poll:
Houston (24th) - The former Ohio State offensive coordinator appears to have taken some of their mojo to the Lonestar State. Not to rub salt into an open wound, but there are three ranked teams from the state of Texas, and the Longhorns are not one of them.

Duke (25th) - No argument here. Duke does not have any great wins (Georgia Tech? Boston College?), but their only loss is to Northwestern.

Around the Mid-Major Universe:
I am an admitted mid-major apologist, so I always enjoy it when some non-traditional powers find their way into the poll. Boise State moved up four spots to 21st. The Broncos may end up kicking themselves for losing to BYU as they seem destined to run the table in the Mountain West. Toledo moved up two spots to 22nd. This is their highest poll position since 1997. As mentioned earlier, Houston is back in the poll for the first time since 2011. The American Athletic Conference has two other teams just outside the poll with Temple and Memphis ranking 26th and 27th respectively. Memphis will likely have to wait before returning to the poll as they face Ole Miss this weekend. Temple, on the other hand, hosts a suddenly atrocious UCF, so they should enter the rankings next week. The only other mid-majors to receive any votes are BYU (32nd), Western Kentucky (33rd), and Navy (37th). If BYU can beat Cincinnati this week, their schedule is very manageable the rest of the way. Western Kentucky has a functional bye against North Texas before traveling to Death Valley to take on LSU. If they put up a fight against the Tigers and win the rest of their games, they could be ranked for the first time in school history by bowl season. Despite their loss to Notre Dame, Navy is still in fine shape in their maiden voyage in the American. While they did not receive any votes this week, keep an eye on Louisiana Tech. They travel to Starkville to face Mississippi State this week. A win there (not as far-fetched as it may seem) could catapult them into the polls.

The race for the New Year's Six bid from the Group of Five could be quite interesting. A a one-loss Boise State team (in a weak Mountain West), a potentially undefeated Toledo team, and an American champion that could have one loss would provide plenty of debate fodder for the talking heads at ESPN.

Ranked Matchups This Week:
UCLA (18th) @ Stanford (15th): Take a 5-Hour Energy so you can stay up on Thursday night to watch. Stanford appears to have a much larger margin for error in the Pac-12 North with every other team already owning a conference loss. Meanwhile, a loss by UCLA would mean the Bruins likely need to run the table to get to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Iowa (17th) @ Northwestern (20th): Another likely Big 10 defensive struggle. A win would get Iowa to 7-0 and leave road game at Indiana and Nebraska as the major stumbling blocks to an unbeaten regular season.

Alabama (10th) @ Texas A&M (9th): The Game of the Century of the Weekend. Be prepared to hear Vern Lundquist mess up some play-by-play and Gary Danielson complain about the spread and sound like a know-it-all douche.

Michigan State (7th) @ Michigan (12th): This game kinda feels like a blowout doesn't it?

Florida (8th) @ LSU (6th): Another big game in the SEC. Can the Gators continue their improbable run to the SEC East title, or do the Tigers lend Georgia a hand? Oh, and keep their own national title hopes alive.

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