Sunday, October 18, 2015

Poll Position: October 18th

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 seven 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.

Oklahoma State (14th) - Over their bye week, the Cowboys moved up two more spots. With Kansas up this week, they will probably climb a little higher next week, but they don't appear to be as strong as the other three ranked Big 12 teams.

LSU (5th) - I know I said they were overrated just a few weeks ago, but I changed my mind. I know they needed some more Lesticles Bayou Magic to beat the Gators, but they have averaged over seven yards per play in each of their past five games. Road trips to Alabama and Ole Miss remain to be played, but this is an elite team.

Iowa (12th) - Take a look at that schedule again. There are some quality wins: Pitt (more on them later), @ Wisconsin, and by 30 @ Northwestern (a place and opponent where Stanford lost by ten). 

Leaving the Poll:
UCLA - Ah yes, the preseason playoff dark horse. The Bruins have not finished with fewer than three regular season losses since 2005.

Northwestern - After a great start to the season, Wildcats have dropped two straight by 38 and 30 points respectively. Still need one win over their final five games to become bowl eligible.

Boise State - New Year's Six hopes likely dashed after an epic eight turnover performance against Utah State.

Joining the Poll:
Memphis (18th) - It only took half the season, six wins, and an upset over an SEC school. This represents the highest ranking in program history.

Temple (22nd) - The Owls are the third American team in the poll, the only Group of Five conference with multiple teams. With Notre Dame on tap on Halloween, the Owls are unlikely to achieve their highest ranking in school history. They rose as high as 13th in the months before the US entered World War II.

Pitt (25th) - Panthers are 3-0 in the ACC. Having Paul Chryst take the Wisconsin job may have been the best thing to happen to them. 

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. Toledo moved up three spots to 19th. The Rockets face Massachusetts this weekend, but then they must face the MAC gauntlet. Beginning with mid-week MACtion on November 3rd, the Rockets face Northern Illinois, @ Central Michigan, @ Bowling Green, and Western Michigan before a potential rematch with Bowling Green in the MAC Championship Game. If the Rockets finish undefeated, they will have earned it. Memphis, the highest ranked Group of Five member at this point (18th) will begin their own gauntlet in November, when they face Navy, @ Houston, and @ Temple (the three best American teams) in back-to-back-to-back weeks. The race for the New Year's Six bowl berth from the Group of Five will probably be an undefeated Toledo team or the American champion after Boise State dropped their second game of the season. The loss dropped the Broncos from the poll and will likely keep the Broncos out of the Mountain West Championship Game. Utah State has a one-game lead on the Broncos (and the tiebreaker with the head-to-head win) with five to play. Utah State could join the poll late in the year if they win out. Western Kentucky has a chance to join the conversation for the New Year's Six bowl bid. All they have to do is win at LSU this weekend. BYU's schedule is significantly easier over the second half of the year. Missouri and Utah State are their toughest remaining foes, so the Cougars could return to the polls. Fire up your ESPNU on Thursday night as two former Southern Conference powers continue their ascension in the Sun Belt. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State both have just one loss on the year, and this game in Boone will probably determine the Sun Belt champion. Georgia Southern still has Georgia on the schedule, so even if they win their other games, they will probably find it difficult to join the polls. Appalachian State has completed their non-conference schedule, so a win by the Mountaineers could propel them into the polls by the end of the season.

Ranked Matchups This Week:
Texas A&M (15th) @ Ole Miss (24th): After five ranked matchups last week, this is the only one on the docket this weekend. Despite the loss to Memphis, Ole Miss still controls their destiny in the SEC West race. Keep that in mind as a potential apocalyptic scenario. 

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