AP Top 25 shakeup: Penn State to 3; Wazzu, Auburn in top 10

 

Penn State moved up to No. 3 in The Associated Press college football poll, and Washington State and Auburn jumped into the top 10 for the first time this season after six ranked teams lost this past weekend.

Alabama and Clemson still hold the top spots. The top-ranked Crimson Tide received 43 first-place votes in the poll released Sunday and the second-ranked Tigers had 18. The Nittany Lions have their best ranking since 2008, moving up one spot and taking advantage of the biggest upset of the season so far.

Oklahoma lost at home to Iowa State on Saturday, dropping the Sooners from No. 3 to 12. Michigan also lost for the first time and fell to No. 17.

Washington State is No. 8 and Auburn moved up to 10.

Behind Penn State, Georgia at No. 4 and Washington at No. 5 also moved up one spot after convincing victories. TCU moved up two spots to No. 6, and No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 9 Ohio State round out the top 10.

___

POLL POINTS

EVERGREEN STATE SURGE

College football in the state of Washington has not been this strong in 20 years. With Washington State and Washington both undefeated, the Cougars and Huskies are in the top 10 together for the first time since Oct. 26, 1997.

Back then, Washington was No. 7 and Wazzu was No. 10, but they were headed in different directions. The Huskies stumbled down the stretch and ended up finishing the season 8-4 and ranked 18th. The Cougars, behind quarterback Ryan Leaf and coach Mike Price, won the then-Pac-10 title and played in the Rose Bowl. Washington State finished that season No. 9.

This year, the Huskies, coming off a College Football Playoff appearance under coach Chris Petersen, have been ranked in the top 10 since preseason. Coach Mike Leach's Cougars started this season ranked 24th and have steadily climbed since. They followed up a home victory against Southern California last week with a blowout victory at Oregon on Saturday night.

IN

All those ranked teams losing also created turnover in the bottom third of the rankings, with four teams moving in, including three for the first time this season.

— No. 21 Michigan State (4-1) is ranked for the first time since the late September 2016. The Spartans began last season ranked and coming off a Big Ten title, but their season spiraled and they ended up being one of the most disappointing teams in the country, finishing 3-9. After upsetting Michigan in the rain at the Big House on Saturday night, Michigan State is back.

— Stanford (4-2) returned to the rankings at No. 23 after handing Utah its first loss of the season.

— No. 24 Texas Tech (4-1) is ranked for the first time since Nov. 3, 2013, Kliff Kingsbury's first season as coach at his alma mater.

— Unbeaten Navy (5-0) is No. 25. The Midshipmen have made at least one appearance in the Top 25 each of the last three seasons. That hasn't happened since the 1950s.

OUT

— Louisville fell out of the rankings for the first time this season after losing to North Carolina State on Thursday.

— Utah is out after losing at home.

— Florida and West Virginia fell out of the rankings after each took a second loss.

UP

— Notre Dame jumped five spots to No. 16, thanks as much to the movement around the Irish as to what they did Saturday. Notre Dame won at North Carolina to improve to 5-1, but their victory at Michigan State looks a lot more impressive now. Plus, the Irish have been the only team to stay within single-digits of Georgia. The Bulldogs beat Notre Dame 20-19 in South Bend, Indiana, in week two.

— North Carolina State moved up four spots to No. 20, giving the Wolfpack their best ranking since 2003, when they reached No. 14 but finished the season unranked.

— Miami moved up two spots to No. 11 after breaking a seven-game losing streak to Florida State.

DOWN

— Michigan's 10-spot drop was the largest this week.

— Oklahoma fell nine spots and now holds the distinction of having a victory against a top-10 team (Ohio State) )and a loss to an unranked team.

RANKED vs. RANKED

None. The last time a weekend of college football this late in the season included no games matching ranked teams was Nov. 21, 2009. It's happened twice in September since then — last year and in 2012.

CONFERENCE CALL

The SEC is down to three teams in the Top 25, the fewest of any Power Five conference and the fewest for the league since Dec. 6, 2009.

Big Ten — 5

ACC — 4

Big 12 — 4

Pac-12 — 4

American — 3

SEC — 3

Mountain West — 1

Independent — 1


AP Top 25 Heat Check: Why is Michigan State behind Michigan?

 

By RALPH D. RUSSO ,  AP College Football Writer

Time to start talking about head-to-head results.

Michigan State entered the AP Top 25 at No. 21 on Sunday after beating a Michigan team that has been ranked no worse than 11th all season. So it was surprising and confusing to many, including Heat Check, to see the Wolverines still ranked ahead of the Spartans at No. 17.

What gives?

"I do take head-to-head into account. In this case, I like Michigan's body of work better," said Bob Asmussen, from the Champaign News-Gazette, who had Michigan No. 14 and Michigan State No. 22. "The win against Florida, though not great, helps. So does the win at Purdue, which I think is pretty good. Michigan State's loss to Notre Dame was by a lopsided score. As the year moves along, I can easily see flopping them in my rankings depending on how they play."

A brief review: Michigan State beat Michigan 14-10 on a rainy Saturday night at the Big House and the Wolverines did just about everything they could to help the Spartans' cause. Michigan State had two first downs and no points in the second half. Michigan finished with five turnovers.

As for that body of work, the Spartans other victories are against Western Michigan, Bowling Green and Iowa. Though it should be noted the Sagarin computer ratings have Michigan State's scheduled rated ninth best in the country to this point while Michigan's is 32nd.

The head-to-head or body-of-work debate will rage all season, and only get more difficult for voters to weigh. Especially, when three teams each get a victory in a round-robin (think Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan last season).

At this juncture in the season, though, Heat Check prefers to let the results on the field be the guide.

No. 1 Alabama (6-0)

Since Nick Saban thinks positive press can be like "rat poison" for his team, we'll point out the Crimson Tide played its worst game in weeks against Texas A&M.

Next: vs. Arkansas.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 2 Clemson (6-0)

Short week. Road game. Maybe playing with back-up quarterbacks,though the news on Kelly Bryant sounds encouraging . The Tigers face some adversity this week.

Next: at Syracuse, Friday.

Heat check: Too cold. Could still flip a coin between Tigers and Tide.

No. 3 Penn State (6-0)

Lots of complaints about Washington's nonconference schedule. That's fair, but Penn State's wasn't much better.

Next: vs. No. 17 Michigan, Oct. 21.

Heat check: Touch too hot.

No. 4 Georgia (6-0)

Prediction: There is going to be some very serious discussion in the coming weeks about the possibility of both Alabama and Georgia making the College Football Playoff. Sure, it's too soon. But it is going to happen.

Next: vs. Missouri.

Heat check: Too cold. Should be No. 3.

No. 5 Washington (6-0)

Heat check stays up late. The Huskies are excellent, but the lack of signature victories has to be held against them right now.

Next: at Arizona State.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 6 TCU (5-0)

The Horned Frogs have been deemed the Big 12's best hope for the playoff. True, but overplayed. A one-loss Oklahoma would still be very viable, especially if Ohio State keeps winning.

Next: at Kansas State.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 7 Wisconsin (5-0)

No team in a Power Five conference is more superior to its division rivals than the Badgers are to the rest of the Big Ten West. They might win the division by three games.

Next: vs. Purdue.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 8 Washington State (6-0)

Now the Cougars get the second of back-to-back road games on a short week the way USC had it when the Trojans visited Pullman — and lost. Playing Cal should be easier.

Next: at California, Friday.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 9 Ohio State (5-1)

No, Iowa State is not better than Ohio State, but that loss by Oklahoma did the Buckeyes no favors.

Next: at Nebraska.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 10 Auburn (5-1)

The Tigers have gotten their offense in order against some SEC softies. Really, they are a lot like Ohio State.

Next: at LSU.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 11 Miami (4-0)

Some will be tempted to downplay the Hurricanes' victory at Florida State, but it's a better win than most top-10 teams have.

Next: vs. Georgia Tech.

Heat check: Too cold, flip-flop Miami and Ohio State.

No. 12 Oklahoma (4-1)

Win at Ohio State. Lose at home to Iowa State. Have to admit: Little confused about what to do with the Sooners. At the least they should probably be behind USC.

Next: vs. Texas at Dallas.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 13 Southern California (5-1)

Using the Sagarin ratings, USC has played the 13th toughest schedule in the country. Among the teams ranked ahead of the Trojans, only Clemson's SOS is better and very few are even remotely close.

Next: vs. Utah.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 14 Oklahoma State (4-1)

Biggest accomplishment: Winning at Texas Tech.

Next: vs. Baylor.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 15 Virginia Tech (5-1)

Hokies season probably comes down to consecutive road games in November against Miami and Georgia Tech.

Next: vs. North Carolina, Oct. 21.

No. 16 Notre Dame (5-1)

The 4-8 mark from last season has been tough to wash off for the Irish, who are being underappreciated.

Next: vs. No. 13 Southern California, Oct. 21.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 17 Michigan (4-1)

The Wolverines look like a team headed for a few more losses.

Next: at Indiana.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 18 South Florida (5-0)

The Bulls are the best-ranked of three American Athletic Conference teams in the Top 25. That's the same number of teams as the SEC has ranked, though those SEC teams are all top 10.

Next: vs. Cincinnati.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 19 San Diego State (6-0)

Coaches like to say the toughest game left on the schedule is the next one. For San Diego State, that's true.

Next: vs. Boise State.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 20 North Carolina State (5-1)

Feels a little like 2015 North Carolina, which let an opener against South Carolina get away and then rolled to an 11-win season.

Next: at Pittsburgh.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 21 Michigan State (4-1)

With one of the least experienced teams in the country, coach Mark Dantonio is leading an impressive turnaround.

Next: at Minnesota.

Heat check: Where ever you want to put the Spartans, ahead of Michigan is a good start.

No. 22 UCF (4-0)

The Knights have been so dominant they are now mercying their opponents. Not really, but a weather delay turned into a shortened game against Cincinnati because it was such a mismatch.

Next: vs. East Carolina.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 23 Stanford (4-2)

Cardinal are back in the rankings thanks in large part to RB Bryce Love, the nation's leading rusher.

Next: vs. Oregon.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 24 Texas Tech (4-1)

The Red Raiders are no doubt improved. Should they be ranked?

Next: at West Virginia.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 25 Navy (5-0)

Midshipmen have now made an appearance in the Top 25 three straight seasons, which hasn't happened since the 1950s.

Next: at Memphis.

Heat check: Just right.

INSTEAD OF ... Texas Tech how about Texas or maybe Georgia Tech.