Saturday’s flurry of upsets rocked the college football world and completely reshaped this year’s playoff picture. The AP Top 25 poll, however, featured few significant changes. Below are three thoughts on this week’s edition.
So many losses, yet moderate change
Can you rattle off all the different upsets from Saturday night? Of course you remember Michigan’s stunner at Iowa and Clemson’s fall to Pitt, but perhaps you forgot about Auburn’s loss? Or Texas A&M’s? How about Washington? The madness didn’t cease all evening, and it looks like the AP voters couldn’t make a whole lot of sense out of it either. Both Clemson and Michigan dropped only two spots despite their losses, and Washington dropped three. The big winner was Ohio State, which moves from No. 6 to No. 2 after its 62–3 rout of Maryland on Saturday.
It’s clear that nobody quite knew how to interpret Saturday’s madness. None of the power players who got upset lost to bad teams, and all of those teams except Clemson lost on the road. It looks like a fair shake, but what’s evident is that nobody quite knew how to rerank with so many top teams going down on the same day.
Return of the Pac-12 South
When USC dropped to 1–3 and UCLA couldn’t kickstart its offense, the feeling was that the Pac-12 South may be the worst division in the Power 5. After Week 11, that division boasts three teams in the top 15. Colorado routed Arizona to continue its best season in over a decade and improve to 8–2, and moved up from No. 16 to No. 12; Utah pummeled Arizona State by 23 points on Friday to move from No. 13 to No. 11; and USC had the biggest rise, moving from unranked to No. 15 after its road upset of Washington.
It’s hard to fathom that the Pac-12 South is one of the more exciting divisions in the Power 5, especially with the preseason favorite—UCLA—mired in a down season. The bottom half of the division features some decidedly bad teams (Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State), but the Buffs, Utes and Trojans should all be exciting teams to watch down the stretch and in bowl season. Colorado’s only two losses have come against USC and Michigan, while USC doesn’t resemble the struggling unit that it was in September.
It’s a funny year when you see Western Michigan in the top 15 and San Diego State and Troy round out the top 25. A dominant win over Kent State in a potential trap game propelled Western Michigan to No. 14, and the Broncos should be the Group of Five representative in a New Year's Six game if they finish the regular season undefeated. San Diego State will rue its loss to South Alabama in October, but the Aztecs are compiling a splendid season behind running back Donnel Pumphrey, who rushed for 198 yards in their 46–16 stomping of Nevada. Pumphrey probably won’t get a Heisman invitation, but he’s rushed for over 100 yards in all but one game (when he logged 98) and has four games with 200 or more. Pumphrey’s recognition has been light (so it goes when playing for San Diego State), but perhaps the Aztecs’ appearance in the AP poll may help his visibility.
Full AP Top 25
1. Alabama (61 first-place votes)
2. Ohio State
9. Penn State
10. West Virginia
13. Oklahoma State
14. Western Michigan
17. Florida State
20. Washington State
22. Boise State
23. Texas A&M
24. San Diego State