1 Florida St. 1
2 Ole Miss 3
3 Miss. St. 2
4 Alabama 7
5 Auburn 4
6 Oregon 9
7 Marshall 10
8 Notre Dame 5
9 Georgia 11
10 Arizona 8
11 Minnesota 15
12 UCLA 18
13 Mich. St. 13
14 TCU 19
15 Nebraska 17
16 LSU 20
17 Colo. St. 21
18 Ohio St. —
19 Kansas St. —
20 Baylor 6
21 USC 16
22 Oklahoma 12
23 Clemson —
24 Arizona St. —
25 Duke 23
Full computer rankings 1-128 (as I will explain, these are not in complete agreement with the top 25 given above)
Out of rankings: (14) Ga. Tech, (22) Kentucky, (24) Okie St., (25) TX A&M
I’ve updated the LSU/Kentucky rivalry blog if you haven’t seen it. I’ve been adding basic information to these and mentioning more in-depth observations in other blogs. Games that aren’t close will get less mention in the narrative. I also have one for Ole Miss of course. I also had a bit of fun at TigerDroppings.
Headache at the Top
I literally gave myself a headache thinking about what to do and the future possibilities.
I know I indicated that last week might be the last time I would alter the order of the first few teams for my rankings here, but unforeseen circumstances arose to change that. Tennessee is not a good team, but Ole Miss gained enough points last week to pass up Mississippi St. I was thinking Florida St. or Notre Dame (had they won) would be more likely challengers for #1, so I just didn’t think about this possibility.
I said last week I don’t think Kentucky is a good enough team to beat Mississippi St. and in light of yesterday’s game, I even more strongly don’t think they are. I particularly don’t think the Bulldogs would lose such a game after a bye week. Florida St. has a bye next week, so there would have been less reason to keep Florida St. in the top spot had Mississippi St. topped my computer rankings. Also, if Florida St. had lost and I had to make a change anyway, that would have made it even easier.
I’m not expecting LSU to beat Ole Miss, but I think there is a sufficiently large enough chance of a loss to put off making Ole Miss #1 until next week. The flip side is I think that’s the kind of challenge that can substantiate a #1 ranking. I simply don’t think the Rebels have had that kind of challenge yet. Alabama is a better team than LSU right now, possibly by a considerable margin, but home field can make a big difference. (Ole Miss beat Alabama in Oxford if you don’t follow what I’m saying.)
LSU had a better record and seemed to be the better team on paper when they went on the road to play Ole Miss last season. Sometimes rivalry games like this go the other way than people would expect. A possibly more fitting example: 2008 is arguably the worst LSU season since 1999, and the Tigers took Alabama, who was undefeated and ranked #1, to overtime when they played the Tide at home.
Right now, Ole Miss has only played two SEC opponents that do not reside in the state of Tennessee, and as I mentioned, one of them was at home. The Rebels have not won a true road game outside of the SEC (and I they had a degree of home-field advantage against Boise St. in Atlanta). The only reason they’re #1 in my system right now is they’ve had one fewer bye week than their in-state rivals. Also, Alabama is the only team I have in the top 25 right now that they beat. That’s not enough for me.
Why not make Mississippi St. #1 anyway? For one thing, I’m having to depart from the computer rankings anyway. The only reason to move Florida St. down would have been to just take all subjectivity and deference out of it. Why not keep a team who just beat another unbeaten team there for now? Florida St. also has by far the longest unbeaten streak at the moment.
Another reason is I don’t like to make a change one week after another change without both teams losing. If Ole Miss does win next week, then it would have been a new #1 three weeks in a row. That’s the kind of thing that I’m trying to avoid. Also, Florida St. was not a new #1 for this season (and certainly not forever). That’s a higher standard for me, so waiting until they reclaim #1 in the computers seems reasonable.
Mississippi St. will not have a big-points week until November 15 at the soonest (Alabama), so it’s possible someone else would be #1 if Ole Miss loses before that week anyway.
Anyway, expect #1 next week to be from Mississippi (unless both Mississippi St. and Ole Miss lose), and expect that team to also be #1 here. I think it will be good to fully endorse my computer ratings at the same time that the playoff committee has to reveal their opinion for the first time. Outside of the top 3, the rest of the top 25 is completely unaltered from the order of highest points in my computer ratings.
The Rest of the Top 25
Marshall keeps moving up, but keep in mind that unlike in the polls, they can easily get passed up as the season goes on even if they stay undefeated. The problem is when teams have a chance to pass them up, those teams tend to lose (or in the case of Arizona they have bye weeks).
It may understandably seem a bit strange that TCU is behind Minnesota. The Horned Frogs have had two bye weeks, which doesn’t help. Also, for obvious reasons, Baylor is a more harmful loss to TCU than TCU is a harmful loss to Minnesota.
You might not take Colorado St. seriously, but for some reason the polls take USC seriously despite their loss to Boston College. Colorado St. beat Boston College and has only lost one game, to Boise St. (who is just outside of the top 25).
I don’t understand why the polls love Oklahoma so much. Any other team that just had its second loss of the season (with no impressive wins) would be lucky to be in the top 25 at all. I would understand doing that for Alabama maybe, but not for a team that hasn’t won a national championship in 14 years.
Kansas St., the second team to beat the Sooners, makes its first appearance in my top 25 since the end of the 2012 season.
Virginia isn’t a bad team, so it might be nice if Duke got more credit for beating them, but the Cavaliers’ record needs to improve for the win to count for more.