Tide signs off Manziel, Aggies; & some sour Whisky

Christian Petersen

Johnny Manziel couldn't repeat last year's magic as Texas A&M fell to Alabama. Down the poll, Wisconsin stakes claim as early-season favorite for screw-job of the year.

In last week's poll review, I pointed out that, while Associated Press voters still overwhelmingly gave their nod to Alabama, Oregon possibly should be given more consideration as the nation's top team.

The Ducks were again great, thrashing Tennessee in Eugene, Ore., but the Tide showed some top-team moxie going into Johnny Manziel's house, overcoming an early Aggie onslaught, and winning. Fine, Tide. Fine. You're No. 1. Oregon is No. 2. And, until one or the other loses, those spots are secure from here on out.

ASSOCIATED PRESS POLL

Rank Team Record Votes Previous
1 Alabama (59) 2-0 1,499 1
2 Oregon (1) 3-0 1,413 2
3 Clemson 2-0 1,347 3
4 Ohio State 3-0 1,330 4
5 Stanford 2-0 1,241 5
6 LSU 3-0 1,134 8
7 Louisville 3-0 1,092 7
8 Florida State 2-0 1,058 10
9 Georgia 1-1 1,051 9
10 Texas A&M 2-1 1,001 6
11 Oklahoma State 3-0 848 12
12 South Carolina 2-1 821 13
13 UCLA 2-0 757 16
14 Oklahoma 3-0 692 14
15 Michigan 3-0 672 11
16 Miami (FL) 2-0 641 15
17 Washington 2-0 496 19
18 Northwestern 3-0 487 17
19 Florida 1-1 412 18
20 Baylor 2-0 355 22
21 Mississippi 3-0 300 25
22 Notre Dame 2-1 277 21
23 Arizona State 2-0 229 NR
24 Wisconsin 2-1 87 20
25 Texas Tech 3-0 60 NR
Others Receiving Votes: Michigan State 59, Fresno State 27, UCF25, Northern Illinois 24, Georgia Tech 17, Nebraska 15, Arizona 11, Auburn 9, Boise State 4, Virginia Tech 3, TCU 3, Arkansas 2, Navy 1

What voters got right: There really wasn't much, at the very top at least, for voters to screw up as several teams didn't play this week. The middle and lower portions of the poll are a mess, but at least folks remembered to kick out TCU, which either puked on itself in Lubbock, was one of the first (of many?) victims for Texas Tech this season, or both.

What voters got wrong: Where to start here... where to start... Okay, A&M jumps out to a big lead on Alabama, falls behind after the two-time defending champion responds in kind, and then forces some major money to change hands in Vegas depending on which line you had. All of that means a four-spot drop? While Louisville plods along uninspired against arguably the SEC's worst team in Kentucky and remains solid at No. 7? Ahead of domination from Florida State and LSU? No. That doesn't seem right.

Voters who contributed to the A&M free fall should be ashamed, or at least look in the mirror and ask themselves how much of that was based on a general dislike of Manziel or something else non-football related.

Elsewhere, UCLA easily could have avoided this mess, but was lumped in when Nebraska was dumped out of the Top 25. Two ways to look at this: 1) The Bruins are deserving of a jump up past Oklahoma and Miami, and that choice is validated by the Huskers remaining in the poll; or 2) Nebraska isn't good and should be out, which lessens the win quality for UCLA, despite it being in Lincoln. Pick one, voters. Not both, not when OU was impressive against Tulsa and the Hurricanes were idle.

And, so much fail is involved with Arizona State's moving ahead of Wisconsin, not to mention the Badgers falling four spots. Did anybody actually watch the game's end? Had officials played the best defense of the night in not allowing the Badgers to snap the ball, Whisky likely kicks a game-winning field goal. Non-watching pollsters see a road win for a ranked team, and all is good. But, of course that didn't happen, and here's this mess. Fantastic.

Other thoughts: Ole Miss got Longhorn-Network'ed, meaning nobody saw it beat the hide off of Texas. That's the only reason I can come up with on why Florida is still ranked ahead of both the Rebels (and Baylor, for that matter).

The "Buddy, let me get you a drink after that" award goes to: Wisconsin.

USA TODAY COACHES POLL

RANK TEAM RECORD POINTS PREVIOUS RANK
1 Alabama 2-0 1549 1
2 Oregon 3-0 1477 2
3 Ohio St. 3-0 1398 3
4 Clemson 2-0 1331 5
5 Stanford 2-0 1314 4
6 Louisville 3-0 1128 7
7 LSU 3-0 1121 8
8 Florida St. 2-0 1113 9
9 Texas A&M 2-1 1033 6
10 Georgia 1-1 1022 10
11 Oklahoma St. 3-0 908 11
12 Oklahoma 3-0 839 13
13 South Carolina 2-1 811 14
14 Michigan 3-0 743 12
15 UCLA 2-0 699 17
16 Northwestern 3-0 582 16
17 Miami 2-0 559 18
18 Florida 1-1 398 20
19 Baylor 2-0 375 22
20 Washington 2-0 361 23
21 Notre Dame 2-1 331 21
22 Mississippi 3-0 303 25
23 Arizona St. 2-0 176 NR
24 Michigan St. 3-0 131 NR
25 Fresno St. 2-0 75 NR
Schools Dropped Out
No. 15 Nebraska (2-1), No. 18 (Tie) Wisconsin (2-1), No. 24 TCU (1-2).
Others Receiving Votes
Nebraska 55; Wisconsin 53; Texas Tech 49; Georgia Tech 37; Arkansas 34; Central Florida 33; Arizona 29; Northern Illinois 26; Auburn 15; Virginia Tech 9; Brigham Young 8; Southern California 7; Kansas State 6; Boise State 5; Utah State 5; Rutgers 2.

This poll was much, much cleaner than the AP version, but it didn't get out of Week 3 perfectly, either.

What the "coaches" (or SIDs) got right: The top 2/3 of the poll is pretty solid for the most part. This poll got it right with regard to judging and slotting UCLA correctly i relation to other teams like the Sooners; especially when Nebraska got absolutely crushed and dropped from No. 15 to out the door (like Texas did a week ago). I'm a little surprised Michigan didn't fall farther after surviving Akron, but that's pretty minor, I think.

What the "coaches" missed: Basically, this is a lesser carbon copy of the AP. Louisville again got a free pass for a lackluster effort, while A&M dropped three places to No. 9. I don't get this. And, Wisconsin is being treated like a red-headed stepchild after a controversial loss that easily could have been a win... while the team that won gets to jump up to No. 23? Say what? Someone, explain. Explain right now.

Overall, my faith isn't shaken in this poll nearly like it was in the AP's effort this week. But, where I praised both polls last week for their willingness to be fluid in letting teams prove themselves, this greased slip-and-slide routine is too much. I'm interested now in seeing whether those teams affected early are allowed a chance to recover. That can't happen if the polls suddenly violently swing the other way and lock down.

***Edit note: Some may have noticed the fail on my part as well where I had my initial version pointing out Louisville's incorrect winning margin. Yeah, if I'm going to call out the polls on a weekly basis, I'll call out my own dumb stuff as well. It doesn't change how I feel about the Cardinals. I think they should be behind LSU and Florida State at this point. -ck

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