I present to you Week 8 of the Bring On The Cats Top 25 Poll, in which overall variance hits its lowest level of the season and agreement on the top 17 teams is at an all-time high:
As always, your slate of voters is myself, Curtis Kitchen, EMAW 4 Ever, Jon Morse, JT VanGilder, Luke Thompson, nugget1224, PurpleBrunette, wildcat00 and KSUEMAW!
And then there were three. Just three undefeated Power Five teams crown our poll this week, with Marshall and North Dakota State also making appearances further down.
The difference between the two Mississippis once again was razor-thin, with a bit more distance separating Florida State. As in the Associated Press poll, four of the top five are in the SEC West.
Working down, there isn't another significant points gap again until the 23 points between Michigan State and Baylor, and then the 25 between Arizona State and East Carolina. Things really are starting to sort themselves out.
Variance continues to stay low across the board, with all but four of the top 19 registering single digits, including all of the top 10.
Obviously, Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State took the biggest plunges this week, with the last virtually falling out of the poll altogether.
But OU is by far the highest-ranked two-loss team and Baylor resides just outside the top 10, so it's not all bad.
Five of the top 10 stayed exactly the same, including TCU, which is ranked seventh for the third straight week.
Further down, a decent number of teams advanced exactly one spot as the Cowboys were flushed.
The biggest jumps were nine spots apiece for LSU and West Virginia, which overcame prior doubts with dominating home wins.
K-State also had a nice five-point rise, clearly spurred by its best and most impressive performance of the season.
The only new faces this week are the aforementioned LSU and West Virginia, plus Duke, which slides in for the Cowboys, as well as three-loss Stanford and Texas A&M, none of which projects as likely to return this season, barring a serious and surprising hot streak.
- The BOTC voters agree with the Associated Press on the rankings of No. 1 Mississippi State, No. 6 Oregon, No. 14 Arizona State and No. 17 Oklahoma. That's considerably less agreement than in last week's poll, but many other teams are within one to two spots.
- The biggest AP divergences were three-spot boosts for Kansas State and TCU (Big 12/purple bias!), a six-spot jump for Minnesota (which now has multiple supporters, despite almost losing at home to Purdue), a seven-spot boost for Marshall (given voting patterns, a 12-0 Herd team could possibly crack the top five) and, of course, a nine-spot increase for North Dakota State. Voters are rightly skeptical of what Georgia (-3) and Ohio State (-6) truly have accomplished so far against a weak schedule with bad losses to unranked teams, and Oklahoma State had a corrective negative bias of minus-six.
- Marshall retains the variance title for the second straight week, ranging anywhere from sixth (JT) to 25th (just one this week). Among the 17 teams ranked on all 10 ballots, Georgia and Arizona came in a close second and third, checking in from fifth (Curtis) and eighth (me) to 19th and 22nd, respectively.
- North Dakota State had the most variance overall — and slightly more than Marshall, surprise, surprise — having been left off three ballots, but ranking 10th and 16th on two others. Second-place West Virginia also missed three ballots and ranged from 14th to 24th.
- The highest-ranked team not to appear on every ballot is now Oklahoma, left off by me because the Sooners need to beat Iowa State to get back to .750. Ohio State and Utah also were off one ballot each, while Nebraska still was left off two.
- No unranked team appeared on more than five ballots, further evidence that the top 25 haves are separating from the have-nots. Even more telling is the large gap between Colorado State and Washington. Basically, 29 teams are considered above average, and every other name listed is a one-ballot outlier with a lot of work to do.
- Of those remaining five names, I think Louisville has the best chance to return, with a primetime trap being prepared for Florida State as we speak and a fairly soft schedule rolling out behind it. Watch out for Petrino's Cardinals...
- Want to know how hard it is to move up in this thing sometimes? Poor Michigan State gained 20 points, usually good for a two-spot improvement, yet stayed stuck at 10th.
- Iowa, Kentucky, Oregon State, South Carolina, Stanford and Texas A&M all received votes last week, but not this week. For those first three, it's amazing how fast that second loss can bring things into clarity. For the last three, wow, that's a far cry from the Week 1 poll, innit?