Welcome to the latest edition of our utterly pointless yet still mildly amusing look at what the poll voters are really telling us. By now you should be familiar with the methodology, but if not you can always go back to week one and bone up on it.
You may be asking, "Wait, what happened to week four?" That, dear reader, is the wrong question. Instead, you should ask why the first polls after the preseason polls are referred to as "Week Two." We've skipped "Week Four" to bring ourselves into line with the terminology used by the polls.
The missing vote from the coaches' poll has mysteriously reappeared, and after digging up the original list of voters, June Jones did not appear. So the missing vote last week wasn't a result of him resigning; it was just a missing ballot.
This means that the raw vote totals swing the other way this week; a small gain in raw points in the coaches' poll actually indicates a loss of support. This only applies, however, to Oregon, Auburn, and Ohio State, as well as possibly some teams that only got a literal handful of points. (Memphis went from 2 to 3 this week, but maybe that ballot had Memphis 23rd, see.) The Ducks were +4 but probably had an additional 22-25 points added due to the missing ballot; Auburn was +19 against a number that's probably pretty close to +19, and Ohio State was +5 while holding a position worth six points, so they probably dropped a point or two. I say probably in both cases because it is of course possible the ballot submitted by whoever failed to last week had Auburn lower than 7th and Ohio State lower than 21st. Clear as mud? Fantastic.
And now, the table:
|North Carolina State||45||38||41||0.056||46||5||0.033||0.024|
|North Dakota State||41||45||44||0.025||47||3||0.025||0.000|
Another reshuffle at the top
Florida State remains atop the mountain, but their support continues to erode. Last week, the Seminoles were about 1.2 PPB ahead of #2 Oregon; this week, they're barely .7 PPB ahead of #2 Alabama -- and only 1.3 PPB ahead of #4 Oklahoma. That means that the top four teams are all jammed into a space barely big enough for two teams. Further, it's a pretty stark indication that the folks who don't think Florida State is #1 don't necessarily think they're 2, 3, or 4 either. If the Seminoles suffer another shaky outing, they may find themselves sliding out of the top spot.
Meanwhile, Alabama as once again overtaken Oregon, on the strength of a dominating win over Florida combined with Oregon's relative struggles against Washington State. The Ducks remain pretty solidly ahead of Bama in the AP, but the coaches dumped Oregon all the way to fourth.
Behind the top four, Auburn, Texas A&M, and Baylor all held serve while picking up a few extra points. Some of those were at the expense of the teams ahead of them; most were handed over by LSU.
A drop and a jumble
Once again a team fell out of good graces (LSU), and once again the teams in their wake shuffled themselves around in the process of filling the vacuum. The big winner there was Michigan State, sliding up to 9th from 12th last week; UCLA was the loser, actually falling a spot. As a group, 9-15 simply moved up to 8-14.
Auburn sits a point and a half back of the leaders, with A&M trailing the Tigers by a little less than that. Baylor is hot on the Ag's heels. A massive drop then exists between Baylor and Notre Dame -- three points per ballot. The Irish have a pretty standard lead on Michigan State, and then things get messy. Sparty was right on Mississippi's tail last week, but now sit a half-point ahead per ballot. UCLA slid down to create a similar gap behind Ole Miss. Behind them, Georgia, Arizona State, and South Carolina each hold rational distances behind the teams in front of them.
Oh, hello there
And then, suddenly, it's Mississippi State. Checking in at 28 last week, the Bulldogs made the third largest jump in rank this time out (we'll get to that in a bit), and by far the largest by PPB. They're in close to a dead heat with Stanford. LSU also appears out of nowhere in this group, although they of course came from the other direction. They're more than a point back of the Cardinal, and are far enough ahead of Wisconsin to call it a reasonable spacing. The Badgers are the only team actually victimized by Mississippi State's rise; Missouri's tumble saved everyone beneath them.
The rest of the best
Big drop to USC here, over a point and a half. BYU is right on the Trojans' doorstep, and Nebraska's not far behind. These teams swept in to fill the vacuum created by Missouri and, to a lesser extent, Kansas State. One other team appears here before we get to the Wildcats: East Carolina, rightfully rewarded for winning the ACC Coastal Division. K-State checks in at #24 here, a result of the AP and coaches having somewhat differing views on Oklahoma State. The 'Cats fell five places in each poll, but lost less than four points per ballot. Oklahoma State is 25th here, but...
Fighting to get in the door
...they're just a sliver ahead of Duke, only 0.02 PPB separating them. Filling out the "got at least half a point per ballot" brigade are Penn State, Clemson, Washington, TCU, and Marshall. And then there's everyone else who got votes, flumphing around like driftwood. I say that because some of these teams made pretty big gains as far as rankings go. Oregon State gained seven spots, Arizona gained eight, and our two largest gainers for the week were Utah (up 16) and Georgia Tech (up 17). Of course, that's because neither team had a single vote last week and suddenly leaped into the top 35.
Finally, there are our sad stories for the week. LSU suffered the greatest indignity in terms of volume, shedding just shy of 10 points per ballot. As far as ordinal rankings go, however, it was a quartet of teams taking it on the chin: Missouri, sliding from 18th all the way to 40th, was the only one of these four who still have votes to count. The other three all fell completely off every ballot: Virginia Tech (-18), Florida (-19), and the winner of this week's ignominious collapse award, the North Carolina Tar Heels, who tumbled 23 spots from the top 25 to complete irrelevance. Also disappearing, but hardly missed: Virginia and Northern Illinois.