Despite losing their grip on the number one spot in the coaches poll, Florida State retains their advantage over Alabama in our combined analysis this week -- but the pack at the top is getting tighter and tighter.
If you're new, a look at our methodology is within our week one post.
|North Dakota State||36||42||39||0.025||44||5||0.025||0.000|
|North Carolina State||38||42||42||0.008||41||-1||0.057||-0.048|
NASCAR's got nothing on this
Alabama, which is the new number one in the coaches' poll, narrowed their deficit by about two-thirds this week. The Seminoles are now a mere 0.169 points per ballot ahead of the Tide, and fourth-place Oklahoma has closed to within 0.703 -- which means that for all intents and purposes, we may as well have four #1 teams.
The Noles remain in front largely because the AP is more enamored of Oregon than Alabama. Reverse the Tide and Ducks in the AP, and Alabama is in first place here by a hair. What is (or, shall we say, remains) fascinating is that Florida State lost first place in the coaches' poll despite having almost twice as many first-place votes as any of the other teams in the mix. Again, this is a clear indication that voters are, by an large, either putting the Seminoles first or somewhere below third. There's very little middle ground here; the math doesn't allow for it.
Bold prediction: it's going to tip next week. If Alabama beats Ole Miss, they're going to take over first place in both polls as well as here. If Oklahoma also beats TCU, Florida State could be in real trouble. An Oregon win (against #29 Arizona) will also be troublesome, and even Auburn and Texas A&M -- who clash with LSU and Mississippi State, respectively -- could impact the Seminoles. The Noles are in danger this week because they're playing hapless Wake Forest, and beating them -- by any margin -- isn't going to score points when compared to what the other teams atop the rankings are facing.
(Of course, we should also note that having so many ranked teams colliding this week is almost a guarantee that at least one of the teams in the top six is going to stumble.)
Looking for an opening
The gap between Oklahoma and Auburn has widened to almost two full places, even as Auburn gained ground on Texas A&M (who in turn lost a bit of space against Baylor). The 5-6-7 pack is just sitting in a holding pattern, awaiting the opportunity to pounce either on the misfortunes of the leaders... or on the leaders themselves. Because the question of who the #1 team is right now is so unsettled, an Alabama loss to A&M in two weeks could vault the Aggies all the way to the top. Auburn and A&M can just sit back and wait for their own opportunities here.
You should also circle your calendar for November 8, because it's entirely possible that Oklahoma will play Baylor and Auburn will play A&M with all four teams being in the top six. Or five. Or four. Scared yet?
Milling around aimlessly
Sitting almost two and a half points behind Baylor is Notre Dame, who once again didn't look all that impressive despite remaining unbeaten. UCLA and Michigan State are bunched behind the Irish, UCLA making a decent jump back into things after a comprehensive beatdown of Arizona State. From there, the spacing is nominally correct all the way down to #16 Wisconsin, at which point things start bunching up a little.
There are five teams packed into a space meant for three from Wisconsin on down to Ohio State, which inexplicably holds a 2.3 PPB lead over East Carolina despite losing to a team ECU beat. Whatever.
The final fifth of the top 25 begins with ECU only 0.191 PPB ahead of Kansas State, which on a PPB basis was actually one of last week's biggest gainers. (Only five teams gained more points per ballot than the Wildcats, including this week's biggest jumper: Mississippi State, moving up 2.675 PPB thanks almost entirely to Arizona State and South Carolina both losing right in front of them.)
Clinging to relevance
The 'Cats are just barely ahead of Oklahoma State, mostly because Oklahoma State is two spots ahead of K-State in the AP poll. After that, it's a massive drop relative to actual position in the rankings. Arizona State trails the Cowboys by a whipping 1.79 PPB, which is really a ridiculous gap this far down in the poll. Missouri is hot on the Sun Devils' heels, and is in turn being pursued fervently by TCU, leaping to #26 this week after landing at #25 in both polls. Arizona State's remaining support with the coaches and Missouri's return to the AP top 25 leave the Frogs out in the cold.
Rounding out the list of teams at at least a half a point per ballot, signifying the theoretical concept of at least half the voters thinking they're a top 25 squad: South Carolina and Clemson, both above the 1.0 PPB threshold, along with Arizona, Marshall, and Georgia Tech.
The rest, and superlatives
It's a big, big dropoff behind the Ramblin' Wreck, as West Virginia checks in at #32 with only .208 PPB -- that's courtesy of 24 points from the AP but only a single 25th place ballot from a coach. Duke and Washington tumbled down into this netherworld, while Louisville, North Carolina, Iowa, and Minnesota all jumped back into it. They're joined by this week's sole team to receive their first ballot mentions of the season, Maryland.
Departing our fair shores for the time being are an entire dinghy worth of teams: Penn State, Utah, Boston College, Oregon State, Boise State, Memphis, Indiana, and Pitt all came up empty this week after having received some votes last week. Penn State is the winner of our ignominious biggest fall award, dropping 19 spots from #27 to goodbye. The largest dropoff in PPB from last week belongs to South Carolina, who shed 10.278 points; just missing out was Arizona State, who lost 10.235. As mentioned, Mississippi State gained the most ground in terms of points, but our big winner this week was Missouri, bouncing back up 15 places and into the top 25 after plunging off the cliff last week. The Tigers will be saved from their yo-yoing existence next week: they're off Saturday.