** The American Athletic Conference saw its number of ranked teams cut in half, from four to two. Temple got what it deserved after a 21-point loss at South Florida, but Memphis got a raw deal. The Tigers, #25 and playing at #16 Houston, lost by a point when a last-second field goal try drifted right. So the #25 team is supposed to beat the #16 team on the latter’s field? At night?
** Also falling from the Top 25 were Mississippi State and U.C.L.A. The Bulldogs had been #20 but were hammered at home by Alabama. U.C.L.A. also lost at home, to Washington State.
** Three of the four teams entering the rankings are from the Pac-12, which now has five ranked teams – more than any other conference except the Big Ten, which has six. Southern Cal is in at #22, followed by Oregon at #23 and Washington State at #24. U.S.C. and Oregon have followed similar paths. Both were in the poll earlier in the season and their returns come on the strength of four-game winning streaks after 3-3 starts. Washington State is a Top 25 team for the first time in more than nine years!
** The other new team this week is Mississippi at #25. The Rebels were #3 after beating Alabama back in September.
** The biggest upward moves belonged to Oklahoma, Michigan State and North Carolina, all of which climbed five notches. Oklahoma, now #7, and North Carolina, now #12, earned their promotions. The Sooners won by 10 at previously undefeated Baylor; the Tar Heels have scored 125 points over the past two weeks against decent competition – Duke and Miami of Florida.
Michigan State’s rise is more of a mystery, following a pedestrian win at home over lowly Maryland (one win all year vs FBS opponents).
** Sliders include Baylor, off six to #10, and three teams that were down eight after losses: Stanford is now #15 after falling at home to Oregon; Louisiana State, #4 two weeks ago, is now #17 after back-to-back decisive defeats against Alabama and Arkansas; and Utah is #18 following a double-overtime heartbreaker at Arizona. Stanford and L.S.U. had both been solid favorites at home.
** Only three teams received first-place votes. Top-ranked Clemson gained three nods for the top spot, while Ohio State lost three. Alabama had two last week and now has four. With 34 of the 61 votes, Clemson has a solid 56%. Ohio State’s 23 represent 38%. Coforepr still can’t understand the abandonment of support for the unbeaten Buckeyes. Must be old-school in my thinking: A unanimous #1 should have to actually lose in order to fall from its perch.
** The Buckeyes are 36 points behind Clemson and 36 points ahead of #3 Alabama.
**There are five matchups of ranked teams this week, the headliner being #9 Michigan State at
#2 Ohio State. The others: #10 Baylor at #4 Oklahoma State, #11 T.C.U. at #7 Oklahoma,
#20 Northwestern at #21 Wisconsin, and #22 U.S.C. at #23 Oregon.
**Ohio State can clinch the Big Ten East with a win and a Michigan loss at Penn State. If both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State win, Bedlam will be for first place in the Big 12. The loser of U.S.C.-Oregon will experience a one-week stay in the rankings.