Breaking down the ballots for the AP Top 25 and wrapping up college football’s third weekend.
The Southeastern Conference’s dominant status had taken a hit since Nick Saban wrapped his hands around the national championship trophy in 2013, following Alabama’s second straight title.
The conference had its run of seven straight national championships end when Florida State beat Auburn in January, and some thought that the Pac-12 had become the better top-to-bottom league.
Well, look at those good ol’ boys now.
While the Pac-12 has become a jumbled mess outside of No. 2 Oregon, the SEC again appears to be the class of college football.
With South Carolina’s back-on-the-map, 38-35 win over then-No. 6 Georgia on Saturday, the Gamecocks vaulted 10 spots in The Associated Press college football poll to No. 14. That gives the SEC seven teams in the top 15, the first time that’s happened since the AP poll started in 1936.
“We proved a point tonight,” South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore said.
He was talking about the Gamecocks, who were crushed by Texas A&M just two weeks ago.
He could have been talking about the SEC, too.
Alabama, which crushed Southern Miss, remained at No. 3 in the poll behind top-ranked Florida State and Oregon. Auburn stayed at No. 5 behind Oklahoma after a bye and Texas A&M slid up to No. 6 with a rollover of Rice and Georgia’s loss.
LSU moved up two spots to No. 8 after cruising over Louisiana-Monroe and Mississippi climbed four spots to No. 10 after routing Louisiana, the first trip to the top-10 for the Rebels since being ranked fourth on Sept. 20, 2009.
Mississippi’s move up allowed the SEC to have five top-10 teams for the second straight week despite Georgia dropping seven spots to No. 13. With Missouri coming in at No. 18, the SEC has eight teams ranked for the third straight week.
Yes, we know, it’s only three weeks into the season.
There’s still plenty of games to be played, plenty of chances for teams to slip back — or, perhaps, move up even more.
“Oh, it’s still early, it’s still early,” Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson. “We’ll keep trucking. This is in the past now, and we are not thinking about this from here forward. Our dreams and goals are still open for us.”
Oregon has proven to be the class of the Pac-12 so far, looking like a legitimate playoff contender.
The rest of the conference has been scrambled.
UCLA is 3-0 and the next highest-ranked team from the Pac-12 at No. 13, but hasn’t exactly looked dominating.
Arizona State looked like it could repeat as Pac-12 South champs and moved up at spot to No. 15 after beating Colorado on Saturday, but quarterback Taylor Kelly spent the second half on crutches and linebacker Viliami Moeakiola, a defensive captain, injured his right arm.
Stanford, the two-time Pac-12 champion, looks solid at No. 15, but did lose to Southern California, which plummeted eight spots in the poll to No. 17 after an inexplicable loss to Boston College.
Go ahead and try to figure this conference out.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn’t like some of the things his team is doing, particularly when it had a hard time pulling away from Purdue this weekend.
Despite the flaws, the Irish are 3-0 and back in a familiar place: The top-10.
With its 30-14 win over the Boilermakers, Notre Dame moved up a spot to No. 10, its first top-10 ranking since finishing at No. 4 after being blown out by Alabama in the BCS championship game after the 2012 season.
Nebraska’s poll exile lasted a whole week. The Cornhuskers fell out of the ranking from No. 19 after a close victory over FCS McNeese State, but were back in this week at No. 24 after hammering Fresno State 55-19.
Oklahoma State has moved into the poll at No. 25. The Cowboys bounced back from an opening loss to No. 1 Florida State by beating Missouri State last week and easily handled a veteran Texas-San Antonio team 43-13 on Saturday.
Losing to East Carolina did not look good for Virginia Tech in the eyes of the voters.
The Hokies rallied from a 21-point deficit and tied the game with 1:20 left, only to let the Pirates race down the field for the winning score. The 28-21 loss dropped Virginia Tech from No. 17 all the way out of the poll.
Virginia’s first ACC win in 672 days came at the expense of Louisville. Losing 32-21 to the Cavaliers, who entered with an 11-game conference losing streak, sent the Cardinals from No. 21 to unranked.
Full poll listing can be found at http://collegefootball.ap.org/poll
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