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Poll Problems: Week 6

We take a look at the AP poll each week to see what the voters got right and what they got terribly wrong.

NCAA Football: Houston at Navy
Navy’s stunning win over Houston in Annapolis all but ended the Cougars hopes of a Playoff berth.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The top 5 held serve this week with convincing wins all around, while No. 6 Houston suffered an unexpected loss to Navy that essentially knocked the Cougars out of Playoff contention. Meanwhile, the Big Ten has four teams ranked in the top 10 for the first time in half a century. Don’t expect that to last though. The ACC also continues to assert itself well, sporting five teams in the poll’s top 17.

1. Alabama

The Tide started fast against Arkansas and cruised to an easy road win. One thing, among many, Alabama has done well this season is force turnovers - which continued Saturday as the Razorbacks had five, with two going for touchdowns the other way. It’s hard to beef with Alabama at No. 1, and they can further bolster their resume with a win at Tennessee this weekend.

2. Ohio State

Indiana held the Buckeyes at bay about as well as you could expect, but Ohio State eventually pulled away for a 21-point win. The Bucks head to Wisconsin this week and may be in for a battle. We like Ohio State to come away victorious, however.

3. Clemson

The Tigers finally got the kind of blowout win that many expected would be a common occurrence this season. They hope that offense can keep rolling this week when a suddenly hot NC State team comes to town.

4. Michigan

The Wolverines absolutely slaughtered hopeless Rutgers, and I don’t know that this week’s game against Illinois will be much more competitive... It’s looking more and more like the showdown between Michigan and Ohio State will be the only true test either team faces moving forward.

5. Washington

We have spoken early and often about Washington, and the Huskies are really starting to legitimize the hype. As if the 44-6 drubbing of Stanford weren’t enough, they took out a decade’s worth of frustration in a 70-21 road destruction of Oregon this week and are now the clear front-runners in the Pac-12 North and a true Playoff contender.

6. Texas A&M

The Aggies stayed undefeated by the skin of their teeth after nearly becoming the latest victim of another miraculous Tennessee comeback. The Problems remains very dubious of A&M, as we still feel a team with Trevor Knight running the show is due a collapse sooner or later. They are off this week, but the following trip to Tuscaloosa will likely be their downfall.

7. Louisville

Perhaps the only team affected by Houston’s shocking defeat at Navy more than the Cougars was Louisville. After losing to Clemson, the Cardinals needed to pile up dominant wins the rest of the way and hope for an opportunity to knock off an undefeated Houston team to add another statement win to their Playoff resume. Alas, a win over the Cougars would now be far less impactful, and while Louisville certainly passes the eye test, it suddenly needs a lot more help than previously thought if it is going to have a legitimate shot at making the top four at season’s end.

8. Wisconsin

While we don’t fancy the Badgers a Playoff-caliber team, they have an opportunity this week to prove otherwise. A win over Ohio State would give them a marquee win and allow them to control their own destiny for a Playoff spot. I just don’t think they have enough offense to hang.

9. Tennessee

The Vols latest comeback may have been their most impressive, but they fell short in overtime at Texas A&M. Their punishment? Staying right where they were at No. 9 in the poll. And I thought we were past this SEC benefit of the doubt stuff...

10. Nebraska

There’s no way to convince us that Nebraska is one of the 10 best teams in the country, but continuing to win amongst a bevy of losses by other teams leaves voters almost no choice but to put a team like Nebraska in the top 10. Let’s be honest here though, the Huskers best win is a three-point home triumph over an Oregon team that hasn’t won a game since the second week of the season. It wouldn’t shock us to see Nebraska go down at Indiana this week. Actually, we’ll go ahead and call it.

11. Baylor

Talk about weird scheduling: Baylor got a bye week after somehow escaping Iowa State, and now faces Kansas, with another bye week following that game. This means they manage to go nearly a month without playing a real football game, which in turn means we will have to wait a while for them to be exposed.

12. Ole Miss

The Rebels may be the best two-loss team in the country, but that doesn’t earn you a No. 12 ranking at this stage of the game. Beat Arkansas on the road this weekend, then we’ll talk.

13. Houston

We do this every year as college football fans, assuming upsets won’t occur even though we know they always will. The Problems had chalked Houston’s remaining slate up as a one-game season against Louisville in the penultimate week. Of course, as soon as we uttered those fateful words, the Cougars went to Navy and suffered one of the most unexpected losses so far this season. Goodbye, undefeated season. Goodbye, Playoff. Goodbye, that game against Louisville being anything more than a tryout for another New Year’s Six bowl.

14. Florida State

How soon voters forget the struggles the Noles have had, as Florida State jumps nine spots to No. 14 with a win against overrated Miami. We still think the Seminoles are one of the better teams in the country, but moving them back this high seems premature.

15. Boise State

We’re reserving judgment a bit on Boise State until they play BYU, but the Broncos are now in very good position for a New Year’s Six game should they keep winning, thanks to Houston’s unexpected loss. Again, we will note Boise’s two wins over Pac-12 teams that are actually a better pair than some Power 5 teams in the poll can claim at this point.

16. Miami

The Canes confirmed every doubt we had about their legitimacy as they put up a paltry 276 yards of offense in their home loss to Florida State - their first true test of the season. Their resume just doesn’t stack up right now.

17. Virginia Tech

If you have been paying attention, then you know the Hokies have been blasting teams ever since their loss to Tennessee. Sure, their latest beatdown took place in rough weather conditions, but a 31-point road win in Chapel Hill makes the Hokies the clear team to beat in the ACC Coastal race right now.

18. Florida

The Gators are still searching for a quality win after an opportunity this week was washed away with the postponement of their home bout with LSU. This week’s matchup with Mizzou probably won’t shed much more light on Florida, unless it loses, of course.

19. Oklahoma

A win over Texas doesn’t move the needle any, but we’ll concede that the Sooners are most likely the class of the Big XII at this point (whatever that’s worth...). It would be unwise for them to sleep on Kansas State this week, however.

20. West Virginia

We’re not in the believer column on West Virginia: the team that has somehow only played four games. We’re taking them to stumble at Texas Tech this week, as a matter of fact.

21. Utah

Utah’s sad loss to Cal is holding it back right now, but we think this team has the potential to climb higher and challenge for the Pac-12 South.

22. Arkansas

You can’t really knock a team for losing to Alabama, although it admittedly wasn’t a great showing by the Hogs. You can kiss them goodbye, however, if they can’t notch a home win against SWAG and the boys this weekend.

23. Auburn

Well, looky here. While nobody will tout Auburn as a world-beater, when you pair some decent wins with the fact that both its losses were to teams ranked in the top 6, we don’t have a problem with the Tigers showing up at the back end of the poll.

24. Western Michigan

Everybody’s favorite underdog is now 6-0 and ranked for the first time in school history. We don’t see any regular season losses in their future, but we’ve been wrong before (Looking at you, Houston).

25. Navy

Perhaps a little heavy-handed to rank the Midshipmen, considering the win over Houston was their first notably good performance of the season. But when we browse the alternatives, we’re not that mad about it.