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Breaking down the AP college football poll after Week 8 of the regular season

Posted: October 23, 2012 - 12:03am
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein (7) prepares to pass during an NCAA college football game against West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. Kansas State won 55-14. (AP Photo/Christopher Jackson)  Christopher Jackson
Christopher Jackson
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein (7) prepares to pass during an NCAA college football game against West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. Kansas State won 55-14. (AP Photo/Christopher Jackson)

K-State moves past Oregon for 3rd in BCS standings

NEW YORK — Only in the BCS standings does Oregon get passed.

Kansas State moved ahead of the Ducks and up to No. 3 on Sunday behind SEC rivals Alabama and Florida.

The Wildcats’ big victory Saturday at West Virginia was enough to nudge them past the Ducks, who are No. 2 in both polls but are getting held back by computer ratings that lag behind the other highly ranked teams.

The Crimson Tide (.9625) is still solidly in first, and Florida (.9310) grabbed a firmer grip on second with a 44-11 victory over South Carolina on Saturday.

The Gators are tops in the computer ratings and Kansas State is second. The Wildcats (.9111) beat West Virginia 55-14 for their third Big 12 road victory.

Fourth-place Oregon (.8966), coming off a 43-21 win at Arizona State, is sixth in the computer ratings.

Notre Dame is fifth in the standings heading into its game at Oklahoma. The Sooners are eighth.

LSU is sixth and unbeaten Oregon State is seventh.

The Ducks aren’t likely to gain any ground this week unless the teams in front of them lose. Oregon plays Colorado (1-6) at home, while the rest of the teams ahead of the Ducks play ranked opponents.

Oregon should be able to start making up ground Nov. 3. The Ducks play USC that day, then go to Cal. They finish with Stanford at home and Oregon State in Corvallis. Oregon would also have to play in the Pac-12 championship game if it gets that far.

The all-SEC BCS championship game between LSU and Alabama last year notwithstanding, it would seem this season the SEC stands a better chance of working itself out by Dec. 1.

If Alabama and Florida keep winning they’ll play each other that day in the SEC championship for a spot in the national title game.

MAKING A STATEMENT

Even better than the Bear.

Alabama is No. 1 in the AP poll for the eighth straight week, the longest run atop the rankings in the history of the storied program.

The Tide has twice previously been No. 1 for seven consecutive weeks — in 1979 when Bear Bryant coached ‘Bama to his last national title and in 1980 when the Tide finished sixth.

Nick Saban’s Tide is working on trying to win its third national title in the last four seasons.

Alabama’s latest No. 1 ranking came with just the slightest smudge. The Tide received 59 of 60 first-place votes after being a unanimous top pick for the last three weeks.

Oregon is No. 2 for the fifth consecutive week, though the gap between the Ducks and No. 3 Florida narrowed after the Gators beat South Carolina 44-11 on Saturday.

Florida was so good it persuaded one voter to give the Gators a first-place vote. And why not?

To this point, Florida has played a tougher schedule than both the Tide and Ducks, and dominating a good South Carolina team — albeit without producing much offense — was enough for Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland to make the switch.

“That gave the Gators three wins over very good opponents, while Alabama still has that opening win over Michigan and then blowouts of lesser teams,” he wrote in a blog post.

Alabama is about to enter the difficult part of its schedule. The Tide is home against unbeaten and No. 13 Mississippi State on Saturday. The next week is the latest installment of Alabama’s Game of the Century series with LSU. After that, No. 22 Texas A&M comes to Tuscaloosa.

South Carolina was the only team ranked in the top 16 last week to lose Saturday, so the top half of the latest poll only had minor adjustments.

Kansas State stayed at No. 4 after beating West Virginia 55-14. Notre Dame is No. 5 after a 17-14 victory against BYU and LSU remained sixth with a 24-19 victory at Texas A&M.

South Carolina dropped from ninth to No. 17.

MOVING UP

Seems like a long time ago that Oklahoma lost at home to Kansas State and tumbled out of the top 10.

The Sooners have been making steady progress since, working back to No. 8 this week after pounding Kansas 52-7. Oklahoma has outscored its last three opponents 156-48. Safety Tony Jefferson has led a defense that hasn’t allowed a point over the last two weeks with the first unit on the field and Damien Williams has provide a big-play threat at running back.

Texas Tech, Texas and the Jayhawks are not exactly murderers’ row, but the Sooners have restored some order in Norman and gotten themselves back to the fringe of the national title picture.

They can dive deeper into it Saturday when Notre Dame comes to town, but the Sooners still need plenty of help — in the form of two Kansas State losses — to even have a chance of winning the Big 12.

MOVING DOWN

From No. 5 to No. 25 in two weeks. Quarterback Geno Smith and the Mountaineers were fifth in the Top 25 after winning at Texas, then fell flat 49-14 against Texas Tech and slipped to No. 17.

A second straight lopsided loss — this time to Kansas State — dropped the Mountaineers (5-2) another eight spots.

Their defense has been a mess, and now the offense can’t keep up.

“I’m not going to sit here and point fingers at anyone else,” Smith said after a deflating night in Morgantown. After two losses by a combined 76 points — coincidentally the same amount of points they received in the poll — should the Mountaineers be ranked at all? It’s a fair question. Working in their favor is no team in the Top 25 has faced opponents with a better winning percentage than West Virginia’s, who are 33-15 (.686). Still, Toledo (7-1), which finished first among the others receiving votes with 49 points, has a reasonable gripe. The Rockets handed Cincinnati its first loss on Saturday at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, and their only loss was in overtime at Arizona.

IN AND OUT

Cincinnati was the only team to fall out of rankings this week, a stiff penalty for its first loss. The Bearcats didn’t get much leeway from voters probably because they had played such a weak schedule. Cincinnati’s one “big” win came against Virginia Tech. The Bearcats rallied with a late touchdown to beat the Hokies 27-24, but Virginia Tech is 4-4 after getting roughed up by Clemson on Saturday.

Cincinnati’s other victories were against Pittsburgh, Miami, Ohio, and two FCS teams.

The Bearcats, though, could be back in the rankings soon. They play at No. 16 Louisville in a Friday night Big East game.

Those road trips to Mid-American Conference opponents have been tricky for the Big East. Earlier this season, South Florida lost at Ball State and Connecticut lost to Western Michigan. Re-entering the rankings this week is Louisiana Tech. The nation’s highest-scoring team beat Idaho 70-28. The Bulldogs had 839 yards, the most by an FBS team in game this season.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Oregon State moved up one spot to No. 7 and stayed unbeaten with a 21-7 victory over Utah. The only other time the Beavers and Ducks have both been ranked in the top seven was the final poll of the 2000 season. Oregon State finished fourth and Oregon seventh.

ODDS AND ENDS

No. 9 Ohio State dropped two spots after needing a late rally and overtime to beat Purdue at home. The unbeaten Buckeyes go to Penn State, where the Nittany Lions have won five straight. Neither team is eligible for the postseason. ... Florida plays No. 12 Georgia in their annual rivalry game at Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday with the SEC East on the line. If the Gators win, they clinch the division and a spot in the conference title game. If Georgia wins, it only needs to beat Ole Miss and Auburn to win a second straight East division. ... No. 21 Boise State (Mountain West), No. 23 Ohio (MAC) and Louisiana Tech (Western Athletic Conference) give the conferences without BCS automatic qualifying bids three ranked teams, one less than the ACC and Big Ten combined.

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