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Friday, September 21, 2018

Eight things the college football polls got wrong for Week 7

Mark Richt Miami

Another week, another set of polls to delve into, and Week 7 has given us some interesting ones. Losses by Oklahoma and Michigan certainly shook up the Top 25, and a number of other teams — including Louisville, Utah, and West Virginia — fell in the bottom half of the poll, setting up a lot of chaos in the lower reaches of the Top 25.

Here’s a list of eight items that the pollsters should have taken a second look at this week — from underrated teams toward the top of the poll to a few programs who are getting too much of the benefit of the doubt toward the bottom.

The writers owe Miami some respect

It’s time. The Hurricanes (No. 11 in AP/No. 10 in Coaches) are 4-0 after a comeback victory at Florida State, a place where they’ve endured their share of nightmares over the years. Is this the elite Seminoles team that we expected to see at the start of the season? No, it is not, but that doesn’t make Tallahassee an easy place to go, and there’s still a lot of top-level talent on the team. The Hurricanes are a top-ten team if you ask the coaches, but they’re at No. 11 in the AP poll, a spot behind Auburn. The writers should swap them; the unbeaten Hurricanes deserve the nod.

Ohio State is still underrated by the writers

Oklahoma’s home loss to Iowa State did little to help the Buckeyes’ resume, though it matters little in the end — if the Buckeyes run the table, they’ll land in the playoff. For now, though, they continue to eviscerate every opponent they run into, knocking off Maryland by 48 points at home on Saturday. The Buckeyes (9/8) are ahead of unbeaten Washington State in the Coaches Poll, but a spot behind them in the AP. The coaches have it right — the Buckeyes are winning more impressively and, despite the Cougars’ victory over USC, have the better team.

The AP is overrating Notre Dame

Perhaps this is a reputation thing. There is no denying that the Fighting Irish (16/19) have been impressive this season, and their win over a Michigan State team that just knocked off Michigan on the road looks better and better. Still, they are knocking on the door of the top 15 in the AP poll, with their win at North Carolina boosting them five spots in the poll thanks to some carnage above them. Are the Irish a top-20 team? Yes. Their ranking at No. 19 in the Coaches Poll supports that. No. 16, though, is a bit premature given their lack of real quality wins. If they can knock off USC next week, they’ll have earned a boost.

When can we flip Georgia and Washington?

No disrespect to the Huskies (5/4)– they are a talented team and they’ve won all their games. But none of those wins are enough to make you sit up and take notice. They’ve won three Pac-12 games so far, and none of the three teams they’ve beaten have yet to win a conference tilt. Georgia, on the other hand, wiped out Vanderbilt over the weekend, and they won at a top-20 team in Notre Dame early in the season. Georgia is comfortably a top-five team, but the coaches have them behind No. 4 Washington. The AP, which has them reversed, are the ones who have it right here.

The coaches are underrating TCU

TCU (6/7) is comfortably a top ten team, and they should be banging on the door of the top five. The unbeaten Horned Frogs are at No. 6 in the AP, pushing Washington and Georgia ahead of them. A win over then-ranked West Virginia can only help their cause. The coaches, however, got it wrong when it comes to the Horned Frogs. They have TCU at No. 7, behind fellow unbeaten Wisconsin. The Badgers are good, but they have zero Top 25 wins. TCU has two, and should be ahead of them. Frankly, the Horned Frogs have a superior resume to Washington, too.

West Virginia deserved to drop — but maybe not that far

There’s no great shame in losing to TCU on the road, which is exactly what the Mountaineers (receiving votes/receiving votes) did over the weekend. There is one two-loss team in the Top 25 — Stanford — but this is not a suggestion that West Virginia didn’t deserve to lose their place with a 3-2 record. They did. Their punishment, particularly in the Coaches Poll, is excessive. They fell behind the Louisville, Georgia Tech and the likes of Kentucky in the last group of teams out of the poll. West Virginia isn’t really any worse than we thought they were. They’re a fringe team just outside of the top 25.

South Florida and Central Florida aren’t that far apart

In the AP poll, there are four spots separating a pair of Group of Five unbeatens in South Florida (18/15) and Central Florida (22/21). The gap is even more pronounced in the Coaches Poll, with a full six spots separating the two in-state schools. What’s the difference between what each team has done this season? The only real one is that South Florida started the season more highly thought of than UCF did. Neither schedule has been that tough, but these two teams look evenly matched. Perhaps USF should not be at No. 15, as the coaches have them this week. On the other hand, UCF should probably be viewed as a top-20 team at this point.

Louisville last out for the coaches?

This one is absurd. Look, Lamar Jackson is great, and his Heisman Trophy campaign is enough evidence to support that. The Cardinals (RV/RV), however, have two losses and a losing record in ACC play. They lost by two touchdowns at NC State. They were a top 20 team a week ago in the Coaches Poll, so it was inevitable that they were going to get votes — but 85 of them? Narrowly missing the rankings despite their loss? Ahead of the likes of Georgia Tech and Texas Tech? Louisville sits at 28 in the AP poll. That’s a much fairer assessment than the 26th spot the coaches have them in.

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