An unexciting on paper week 3 schedule turned in some sneaky good games in practice. Teams throughout the rankings struggled in what should have been tune ups against lesser competition, as we saw firsthand in the First Quarter from Hell yesterday in Kinnick Stadium. While the Hawks turned it on in the second half and cruised to a win, it took other teams a bit longer to find their stride, with some not finding it at all and suffering the consequences.
Let’s take a look at those consequences, starting with the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Schools dropping out: Kansas State
New schools in: #24 Washington State
Biggest change: Tennessee (-11)
Big Ten teams: Four: #2 Michigan, #5 Ohio State, #7 Penn State, #22 Iowa
The Kansas State Wildcats are the only team exiting the Coaches Poll after losing to the rival Missouri Tigers on a last second 61-yard field goal from kicker Harrison Mevis. Yes, a 61-yard field goal.
That was about as close as you can get, as the ball has just enough juice to make it over the crossbar. Mizzou got out early, leading 17-14 at the half and while the Cats briefly took the lead in the third quarter, the Tigers scored 13 in the final frame capped off by Mevis’ long walk off. Kansas State was the only team in the top 25 to lose aside from the Tennessee Volunteers.
Oh, Tennessee, I wasn’t expecting your annual surprise loss in front of a national audience until later in the year but you were so kind to give us an upset this weekend. It wasn’t just that the Vols lost this game, the Florida Gators straight up won it, proving they were the better team last night. But Tennessee being Tennessee they couldn’t just let the game end normally. Not at all. With Florida taking three straight knees, Josh Heupel decided to be stubborn and use his final timeout with 9 seconds left. Gator QB Graham Mertz scrambled a bit before taking another knee only to get run over by a Tennessee defender, leading to brawl with plenty of pushing, shoving, and a few punches thrown.
Florida Tennessee fights breaks out Multiple players will be suspended and even square up and start fighting— Fantasy Fanatics (@FFB_Fanatics) September 17, 2023
Most of the blame rests squarely on the players themselves. I’m sure Heupel didn’t tell them to run over Mertz as he took his final knee, those players involved are responsible for their own actions. But come on, Josh, instead of swallowing your pride and taking the L, your stubbornness has led to likely suspensions for both teams.
The Colorado Buffaloes moved up two spots to #19 despite taking two overtimes to beat the rival Colorado State Rams. This was a late game, taken even later by the two overtime periods. I didn’t finish the game until this morning but was impressed by the fight the Rams had in them and was hoping they’d pull off the upset. What can I say, I’m a sucker for the underdog. The loss of the Buffs star Travis Hunter to injury made the hill climb steeper, but QB Shedeur Sanders led a masterful 98-yard scoring drive in the final two minutes of regulation. Colorado has proven to be one of the most entertaining teams so far this season.
Let’s shift gears now and check out this week’s AP poll.
Schools dropping out: Kansas State
New schools in: #25 Florida
Biggest change: Tennessee (-12)
Big Ten teams: Four: #2 Michigan, #6 Ohio State, #7 Penn State, #24 Iowa
The Associated Press poll shows similar movement to the Coaches Poll, however Florida makes an appearance at #25 as the Iowa Hawkeyes move up to #24 (Hooray!). Tennessee takes an even steeper drop than they did in the Coaches Poll, dropping down 12 spots to #23, and the media punishes Colorado by dropping them one spot to #19.
But we have to look to the top half of the rankings for perhaps the biggest story.
Alabama’s Top 10 AP Poll streak is over. Falls to No. 13 and ends the streak at 128 consecutive weeks (dating back to 2015). Was the second-longest streak in history behind 1985-1993 Miami (137 weeks).— Kennington Lloyd Smith III (@SkinnyKenny_) September 17, 2023
A streak spanning nine seasons comes to a close as the Alabama Crimson Tide find themselves out of the AP top ten. It’s genuinely hard for me to wrap my head around being ranked that high for that long. Hell, it’s hard for me to imaging being ranked for that long, period. The Tide may have beaten USF in a rain-soaked 17-3 slog but it didn’t impress anyone and quarterback questions that plagued the off season appear to be alive and well in Tuscaloosa.
At the top of the poll, the Texas Longhorns and Florida State Seminoles swap positions, after the latter squeaked by Boston College. Down 2, the Eagles stopped the Noles on 3rd and 7, only to be flagged for a facemask penalty giving Florida State a new set of downs with which to run out the clock. The penalty was BC’s 18th of the game, a school record, and I don’t have to tell you it’s tough to win when you commit 18 fouls.
Texas, meanwhile, waited until the fourth quarter to remember they were Texas, breaking a 10-10 tie with 21 points in the final fifteen minutes to beat the Wyoming Cowboys 31-10. The AP was much more forgiving of the Longhorns than the Coaches Poll, where they dropped two spots despite the 21 point win.
One other thought: The Pac-12 leads all conferences with eight teams in the AP poll. It’s just tragic that the conference is having it’s strongest year in recent memory just in time for it to be thrown in the trash can thanks to conference realignment. No, I’m not over it yet and I’m not sure I ever will be.
How do you feel about both polls and which do you think is more accurate?