The AP dropped their updated top 25 poll after yesterday’s monster schedule of games. There were six games pitting ranked teams against one another that provided no end of entertainment, or pain as we here know so well. Let’s take a look at how the season’s best weekend to date played out for the voters.
New teams join the Week 5 AP Top 25— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 24, 2023
Which team deserves a higher ranking? pic.twitter.com/gn5wDfkgDL
Schools Dropping Out: Iowa, Colorado, UCLA
New Schools In: Missouri, Kansas, Fresno State
Big Ten Teams: Three: #2 Michigan, #4 Ohio State, #6 Penn State
Let’s get the obvious out of the way right off the bat. The Iowa Hawkeyes’ dreadful showing at Penn State last night dropped them out of the top 25. “Drop” may be too soft a word to use, as the Hawkeyes plummeted through the Earth’s crust and have likely been crushed by the intense pressure at the core. Not only is Iowa out of the top 25, they’re not even one of the teams receiving votes. This felt like the 2021 Big Ten Championship all over again, where that faint glimmer of hope early on is mercilessly snuffed out. Between that game, last night, and others like last year against Ohio State, it has become crystal clear that Iowa can no longer contend with the conference’s top teams. Not even close. It’s all fine and dandy to bank wins against the MAC, Mountain West, and Big Ten’s basement to help get you to eight wins every year. But is that enough of a trade off for being Michigan’s punching bag or Penn State’s doormat? Don’t forget, next year the conference is adding Oregon, Washington, USC, and UCLA. Those four teams combined to score 150 points yesterday alone. The gap is only going to grow wider between the Hawkeyes and a conference crown, and I’m not sure the current regime is capable of adapting.
Sorry, veered into ranting territory there. Iowa’s out. No surprise. Moving on.
Comprehensively destroying a top 25 team only bumped Penn State up one spot to #6. Meanwhile, the team directly ahead of them at #5, Florida State, was lucky to escape Clemson with a win after being pushed to overtime. Maybe that’s a sign of just how low an opinion they have of Iowa that a dominant win against us isn’t worth much.
The Pac-12 continues to dominate the poll with six teams in the rankings: #6 Washington, #8 USC, #9 Oregon, #10 Utah, #16 Washington State, and #19 Oregon State. However, many will have already noticed the conference’s biggest story is absent. The Colorado Buffaloes dropped out of the poll after receiving their own drubbing in front of a national audience. The Oregon Ducks trounced the Buffs, 42-6. The ESPN win probability chart looks like someone just made a green and white color gradient in Photoshop.
It sure felt like Oregon wanted to derail the Colorado hype train single handed. All week long the conversation centered on the Buffaloes and how far this team could go. Meanwhile, the Ducks were the higher ranked team and had easily handled every team they’d faced. So, like Iowa, the Buffs fall out of the AP poll. Misery loves company, as they say, but if you had to choose which team had more upward potential I think we already know the answer.
The top half of the poll feels like one big logjam, with not a lot of movement anywhere. The biggest mover was #8 USC by falling three spots after beating Arizona State by fourteen points. Ohio State jumps back into the top four with their last second win over Notre Dame. It’s at the back ten where things get volatile. Washington State, Oregon State, and Ole Miss all move by five spots (up five, down five, down five, respectively), and we welcome three newcomers: Missouri, Kansas, and Fresno State. I love seeing Kansas back in the top 25. After being a national punchline since 2009, Lance Leipold has brought hope to Lawrence, getting well into the rankings last year before the season fell of a cliff, and he has the Jayhawks off to a 4-0 start this year.
As we get deeper into the conference schedule we ought to see more movement at the top of the poll. At some point Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State are going to collide, as will Washington, USC, Oregon, and Utah.
Until then, what are your thoughts on this week’s AP poll? Who is where they should be and who isn’t?