Well, it was a fun week to rank the Top 10 and a trying one to rank the next 15 or so. First the poll, then some notes.
2. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. Oklahoma State
12. Florida State
14. Western Michigan
15. West Virginia
22. Virginia Tech
No. 16 Pittsburgh: Takes a huge jump from unranked to No. 16 thanks to a spate of losses from teams ahead of them, and the simple fact that Pitt has wins over two top ten teams (Clemson and Penn State) and a narrow loss to the No. 11 team on the road (Oklahoma State). The Panthers had one lopsided loss - 51-26 to Miami, which finished 8-4 - and otherwise had tight games. It ranks ahead of Virginia Tech and North Carolina - both teams that beat Pitt - on the strength of the quality of wins.
No. 19 Iowa: Another major course correction. The Hawkeyes finished their season strong, winning five of their last seven, the sole losses being to Wisconsin and Penn State. Iowa played its best game Friday, dominating both sides of the ball. It's the team that one thought we might see all year. Iowa finally showed up and played that game.
No. 20 LSU: Back in the poll after routing Texas A&M in College Station.
No. 22 Virginia Tech: Returns to the poll with a whipping of Virginia, which impressed me; I expected it to be much closer. The Hokies' wins over Pittsburgh and North Carolina are notable, and I think, if VT and Tennessee played again, you'd see a different result. Tennessee is beat up.
No. 23 Navy: In the poll at 9-2. I don't love putting non-Power Five teams in a poll, but Navy's style is hard to emulate and it works and the Midshipmen win a lot.
No. 24 Florida: So the Gators beat LSU - and weren't in the poll last week - and lose badly to Florida State, and are in the poll this week. Why? And why is Florida behind LSU? Bottom line: I think LSU is better. It has better, more dominating wins, its losses are better than Florida's, and I see the game last at Baton Rouge as a game LSU threw away more than Florida won. And yet, given that Florida won the game, it deserves to be rewarded for that after LSU's stomping of Texas A&M. I tend to be a tough grader on Florida these past two years. I don't see a great team or a great quarterback, the team's offense curls up into a ball by season's end, and...yeah. That's about how it is.
Teams that dropped out:
Texas A&M: Lost badly to LSU.
Tennessee: Lost to Vanderbilt.
Houston: Lost to Memphis
Boise State: Lost to Air Force.
North Carolina: Lost to North Carolina State after losing to Duke. Dropping those two to end the season cancels out wins over Miami, Florida State and Pittsburgh. Plus, two of UNC's wins were FCS opponents, James Madison and The Citadel.
Washington State: Lost to Washington 45-17. I struggled a bit with this one, especially since Wazzu smacked Stanford around, and Stanford is up there at No. 13. But the Cougars were pretty soundly beaten in the last two weeks. You give up 1,113 yards in two weeks, you got beat. Bad. Six turnovers don't help either.
>>USC is up to No. 4 because I think USC is playing like the fourth-best team in the country and has wins over Colorado and Washington in this long winning streak. The College Football Playoff committee won't be treating USC with as much love, I'm sure.
>>The loser of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State may drop aways.
>>Nebraska remains in the poll by the thinnest threads. I thought about it; was it homerism? Ultimately, no, I don't think it is. I think a truckload of teams lost, and some of those losses were worse than others - A loss to Air Force is worse than a loss to Iowa. So is a loss at Memphis. Do I expect NU to be in next week's poll? We'll see. It's hard to review the body of work put forth by many teams in the SEC, Big 12 and ACC and grade it better than Nebraska. Perhaps, on deeper reflection, Miami will be in the mix. But I've seen enough off UNC, A&M and others.