Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Notre Dame beat USC 30-27 on Saturday and moved up to No. 8 in the AP Poll. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Monday, October 14, 2019 12:30 am

Sinn's AP Poll: Week 7

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

For most of this college football season, ranking the top 10 teams in the country has in large part been an exercise in ranking the best teams in the SEC. Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn and Florida have all spent time in the top 10 and until the past couple of weeks all of them were undefeated, meaning the top 10 stayed more or less static.

That changed this week. Not only did LSU beat Florida in Death Valley, adding another plank to the Joe Burrow For Heisman campaign, but South Carolina went out and upset Georgia in one of the most surprising results of this season so far. The Gamecocks' victory ended the dream that had recently been percolating in SEC country that the conference might have a chance at getting three teams in the College Football Playoff. In one week, two of the SEC's four remaining undefeateds fell and the top 10 got a significant shakeup. One thing we know for sure at this point is that the LSU-Alabama matchup in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9 is likely to be a classic.

Here is my top 25 poll following Week 7:

1. Clemson (6-0)

2. Alabama (6-0)

3. LSU (6-0)

4. Ohio State (6-0)

5. Oklahoma (6-0)

6. Penn State (6-0)

7. Wisconsin (6-0)

8. Florida (6-1)

9. Auburn (5-1)

10. Oregon (5-1)

11. Georgia (5-1)

12. Notre Dame (5-1)

13. Utah (5-1)

14. Boise State (6-0)

15. Texas (4-2)

16. Minnesota (6-0)

17. SMU (6-0)

18. Appalachian State (5-0)

19. Michigan (5-1)

20. Arizona State (5-1)

21. Baylor (6-0)

22. Wake Forest (5-1)

23. Missouri (5-1)

24. Washington (5-2)

25. Virginia (4-2)

The official AP Poll can be found here: https://www.collegefootball.ap.org/poll

I have Notre Dame ranked four spots below the consensus ranking, where the Irish checked in at No. 8, the highest they've been since before suffering their 23-17 loss to Georgia in Athens in Week 4. I have the Irish at No. 12, down three spots from when I had them ninth last week. That's a significant drop for a team that beat rival USC 30-27 this week to improve to 5-1.

The reason I dropped the Irish is fairly simple: I looked at what Georgia did against South Carolina. The Bulldogs' ugly 20-17 overtime loss to the Gamecocks forced me to drop them from the their perch at No. 3. A home loss to South Carolina, which entered the game 2-3, caused me to re-evaluate Georgia's abilities significantly and I dropped the Bulldogs eight spots to No. 11. If I had kept Notre Dame at No. 9 or moved the Irish up, as many pollsters did, I would have had Notre Dame ahead of Georgia and I didn't want to do that. Both teams are 5-1 and they played head-to-head already, a game Georgia won. It was a close game, sure, but the Bulldogs were the better team and the result wasn't any kind of fluke. So why should Notre Dame be ranked ahead of Georgia, especially when the teams have the same record? I had no good answer for that, so I dropped the Irish and kept them ranked lower than the Bulldogs. The new ranking makes sense if you look at it this way: before this week, Notre Dame's one loss was to the No. 3 team in the country. Now, the Irish's one loss is to the No. 11 team. That means I have to downgrade Notre Dame accordingly. The main point is: I still believe Georgia is (marginally) better and therefore the Bulldogs are ranked higher again.

The problem for Notre Dame is that some form of that argument will likely be used against it should the Irish finish 11-1 and have their resume compared to other one-loss teams looking for inclusion in the College Football Playoff. Unless Georgia wins out (which, based on what I saw against South Carolina, seems unlikely), the Irish no longer have the "good loss" they can point to as evidence that they deserve a spot. Couple that with Virginia's loss to a mediocre Miami team this week and Notre Dame's schedule looks a lot weaker than it did a week ago. Michigan beating Penn State in Week 8 would be a huge help, but the possibility of that happening seems remote and if the Wolverines turn out to be good-not-great, as well, then Notre Dame will have a tough time working its way into the playoff, unless the second half of the season brings some wacky results. Maybe Louisville can go 9-3 and boost the Irish's chances.

Bold Pick of the Week: Purdue 26, Iowa 21

The Hawkeyes have really struggled on offense the last two weeks, putting up a combined 15 points in losses to Michigan and Penn State. Obviously, Purdue's defense isn't on that level, but I think the Boilermakers found something against Maryland. Quarterback Jack Plummer is gaining confidence in place of Elijah Sindelar and true freshman receivers David Bell and Milton Wright are already dangerous. I'm betting the Boilers go to Iowa City and get a season-saving win.

Last Week: Washington State 47, Arizona State 34

Season Record: 2-4

The Sun Devils came from behind to beat the Cougars 38-34 in a game that was every bit as wild as I figured it would be. Arizona State has pulled out several close wins in Herm Edwards' second season and seems to be a genuinely improved team. Did not see that coming.

dsinn@jg.net