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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 11:30 pm

Sinn's AP Poll: Week 8

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

For the second straight week, the top of the AP Poll underwent a significant shift in Week 8. In Week 7, it was Georgia falling to South Carolina at home that unleashed havoc in the top 10. This week, it was Wisconsin dropping a shocker to Illinois in Champaign that upended the race in the Big Ten and dropped the number of undefeated teams that have been looked at as the consensus top of the poll from seven to six.

The immediate affect of the Badgers' loss to the Fighting Illini on a field goal with one second left was to take some of the luster off this week's matchup between Wisconsin and undefeated Ohio State. Instead of two unbeaten heavyweights facing off in the Big Ten, this is a wounded Badgers team going up against a Buckeyes squad that has never looked more unstoppable. Ohio State received 13 first-place votes in the AP Poll this week after beating Northwestern 52-3 on Friday, an outcome that was notable not really for the fact that OSU won but for the Buckeyes' ability to blow the doors off a team that specializes in turning games against superior opponents into ugly slogs.

Still, that matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin this week should still be plenty of fun. The Badgers, who still harbor College Football Playoff dreams, are now a desperate team. They cannot afford another loss (no two-loss team has ever made the CFP) and they should be motivated coming off such a shocking defeat. Wisconsin's loss also leaves Minnesota, under boat-rowing P.J. Fleck, in first place in the Big Ten West and ranked No. 17 in the country. I had the Golden Gophers, who face the Badgers in the season finale on Nov. 30, at No. 13, ahead of Wisconsin for now. 

Here is the rest of my poll after Week 8.

1. Clemson (7-0)

2. Alabama (7-0)

3. Ohio State (7-0)

4. LSU (7-0)

5. Oklahoma (7-0)

6. Penn State (7-0)

7. Florida (7-1)

8. Auburn (6-1)

9. Georgia (6-1)

10. Notre Dame (5-1)

11. Utah (6-1)

12. Oregon (6-1)

13. Minnesota (7-0)

14. SMU (7-0)

15. Texas (5-2)

16. Appalachian State (6-0)

17. Wisconsin (6-1)

18. Baylor (7-0)

19. Wake Forest (6-1)

20. Michigan (5-2)

21. Virginia (5-2)

22. Boise State (6-1)

23. Memphis (6-1)

24. San Diego State (6-1)

25. Cincinnati (6-1)

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

Notre Dame returns to the top 10 in my poll this week, rising two spots from No. 12. The Irish jumped fellow one-loss teams Wisconsin and Oregon in my poll. The Ducks won their game against Washington 35-31, but I dropped them three spots because I am supremely unimpressed with the Huskies this season and I think a top 10 team should be able to win a game against UW fairly handily. Oregon fell behind 28-14 in the third quarter before rallying late. I am not convinced that there any truly great teams in the Pac-12, so Oregon will have to prove it is a cut above the rest of the conference before I move it up again.

The Irish this week face No. 19 Michigan on the road in Ann Arbor. I have been very down on the Wolverines this season, but this week my ranking of 20th lined up fairly well with the consensus. I wrote Michigan off as mediocre after the Maize and Blue got pounded by Wisconsin in Week 3, but the Wolverines have steadily improved as the season has gone on. Even though they lost to Penn State 28-21 in Happy Valley this week, I believe it was their best performance of the season and it was the first time I've actually believed that Shea Patterson might be the long-term starter in Ann Arbor at quarterback. Penn State is talented at nearly every position and the Wolverines looked faster and stronger during their second-half comeback from a two-touchdown deficit. Notre Dame will not find easy going in the Big House this week.

Bold Pick of the Week: California 19, No. 12 Utah 16

As I noted above, I don't know if there are any really good teams in the Pac-12. The conference seems intent on proving each week that almost all of its teams are more or less evenly-matched. In theory, Utah should walk all over the Bears, which are coming off a loss to Oregon State, their third in a row after a 4-0 start, but defensive-minded Cal has done a good job of mucking up games this year and I'm still not sure how good Utah is. The Utes are favored by 21 1/2 points at home. I don't think they even score that many.

Last Week: Purdue 26, Iowa 21

I got a moral victory on this one, but not an actual victory. Underdogs by 18 points, the Boilermakers hung in all afternoon and had a chance to win against the Hawkeyes on the road, but fell 26-20 to drop to 2-5. With three straight games against Illinois, Nebraska and Northwestern coming up, the Boilers' bowl hopes hang in the balance.

Season Record: 2-5

dsinn@jg.net