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  • Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and Duke's David Cutcliffe meet after the Irish's 38-7 win over the Blue Devils on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Sunday, November 10, 2019 10:40 pm

Sinn's AP Blog: Week 11

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Week 11 was the most exciting week of the college football season so far this year. Some may dispute that, but I think it's fairly clear-cut. Consider first, the two matchups between undefeated teams (LSU-Alabama and Penn State-Minnesota) each lived up to the hype and then some, providing a bit more clarity to the picture at the top of the rankings. 'Bama-LSU in particular was one of the best games this season and watching Joe Burrow roll through the Crimson Tide defense really drove home the remarkable improvement he has shown over the last year. A performance like that would not have been remotely possible last season for the Tiger quarterback. Meanwhile, Minnesota won the biggest game for the program in at least half a century and probably longer. The Golden Gophers are 9-0 for the first time since 1904 and they aren't doing it with smoke and mirrors. It's time to believe.

Other ranked matchups also turned into thrillers. Iowa-Wisconsin was a rock fight at the beginning, as expected, but by the end the teams were throwing the ball all over the field and Wisconsin emerged with get-well victory. Undefeated Baylor traveled to TCU and the game was tied 9-9 at the end of regulation before the Bears won in triple overtime. Meanwhile, Illinois got bowl eligible with the biggest comeback in program history against Michigan State and Iowa State scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter before falling to Oklahoma 42-41 and leaving the Sooners' CFP hopes hanging by a thread.

If all that wasn't enough for you, Indiana is ranked. I repeat, the Indiana Hoosiers, who have not been in the top 25 since 1994, the year I was born, are No. 24 in this week's AP Poll. The Hoosiers had a bye this week, but moved up into the rankings as a result of losses by Iowa, Kansas State, Wake Forest and San Diego State. I had Indiana at No. 20 this week. 

Here are my full rankings following Week 11: 

1. Clemson (10-0)

2. LSU (9-0)

3. Ohio State (9-0)

4. Minnesota (9-0)

5. Georgia (8-1)

6. Alabama (8-1)

7. Oregon (8-1)

8. Penn State (8-1)

9. Utah (8-1)

10. Florida (8-2)

11. Baylor (9-0)

12. Auburn (7-2)

13. Oklahoma (8-1)

14. Wisconsin (7-2)

15. Michigan (7-2)

16. Notre Dame (7-2)

17. Memphis (8-1)

18. Cincinnati (8-1)

19. SMU (9-1)

20. Indiana (7-2)

21. Boise State (8-1)

22. Appalachian State (8-1)

23. Wake Forest (7-2)

24. Navy (7-1)

25. Louisiana Tech (8-1)

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

Before I go any further, I have to discuss the Hoosiers a little bit more. Getting into the rankings is a remarkable achievement for Tom Allen and this team, which talked all offseason about changing the culture and doing something that had never been done before at Indiana. The Hoosiers have been ranked before, but they had the longest active drought without being ranked of any team in the Power Five conferences by 13 years. The next team happens to be Purdue (the Boilermakers were last in the AP Poll in 2007). This isn't the end of Indiana's building process by any means, but it is a crucial milestone and validates much of what Tom Allen has been preaching over the last three years. To get there with their starting quarterback missing much of the season to this point is even more impressive and a testament to Peyton Ramsey and offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer. Indiana is fighting against decades of futility and relative disinterest from its fanbase. It is one of the toughest places to win among any large school in the country. Allen is doing it and he seems to have the Hoosiers set up for even more success down the road. This feels like a beginning, rather than an end, especially with how much this team appears bought in to the process of building a real program in Bloomington. Of course, the last time Indiana was ranked, it faced No. 16 Wisconsin and lost 62-13. Now, Indiana must travel to No. 9 Penn State, which is coming off its first loss of the season. The Hoosiers have a golden opportunity to prove they belong at the highest level. For a very long time, games like this have gone extremely poorly for Indiana. Maybe, just maybe, this time is different.

Perhaps the most notable feature of my poll this week is Minnesota's placement. I put the Golden Gophers at No. 4, while the overall poll had them No. 7, behind Alabama, Georgia and Oregon. I don't see why a one-loss SEC team should immediately take precedence over an undefeated team from another conference, but that seems to be the general position of most experts. Minnesota is 9-0 with a win over a consensus top 10 team and not a lucky win at that. Alabama has played just as weak of a schedule outside of LSU, the only difference is the Crimson Tide lost their matchup against a ranked opponent. Seriously, take a look at Alabama's schedule: who is its second-best win? Texas A&M? The retort will be, "Well, Alabama would crush Minnesota." Do we know that? I certainly don't. As for Georgia, the Bulldogs lost to South Carolina. Their best wins are over Notre Dame and Florida, good wins to be sure, but neither of those teams is as good as Penn State. The simple fact is that if Minnesota had the exact same resume but had been wearing "Ohio State" jerseys the whole season it would be ranked no lower than fourth and probably higher. 

Bold Pick of the Week: Baylor 27, Oklahoma 23

This isn't a particularly bold pick based on the rankings, but Oklahoma will no doubt be favored by a semi-significant margin by virtue of the fact that Baylor is still something of an unknown despite a 9-0 mark. I'm basing this pick on Oklahoma being overrated and the Bears being somewhat underrated. The Sooners' defense appears to be broken after giving up 48 points to Kansas State and 41 to Iowa State and I'm not sure the offense can score enough against the tough Baylor defense to make up for that.

Last Week: Missouri 29, Georgia 24

I counted on Missouri and that was a mistake. The Bulldogs won 27-0. Georgia gets another chance to make a statement this week when it plays Auburn.

Season Record: 2-8

dsinn@jg.net