Another week, another AP Poll. By now, you know how this goes. Instead of regurgitating the rankings, we discuss what the Associated Press got right and what they didn’t.
THE BIG 12 IN THE AP POLL: WEEK 5
After starting the season number three in the nation, the Sooners are no longer in the Top 25. This isn’t the first time in recent memory that Oklahoma has started the season a favorite to contend for the National Title before falling out of the polls altogether. It isn’t even the second time. Now, it would be absolutely nuts for OU to fire Stoops given all the success he has brought to the program, but do the fans calling for his job have a valid complaint? Also, where does OU end up at season’s end, in or out of the top 25?
DYLAN STEEN – Do those few but vocal Sooner fans calling for a coaching change have a valid complaint? Well, we could talk about how they were in the CFP just a few months ago. Or, we could talk about how they’ve only been losing to top ranked teams. But, let’s pretend that neither of those logical arguments exist. Instead, tell me the coach you’d like to replace Stoops with. I’ll wait.
Yeah, about that. Despite his ups and downs, Bob Stoops remains one of the top coaches in college football. Those that may be an improvement are all entrenched in elite jobs. Maybe an up and comer like Tom Herman could come to Norman and build something bigger and better than Stoops has, but there’s also the significant risk that the program would take a step back.
OU hasn’t lost all the talent that made them preseason darlings and they’re still in line to win the conference and finish with a major bowl. I think they’ll finish firmly inside the top 25.
So, while it’s no fun to go Derek Waters, hammered on TV constantly, when all of your rivals’ fans are agreeing with you that you should switch coaches, you should probably see that as a sign.
CHRIS ROSS – Exactly, who are you going to replace Stoops with? Briles? Miles? Good luck. Now, that said, if things don’t turn around in the next couple of weeks against TCU and Texas, it might be time for a coordinator change, and I don’t mean on offense. I didn’t like the Mike Stoops hire before, and now, well, it doesn’t look like it is working out.
There are two undefeated teams in the Big 12: Baylor and West Virginia. The Bears survived their first test of the season against the Cowboys, and are the highest Big 12 team ranked at 13th in the nation. Meanwhile, West Virginia had already knocked off an SEC team, and on Saturday they sent a gritty BYU team packing. Yet, they are still on the outside looking in. Oklahoma received more votes than the Mountaineers. Just what do they have to do to get ranked?
DYLAN STEEN – They still have plenty of time to prove they’re for real. For now though, what have they proven? They haven’t beat any opponent who has even been close to the top 25, and they’ve struggled to pull away from all three. Especially in the early season, if you don’t beat good teams, you’d better win pretty. The ‘Eers have done neither.
CHRIS ROSS – I can’t help but feel that the Mountaineers are being slighted. What have they proven? It’s week 5, what have, aside from the top five or so, any of them proven? Missouri is an SEC team, and they aren’t world beaters, but they aren’t the same Missouri team as last season either. They’ve found an offense under Josh Heupel and are averaging 48.5 point a game. They also took Georgia to the wire, which admittedly, looked a lot more impressive last week. Still, The Mountaineers have a win over an SEC team.
Also, who hasn’t BYU played close? They’re a gritty team that won’t give up, and they proved that by getting back into the game against West Virginia. Still, a win’s a win. Is WVU perfect? Can they win the Big 12? I don’t know, but I do know that they deserve to be ranked. And you might think that it doesn’t matter now, but how a team is ranked at every point of the season determines quite a bit. Two years ago TCU couldn’t move up the poll if their name was Candy and they were performing on the Vegas strip.
They might not have won pretty, but I don’t understand how that’s worse than actually losing. Does Texas really have a better resume? Notre Dame isn’t even ranked anymore and they lost to Cal. TCU? They got beat by unranked Arkansas at home. Baylor? And you think WVU hasn’t played anyone? Ya the Bears beat Oklahoma State, and that’s a good win, but Baylor was ranked going into the game.
The point is, getting slighted now can make it really hard for them to make up ground later. Especially if the committee is looking for a reason to put Houston in. Oh, and don’t look now, but the season is a third of the way over. So WVU doesn’t have as much time as everyone might think.
DYLAN STEEN – Jim Ross voice: “BAHH GAWWDD HE ALMOST KILLED ‘IM”
You have to let me respond to that attack. That sound you’re hearing, by the way, is the gag reflex of every Sooner fan as you praise for Josh Heupel.
But, he’s sparked Missouri’s offense to 48.5 points per game? Why didn’t you mention that they’re averaging 70 per game against the creamiest of cream puffs and 19 per game against real Power 5 opponents? That includes a defense that just had 45 hung on them in their own house.
I agree BYU is a solid team, but they’re 1-3 against a tough schedule. You’re not getting respect dropping a team to 1-3 on a neutral field.
So, does WVU have a better resume than some ranked teams? Maybe. But you can’t go shooting your mouth off without any ammo. They have no notches on their belt to this point in the season, so they don’t get to complain yet.
Baylor got ranked pre-season because they were a buzz saw last year that was derailed by injury. They have proven talent back.
West Virginia had a decent year last year, but cracked the top 25 only once. That’s typically not a team that will be given the benefit of the doubt. They have to earn it, and unfortunately for them, they haven’t had the chance to do that on the field yet.
While we’re here, Arkansas may have been unranked when they went to Fort Worth, but now they’re #20 with their only loss coming to an A&M team that looks for real. Doesn’t matter how wrong pollsters were before. That’s why, by your own admission, Texas doesn’t get big credit for beating a previously highly ranked Notre Dame team.
I’m also not buying that the Mountaineers getting slighted now will make it harder for them to climb the rankings later in the season. The AP Poll is meaningless and the CFP committee should be evaluating teams themselves. If they’re still undefeated by the time the first meaningful rankings drop, they’ll have wins over K-State, TCU, and at Tech and OSU to lean on. That likely pushes them in the top 15 with games against Texas, OU, and Baylor left to help propel them.
What actually matters is that while many of those teams have name recognition, how many of them will qualify as big wins by November? WVU needs a W in a marquee matchup to jump over other teams. They better be rooting hard for Baylor to keep piling up victories so they can make a big statement to cap off their season.
Without at least one other highly ranked Big 12 team to beat, WVU could be left behind an undefeated Houston team and a Louisville team with only a loss to Houston, in addition to the SEC champ and someone from the Big 10 or Pac 12.
But here’s the real atomic elbow drop: none of this will matter because West Virginia will lose twice before the CFP rankings drop November 1st.