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Poll Watch: The AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll after Week 9 of College Football

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Six ranked teams lost to unranked opponents in Week 9, including the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Syndication: York Daily Record Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Don’t look now, but the Miami Hurricanes have knocked off ranked teams in back-to-back weeks. The Hurricanes weren’t the only team to give teams nightmares on Halloween weekend. Nine ranked teams lost this weekend, with six of them falling to unranked opponents. And with the College Football Playoff Rankings coming out on Tuesday, some teams picked the worst weekend to come out flat. Even for the teams who won, a few had nail-bitting moments. Ohio State needed a late field goals to beat Penn State and Michigan State’s star running back Kenneth Walker III put the Spartans on his back in a 4-point win over Michigan. The win also put the Spartans in the conversation for the CFP, or at least having a legitimate playoff case, after beating another top 10 team.

There will be plenty to talk about when the CFP rankings come out in a few days. Is Cincinnati really the No. 2 team in the country after two consecutive American Athletic Conference wins that were close in the first half? Will the prestige of Alabama boost them above Oklahoma or Michigan State?

And in a weekend where Matt Corral and dark-horse Heisman hopeful Kenny Pickett (sorry not sorry) might have ended their chances to grasp the coveted stiff-arm trophy and the list of unbeaten teams fell to two, let’s see how the polls rewarded teams who managed to survive and advance.

Coaches Poll

Syndication: Gainesville Sun Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK

1. Georgia Bulldogs

2. Cincinnati Bearcats

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

4. Oklahoma Sooners

5. Ohio State Buckeyes

6. Michigan State Spartans

7. Oregon Ducks

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

10. Michigan Wolverines

11. Oklahoma State Cowboys

12. Texas A&M Aggies

13. Baylor Bears

14. Auburn Tigers

15. Ole Miss Rebels

16. Iowa Hawkeyes

17. Kentucky Wildcats

18. USTA Roadrunners

19. Houston Cougars

20. BYU Cougars

21. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

22. NC State Wolfpack

23. Penn State Nittany Lions

24. SMU Mustangs

25. Pittsburgh Panthers

Other teams receiving votes: UL Lafayette 156; Fresno State 73; San Diego State 65; Arkansas 65; Minnesota 29; Wisconsin 26; Mississippi State 20; Utah 10; Appalachian State 10; Air Force 9; Liberty 4; Iowa State 4; Clemson 4; Arizona State 1.

AP Top 25

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

1. Georgia Bulldogs

2. Cincinnati Bearcats

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

4. Oklahoma Sooners

5. Michigan State Spartans

6. Ohio State Buckeyes

7. Oregon Ducks

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

9. Michigan Wolverines

10. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

11. Oklahoma State Cowboys

12. Auburn Tigers

13. Texas A&M Aggies

14. Baylor Bears

15. Ole Miss Rebels

16. USTA Roadrunners

17. BYU Cougars

18. Kentucky Wildcats

19. Iowa Hawkeyes

20. Houston Cougars

21. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

22. Penn State Nittany Lions

23. SMU Mustangs

24. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

25. Fresno State Bulldogs

Other teams receiving votes: Pittsburgh 117, North Carolina State 104, Wisconsin 91, Mississippi State 79, Arkansas 72, Minnesota 51, San Diego State 50, Appalachian State 23, Utah 11, Iowa State 9, Nevada 2

Analysis

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Georgia has clearly scanned its QR code ticket to the College Football Playoff. Ok, they still have to play the Missouri Tigers, Tennessee Volunteers, and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. But we can probably guess how those games are going to go. The Bulldogs are also lined up to play Alabama in Atlanta on Dec. 4 in the SEC Championship. This weekend, they destroyed the Florida Gators 34-7 (shoutout to my Gators loving cousin who bet me $100 that they’d win.) The Bulldogs are the overwhelming favorites to win the national championship this season and they remained the top team in the polls yet again.

Also in the SEC, Ole Miss flew too close to the sun. The team shot all the way up in the top ten in last week’s poll, just to lose 31-20 loss to Auburn. Ole Miss fell behind the Tigers by double digits in the first half and never came back. For the Tigers, Tank Bigsby rushed for 140 yards and Bo Nix threw for 276, passed for a TD, and rushed for two TDs. Ole Miss is unlikely to compete for the SEC West with Alabama. Even worse, Quarterback Matt Corral’s Heisman run is also probably done. The silver lining is that Ole Miss is still 6-2 and still has a chance for a New Year’s Six game. Ole Miss dropped to 15 and Auburn jumped to 12 in the AP.

In the Big Ten, the battle of Michigan was a great one. Kenneth Walker III rushed for 197 yards and had a staggering 5 touchdowns against the Wolverines. This was easily the Spartans’ biggest win of the Mel Tucker era. Even with Wolverines out-gaining MSU by more than 150 yards, Jim Harbaugh—I’m sorry Michigan—managed to choke. Michigan State’s win cements them a legit Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff contender. Michigan State is now ranked 5 in the AP. Michigan didn’t drop out of the top 10. They're ranked at 9.

A state over, Ohio State showed some toughness in their closest matchup in a month. TreVeyon Henderson ran for 152 yards on a season-high 28 carries in the team’s 33-24 win over Penn State. OSU’s (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) fourth field by Noah Ruggles came with 2:41 left. It gave the Buckeyes a nine-point lead and closed the door on the game. OSU must like where they stand before the CFP rankings come out on Tuesday. For now, they're ranked 6th in the AP. Penn State is now in the 20’s in both polls.

A team that can’t love where they are is the Iowa Hawkeyes. I only bring them up because they did something yesterday we rarely ever see. They had zero first downs and negative rushing yards for most of the first half. After a second straight blowout loss to an unranked opponent, Iowa fell all the way to 19 in the AP.

In the Big 12, the Caleb Williams train continues to be firing at all cylinders. He threw for 402 yards and 6 touchdowns as Oklahoma dismantled Texas Tech 52-21. After a slow offensive start to the season (OU won six of their first eight games by 12 or fewer points), the Sooners finally put together dominant win. The win kept them at 4 in the AP.

Another ranked team that’s putting things together are the Oregon Ducks. It’s probably because Anthony Brown Jr. has finally hit his stride. Brown threw for a career-high 307 yards and 3 TDs yesterday. Oregon also had a season-high 568 yards of offense in their 52-29 win over the Colorado Buffaloes. Travis Dye also played a huge part in the offensive showcase as he ran for 2 TDs and caught 1 TD to help Oregon get to 7-1 on the season. The win also extend the Ducks’ winning streak at Autzen Stadium to 17 games. Oregon is at 7 in the AP.

The AAC welcomed another team to the rankings this week. The Cougars finally got their first statement win since Dana Holgorsen took over in 2019. The game wasn’t without excitement. The Cougars nearly blew a 17-point lead. But Houston cornerback Marcus Jones saved the day when he took a kick back 100 yards in the final seconds of the game to beat the previously ranked SMU Mustangs. The win also puts the Cougars (7-1) on track for the AAC Championship Game against Cincinnati. Being ranked will surely be a momentum builder they can take with them to the Big 12 next year. They’re now ranked 20th.

In the ACC, frontrunners Wake Forest put on another show. Sam Hartman threw for 402 yards, 3 TDs, and had 2 rushing TDs in their 45-7 beatdown of Duke. I’m not sure if they can be real contenders in the CFP race due to their strength of schedule, but it has been a great season for the Demon Deacons. They’re now in the top 10.

And last but not least, I think the Canes might have something with this youth movement we’ve been riding over the last few weeks. Freshman Tyler Van Dyke out-dueled Heisman hopeful Kenny Pickett and helped Miami beat the previously ranked Panthers. And this is just a week after beating a ranked NC State team and having recent losses being only by a combined total of 5 points (North Carolina Tar Heels and Virginia Cavaliers). The Canes find themselves in a wild, unpredictable, and shockingly wide open ACC coastal division. Pittsburgh dropped out of the AP this week and is ranked 25th in the Coaches Poll.