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Poll Watch: The AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll after Week 13 of College Football

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With Michigan pulling off the biggest win of the season, the polls were really shaken up in week 13.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Ohio State at Michigan Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 13 gave us one of the best rivalry weekends in recent years. We can also debate if it was the most exciting weekend of college football in 2021. It was a beautiful all-day marathon of College Football Playoff drama and poll destruction. As I said weeks ago, in the first seven years of the College Football Playoff, 4 teams took up 17 of the 28 potential slots— Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State. After the last 48 hours and next weekend, we may be without any of those teams for the playoffs this year.

Michigan’s 42-27 win against Ohio State, which broke a losing streak that goes all the way back to 2011, allowed the Wolverines to challenge for the No. 2 spot today. The win also gave Jim Harbaugh his first win in the series as head coach— he previously lost five straight to the Buckeyes. Michigan’s surge in the polls was not only assisted by their dramatic win, but also by Alabama—who needed four overtimes to get past an unranked Auburn team in the Iron Bowl. Bryce Young’s 97-yard game-tying touchdown drive adds to his own Heisman Trophy argument, but the brutal near-loss shouldn’t do much to inspire confidence in the Crimson Tide.

Other top 25 action this weekend included Oklahoma being edged out by Oklahoma State. It was OU’s first Bedlam loss since 2014 and just their third since Mike Gundy took over Oklahoma State in 2005. The win prevents the Sooners from competing for a Big 12 championship, it surged Oklahoma State in the polls, and gives them bragging rights for a year—which is the best part about rivalry weekend. LSU also joined the party by knocking out Texas A&M, 27-24. They sent Ed Orgeron out with a wild victory in a game where LSU took the lead with just 20 seconds left after quarterback Max Johnson found Jaray Jenkins for a 28-yard TD.

With Ohio State bring physically dominated by Michigan for its first loss in “The Game” since 2011, Alabama barley surviving, Georgia and Notre Dame continuing to slaughter teams, and close wins by Michigan State, Baylor, and BYU, there's lots to get into this week.

College Football Playoff Rankings

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Georgia at Georgia Tech

1. Georgia Bulldogs

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

4. Cincinnati Bearcats

5. Michigan Wolverines

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

7. Oklahoma State Cowboys

8. Baylor Bears

9. Ole Miss Rebels

10. Oklahoma Sooners

11. Oregon Ducks

12. Michigan State Spartans

13. BYU Cougars

14. Wisconsin Badgers

15. Texas A&M Aggies

16. Iowa Hawkeyes

17. Pittsburgh Panthers

18. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

19. Utah Utes

20. NC State Wolfpack

21. San Diego State Aztecs

22. USTA Roadrunners

23. Clemson Tigers

24. Houston Cougars

25. Arkansas Razorbacks


Coaches Poll

Alabama v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

1. Georgia Bulldogs

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

3. Michigan Wolverines

4. Cincinnati Bearcats

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

7. Ohio State Buckeyes

8. Ole Miss Rebels

9. Baylor Bears

10. Oregon Ducks

11. Oklahoma Sooners

12. Iowa Hawkeyes

13. Michigan State Spartans

14. BYU Cougars

15. Pittsburgh Panthers

16. Houston Cougars

17. Utah Utes

18. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

19. San Diego State Aztecs

20. NC State Wolfpack

21. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

22. Kentucky Wildcats

23. Texas A&M Aggies

24. Clemson Tigers

25. Arkansas Razorbacks

Other teams receiving votes: Wisconsin 100; Texas-San Antonio 36; Appalachian State 30; Air Force 16; Minnesota 13; Purdue 11; Utah State 8; Coastal Carolina 8; Penn State 5; UCLA 3; Fresno State 3; Mississippi State 2.


The AP Top 25

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Oklahoma at Oklahoma State Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

1. Georgia Bulldogs

2. Michigan Wolverines

3. Cincinnati Bearcats

4. Alabama Crimson Tide

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

7. Ohio State Buckeyes

8. Ole Miss Rebels

9. Baylor Bears

10. Oregon Ducks

11. Michigan State Spartans

12. BYU Cougars

13. Oklahoma Sooners

14. Utah Utes

15. Iowa Hawkeyes

16. Houston Cougars

17. Pittsburgh Panthers

18. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

19. San Diego State Aztecs

20. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

21. NC State Wolfpack

22. Clemson Tigers

23. Arkansas Razorbacks

24. Texas A&M Aggies

25. Kentucky Wildcats

Other teams receiving votes: Wisconsin 68, UTSA 58, Appalachian State 50, Minnesota 37, Purdue 21, Mississippi State 7, Penn State 5, Army 5, Fresno State 1


Analysis

LSU vs Texas A&M Photo by Chris Parent/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Let’s start at the top. George Pickens’s return to the Bulldogs was the only real headline to come out of Georgia’s 45-0 win over Georgia Tech. Pickens had only one catch in the game but his return only adds more power to UGA as they get ready for the SEC Championship Game against Alabama and the College Football Playoffs. They kept their No. 1 ranking (of course).

When it comes to last week’s No. 2 team, Ohio State’s potential championship run in 2021 is over. Also, Jim Harbaugh finally had his moment. After losing his first five matchups against OSU, the Wolverines pulled out his biggest win since he arrived in Ann Arbor. Michigan rushed for 297 yards in a physically dominant and destructive performance. The Buckeyes looked soft for the entire game and just had no answer for the Michigan’s power attack. This is the team Harbaugh promised when he took over the program in 2015. They get it done with efficient quarterback play, a tough and smothering defense, and a powerful run game that offensive coordinator Josh Gattis has gotten pretty creative with. Assuming the Wolverines can beat Iowa next week and capture their first Big Ten Championship since 2004, this win might be the biggest one for any team this season. Especially since suddenly it sent Ohio State having to question how they went from competing for a national championship to allowing Michigan to do so. Michigan is now ranked at No. 2 and OSU dropped to No. 7 in the AP.

For the second weekend in a row, Alabama had to squeeze out a victory. Last week, they narrowly escaped Arkansas and this week the Crimson Tide needed extended overtimes to beat Auburn by the score of 24-22 (next time, go out of bounds Tank Bigsby). The one good thing for the Bama faithful is that the game did give Bryce Young his Heisman moment. But there's no way the voters forgot about the subpar early performance of the Crimson Tide in this game or how they’ve looked over the last two weeks. Bama dropped to No. 4 in the AP.

One team who’s taken advantage of Alabama’s shaky weeks is The Fighting Irish. They are in a great position for the playoff debate. They’re now 11-1 and have won convincingly coming down the stretch. And their only loss on the season was to an undefeated team (Cincinnati). They’ll spend championship weekend sitting on the couch and rooting for more chaos. Signature losses can puts them in the CFP for a third time in four years. For now, they're ranked No. 6 in the AP.

Speaking of College Football Playoff contention, the Cowboys have entered the chat. They’ll get a chance to be a conference champion if they can knock off Baylor for a second time this season in Arlington. Oklahoma State won that last matchup 24-14 on Oct. 2. Similar to Michigan, the Cowboys’ struggles against its rival have defined the team for the last decade. And just like the Wolverines, they turned the page yesterday. Down by two scores entering the fourth quarter, it was Oklahoma State who proved to be the physically better and mentally stronger team. They outscored the Sooners 14-0 in the second half in a defensive shutout for those two quarters. The great win propelled Oklahoma State to No. 5 and dropped OU to No. 13 in the AP.

In one of the upsets of the weekend, LSU defeated Texas A&M, 27-14. The win secured the Tigers’ chance to go bowling by bringing their record to 6-6. However it won’t be Orgeron coaching the team if they’re selected for a bowl. Orgeron said yesterday’s game was his last with LSU. His time on the bayou ends with a 51-20 overall record during his five-and-a-half year tenure. Coach O led LSU to a national championship with Heisman winner Joe Burrow, has seen his celebrated assistants leave for other jobs, and yesterday left to applause as he beat reported LSU coaching target Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies. The loss dropped Texas A&M all the way to No. 24 in the AP.

In the Pac-12, Oregon had a real bounce back from their blowout loss at Utah last week. They beat Oregon State 38-29. The win means the Ducks will have their rematch with the Utes in the Pac-12 Championship. They previously played in the 2019 Pac-12 title game, with Oregon taking home a 37-15 win. The Ducks’ win has them ranked No. 10 in the AP.

Continuing with championship game talk, Minnesota’s 23-13 win over Wisconsin on Saturday night, handed them the Paul Bunyan’s Axe and knocked the Badgers out of the Big Ten Championship Game. The win also sent Iowa to Indianapolis this weekend. Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan only passed for 199 yards, had one touchdown, and no Minnesota running back or receiver reached 100 yards in the stat line. But when you hold your opponent to 233 yards and zero offensive touchdowns, it doesn't matter. Wisconsin’s only TD came in the second quarter when Scott Nelson picked off Morgan and retuned it for a TD to put Badgers ahead 10-3. This was the only high point for the Badgers, as they watched their claim on the Big Ten West Division title and a trip to the Big Ten title game slip away. On top of that, Wisconsin fell to out of the polls.

Later in the polls and in a lesser talked about championship game, UTSA will still host Western Kentucky in the Conference USA Championship Game. The bad news is that their poll position is wildly different from a week ago. The Roadrunners followed up an emotional win over UAB with a 45-23 blowout loss to North Texas. The shocker ended the Roadrunners’ perfect cinderella season and allowed the Mean Green to earn bowl eligibility. UTSA may not finish the season ranked in the top 25 (they dropped out of the polls today) after the loss and their legitimate bowl prospects are seriously diminished. However, going 11-1 is still a great accomplishment for head coach Jeff Traylor.