20. Purdue at 19 is very, very nice
That’s giving a ton of love for a team with big wins that happened at the time. Was Iowa really the second-best team in the country when the Boilermakers won a few weeks go?
No. The Michigan State win was outstanding, but it soon might not seem quite as strong. The home loss to Minnesota hurts now, and getting beaten by double-digits to Wisconsin and Notre Dame doesn’t help.
19. The Auburn-Ole Miss issue
This actually should be Penn State Factor Part 2. Auburn lost at Penn State when everyone was wearing white t-shirts. It also lost to Georgia, and it just lost at Texas A&M. All three of those games were on the road, but it managed to beat Ole Miss by 11 just before losing to A&M. Auburn is 17, Ole Miss 15 – that technically should be reversed.
18. Pitt at 21 …
This is an interesting one. The loss to Western Michigan is an anchor, and the loss to Miami two weeks ago doesn’t help, but winning at Tennessee looks great now and it’s still the only team since 2014 to beat Clemson in the regular season by double-digits.
Why should you pay attention? The Panthers will probably be in the ACC Championship with a shot at a New Year’s Six game. And it might have to beat …
17. NC State didn’t really move up that much
The Wolfpack beat Florida State and Louisville in back-to-back weeks, and it has a win over Clemson on the resumé, but it’s going to come down to the next three weeks. It needs to beat Wake Forest, then Syracuse, then North Carolina. Going from 19 to 16 is fine, but that’s a bit too generous.
16. Wake Forest didn’t really drop that much
The committee gave a whole lot of respect to a tough loss to North Carolina, and it matters. 12 is still within range. No one’s talking about it – and I don’t think it’ll happen – but if Wake Forest closes out with wins over North Carolina, at Clemson, at Boston College, and with an ACC Championship, don’t be totally stunned if a one-loss Power Five champion ends up ahead of Cincinnati. Again, it’s probably not going to happen.
15. UTSA is in at 23
Of course it’s a nice moment for the program, and it might be a week overdue, but it’s more than just a cute story. If it beats Southern Miss, UAB, and wins at North Texas before taking the Conference USA title, it’s probably going to be the highest-ranked Group of Five champion if Cincinnati loses along the way. UTSA in the New Year’s Six would be one of the best things about 2021.
14. BYU is sneaking up, and it could be a huge deal
The Cougars (14) need Baylor to lose again – they lost to the Bears 38-24 in Waco a few weeks ago. However, they beat Virginia, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, and most importantly, Utah. If it closes out with wins over Georgia Southern and USC on the road, it could end up in range for one of the New Year’s Six games.
13. The Penn State factor, Part 2
Penn State didn’t get into the top 25, but games against it earned a ton of respect.
Wisconsin lost at home in the opener to the Nittany Lions – good loss. Auburn lost at Penn State – good loss. Iowa got by Penn State – great win and enough to overcome other issues. Ohio State beat Penn State – it’s the strongest win to stay ahead of Cincinnati.
Yeah, the Nittany Lions should probably be in the top 25.
12. The committee got the Big Ten right on this
Give the committee credit for the process. Wisconsin is crushing teams now thanks to the No. 1 defense in the country – and be a whole lot over Georgia. It’s 18, it beat Purdue (19) and Iowa (20). That’s how this works, and the Grapevine 13 got it right.
11. Wisconsin just got a whole lot of love at 18
The Badgers were a hot mess over the first half of the season, but the committee gave credit to losses against Notre Dame and Michigan, and in the opener against Penn State. It has won its last five games over Illinois, Army, Purdue, Iowa, and Rutgers by a combined score of 163-37.