Big wins and upsets shake up AP poll
For the first time this season, The Associated Press poll received a serious shake-up — just not at the top.
Big wins by Auburn, Georgia, California and Purdue, combined with surprising losses by West Virginia, Ohio State and Fresno State helped to overhaul the media poll released Sunday.
The top five remained the same for the third straight week, with No. 1 Southern Cal followed by Oklahoma, Georgia, Miami and Texas.
From there, changes were plentiful — including LSU’s 11-spot drop to No. 24.
Auburn’s 34-10 victory at Tennessee on Saturday moved the Tigers into national title contention and to No. 6 in the rankings. That’s where Auburn started last season, but 2003 didn’t work out as planned and the Tigers never lived up to the advanced billing.
Now, they are exceeding expectations.
The last time Auburn was ranked this high during the season was Oct. 12, 1997.
“We had something to prove,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said after the Tigers’ first win in Knoxville in 21 years.
Cal will head into its showdown with USC next week ranked seventh after winning 49-7 at Oregon State, despite a three-week layoff. It’s the Golden Bears’ best showing in the poll since they were sixth on Nov. 24, 1991.
No. 9 Purdue cracked the top 10 for the first time this season with a 41-16 victory against Notre Dame, the Boilermakers’ first win at South Bend in 30 years.
Virginia had the week off, but benefited from Ohio State and West Virginia losing their first games and moved up two spots to No. 10.
No. 8 Florida State also moved up a spot.
The top eight teams were the same in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
The Buckeyes and Mountaineers, top 10 teams since the preseason, each slipped by double digits.
Ohio State was 18th after losing to Northwestern for the first time in 33 years. The Wildcats won, 33-27, in overtime.
West Virginia’s 19-13 loss at Virginia Tech wasn’t quite as stunning, but ultimately it may have been more costly. The Mountaineers fell to 16th, and with a relatively weak Big East schedule left, they probably won’t have a chance to work themselves back into the national title race.
Defending co-national champion LSU (3-2) can also say goodbye to its title hopes after losing 45-16 loss at Georgia.
“When things like this happen, you must dig deep down inside,” LSU coach Nick Saban said.
No. 3 Georgia, which finally looked like a title contender against LSU, hosts No. 17 Tennessee next week. The Vols dropped seven places.
“Hopefully, this will give us some confidence, some momentum,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said after the resounding victory. “We needed a boost for sure.”
Fresno State, which looked like a potential BCS buster, dropped out of the rankings after being upset 28-21 at Louisiana Tech.
The second 10 starts with another team hoping to reach the Bowl Championship Series from a mid-major conference. No. 11 Utah has a nine-game winning streak and its highest ranking since finishing the 1994 season 10th.
Florida is 12th followed by Michigan and Minnesota. The Big Ten rivals will meet next week in Ann Arbor, Mich., one of two pivotal games in the conference Saturday. No. 15 Wisconsin visits Ohio State.
No. 19 Arizona State (5-0) is off to its best start since 1996 and No. 20 Louisville next plays at Miami on Oct. 14.
No. 21. is Boise State followed by Maryland and Oklahoma State. No. 25 South Carolina entered the poll for the first time this season.