Poll chaos: Could Bulls still be ranked?
Sincere respect to any of the coaches and writers voting in the national polls this week, because choosing the bottom five or six teams on your ballot is not an easy task.
Eight ranked teams lost this week, the most in any week this season, and that includes six teams ranked 15th or lower. That would make it easy for many new teams to enter the top 25, but four of the top seven teams in "also receiving votes" also received losses this week, meaning teams that barely got any votes last week (Texas Tech, for instance, had a single AP vote) could now get enough to be ranked.
Pittsburgh and West Virginia, who were 26th and 28th last week, will definitely move into the rankings -- I had them at No. 20 and 21 as I penciled out an informal ballot. You'd think Mississippi, which was No. 29 last week, should move in, but do the Rebels deserve to be ranked ahead of South Carolina, which was No. 22 and lost to Alabama? The Gamecocks are 5-2 and beat the Rebels, who are 4-2, and South Carolina lost to Alabama by fewer points than Mississippi.
Texas Tech's only two losses are to ranked teams (Texas and Houston) and they soundly beat a ranked team in Nebraska on Saturday, so I'll put them in at No. 22. Nebraska was 15th, and amid all this week's chaos, I'm tempted to keep the Cornhuskers (whose two losses are to teams now ranked) in the poll at No. 23.
That leaves two spots -- No. 17 Kansas has to drop out after losing to a bad Colorado team, and even though Oklahoma's three losses are to ranked teams, the Sooners haven't beaten a ranked opponent, so it's hard to keep them in at 3-3. Notre Dame took a close loss to USC, but the Irish haven't beaten a ranked team, so I'm hesitant to rank them, either.
It's hard for a team to lose and jump into the polls, which makes it tough for Arkansas and Wisconsin. Auburn and Missouri were close to being ranked, but lost to then-unranked teams, so count them out.
What's left? There's South Carolina and Mississippi, who could take both spots. The only one-loss teams left are USF, Kansas, Central Michigan and Idaho, and of those four, USF is the only one to lose to a ranked team and the only one to beat a ranked team.
That should put USF within a spot or two of being ranked, and certainly a presence in the top 30 or so of the first BCS standings, due out today. Again, the bottom of the poll is a total crapshoot this week, so good luck with those ballots ...