Major showdowns in the Big 12 produced major changes in the AP Top 25 poll after Week 11. Oklahoma State moved to No. 4, and Oklahoma moved into the top 10 at No. 7 after the Cowboys and Sooners scored wins Saturday. Baylor dropped from No. 4 to No. 10 after its loss to the Sooners.
Here are three thoughts on the AP poll:
1. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are in the lead in the Big 12's carousel
The season-ending round robin of the Big 12's contenders is shaking up the rankings with TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Oklahoma State seemingly engaged in a high-stakes game of musical chairs.
This week, it was the Cowboys and Sooners who found themselves with seats in the top 10. Oklahoma knocked off Baylor to rise five spots to No. 7 in the poll while dropping the Bears to No. 10. The Sooners still have one more big chance to climb when they face Oklahoma State in the last week of the regular season.
The Cowboys climbed into the top four of the AP poll this week but seemed lucky to escape Iowa State with a win Saturday. The College Football Playoff selection committee has shown it will take every factor into account when evaluating teams, so it'd be a surprise to see Oklahoma State (which was No. 8 in last week's playoff rankings) in the committee's top four after a subpar win.
2. The Pac-12's best are plummeting
Entering the season, the Pac-12 looked like one the deepest leagues in the country. Although the conference is still filled with quality teams, it lacks clearly elite squads that can compete for playoff bids. No Pac-12 team is in top 14 of the AP's rankings, whereas four Big Ten, four Big 12, two SEC, two ACC, one independent and one Group of Five team are. Stanford dropped to No. 15 after its loss to Oregon and Utah fell to No. 18 after its overtime defeat to Arizona, effectively ending the Pac-12's two playoff hopes. With no Pac-12 team having fewer than two losses, it’s difficult to see any team out West managing to make its way back near the top of the rankings. The Ducks did sneak back into the top 25 at No. 23, no small feat after they lost three of their first six games this season.
3. The three-loss teams enter the poll
Late in the season, we now have four three-loss teams in the back end of the poll. Washington State joins big-name programs Oregon, USC and Ole Miss in the top 25. There is certainly a case to be made for each of the teams to remain ranked. Oregon has its big win over Stanford, USC has its upset of Utah and Ole Miss is the only team to beat No. 3 Alabama.
If anything, the three-loss teams are a glaring reminder of the chaotic nature of this season. Oregon, Ole Miss and USC were each ranked much higher earlier in the season and each has a signature win, yet they've all only just re-entered the top 25 because of the surprising parity of this season.
Here is the complete top 25:
2. Ohio State
4. Oklahoma State
5. Notre Dame
12. North Carolina
16. Florida State
24. Washington State
25. Ole Miss