Monday October 31st, 2016

This week’s AP Top 25 poll featured plenty of shuffling—most of it mild—after a turbulent Week 9. The week’s biggest sufferer was the Big 12, with its two top teams falling out of the top 10 and into the middle of the pack. The top six teams remain intact, and one voter thinks Michigan should be ranked ahead of Alabama.

Here are three thoughts on this week’s edition of the poll:

1. The Big 12 isn’t in the top 10

After West Virginia’s loss to Oklahoma State and Baylor’s loss to Texas, the Big 12 is out of the AP top 10 and probably out of the playoff race. The Mountaineers are likely the last hope for any Big 12 team to make the playoff, and that will require them going undefeated the rest of the way and both Ohio State and Texas A&M (at least) losing a second game.

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Week 9 Takeaways: Four biggest things we learned Saturday

This marks the first time in the history of the Big 12 it won’t have a top-10 team entering November. In what has been a forgettable year for the entire conference, its absence from the top 10 only solidifies the conference’s struggles.

BAUMGAERTNER: Baylor’s loss to Texas deals latest hit to Big 12’s playoff hopes

2. Auburn is surging

Despite occasional scares in their Saturday shootout with Ole Miss, the Tigers moved from No. 15 to No. 11 after another strong showing. As Andy Staples notes in this week’s Punt, Pass & Pork, the decision to switch playcalling duties from Gus Malzahn to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has jumpstarted an offense anchored by bruising running back Kamryn Pettway. The play of a star-studded defensive line has some believing that maybe this year’s Iron Bowl, believed to be a laugher at the beginning of the season, may end up being a pivotal SEC West clash.

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Wisconsin holds off Nebraska in pivotal Big Ten West matchup

3. Western Michigan is leading the charge for the Group of Five

Wyoming’s shocker of Boise State on Saturday removed the biggest contender for the Group of Five’s automatic bid to a New Year’s Six bowl. With the regression of Houston and the Broncos’ loss, Western Michigan is now the team most likely to get a berth in a big-name bowl. It would’ve been hard to believe going into the season that a MAC team would be in consideration for a game against a top-flight Power 5 team, but WMU made noise early with non-conference wins over Illinois and Northwestern. Because of Western’s performance this season, head coach P.J. Fleck is one of the nation’s hottest coaching candidates, and the win over the Wildcats, who nearly knocked off Ohio State on Saturday, is looking more impressive. If these Broncos and their charismatic coach can remain undefeated, expect to see them in a New Year’s Six game.

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Washington passes toughest test yet at Utah to continue playoff pursuit

Full AP Top 25

1. Alabama (60 first-place votes)

2. Michigan (1)

3. Clemson

4. Washington

5. Louisville

6. Ohio State

7. Texas A&M

8. Wisconsin

9. Nebraska

10. Florida

11. Auburn

12. Oklahoma

13. Baylor

14. West Virginia          

15. LSU   

16. Utah  

17. Western Michigan 

18. North Carolina       

19. Florida State          

20. Penn State

21. Colorado

22. Oklahoma State   

23. Virginia Tech          

24. Boise State

25. Washington State

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