Rivalry Week gave college football fans everything they could bargain for and more, and it ensured there will be plenty of talking points leading into Championship Saturday. Following Auburn's improbable 34-28 upset of Alabama, there’s a new top-ranked squad in the AP Poll for the first time this season. Florida State sits at No. 1, with Ohio State finally ascending to the No. 2 spot it exited after the preseason.
Obviously, the BCS standings are the ones that count, but the AP Poll is a solid temperature gauge. There will certainly be lots of campaigning leading into next week's games as teams make their final case for why they belong in the national championship game. Auburn has already started, with athletic director Jay Jacobs saying the Tigers deserve a BCS shot. (That is, of course, if Auburn can beat Missouri in the SEC title game in Atlanta.)
The other Tigers, who beat Texas A&M 28-21 on Saturday, stayed at No. 5, while Alabama dropped to No. 4. Oklahoma State moved up to No. 6 -- and that puzzling 30-21 loss at West Virginia on Sept. 28 is the lone thing keeping the Cowboys out of the championship conversation.
The complete AP Poll (with first-place votes in parenthesis) is below:
1. Florida State (58)
2. Ohio State
3. Auburn (2)
6. Oklahoma State
8. South Carolina
10. Michigan State
11. Arizona State
16. Northern Illinois
22. Texas A&M
24. Fresno State
Here are a few thoughts from this week’s poll:
• Michigan State (11-1) will have a real opportunity to cap off an already impressive season. The Spartans were largely disregarded coming into the year, and they had a lot of trouble generating offense early this fall. However, bolstered by a strong defense and improved play from quarterback Connor Cook and running back Jeremy Langford, Michigan State is in the Big Ten title game with a shot at the Rose Bowl. It has climbed all the way up to No. 10.
• Wisconsin was in line for a potential BCS at-large bid entering Saturday's matchup with Penn State. But the Nittany Lions played spoiler, knocking the Badgers (9-3) all the way down to No. 21 in the latest AP Poll. Wisconsin will now likely be on the outside looking in. That controversial 32-30 loss at Arizona State way back on Sept. 14 still has to sting. • Speaking of the Sun Devils, Arizona State (10-2) continued its rise, moving up to No. 11 after winning its seventh straight with a 58-21 trouncing of Arizona. Coach Todd Graham's squad will host Stanford in the Pac-12 championship; it has been one of the hottest teams in football down the stretch.