As BYU dominated its re-constructed schedule last season, BYU fans monitored the Cougars' ascension up the national polls. So did we - by publishing a weekly write-up about the teams surrounding BYU in the polls. We referred to it affectionately as AP poll science. This week, AP poll science returns.
For the second consecutive week, BYU is ranked in both national polls. They are currently ranked #15 in the AP poll following a 3-0 start that includes victories over two ranked teams. The Cougars are heavy favorites over USF this weekend, and a win over USF is expected by national voters. Therefore, BYU will need some help to move up in the polls. Enter AP poll science.
So what is AP poll science? It is a look at the surrounding teams in the AP poll and who they play this week. We identify the teams that are most vulnerable. It gives you, the fan, a list of games to watch or monitor this weekend that could impact BYU's ranking.
Before we dive in, let's address the elephant in the room. All of this will go away if BYU doesn't take care of business against USF. In the words of Al Davis, "Just win, baby."
AP Poll Science: Week Four
#8 Cincinnati: Cincinnati has a bye this week. The Bearcats play their most important game of the season next week at #12 Notre Dame.
#9 Clemson: So far this season, Clemson has not been the dominant team that we've grown accustomed to watching over the last several years. The Tigers lost 10-3 in their opener against Georgia, and struggled offensively against Georgia Tech in a 14-8 victory. They are averaging just 8.5 points per game against FBS competition.
Clemson travels to NC State this weekend - they are favored by 10 points.
#10 Ohio State: Like Clemson, Ohio State has not been as dominant this season as they were the last few years. I wouldn't expect them to slip up this week, however, as they host Akron.
#11 Florida: Florida hosts Tennessee this weekend. They have an 89% chance to win according to ESPN FPI.
#12 Notre Dame: #12 Notre Dame hosts #18 Wisconsin this weekend. This game probably won't impact BYU's ranking regardless of outcome. If the Irish lose and fall below the Cougars in the rankings, Wisconsin will probably leapfrog BYU and replace Notre Dame in the top 15.
#13 Ole Miss: Ole Miss has a bye this weekend. Ole Miss will take on #1 Alabama and #16 Arkansas in the coming weeks.
#14 Iowa State: This is one that BYU fans should monitor this weekend. Iowa State travels to Baylor this weekend. ESPN FPI believes this game is a tossup - FPI gives the Cyclones a 55% chance to win.
#15 BYU: BYU has to beat USF and look good doing it.
BYU is also in danger of being leapfrogged by a teams that win big games on Saturday.
#16 Arkansas: Arkansas hosts #7 Texas A&M this weekend. If the Razorbacks win, they will leapfrog BYU in the rankings.
#17 Coastal Carolina: Coastal Carolina plays UMass this weekend. A win over UMass will not do enough for the Chanticleers' resume to surpass BYU in the rankings.
#18 Wisconsin: See #12 Notre Dame.
#19 Michigan: Michigan is 3-0 this season. They are favored against Rutgers this weekend. If Michigan continues to win, they will surpass BYU in the rankings eventually. Probably not this week, but possibly as early as next week.
#20 Michigan State: Michigan State takes on a struggling Nebraska team in Big Ten conference play this weekend. ESPN FPI gives the Spartans a 73% chance to win.
A new feature to AP poll science, we rank the three most vulnerable teams ranked ahead of BYU in the polls.
1. Notre Dame
Notre Dame is probably undeserving of their #12 ranking. The Irish put together a fourth quarter comeback to beat Toledo earlier this year, and they needed overtime to beat a winless Florida State team. Notre Dame will be tested this weekend against #18 Wisconsin.
2. Iowa State
Iowa State has not lived up to preseason expectations so far this season. They narrowly beat Northern Iowa 16-10 in their opener and they lost to a tough Iowa team in week two. The Cyclones take on Baylor on the road - the Bears are averaging 559 yards per game on offense.
Until Clemson figures out its offensive woes, they should be on upset alert. NC State is averaging 33 points per game on offense, and Clemson has averaged 8.5 points per game against FBS competition.
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