Stanford falls and SEC gets record 8


By RALPH D. RUSSO

AP College Football Writer

The Southeastern Conference set a record for most schools in The Associated Press college football poll with eight ranked teams.

The Top 25 was shaken Sunday after seven ranked teams lost, including five to teams that were unranked or lower ranked. Stanford dropped eight spots and Michigan fell from the poll.

The top four was unchanged, with No. 1 Alabama receiving 55 of 60 first-place votes. No. 2 is Oregon, followed by Clemson and Ohio State. Florida State moved up to No. 5 to set up a top-five matchup at Clemson next week.

Stanford lost 27-20 at Utah and is now No. 13, becoming the first top-10 team this season to lose to an unranked team. Michigan drops out after losing 43-40 in four overtimes at Penn State.

No. 24 Auburn moved into the rankings for the first time this season to join No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 11 South Carolina, No. 14 Missouri, No. 15 Georgia and No. 22 Florida. Missouri jumped 11 spots after a 41-26 victory at Georgia (4-2).

The record for most teams from one conference in a regular-season poll had been seven, done many times, including this season by the SEC. The ACC and Big Ten have also reached seven ranked teams in season.

The SEC also had eight teams ranked in the 2011 preseason poll.

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Breaking down The AP Top 25 college football poll after Week 7 of the regular season:

SHAKE-UP SATURDAY

The first preseason national championship contender has been upset. A couple more unbeatens are now among the beaten. Now that the season has reached the midway point, it seems the title chase has truly begun.

The first shake-up of the season produced significant changes to The Associated Press college football poll Sunday. The top four teams remained unchanged: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Ohio State.

But Stanford, which had been top-five all season, lost 27-20 at Utah and dropped eight spots to No. 13. The Cardinal’s Pac-12 and national title hopes took a serious hit, though they’ll be able to get right back in the conversation next week by beating No. 9 UCLA at home. And there’s still that big game against Oregon on Nov. 7.

The Cardinal have two problems: 1) Their rugged defense has been giving up big plays as both Washington and Utah have neutralized some of Stanford’s “Party in the Backfield” defensive front by attacking the perimeter. 2) Quarterback Kevin Hogan hasn’t taken a the big step many expected after his promising redshirt freshman season. Hogan is a good quarterback in a world with many great ones.

“This is a young quarterback that has a chance to be extremely good. So I don’t worry about his confidence,” Shaw said. “He’s going to bounce back.”

The story behind the story is the Pac-12 has a lot of good teams and is the only league that can make a serious claim to being the equal of the Southeastern Conference.

Though Stanford’s tumble puts just a little more shine on what was already shaping up as maybe the biggest football game in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

Florida State edged up a spot during its off week and will take a No. 5 ranking to Death Valley on Saturday for a top-five matchup against Clemson.

The ACC has two top-five teams and three top-10 teams — Miami is No. 10 — for the first time since Oct. 30, 2005. And soon-to-be ACC team Louisville, checks in at No. 8.

MOVING UP

Talk about putting a damper on an otherwise awesome day. Missouri (6-0) stayed undefeated with its first statement victory since joining the SEC, a 41-26 win against banged-up and defense-deficient Georgia.

But the Tigers lost quarterback James Franklin to a separated throwing shoulder. The senior will miss at least a week, although CBS.com reported it will be much longer. It’s too bad for the Tigers because the road to the SEC East now goes throw Columbia, Mo. No. 22 Florida and No. 11 South Carolina play at Missouri the next two weeks.

Franklin’s replacement is Maty Mauk, a redshirt freshman and big-time recruit. The Tigers have plenty of weapons to help bring him along, but no time for growing pains.

MOVING IN

Auburn moved into the rankings for the first time this season at No. 24, giving SEC fans yet another thing to boast about.

The SEC is the first conference to have eight ranked teams during the regular season. The SEC held the record, along with the ACC and Big Ten, of seven ranked teams — though the SEC had done it more than any other league. The SEC also had eight in the 2011 preseason poll.

The Tigers’ rise was not well received among the many fans who have had it up to here with the SEC, winner of the last seven BCS championships. Auburn’s 5-1 record, best win at home against Mississippi, doesn’t look all that much better than Nebraska’s, Michigan State’s or Oregon State’s, just to name a few.

But the SEC has earned the benefit of the doubt and Gus Malzahn’s rebuilding Tigers were the beneficiary this week. They go to No. 7 Texas A&M next week, so it could be a short stay.

No. 25 Wisconsin is back in the rankings to keep Ohio State from being the only Big Ten team.

MOVING OUT

Michigan has spent most of this season winning games and dropping in the rankings. Barely slipping by Akron and Connecticut is no way to impress voters.

So it should be no surprise that when the Wolverines finally lost, 43-40 in quadruple overtime at Penn State, Michigan dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time this season.

It was an uplifting victory for Penn State after losing at home to Central Florida and at Indiana. It was also a win for those driven crazy by conservative play-calling.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke played for field goals and got burned.

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien went for it on a fourth-and-1 at the 16 instead of attempting a tying field goal and was rewarded with a victory. It was a good gamble, mostly because it wasn’t all that much of a gamble. That O’Brien, who frequently goes on fourth down, understands this is one of his best attributes.

FROM THE

ARCHIVES

No. 12 Baylor is the highest ranked team in the Big 12 for the first time since the league started in 1996, taking advantage of Oklahoma’s surprising loss to Texas. The Sooners fell six spots to No. 18. … No. 9 UCLA and No. 10 Miami have their best rankings since October 2005.

 

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