BATON ROUGE – So, LSU waxes No. 7 Ole Miss, 45-20, on Saturday, and Ole Miss stays higher ranked than the Tigers in both the Associated Press media and USA Today coaches’ polls on Sunday?
How stupid is that? Very stupid.
I voted in the A.P. poll for years when working for USA Today, and I had a rule that made more sense than most of the so-called criteria voters have used over the years and, unfortunately, still today.
This was the rule: If two teams have similar records, meaning within a loss of one another, and one of those teams beats the other team, than the team that just won should be ranked higher the next week. This is particularly true if the lower ranked team going into the game beats the hell out of the higher ranked team. Period.
LSU, which was unranked when it beat Ole Miss 42-3 from the second quarter on, jumped into the A.P. poll at No. 18 on Sunday and into the coaches’ poll at No. 20. Ole Miss dropped to No. 15 and to No. 12, respectively.
LSU’s record is 6-2 and 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss’ record is 6-1 and 3-1. LSU should be ranked higher. In fact, LSU should be ranked higher, even if it would have beat Ole Miss by one point on a seven-lateral kickoff return as time expired.
LSU has two quality wins – Mississippi State, which has been ranked this season, and at Florida, which has also been ranked this season. It has a loss to Florida State, which is a bad one as the Seminoles are average, though they were also once ranked. LSU was destroyed by Tennessee, 40-13, but the Vols may be the best team in the nation.
Ole Miss has exactly one quality win – over Kentucky, which is No. 19 in the current A.P. poll. And the Rebels struggled with Tulsa and even with lowly Vanderbilt early. Ole Miss also let Auburn score 34 points – 20 points above its average.
That’s far too close to rank Ole Miss higher than LSU. Now, if LSU was some .500 team or worse that had the game of its season and beat a No. 7 Ole Miss, then, no, that team should not be ranked higher in the next poll than Ole Miss.
That’s not the case here. This is a case of voting coaches, or their sports information directors, and voting media members not doing their homework, or just not thinking correctly. And it’s ridiculous.
Voting in the poll is not that hard. The criteria voters so often forget is simple, common sense.
Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin doesn’t sound like someone who thinks his team should be ranked higher than LSU.
“We got pushed around,” he said after the game.
There was common sense used in the top six of the A.P. poll as it remained the same with No. 1 Georgia (7-0), No. 2 Ohio State (7-0), No. 3 Tennessee (7-0), No. 4 Michigan (7-0), No. 5 Clemson (8-0) and No. 6 Alabama (7-1) because those teams all won, other than Georgia, which was open.
TCU (7-0) moved up a spot to No. 7. Oregon (6-1) jumped two spots to No. 8. Oklahoma State also moved up two to No. 9.
But there was more stupidity later. USC strangely moved up two spots to No.10, even though it lost at No. 15 Utah, 43-42. Close and on the road, but it still lost. USC is 6-1. Utah is 5-2 and ranked No. 14. Utah should be above USC. Simple math. Common sense.
Wake Forest rose three spots to a tie at No. 10 with USC. The rest of the top 20 had No. 12 UCLA (6-1), No. 13 Penn State (6-1), No. 14 Utah (5-2), No. 15 Ole Miss (7-1), No. 16 Syracuse (6-1), No. 17 Illinois (6-1), No. 18 LSU (6-2), No. 19 Kentucky (5-2) and No. 20 Cincinnati (6-1).
The last five in were North Carolina (6-1) at No. 21, Kansas State (5-2) at No. 22, Tulane (7-1) at No. 23, North Carolina State (5-2) at No. 24 and South Carolina (5-2) in the poll for the first time since 2018 at No. 25. The Gamecocks won their third straight game, beating Texas A&M, 30-24.
Thank goodness, the real poll is about to start as the first College Football Playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 1.