AP Top 25 Heat Check: Highs and lows of ranking 2-loss teams

Nov 13, 2017 - 12:53 PM At its best, Ohio State has looked about as good as any team in the country. The Buckeyes' bad days, though, have been very bad. The peculiar case of Ohio State's season has been an oddly shaped piece of the puzzle for AP Top 25 voters to manage this season. The Buckeyes' highest high so far came Saturday against Michigan State when they blasted Michigan State by 45 points. That came a week after Ohio State hit bottom, losing by 31 at Iowa. The Hawkeyes then turned around and managed exactly zero offensive points at Wisconsin to make matters even more confusing. Ohio State (8-2) landed at No. 8 in the Top 25 on Sunday , the second-highest ranked of the teams with two losses. Auburn (8-2) is No. 6 after handing Georgia its first loss on Saturday. Then come the Bulldogs at No. 7 and Ohio State starts a string of teams with two losses, including No. 9 Notre Dame, No 11 TCU and No. 16 Washington, all of which lost for a second time this past weekend. Among those two-loss teams ranked from 8-16, the Buckeyes have the largest average margin in its wins (35.5 points) and the second-largest average margin in its losses (23). Schedule strength varies, of course, and influences these numbers, but here's how the other two-loss teams are doing. No. 6 Auburn: Average margin of victory, 28; average margin of defeat, 6.0. No. 9 Notre Dame: 25.4; 17.0. No. 10 Oklahoma State: 22.6; 11.5. No. 11 TCU: 25.5; 12.5. No. 12 USC: 17.2; 19.0. No. 13 Penn State: 30.3; 2.0. No. 15 Washington State: 20.5; 27.5. No. 16 Washington: 31.6; 7.0. Heat check tends to be more about the highs than the lows. How did the voters handle it? No. 1 Alabama (10-0) It's not just Alabama scheduling these late-season FCS games and it's not just SEC teams. Hi, ACC teams. It's a smart move if you can pull it off without it hurting your postseason chances. That doesn't mean it doesn't stink. Next: vs. Mercer. Heat check: Just right. No. 2 Miami (9-0) Just two weeks ago, the Hurricanes were in fourth-quarter danger of letting one slip away to North Carolina. Look at them now. It is fair to be a little wary that the team Miami was for the first two months of the season could show up in the next couple weeks. Next: vs. Virginia. Heat check: Too hot, but just a touch. No. 3 Oklahoma (9-1) Complain about the Sooners' defense all you want, but then also ask: Who is stopping these guys? Overlooked aspect of the Sooners' offense is the line is elite. Next: at Kansas. Heat check: Too cold. No. 4 Clemson (9-1) Did anybody think when Clemson sacked Auburn 11 times in September it was a possible playoff preview? Next: vs. The Citadel. Heat check: Too cold. No. 5 Wisconsin (10-0) Over the last three seasons, the Badgers' national rank in yards allowed per play: third (2017), 18th (2016), fourth (2015). Each season with a different defensive coordinator. That's the Wisconsin Way. Next: vs. No. 19 Michigan. Heat check: Too hot. No. 6 Auburn (8-2) The Tigers had to work out some offensive kinks early in the season, but those were overrated and, hence, they have been underrated. Next: vs. Louisiana-Monroe. Heat check: Too cold. No. 7 Georgia (9-1) The Bulldogs and their top-of-the-resume victory at Notre Dame both took a beating this weekend. Next: vs. Kentucky. Heat check: Just right. No. 8 Ohio State (8-2) If the best Buckeyes show up three more times they just might be a playoff team. Next: vs. Illinois. Heat check: Too hot. No. 9 Notre Dame (8-2) It was a meltdown in Miami, but the Irish still have three lopsided victories against teams in the current Top 25. Only Oklahoma has as many. Next: vs. Navy. Heat check: Too cold. No. 10 Oklahoma State (8-2) Losses to TCU and Oklahoma are likely to lock the Cowboys out of the Big 12 title game, but could they sneak into a New Year's Six game over the loser of the conference title game? Next: vs. Kansas State. Heat check: Touch too hot. No. 11 TCU (8-2) The Horned Frogs beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Remember? Next: at Texas Tech. Heat check: Too cold. Flip-flop with Oklahoma State. No. 12 Southern California (9-2) USC fans might wonder why the Trojans aren't getting much mention in the talk about two-loss playoff contenders. Fair question, though USC lacks dominance and marquee victories. Next: vs. UCLA. Heat check: Too cold. No. 13 Penn State (8-2) Being the best decoy in the country won't get Saquon Barkley many Heisman Trophy votes, but his presence clearly opens up the rest of the offense. Next: vs. Nebraska. Heat check: Just right. No. 14 UCF (9-0) The Knights have been locked into this spot two straight weeks as teams rise and fall around them. Next: at Temple. Heat check: Just right. No. 15 Washington State (9-2) Overrated: The Cougars' offense, which ranks 65th in the nation in yards per play (5.64). Underrated: The Cougars' defense, which ranks 19th in the country in yards per play allowed (4.86). Next: at No. 16 Washington, Nov. 25. Heat check: Just right. No. 16 Washington (8-2) The Huskies have been dominant in their wins, have two close losses, and are lacking a signature victory. Next: vs. Utah. Heat check: Too hot. No. 17 Mississippi State (7-3) The Bulldogs are 0-3 against the SEC's best teams. Next: at Arkansas. Heat check: Just right. No. 18 Memphis (8-1) The Tigers can clinch the American Athletic Conference West this week. Next: vs. SMU. Heat check: Too hot. No. 19 Michigan (8-2) The Wolverines have not cracked 200 yards passing in a game since September. Next: at No. 5 Wisconsin. Heat check: Too hot. No. 20 Stanford (7-3) With a win against Cal and a Washington victory in the Apple Cup against Washington State, the Cardinal will be Pac-12 North champs for the fourth time. Next: vs. California. Heat check: Too cold. No. 21 LSU (7-3) Are there any Tigers fans who would not have signed up for a 9-3 regular season after LSU lost to Troy? A definite possibility now. Next: at Tennessee. Heat check: Just right. No. 22 Michigan State (7-3) The Spartans' turnaround has been fueled by some good fortune. They have been outscored 229-220 on the season. Next: vs. Maryland. Heat check: Too hot. No. 23 South Florida (8-1) Strength of schedule can get overvalued, but USF's is still coming in at 106 in the Sagarin ratings. Next: vs. Tulsa, Thursday. Heat check: Too hot. No. 24 West Virginia (7-3) The Mountaineers can still get to the Big 12 title game. Next: vs. Texas. Heat check: Just right. No. 25 North Carolina State (7-3) If the Wolfpack can sweep its last two regular-season games and win a bowl, they will have just the second double-digit win season in program history. Next: at Wake Forest. Heat check: Too cold. Instead of South Florida how about Northwestern. ___ Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP ___ More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25






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