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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Five major takeaways from this week’s AP Top 25 poll

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Wisconsin, led by viable Heisman Trophy contender Jonathan Taylor, enjoyed the biggest rise of any team in this week's countdown.

BATSBY Sports offers five spin-it-forward takeaways from the Week 4 action in college Football … which seemingly strengthened the SEC’s argument for placing two member schools into the College Football Playoff.

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25

  1. Clemson (4-0)
  2. Alabama (4-0)
  3. Georgia (4-0)
  4. LSU (4-0)
  5. Ohio State (4-0)
  6. Oklahoma (3-0)
  7. Auburn (4-0)
  8. Wisconsin (3-0)
  9. Florida (4-0)
  10. Notre Dame (2-1)
  11. Texas (3-1)
  12. Penn State (3-0)
  13. Oregon (3-1)
  14. Iowa (3-0)
  15. California (4-0)
  16. Boise State (4-0)
  17. Washington (3-1)
  18. Virginia (4-0)
  19. Utah (3-1)
  20. Michigan (2-1)
  21. USC (3-1)
  22. UCF (3-1)
  23. Texas A&M (2-2)
  24. Kansas State (3-0)
  25. Michigan State (3-1)

a) The SEC’s dream of commandeering the top four spots likely won’t come to fruition during the regular season, given Clemson’s ACC-flavored dominance and super-easy schedule from this point forward.

However, the SEC has a decent shot at the 2-5 slots, if Auburn (neutral-field win over Oregon, road win vs. Texas A&M) can steamroll through Mississippi State and Florida over the next two weekends.

b) Wisconsin warranted the countdown’s biggest ascension for the week, rising from 13 to 8 after mauling Michigan in Madison (35-14).

In fact, the Badgers were seemingly ready to crack the top 5 upon leading 35-0 in the fourth quarter … only to surrender a pair of meaningless scores late in the game.

Was it really meaningless?

At the time of their 35-0 lead, the Badgers had yet to allow a point all season.

Here’s where things get tricky, moving forward:

After speculative victories over Northwestern (quite possibly nation’s worst offense) and Kent State, Wisconsin’s seven-game finishing kick of Michigan State Iowa, Purdue at home … and Illinois, Ohio State, Nebraska, Minnesota on the road could be daunting — even with a conveniently placed bye week (Nov. 2).

Which brings us to this: How did Wisconsin draw Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, as crossover opponents, in the same season?

That seems patently unfair for a program harboring realistic dreams of a Big Ten title and the College Football Playoff.

c) The AP voters were right to drop Notre Dame only three spots in the countdown.

Why is that?

If the other 23 teams listed above had simultaneously scheduled a high-profile road test at Georgia, maybe Clemson, Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Iowa and California would have replicated Notre Dame’s spread of plus-six points.

In other words, in this age of 13-member committees determining the four-team Playoff, instead of computers, the Fighting Irish merit major props for scheduling a presumptive beatdown which never took place.

d) We mentioned Cal above for one substantial reason: Dating back to last season, the Bears’ vaunted defense has surrendered 23 or fewer points for 11 consecutive outings — including Saturday’s controversial road win over Ole Miss.

Speaking of which …

The Pac-12 should celebrate notching prominent road victories against Michigan State (via Arizona State) and Mississippi (via Cal) in back-to-back weeks.

However, this euphoric feeling comes at a steep price:

The Pac-12 referees/judges are, ahem, earning a reputation for blowing the biggest moments of these intersectional matchups, missing out on key calls that seem obvious to everyone else inside the stadium … along with the massive TV audiences.

Bottom line: In this age of Instant Replay, especially near the goal line, it’s the equivalent to Officiating Malpractice that someone didn’t stop the game to review Ole Miss’s supposed touchdown with 12 seconds remaining.

e) In the aftermath of UCF’s harrowing loss to Pitt, Boise State now has a clear path at going undefeated for the regular season and subsequently clinching a New Year’s Six bowl berth (Cotton, Orange, Sugar, Rose, Peach, Fiesta).

How is this the case, since Boise State and UCF won’t meet on the same field?

The Broncos were already on track for holding the highest ranking of any Group Of Five school by season’s end; and with respectable road trips to BYU (Oct. 19), Utah State (Nov. 23) and Colorado State (Nov. 29) still on the docket, it’s implausible to envision another mid-major power leapfrogging Boise State, in lieu of an undefeated campaign.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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