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College Football Poll Watch: Wisconsin Punished for Winning, Alabama Near-Unanimous No. 1

Paul Chryst

Paul Chryst

Penn State's win over Ohio State this past weekend certainly changed the road map to the College Football Playoff. It, coupled with some other upsets around the country, also caused some voters in both the AP Top 25 and Amway Coaches Polls to turn in some questionable ballots.

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Here's what stuck out to me this week:

Wisconsin was literally punished for winning

Despite winning on the road in Iowa City, the Badgers fell out of the top 10 of both polls for the first time since the preseason polls were released. Wisconsin dropped from No. 10 to No. 11, while four idle teams — Clemson, Baylor, Florida State and Florida — all moved up. The ramifications of this drop, albeit small, will be felt beyond Madison. The undefeated Nebraska Cornhuskers visit the Badgers this weekend. It's only one spot in the polls, but it denies the Huskers the opportunity to take down a "top 10" team on the road.

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Alabama is almost the unanimous No. 1 team in the country

Between the AP and Coaches polls, there are 125 possible first-place votes. Alabama earned 123 of them this past weekend. As we discussed last week, AP voter Scott Wolf has had the Michigan Wolverines as his No. 1 team in every poll so far this season. He is the last AP voter that didn't originally have Alabama as the No. 1 team to not give the Crimson Tide his first-place vote. In the coaches poll, Clemson got the only first-place vote that didn't go to Alabama. I've got a pretty good guess as to who cast that vote.

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Look, I don't have a dog in the fight. If I did, it certainly would not be Alabama. That said, I'm not sure how anyone who has watched any college football at all during the 2016 season doesn't have the Crimson Tide as the clear-cut No. 1 team in the land.

Southern Methodist got a vote. Are you kidding me?

SMU handed the Houston Cougars their second loss of the season over the weekend. Heading into that game, the Mustangs were 2-4. Their only two wins were over North Texas and FCS foe Liberty. Suffice to say, the win over Houston was your run-of-the mill upset — nothing more. Upsets happen, and when they do, you limit the "love" you give to the underdogs that pull them off. Well, you do unless you are AP voter Patrick Brown of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Patrick was so impressed by SMU's win over Houston, he decided he'd put the 3-4 Mustangs in his top 25, explaining their presence down there in the "others receiving votes" section.

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That's the sort of integrity and analysis your dealing with when it comes to college football polls from week to week.

And then there were four...

Speaking of taking the polls with a grain of salt, take a look back at the AP and Coaches preseason polls. We are just past the halfway point of the 2016 season. Right now, only four teams that appeared in the original top 10 of both major polls are still there: Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Ohio State. That's it. No Notre Dame. This wasn't Tennessee's year. LSU, Florida State and Oklahoma — gone. Stanford? It takes more than one great player. Sadly, the preseason polls drive the narrative for the season. Perhaps even sadder — they're always a crapshoot.

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on,, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.