Boise State drops another spot in the polls as TCU moves up; Alabama plummets

No real big surprises in today’s USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, as the top two remained the same — Oregon and Auburn — and TCU moved up to No. 3 after a dismantling of Utah.

Boise State, of course, was the victim of TCU’s rise, even after a dominating win over a pretty good Hawaii team. But that shouldn’t surprise you. Last week, Auburn jumped Boise State after a win over a bad Ole Miss team, so the fact that TCU jumped the Broncos after perhaps the most impressive performance of the season shouldn’t come as a shock. In fact, I really don’t have a problem with this jump. TCU has played a better schedule thus far than Boise State, and absolutely dominated it much in the same way Boise has dominated its schedule. This was an exclamation point win for the Horned Frogs, and if voters believed TCU was the better team, there was no better time than now to make that move.

The top two in the BCS standings should remain the same, but I’d expect the gap between Auburn and TCU at 2 and 3 to close. First off, the Horned Frogs moved up in the coaches poll, and I’ll guess they’ll do the same in the Harris Poll. Plus the computers will likely close the gap as Auburn played Chattanooga and TCU played what was the No. 5 team in the BCS standings.

The best news for TCU and Boise State, however, had to be Alabama’s loss. There’s a good chance that the Tide were the only one-loss team capable of jumping over them into the national title game. I don’t know all the tie-breaker rules off-hand, but I believe LSU needs Auburn to lose each of its next two games in order to get into the SEC championship game. So if Alabama beats Auburn in the Iron Bowl, that will open up a spot for either TCU or Boise State.

I doubt a win over a three-loss SEC East champion would be enough for voters to vault Auburn back into the game. And even though it’s happened before, I can’t imagine an 11-1 LSU team that didn’t even play in its conference title game would jump the unbeatens. It wouldn’t be unprecedented — see Nebraska in 2001 — but it would be borderline criminal. Then again, that pretty much fits right in line with the BCS.

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Auburn jumps Boise State in latest coaches poll

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Cameron Newton  of the Auburn Tigers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the LSU Tigers with Byron Isom  at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I figured it was only a matter of time before Auburn jumped Boise State in the human polls. I just thought it would come after a win a little bigger than at Ole Miss — a team that is now 3-5 and lost at home to Jacksonville State.

But the latest USA Today/ESPN coaches poll is out, and there are the Tigers, 23 points ahead of Boise at No. 2.

I get it, Auburn has better credentials to this point in the season than Boise State does. It plays a tougher schedule, and is deserving of the No. 2 spot in the polls. (Side note: Saw Oregon for the second time live last night, and my god, the Ducks are good. I mean, I was impressed with the way they blitzed UCLA, but they made USC look slow last night. That’s crazy.)

What I don’t get is the timing. If you had Boise State No. 2 in your poll last week, what did the two teams do this week that made you change your mind? The Broncos were a little sloppy, and obviously not fully on their game on Tuesday, and still blew Louisiana Tech. To me, that’s the measure of a really good team, one that can still win handily while not at its best. Auburn, meanwhile, looked pretty slick in a 20-point win of its own against Ole Miss. Impressive, for sure, but not so impressive that you would think, “Wow, this is the performance that pushes Auburn to No. 2!”

Of course, I don’t know how important this jump really is. Boise needed Auburn and/or Oregon to lose anyway, and now that just becomes more evident. The Tigers and Ducks will still be Nos. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings when they’re released tonight, and the Broncos will continue to have to root against other teams for their own self interest.

A couple other notes from the poll: Missouri falls to No. 14 and Michigan State to No. 15 after some tough losses Saturday. Florida State fell from No. 15 to No. 24 after its loss Thursday. Of course, in the spirit of this always sane poll, that’s one spot in front of NC State, the team it just lost to. Which has the same record.

Auburn, Michigan State and Missouri make moves in latest coaches poll

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Cameron Newton  of the Auburn Tigers is tackled by Brandon Taylor  of the LSU Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The latest USA Today/ESPN coaches poll is out, and once again an upset near the top has forced some movement.

Oklahoma lost to Missouri in primetime, and tumbled from No. 3 to No. 11. That means there will be a new BCS No. 1 when the standings are released tonight. The most likely candidate is Oregon, which remained a very strong No. 1 in the poll, receiving 50 of the possible 58 first-place votes.

One team that could jump the Ducks with the computers’ help, however, is Auburn. The Tigers have the best resume with wins over LSU, Arkansas and South Carolina. They jumped over TCU from fifth to third after Saturday’s win against LSU, and I’d be surprised if the Harris Poll didn’t mirror the coaches. Because, well, Harris Poll voters are lemmings (and I really don’t have a problem with Auburn jumping to No. 3).

Michigan State moved into the top five with its squeaker against Northwestern. It’s a curious time to move a team ahead of Alabama, but it’s a big thing for the Spartans, who face their stiffest remaining test next week. A win over Iowa sets the Spartans up for an unbeaten season, and it would be tough for pollsters to move a one-loss team — even Alabama — over a major conference unbeaten. It would have been easier to keep Alabama ahead, if that makes any sense.

The poll’s biggest mover was Missouri, which catapulted to No. 8 from No. 16 after beating Oklahoma. The Tigers and Utah remain the only undefeated teams who are behind Alabama. The most surprising move of the week: Michigan moving back into the top 25 after a bye week. Apparently the voters not getting a chance to see Michigan’s defense allow 500-plus yards and 30-plus points was enough to bring back the just-lost-two-home-games-in-a-row Wolverines.

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