Breaking down the AP college football poll after Week 2 of the regular season.
MAKING A STATEMENT
Arkansas took the plunge. The Razorbacks went from eighth to out of the rankings after a 34-31 overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night in Little Rock.
To make matters worse for the Razorbacks, star quarterback Tyler Wilson was knocked out of the game with a possible concussion. And, oh by the way, Arkansas hosts Alabama on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide held firm to the stop spot in the rankings, followed by Southern California, LSU and Oregon. The top 10 was virtually unchanged, except for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks’ dive was the second-largest of any team to fall out of the Top 25, trailing only Michigan’s fall from preseason No. 5 after its historic loss to Appalachian State in the opening week of the 2007 season.
Arkansas might have Wilson back next week. Coach John L. Smith said Sunday the prognosis on the senior was good.
But what a year it’s been for the Razorbacks.
After winning the Cotton Bowl in January and finishing last season ranked No. 5 in the country, Arkansas fans were thinking their team could contend for a national title in 2012.
Then coach Bobby Petrino was fired in a scandal in April, and now two games into the season the Razorbacks look more like a Music City Bowl candidate than a BCS contender.
Collin Klein and Kansas State are demanding to be taken seriously — again.
The Wildcats were surprising upstarts last season, winning 10 games and getting to the Cotton Bowl after being picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12. Kansas State won eight games by seven points or less. Luck or skill?
The Wildcats are making a case for the latter. Klein accounted for four touchdowns in a 52-13 victory over Miami in Manhattan, Kan. The rout moved them up six spots in the AP Top 25 to No. 15.
Klein has a Tebow-esque style. He ran for 27 touchdowns last season, but wasn’t a consistent passing threat.
Against, Miami he ran for three scores and 71 yards, but passed for 210 yards.
“He’s improved at everything, because he works diligently to get better at everything,” coach Bill Snyder said. “He’s better in the passing game, he’s gotten better in leadership, managing the game. I mean, he’s just a guy who works diligently to get better, and he’s done that across the board.”
All the teams that moved down, also moved out. Joining Arkansas, were Wisconsin, Nebraska and Oklahoma State.
All three lost on the road, though none in a more startling fashion than the Badgers.
Wisconsin fell 10-7 at Oregon State, managing only 207 yards of offense. Montee Ball, last year’s Heisman Trophy finalist, had his streak of games with a touchdown snapped at 21 and was held to 61 yards on 15 carries.
“Any loss absolutely disturbs me to no end,” Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema told reporters after the game.
This loss should be particularly perplexing. Wisconsin averaged 44 points per game last year, and even though quarterback Russell Wilson is gone and the offensive line has been revamped, nobody saw this coming.
IN AND OUT
No. 22 UCLA and No. 23 Tennessee are back in the rankings for the first time in four years.
No. 24 Arizona returned for the first time since November 2010 and No. 25 BYU is in the Top 25 for the first time since the final 2009 poll.
UCLA and Arizona rounded out a solid Saturday for the Pac-12 by winning big nonconference games with powerful offensive displays for their new coaches.
The Bruins are off to a 2-0 start under Jim Mora and might have a Heisman Trophy contender in running back Johnathan Franklin, who ran for 217 yards in a 36-30 victory against Nebraska.
The Wildcats improved to 2-0 under Rich Rodriguez, whose spread offense has been a perfect fit for quarterback Matt Scott. Arizona beat Oklahoma 59-38, with Scott throwing for 320 yards.
Rodriguez, who was run out of Michigan after three tumultuous seasons, knows the power of beating — and being — a Top 25 team.
“Nowadays, it seems everybody knows the scores, but it seems like they put that Top 25 on that ticker and it goes on and on and on all week,” he said. “So we’re going to be on that ticker all week and I told the guys you want to be on the right side of that ticker.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The four teams that fell out of the poll all had become mainstays in recent years.
Nebraska had a streak of 37 straight AP Top appearances. Wisconsin’s streak of 36 straight appearances was snapped. Arkansas was on a 34-poll streak and Oklahoma State had been in the last 29 straight polls.
Respectively, they were the fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th longest current streaks heading into this weekend.
—Louisiana-Monroe’s victory, easily the biggest in coach Todd Berry’s three seasons at the school, was good enough to get the Warhawks 23 points in the Top 25.
Monroe typically takes on heavyweights and takes a beating. The Warhawks lost at Florida State, TCU and Iowa last year, and many of these same players were beaten 31-7 by Arkansas in 2010. “They kind of got to the point where they quit looking at the (opponents’) helmets and went out and played up to their standard of performance,” Berry told the AP Sunday.
—The Warhawks’ upset took the luster off what looked like Week 3’s marquee game: No. 1 Alabama at Arkansas. Three other games match ranked teams: No. 20 Notre Dame is at No. 10 Michigan State; No. 2 Southern California is at No. 21 Stanford and No. 18 Florida is at No. 23 Tennessee