Poll watch: Irish drop in AP, hold steady in coaches

Poll watch: Irish drop in AP, hold steady in coaches
September 15, 2013, 11:00 am
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Notre Dame dropped a spot in the latest AP top 25 poll released Sunday following its 31-24 win over Purdue, falling from No. 21 to No. 22.

Three future Irish opponents are ranked in the AP poll: Stanford (No. 5), Oklahoma (No. 14) and Arizona State (No. 23). Stanford and Oklahoma held steady at their rankings while ASU's bizarre victory over Wisconsin vaulted them into the top 25 for the first time this year.

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Stanford beat Army, 34-20, in West Point in a game that saw the Cardinal hold just a seven-point lead at halftime. But Stanford was able to grind away and wear down Army, jumping to a 34-13 lead in the second half before a late touchdown by the service academy.

Oklahoma looked impressive behind quarterback Blake Bell, making his first start of the season with freshman Trevor Knight out with an injury. Bell, long viewed solely as a short-yardage battering ram, completed 27 of 37 passes for 413 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in Oklahoma's 51-20 win over Tulsa. It was an offense that looked far more like the Bob Stoops attacks of the last 15 years, and less like the Knight-led offense that lacked a compass.

The Sooners have a bye week before heading to South Bend at the end of the month, and that's a matchup that looks a lot more difficult for Notre Dame than it did a week ago with Bell's success on Saturday.

Arizona State absorbed a few early haymakers and hung with Wisconsin in Tempe, eventually taking an eight-point lead halfway through the fourth quarter. Wisconsin cut the deficit to two and then all hell broke loose with 18 seconds left -- ably recapped here, with the video here. It shows up as a win for Arizona State (although it's telling Wisconsin stayed in the top 25 and dropped to No. 24, just one spot behind ASU), which travels to Palo Alto to face Stanford this weekend.

Michigan's near-miss against Akron -- a game that required a goal-line stop with just seconds remaining for the Wolverines to win -- dropped them from No. 11 to No. 15.

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And through just three weeks, the BCS title race is already coming into focus. Alabama's path to Pasadena is clear: beat LSU in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9 and win the SEC Championship, and they're in (the Tide's remaining road games: Kentucky, Mississippi State, Auburn). LSU has a brutal upcoming schedule, with road dates at Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama, and still gets Florida and Texas A&M at home -- if the Tigers emerge with just one loss from that slate, there'd be a strong argument for another Alabama-LSU BCS Championship.

From outside the SEC, Oregon/Stanford, Clemson/Florida State and Ohio State are in good positions, although it's still early.