Ultimately, a win is a win, but teams like Penn State and Michigan State, which needed late-game heroics to defeat lesser-ranked opponents in Week 1 can still be hurt in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
The Nittany Lions pulled together a late comeback against Appalachian State with a touchdown in the final minute of regulation, eventually winning in overtime at home. The Spartans also scored late to take the lead for good at home against Utah State.
Penn State dropped three spots from No. 10 to No. 13 and Michigan State dropped four spots from No. 11 to No. 15, but they aren't the only teams to win and then fall the next week in the AP poll. In fact, they don’t come near some other teams that took a dive in the poll after a victory.
Here are the biggest drops in the AP Poll by a team following a victory:
Auburn dropped from No. 6 to No. 18 after winning in overtime against Jacksonville State 27-20 in 2015
After beating Louisville 31-24 to open the season, the Auburn Tigers scored with 39 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 20 and send it to overtime. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson completed a 10-yard strike to Melvin Ray in the end zone. The Tigers scored in the first overtime overtime and held Jacksonville State on the next possession. The Tigers lost the following week to No. 13 LSU and dropped from the rankings. Auburn finished the season at 7-6. The 12-spot dip is the largest drop by a team following a win since 2008, according to College Poll Archive, and is one of the biggest in college football history.
Nebraska dropped from No. 19 to Not Ranked after beating McNeese State 31-24 in 2014
In Week 2 of the 2014 season, No. 19 Nebraska needed a late score from running back Ameer Abdullah to beat McNeese State. After the Cowboys erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the Cornhuskers at 24 with 4:21 to play in the game, Abdullah turned a short pass from quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. into a 58-yard touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game to give Nebraska the close win. Despite the win, Nebraska was bounced out of the Top 25, and finished the season unranked with a 9-4 record and a loss to USC in the Holiday Bowl.
North Carolina dropped from No. 21 to Not Ranked after beating SDSU in 2014
On the same day Nebraska almost lost to a FCS team, No. 21 North Carolina crawled back from a two-touchdown deficit in the second half to beat San Diego State 31-27. It was the second straight comeback win over a lesser opponent for the Tar Heels, who had trailed Liberty in Week 1 before taking over in the fourth quarter. SDSU gave North Carolina fits throughout the contest, leading the Tar Heels by 14 points with five minutes left in the third quarter. Things started clicking soon after, though, as UNC scored on four straight possessions to take a four-point lead with four minutes remaining in the game. With the Aztecs deep in the red zone with 20 seconds on the clock, UNC’s Tim Scott snagged a game-sealing interception. The extra digit in the win column was the only thing the Tar Heels took away from the victory, as they dropped out of the Top 25 for good and finished with a 6-7 record.
North Carolina dropped from No. 19 to No. 24 after beating UConn 12-10 in 2009
North Carolina won an ugly game against UConn in 2009, earning the victory on a safety via a holding in the endzone by the Huskies’ Dan Ryan. The safety gave the Tar Heels the 12-10 lead with 1:32 left in the game, and UNC held on to grab the close win. UConn shut down North Carolina for three quarters, holding the Tar Heels to 134 yards of total offense and leading 10-0 heading into the fourth. But the UNC stormed back to tie the game at 10 with 2:36 to play on a 2-yard touchdown pass by T.J. Yates. UNC dropped five spots to No. 24 following the win and finished the season unranked with a record of 8-5.
Oklahoma dropped from No. 10 to No. 15 after beating UAB 24-17 at home in 2006
UAB stayed neck-and-neck with No. 10 Oklahoma throughout the contest, but Sooner running back Adrian Peterson carried the day in a tight 24-17 win. Knotted up at the half, Peterson gave Oklahoma the one-score lead early in the third quarter, only to see UAB take a 17-14 lead late in the third. Peterson took a pass from Paul Thompson 69 yards to the house to give the Sooners the lead for good, and the defense held the Blazers scoreless in the fourth as Oklahoma grabbed the win. The Sooners bounced back after a scary season opener, finishing with a No. 7 ranking and 11-3 record.
Other notable drops:
South Carolina dropped from No. 4 to No. 11 after beating Pittsburgh 45-21 at home in 1984
South Carolina dropped from No. 14 to No. 20 after beating Duke 12-7 at home in 1959
Cornell dropped from No. 9 to No. 16 after beating Lafayette 27-0 at home in 1950