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Ryan Cooper | | September 11, 2016

Bad wins lead to changes in Week 3 AP poll

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Sometimes when you win, you really lose.

That old adage was on display in the third installment of the AP poll, particularly when it comes to the Clemson Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs.

The two teams dropped three and seven spots, respectively, despite taking care of business with a win each. But this early in the season when early impressions are everything, it's not always what you do as much as how you do it.

Of course, had the Tigers lost to Troy or the Bulldogs to Nicholls, the fall in the rankings would have been a lot more catastrophic than that. But still, both wins were too close for comfort, and the teams were punished by the voters as a result. Clemson's 30-24 win caused it to fall from No. 2 to No. 5, while Georgia dropped from ninth to 16th after squeaking by Nicholls 26-24.

It's still way too early in the season to put any stock into rankings reflecting the possible College Football Playoff picture, but it's good that voters are holding teams accountable for not starting the season well. A common criticism of preseason rankings is that they give one team a leg up without having to earn it. That problem might be improving, as shown by the drops this week and the huge rises teams like Houston and Wisconsin made after signature Week 1 victories.

This week didn't feature a lot of change, in large part because of the way the Week 2 schedule was put together. Not one matchup on the docket had two ranked teams going against each other, so, with the exception of a couple of upsets, the top 25 did very well.

The teams ranked in the top 25 last week went a combined 21-2 on Friday and Saturday. Stanford and Michigan State were off, while No. 15 TCU and No. 22 Oklahoma State were upset and removed from the rankings as a result.

Sliding into their spots were No. 23 Florida, which rejoined the fray after being dropped last week, and No. 24 Arkansas, which was responsible for the aforementioned TCU loss.

Otherwise, there wasn't a ton to write home about. Each team in the top five behind Clemson shuffled up a spot, making Florida State the new No. 2 with Ohio State and Michigan sitting behind.

For the third week in a row, Michigan received one first-place vote. That voter, as it has been each time, is Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News.

It's certainly a bold move to have the Wolverines at the top over Alabama or Florida State, which got the other 60 votes (56 to the Tide, four to the Seminoles). Michigan has a plus-97 point differential through two games, but those games did happen to be against Hawaii and Central Florida. Still, it's very reasonable to think that Michigan could take care of the Big Ten this year and make its Playoff debut, possibly with a perfect regular-season record.

  Georgia's close call against Nicholls led to a nine-spot drop in the Week 3 AP poll.
Louisville moving into the top 10 is also exciting. The Cardinals started the season at 19 but have moved up nine spots despite having two relative cupcake opponents in Charlotte and Syracuse. They kind of represent the opposite of teams like Clemson and Georgia in that the wins themselves didn't really matter, but the way they did it turned some heads.

Led by budding superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson, Louisville now takes one of the best offenses in the nation into a game against Florida State that should tell us a lot about how good both teams really are. Cardinal Stadium will be rocking, and a win would very likely push Louisville into the top five.

Speaking of next week, the loaded lineup of games should lead to a lot more shakeups in the poll than this week. There are four games between ranked teams, and some tough ones against an unranked squad including No. 7 Stanford hosting USC, No. 11 Texas at Cal, No. 17 Texas A&M at Auburn and No. 22 Oregon at Nebraska.

Expect a lot to digest come seven days from now.

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