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Eric Vander Voort | | September 7, 2014

Texas A&M, Georgia make big moves up poll

The first Associated Press Top 25 poll with games in the books was released Tuesday. While not quite as speculative as the preseason poll, voters are faced with the challenge of judging teams based on a small sample size of one game, playing on drastically different playing fields. While one SEC school may ease past a smaller program, a similar school with a similar ranking could sneak by a more talented team. Some questions were answered in Week 1, but the poll seems to reveal even more questions that we didn’t have before the season as voters try to sort out everything.

Complete Poll
The top four spots remained stationary this week. Upsets were few and far between last weekend, but there was plenty of shuffling around the rest of the Top 25. It is not just winning or losing that matters, but how a team plays regardless of the outcome that seemed to sway some decisions this week.

We knew the shaking up would start early on, when Texas A&M throttled South Carolina on Thursday in the first game of the season involving ranked teams. The Aggies and Kenny Hill’s 511 passing yards impressed the voters with their 53-28 win against the Gamecocks, who were ranked No. 9 in the preseason poll. Now Texas A&M has taken that exact spot, moving up 12 spots into ninth, along with two first-place votes.

Once getting past clear No. 1 Florida State, which was placed in that position by 46 of the voters, the other 13 first-place votes are spread out. Alabama stayed at No. 2 after getting by West Virginia 33-23, keeping one first-place vote. Third-ranked Oregon received five, Oklahoma followed with two, Georgia came in at No. 6 with two, and No. 12 LSU managed one. Compare that to Florida State getting all but three first-place votes in the preseason poll. It seems clear that after Florida State let Oklahoma State hang around in the second half Saturday, voters are willing to give teams other than the defending champ a look at No. 1.

Gamechanger: King of the Hill
Georgia’s second-half surge fueled by Todd Gurley’s 293 all-purpose yards to pull away and beat Clemson 45-21 caught the attention of many voters. The Bulldogs had the second-biggest move up behind Texas A&M, jumping six spots from No. 12. Nebraska also impressed in Week 1, beating Florida Atlantic 55-7 to earn a three-spot move up to No. 19.

Conversely, the biggest drops within the poll came from the losing end of those two high-profile matchups. South Carolina fell to No. 21; Clemson dropped to No. 23. Wisconsin, which blew a lead to lose to LSU, was the only other team in the preseason Top 25 to stumble in Week 1. The Badgers moved from No. 14 to No. 18.

While losing almost definitely means a drop in the next week’s ranking, winning doesn’t necessarily mean a move up. Ohio State trailed Navy early in the third quarter, and although the Buckeyes came back to win, voters were not impressed with the way they played. Ohio State dropped from No. 5 to No. 8, being jumped by Auburn, Georgia and Michigan State. UCLA also took a slight tumble, falling four spots to No. 11, after scoring just one offensive touchdown in a less-than-convincing win against Virginia.

Gamechanger: Todd Gurley and Georgia run past Clemson
Michigan State moved up a spot to No. 7 ahead of its visit to No. 3 Oregon this Saturday. The Spartans are coming off a 45-7 romp of Jacksonville State, while the Ducks crushed South Dakota 62-13 and are just three voting points behind No. 2 Alabama. At No. 3, Oregon will be the highest-ranked opponent for Michigan State since the Spartans played No. 1 Nebraska in 1996. Voters will certainly keep a keen eye on Eugene, Oregon, at 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, looking for some of those answers that remain to be seen about untested teams.

The only other upcoming matchup between ranked teams this week will be a Pac-12 meeting between No. 13 Stanford and No. 14 Southern California, two teams that cruised to easy wins last week. Last season, the Trojans broke a four-game losing streak against the Cardinal with a 20-17 win.

Washington was the only team to drop out after appearing in the preseason rankings. The Huskies squeaked by Hawaii 17-16 last week. Their fall out made way for Louisville, which looked impressive in a 31-13 win against Miami (Fla.) in the Cardinals’ ACC lid-lifter.

Listed under “others receiving votes” is three-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State. The Bison have appeared there before, in season-ending polls after both their 2011 and '13 championships.

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