RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
Breaking down The Associated Press college football poll after Week 10 of the regular season.
THEY WANT ‘BAMA
Oregon fans printed it on T-shirts. Florida State fans chanted it. “We want Bama!”
Alabama has been No. 1 all season, and the two-time defending national champion has given little reason to believe this season’s title race won’t go through it. If the Crimson Tide takes care of its business and goes unbeaten through the Southeastern Conference title game, it’ll be off to Pasadena, Calif., in January for a fourth BCS championship game in five years.
The Ducks and Seminoles have been impressive enough to sway a few AP poll voters to have them atop their ballots.
In the latest Top 25, Alabama received a season-low 52 first-place votes. Oregon got two and Florida State received a season-best six firsts from the media panel Sunday after another easy victory over a previously unbeaten team. This time it was Miami, which was routed by the ‘Noles to the tune of 41-14 in Tallahassee on Saturday night.
After the game, Florida State defensive linemen Timmy Jernigan was asked about the “We want Bama!” chants and told USA Today, “We do.”
Well, sure. The Seminoles and Ducks still have more regular-season work to do, but at this point they are competing against each other as much as the teams they’re lining up against. And if the goal is to be No. 1, the way to get there is to beat Alabama.
The chants and shirts seem to rankle some Tide fans, who generally respond with some combination of ‘be careful what you wish for’ and ‘don’t you have more important things to do, like beating the remaining teams on your schedule?’
While on the surface Alabama is the target of Oregon and Florida State fans’ desires, really they might as well be yelling at each other.
“We want ‘Bama.”
“No, WE want Bama.”
Surely, Ohio State fans would chime in, too.
Alabama fans should probably take it as a compliment. It’s good to be wanted. Nobody chants, “We want Florida!” or “We want Nebraska!” these days.
Michigan State jumped six spots to No. 18 in the rankings after putting a brutal beating on Michigan.
The Spartans’ defense relentlessly pounded Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner and the rest of the Wolverines in the 29-6 victory. Michigan had minus-48 yards rushing, a number built on sacks and a bad snap, but not the slightest bit misleading.
Michigan State was pushing Michigan backward just about all day.
“You never think you’re going to be that good,” defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said about the Michigan game, though he might as well have been talking about the whole season.
Statistically, Michigan State’s defense is the best in the nation and it’s not even close. The Spartans are allowing 3.47 yards per play. No other team is under 4.0. Their average per game yield is 210.2 yards. Next best is Louisville at 244.5. The Spartans are allowing 43.4 yards rushing per game, almost half as much as the next best. They are also they only defense allowing less than 2.6 yards per rush. Michigan State is at 1.62.
The numbers are inflated some by the competition. Michigan State has played only one team that ranks in the upper half of the 125-team FBS, Indiana. But it should be noted: the Hoosiers average 511 yards per game. They had 351 against Denicos Allen, Max Bullough, Darqueze Dennard and Shilique Calhoun and company.
Miami dropped seven spots to No. 14 after getting blown out by Florida State, but that is the least of the Hurricanes’ troubles.
Star running back Duke Johnson was injured and will miss the season with a broken right ankle. Miami will also be without top receiver Phillip Dorsett because of a knee injury for at least a few more weeks. And as big as the Florida State game was, the next game is actually bigger for the Hurricanes.
Miami plays Virginia Tech at home on Saturday. A loss by Miami would give the ‘Canes and Hokies the same amount of ACC losses, and Virginia Tech the tiebreaker. The Hurricanes play at Duke in two weeks, and the Blue Devils could also be in the hunt for a Coastal Division crown.
IN AND OUT
Michigan fell out of the rankings again after losing to Michigan State for the fifth time in six seasons. No. 24 Notre Dame replaced the Wolverines.
Three games matching top-12 teams in Week 11 will either provide some clarity in the national title race or make a mess of it.
— No. 10 LSU is at No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.
— No. 2 Oregon is at No. 6 Stanford on Thursday night.
— No. 12 Oklahoma is at No. 5 Baylor on Thursday night.
All six teams did not play this past weekend.
AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in East Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at http://www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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