“I voted Tennessee No. 1 because the Vols’ strength of schedule is far superior to UGA and Ohio State,” said Ron Counts of the Idaho Statesman in Boise.
For comparison, Georgia has played just one team (Oregon) that has been ranked at any point this season. Ohio State has played three, though only one was ranked at the time (Notre Dame) and all those opponents have at least three losses.
Plus, beating Alabama doesn’t happen often and holds a lot of weight with voters. No team this season has beaten a team with a better ranking at the time the game was played than Tennessee.
“It was a tough call between Tennessee and Georgia for No. 1,” said Kellis Robinett of The Wichita (Kansas) Eagle. “I have been voting the Bulldogs ahead of everyone else for several weeks, mostly because their blowout victory over Oregon has aged like a fine wine. But I think beating Alabama is slightly more impressive.”
So why only No. 3 for Tennessee?
The ranked-at-the-time argument falls flat for some voters, who were less impressed with victories against Florida and Pitt and give Georgia and Ohio State credit for being more dominant overall.
“I’ve been high on Tennessee all year, but I don’t think ranking them No. 3 is any kind of snub this week,” said Mike Barber of the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch.
• No. 22 North Carolina is ranked for the first time this season.
• No. 25 Tulane is this week’s breakthrough team. The Green Wave (6-1) are ranked for the first time since 1998, when quarterback Shaun King led them to an unbeaten season and No. 7 in the final Top 25.
• Kansas lost two straight games after snapping a poll drought of 13 years and is unranked again.
SEC – 6 (Nos. 1, 3, 6, 7, 19, 24)
ACC – 5 (Nos. 5, 13, 14, 22, 23)
Big 12 – 4 (Nos. 8, 11, 17, 20)
Big Ten – 4 (No. 2, 4, 16, 18)
Pac-12 – 4 (Nos. 9, 10, 12, 15)
American – 2 (Nos. 21, 25)
RANKED vs. RANKED
After six games matching ranked teams this past weekend, five more are on tap, including the first top-10 matchup in the Pac-12 since the 2016 conference championship game (No. 4 Washington and No. 9 Colorado).