You might have noticed a development deep in the depths of the USA Today Coaches Poll. At the verrrry end of the list, below the teams with actual rankings in front of them, we can see the following:
Arizona State 4, Ball State 3, Brigham Young 2
Brigham Young got two votes! That's right friends, two coaches, or really, two Sports Information Directors, gave the Cougars a vote in the Coaches Poll, thanks in part to a nice road victory over Utah State, giving BYU a 3-2 record on the year. If you're keeping score, you could say that BYU is now ranked #37 in the Coaches Poll. The AP Poll did not give BYU any votes, but that's probably just that durn LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS AMIRITE?
Anyway, luckily for BYU, there are some winnable games ahead against schools people have actually heard of, so a legitimate path to the Top 25 is feasible. However, making advancements in the polls isn't just about what you do, it's about what your peers do as well. Simply beating Georgia Tech and Houston may not be enough if other schools are cranking out even more impressive victories.
So let's take a look at exactly what we're up against here. We know that BYU's next three games are against Georgia Tech, Houston and Boise State. If they win all three of those (NOT a given), are they in the top 25? Let's take a look.
#36 Ball State (5-1, 2-0)
Best Victory: 48-27 over UVA
Upcoming games: Kent State, at Western Michigan, at Akron
Prognosis: You can blame it on first game jitters, you can blame it on untimely mistakes, you can even blame it on the rain..actually, hang on. Let's do that. One way or another though, it's hard to get past the fact that UVA beat BYU, and Ball State absolutely boatraced the Cavs on the road. That loss will get worse as the year goes along. Ball State's next few games look very winnable, but only a road game against NIU presents any kind of quality win chance, and that's much later in the season. If BYU wins, they should be able to pass the Cardinals via schedule strength.
#35 Arizona State (3-2, 1-1) (tie)
Best Victory: 32-30 over Wisconsin, but with a big ol' *, cause they only sorta won that game.
Upcoming games: Colorado, At Washington, open
Prognosis: It isn't clear, to me anyway, if Arizona State is actually *good good*, or merely interesting with a few flawed pieces. Should they find a way to beat Washington, they'll find themselves back in the Top 25, but does anybody think that's likely? With games against UCLA and Arizona left on the slate, there's probably at least one more loss left on the schedule for the Sun Devils
#35 Arizona (3-1, 0-1) (tie)
Best Victory: LOL. It's probably the UTSA Roadrunners, which tells you everything you need to know.
Upcoming games: At USC, Utah, Colorado
Prognosis: Like Arizona State, it's even less clear if Arizona is actually a top 40 team. They handled some FCS-ish caliber squads to open the year, then got equally handled by a very good Washington team. Next week's tussle with USC should tell us a lot more about the Wildcats, but with Utah and Colorado both winnable, a 6-1 Arizona team could be right around BYU in the rankings if it got to that point. Zona's season ending schedule though...WOOF.
#33 Rutgers 4-1, 1-0 (tie)
Best Victory: 28-24 over Arkansas #Karma
Upcoming games: At Louisville, open, Houston
Prognosis: So Rutgers is quietly one point away (in a road game against a great Fresno team) from being undefeated. They're also banged up injury wise, needed overtime to beat a bad SMU team, and are about to play Louisville, where they will be summarily dismissed from these pages, never to be heard from again, until you see me complaining about them being in the Big Ten at Land Grant Holy Land.
#33 Oregon State (4-1, 2-0) (tie)
Best Victory: 51-48 over Utah, in a game where absolutely nothing resembling defense was played.
Upcoming games: at Washington State, at Cal, Stanford
Prognosis: This is probably a result of a few SIDs getting suckered into some amazing box scores put up by the Beavers' prolific passing attack. That is something to behold, and it's possible that the *other* OSU can win their next two games in shootouts, helping people forget that they opened the season by losing to an FCS team at home. Oregon State's defense is AWFUL though, and they won't stand a chance against an actual quality team. Even if Oregon State is somehow 6-1 heading into the Stanford game, the Cardinal will blast them off the pages and off the ranking lists. Games against Washington and Oregon will make sure they stay off.
#31 Auburn 4-1, 2-1 (tie)
Best Victory: 30-22 over Ole Miss
Upcoming games: Western Carolina, at Texas A&M, Florida Atlantic
Prognosis: I'm a little surprised the Tigers are this low, as they have quietly been one of the most improved teams in FBS, or at least at the BCS level. It's hard to imagine them going into College Station with a win though, but a 6-2, 2-2 record after three weeks will probably still have them in the low 30ish rankings, waiting to creep back into the Top 25. Without facing Florida or South Carolina, and with Georgia looking hobbled, Auburn has a chance to make a little run later this season.
#31 UCF 4-1, 1-0
Best Victory: 34-31 over Penn State
Upcoming games: at Louisville, UConn, open
Prognosis: UCF is quietly a pretty good football team, giving South Carolina a huge scare, and with an excellent cadre of running backs, and a QB that not only will probably get drafted, but gives you the opportunity to yell this during the game.
Get it? Cause Bortles kinda sounds like Mortals...Bortle Kombat? Okay, I'm done here.
Anyway, UCF is really the only team on Louisville's schedule that could really give them a game. If they win, they're going to be a top 20 fixture. If they lose, even once they beat UConn into a bloody pulp, BYU should be able to pass them as long as they win.
#29 Michigan State 4-1, 1-0
Best Victory: Uh...we're stretching here. I guess it's 26-14 over Iowa
Upcoming games: Indiana, Purdue, at Illinois
Prognosis: Okay, I have to write about people like Michigan State all the time, and let me be blunt here. Michigan State is not a good football team. Their defense is elite, but their offense is whatever pejorative you'd like to assign. Tire Fire? Sure. Wasteland? You bet. Makes Riley Nelson look like Peyton Manning? I'll allow it. The problem is, they can win all three of their next games by 12-3ish scores, which means they'll probably creep back into the rankings....only to get murdered by Nebraska and Northwestern. If Michigan State can create any kind of passing attack, BYU could still find themselves behind them, because of Dat Defense. They're kind of like a green version of BYU, now that I think about it.
#28 Wisconsin 3-2, 1-1
Best Victory: It should have been Arizona State if it wasn't for #PAC12REFS, but if you twist my arm, it's technically 41-10 over Purdue
Upcoming games: Northwestern, at Illinois, open date
Prognosis: Maybe I'm wearing some B1G homer goggles, but I still think Wisconsin is really good. They're almost certainly the best team left on BYU's schedule, their power rushing game is one of the best in football, and Joel Stave showed us all against Ohio State that he's not the total stiff we've all been making him out to be. I think the Badgers knock off Northwestern this week for their homecoming, cementing themselves in the Top 25, where they will likely be when BYU comes to town.
#27 Notre Dame 4-2
Best win: Arizona State 37-34
Upcoming games: open date, USC, at Air Force
Prognosis: Notre Dame probably isn't going to totally fall off the page unless they're TERRIBLE because #NotreDame, and with a week off and a winnable home game against USC, the Fighting Irish could also keep a top 25ish spot above BYU if they beat Tech and Houston. Cougars should root against Notre Dame just in case. Actually, EVERYBODY should root against Notre Dame, because ND is absolutely insufferable.
#26 Missouri Tigers 5-0 (1-0)
Best Victory: 51-28 at Vandy
Upcoming games: at Georgia, Florida, South Carolina
Prognosis: Hey, who forgot about the Tigers? While everybody was openly talking about Gary Pinkel was gonna be the first SEC coach to get fired this year, but then Missouri quietly went 5-0. Of course, now Missouri enters a nightmare stretch for any team, and even winning one of these three games would be an accomplishment. Enjoy your week in the sun Missouri, before you are blasted so far off the sports pages you end up in the classifieds.
And just in case you forgot:
Best Victory: It is sad that there might be a legitimate question as to whether it's Utah State or Texas?
Upcoming games: Georgia Tech (3-2) at Houston (4-0, has beaten NOBODY) and Boise (3-2, 1-1)
Prognosis: I'll leave that up to you fellas. I'll just leave with this: given who is ranked above BYU right now, unless the Cougars absolutely blow the doors off of Tech and Houston (which doesn't appear likely), don't count on only two consecutive wins being enough to vault BYU back into the Top 25, especially if UVA and Texas continue to fall apart. Should they beat Boise, who may be crawling back into the land of Also Receiving Votes themselves at that time, and well, the Cougars may be on to something.