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AP College Football Poll 2014: Official Top 25 Rankings and Week 7 Projections

Rarely has The Associated Press Top 25 poll been as victimized as it was this week.

The job of the poll is never cut and dry, but after a historic week in which half of the Top 10 suffered upsets, the clockwork-like manner of the poll release could have used an extension on its deadline to fully digest the happenings.

ESPN Stats & Info noted that the pollsters have not had to deal with such a week in a decade and change:

That note came before then-ranked No. 8 UCLA took a late-night dive at the hands of Utah.

Below, let's review the latest offering from the AP and look ahead to the next week of action, which, on paper, promises to be just as wild.

 

2014 Week 7 Associated Press Top 25

 

Week 7 Top 25 Projections

 

Week 7 Outlook

The Hunt for a Rebound

It is hard to understand just how incredible the Week 7 slate is and difficult to explain just how important the outcomes are to the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Start with Alabama, the perennially dominant dynasty led by Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide missed two field goals and committed a number of costly errors to lose to then-ranked No. 11 Ole Miss, 23-17.

Now the Crimson Tide must run the table against a schedule that includes Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn, but first they must overcome Arkansas on the road. The Razorbacks are a team that almost upset Texas A&M a few weeks back and touts a top-10 rushing attack.

The story is much the same for Oregon and UCLA—two teams that encounter one another in Week 7.

Oregon was on the wrong side of a 31-24 outcome against unranked Arizona last Thursday, as former Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota lost a late fumble to ruin what had been otherwise a rather solid night.

UCLA's loss to Utah was even more gut-wrenching, as signal-caller Brett Hundley was sacked a ridiculous 10 times, per Josh Norris of Rotoworld.com. A late field goal decided the cone contest, and well, John Breech of CBSSports.com does the affair justice:

Texas A&M was another major loser on the weekend that gets another trial by fire that may outright decide its CFP aspirations right away.

After a 48-31 loss to Mississippi State in which Kenny Hill finally played like a first-year starter with 365 yards and a 4-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, the Aggies must find a way overcome the same Rebels team that just took down the Crimson Tide.

The only team that gets a breather after a major upset is formerly ranked No. 4 Oklahoma. Bob Stoops and the Sooners dropped a four-point game to TCU over the weekend on the road, which seems like more of a testament to how good the Horned Frogs are than to a suggestion that Oklahoma was overrated. 

A high-profile, albeit seemingly easy date with Texas lies ahead for the Sooners. The Longhorns sit at 2-3 and most recently got blown up by Baylor, 28-7. Austin Chadwick of Sports Animal Tulsa puts it best:

Unlike some of the SEC teams, the Sooners still have a great shot at the CFP should they run the table over the course of what is a rather favorable schedule. The biggest test comes on Nov. 8 against Baylor, but it is at home and far enough into the future that the Sooners should be over last Saturday's debacle.

 

Matchup of the Week: No. 2 Auburn at No. 3 Mississippi State

CFP implications could not be higher in what has the look of one of the most important contests of the season. Hence why College GameDay is on the way to Starkville:

As two of the teams able to remain unscathed last weekend, Auburn and Mississippi State have an opportunity in this matchup to get a serious leg up on the SEC when it comes to the conference title and a playoff berth.

Even without the implications, this one would have been loads of fun. The Bulldogs are led by Dak Prescott, who some would lead fans to believe is Tim Tebow reincarnated on a collegiate field. His weekly numbers—especially those against Texas A&M last week—signify the validity that he is one of the lone leaders for the Heisman Trophy:

That dual-threat attack will be countered by a Tigers team that uses a very similar approach with quarterback Nick Marshall. The senior has 755 yards and eight touchdowns to one interception and another 392 yards and four scores on the ground.

Thanks to 326 total yards and four touchdowns on Saturday alone, Auburn was able to move past LSU, 41-7. For Tigers coach Gus Malzahn, it was a reaffirmation on a grand stage that he has one of the better quarterbacks in the country on his side.

"Nick played like one of the better quarterbacks in the entire country," Malzahn said, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com.

Saturday, two experienced quarterbacks get to take their best shot at the Heisman and elevate their programs to surefire CFP favorite status. Something has to give in one of the year's biggest showdowns, just like we all predicted before the season.

 

Stats and information via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified. AP poll via The Associated Press.

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College Football's Most Important Offers of the Week

The impact from the saga surrounding Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has made its way to the recruiting trail.

The bad news started with the decommitment of 4-star defensive lineman Darian Roseboro, who subsequently picked up an offer from Oklahoma, per Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247.

Meanwhile, 4-star tight end Chris Clark earned offers from USC and Texas

While Clark hasn’t followed the lead of Roseboro by breaking ties with Michigan, as Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports notes (subscription required), he may have second thoughts on his pledge should Hoke and his staff be let go.

The offseason coaching carousel often has a ripple effect given that national signing day is less than a month after the final game of the season.

In Michigan’s case, other schools aren’t wasting any time in reaching out to its current commitments.

The news isn’t all bad for Wolverines fans. There are a few pledges who are still planning to call Ann Arbor home for the next four seasons.

Late last month, Lorenz (subscription required) reported that current Michigan commitments Alex Malzone, Jon Runyan Jr. and Garrett Taylor were still solid in their decisions to stick with the Wolverines.

With the season less than halfway complete, there are likely to be more twists and turns at Michigan and other places.

However, the fallout from the heat Hoke is getting is just one example of how negative momentum on the field can carry over into a school’s recruiting efforts.

 

Ohio State, Notre Dame Setting Up Shop in Sunshine State

The state of Florida is one of the unquestioned hotbeds in terms of producing a large number of FBS-level recruits.

It’s no surprise that schools that hail from outside the southeast are pounding the pavement in the Sunshine State. Notre Dame and Ohio State are two powers from the north that have been aggressive in Florida in recent weeks.

The Irish offered IMG Academy 2016 4-star corner Saivion Smith just days after offering his teammate and 4-star junior receiver Tavares “T.J.” Chase.

Meanwhile, Urban Meyer returned to his old stomping ground to offer 2017 4-star receiver Emmanuel Greene, who attends Coconut Creek High School along with stud 2016 recruits Trayvon Mullen, Binjimen Victor and Malek Young.

Both the Buckeyes and the Irish have had success in landing Florida recruits in the past, and both programs are getting in early on some of the Sunshine State’s top underclassmen.

 

2015 Big 12 Commit Picking up SEC Offers

Two weeks ago, 2015 3-star running back Corey Dauphine—who has been committed to Texas Tech since July—picked up an offer from Florida.

Last week, the Gators’ most recent opponent, Tennessee, tendered the 5’11”, 188-pound standout from Memorial High School in Port Arthur, Texas.

After the Gators offered, Dauphine told GatorBait’s Luke Stampini that he was still firm in his plan to head to Lubbock for college.

“I don’t think anything can sway me from my Tech commitment,” Dauphine said.

However, as the interest in Dauphine continues to rise, it will be interesting to see if that sentiment holds true as signing day approaches.

 

Is 2018 Virginia RB the Next Big Thing?

From one running back who will be in college next fall to another one who just recently entered high school, 2018 standout running back Ricky Slade is quickly making a name for himself in recruiting circles.

The Woodbridge, Virginia, standout picked up his first offer from the homestanding Virginia Cavaliers. Hours later, Virginia Tech and Ohio State followed suit. 

Slade hails from C.D. Hylton High School—the same school that 2015 4-star offensive lineman Matthew Burrell calls home. Through five games, Slade has accounted for 1,199 yards of total offense and 17 touchdowns. 

Like Burrell, Slade is on pace to become one of the nation’s most coveted prospects in his class.

 

Best of the Rest

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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