Coaches poll and AP voters apparently have differing opinions of where Northwestern belongs in the national pecking order after its week 3 win, 38-17, over Western Michigan. The Wildcats dropped one spot to 18 in the AP Poll, but held steady at 16 in the Coaches’, both of which were released Sunday.
The team displacing Northwestern in the AP is Washington, who beat Illinois at Soldier Field Saturday. The Huskies’ leap – from 19 to 17 – makes some sense; Illinois looks vastly improved over last year’s dismal 2-10 campaign, and Washington handled them comfortably in a virtual road game. The Wildcats dominated Western Michigan after a sluggish first quarter, but their performance – on balance – wasn’t anything that forced upwardly revised opinions of the Wildcats.
They beat Western Michigan handily, but was their 21-point win (over a team that, remember, lost to FCS Nicholls State just last week) any more of an accomplishment than Washington’s 10-point win over Illinois? I think not.
So, to recap: the AP Poll got it right this week – in my eyes. Polls are inherently subjective entities, subject to one’s own discretion. Washington deserves credit for another solid win, on top of its eye-opening week 1 beatdown of Boise State. Northwestern did what it was supposed to, in slightly less impressive fashion than most (including Vegas, who had the Wildcats as 30.5-point favorites) expected.
A similarly humdrum performance next week against Maine could leave Northwestern in the same position, or perhaps lower, heading into the bye week before the Ohio State game.
You can find the week 4 versions of both polls here.