NCAA Football Rankings 2012: Underrated Teams Ranked Too Low in AP Poll

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIINovember 12, 2012

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 03:  Coach Dabo Swinney and Isaiah Battle #79 of the Clemson Tigers celebrate after touchdown against the Duke Blue Devils during play at Wallace Wade Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. Clemson won 56-20.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Bias toward the SEC is generally acceptable in any version of the NCAA football rankings.

But in the most recent AP poll, some underrated teams are being given the cold shoulder in the conversation of the premier teams in the country.

Just because certain programs aren't featured in college football's best conference doesn't mean they don't deserve a spot in the top 10. A trio of such teams are suffering this exclusionary fate entering Week 12, and will look to stand out down the stretch of the 2012 season.


No. 10 Florida State Seminoles

Other than a very narrow one-point loss to NC State on the road, what holes can be poked in the Seminoles' resume?

Every team has a letdown at some point in the season, and it took a touchdown pass on FSU's fourth-ranked defense with 16 seconds left for its undefeated aspirations to be dashed.

Quarterback E.J. Manuel has emerged as one of the most efficient passers in the nation—and the most efficient in school history. The Seminoles gutted out a 28-22 road victory over Virginia Tech, a team that is dying to break out, particularly with immensely talented QB Logan Thomas under center.

The biggest test in terms of ranked opposition came against Clemson—now ranked 11th in the AP poll—and the Seminoles beat them handily in Week 4. It was a shootout, but Manuel was able to outscore a powerful Tiger offense orchestrated by Tajh Boyd.

Perhaps it's because the ACC conference is known more for basketball that the Seminoles are ranked this low. But that doesn't mean it's right.


No. 11 Clemson Tigers

Similarly afflicted by playing in a perceptibly inferior conference are the Tigers. Tell me: who has a better receiving duo than Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins?

USC's Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are the only pair that are arguably better, but the Clemson duo is undeniably among the nation's best.

Not to be overlooked is senior running back Andre Ellington, who along with Boyd gives the offense great balance.

Led by enthusiastic head coach Dabo Swinney, the Tigers have only lost the aforementioned road shootout in Tallahassee and have otherwise creamed the competition. Other than the season-opener against Auburn without a suspended Watkins—the preseason ACC player of the year—Swinney's bunch has won every game by at least 14 points.

With one of the most potent offenses in college football and a defense that is constantly improving, it's hard to fathom why the Tigers are ranked at No. 11.

A showdown with No. 9 South Carolina of the SEC in Death Valley will show how good the Tigers truly are—and they are really, really good.


No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners

So let's get this straight: the LSU Tigers have lost to the fourth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and the seventh-ranked Florida Gators. The South Carolina Gamecocks have been blown out by the Gators and have lost to the Tigers as well, albeit both on the road.

Yet Bob Stoops' team has tumbled all the way down to the rankings' teens—despite the fact that the Sooners have only lost to two of the top three teams in the nation.

Had Notre Dame QB Everett Golson not absolutely caught fire in Norman and played the best he ever had to that point, the Sooners may only have one loss at this stage. Losing by five points on the road to Heisman front-runner Collin Klein and Kansas State isn't exactly shameful, either.

For whatever reason, Oklahoma has gotten the short end of the stick more than any other big-name program.

The Sooners shouldn't have any apologies for smashing through rest of the schedule even if the competition hasn't been of the highest caliber. They are on the outside looking in at the BCS bowl picture, but should garner a high-profile bowl matchup in which they may at least somewhat redeem themselves against an SEC foe.