As the official picture of the 2012 college football season is being brushed up, it is hard to criticize the rankings with so much data to pour over. Yet in the latest AP poll, there are still several teams that are ranked too high entering Week 14.
Some have benefited from a relatively easy slate of games, while others have had trouble maintaining steady form in recent weeks.
Here is a look at three programs that have ascended to too great of heights as the year draws to a close.
No. 4 Ohio State (12-0)
Not to take anything away from the Buckeyes' undefeated season—the sixth in the program's storied history—but it's nearly impossible to overlook the lacking strength of the team's schedule and how great the one-loss BCS hopefuls are that are sandwiched around them in the poll.
It was an outstanding achievement for Urban Meyer to lead OSU to an unblemished record in his first year at the helm, especially without knowing how many seniors would stick around without a postseason to look forward to.
Thankfully, Meyer had a loyal bunch, and they performed admirably throughout 2012 and capped it off with a 26-21 victory over arch-rival Michigan in the Shoe on Saturday.
One can't help but surmise, though, that the nothing-to-lose mentality had to have something to do with the team's success.
Without a national title, BCS bowl or even a conference championship on the line, the pressure couldn't have been as significant for the Buckeyes to complete this impressive 12-0 run. Meyer clearly has the program going in the right direction, but they shouldn't be ranked above the likes of even some two-loss SEC teams.
No. 7 Kansas State (10-1)
The Wildcats' national championship hopes were completely washed away two weeks ago, and the Heisman campaign of spectacular dual-threat QB Collin Klein is losing steam as well.
Bill Snyder's team had a bye week to think about its loss to unranked Baylor, which has a high-octane offense but a horrendous defense that Klein threw three interceptions to. The Bears are at least bowl eligible now at 6-5, but the loss still doesn't look good at all.
How the Wildcats are ranked ahead of teams such as Stanford, LSU and Texas A&M is hard to fathom, considering the superior competition those teams have faced throughout the season. It essentially starts and ends with Klein, because the team's best victory was at Oklahoma, who sits below all the aforementioned teams.
And that was before Kansas State suffered that ugly loss in Waco.
There is an opportunity for redemption for the Wildcats when they take on 23rd-ranked Texas at home in a marquee Big 12 showdown. Although it won't be a good look once the Longhorns are knocked out of the Top 25.
No. 9 LSU (10-2)
This is a bit of a nitpick, but it's no secret that the Tigers have struggled in the past couple of contests against some pretty lackluster competition.
Les Miles' team has had to weather a storm of brutal SEC matchups—and it looks to be takings its toll based on LSU's past two showings.
A narrow escape against Ole Miss preceded Saturday's 20-13 win at Arkansas. The game against the Rebels did inspire one of the greatest press conferences of all-time delivered by Miles, but that doesn't give the Tigers any benefit in the national rankings.
The AP is rightfully biased toward the Southeastern Conference. However, if this poll is truly based on a combination of how well teams have played throughout the year while also accounting for recent play, the Texas A&M Aggies should be ahead of the Tigers despite losing to them earlier on.
It is interesting to think about how the Tigers may have fared in 2012 with maligned CB Tyrann Mathieu in the fold. Alas, LSU should be ranked just a smidgen lower than ninth.
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