Oregon’s performance on Saturday of scoring the last 28 points of the game to beat then-No. 7 Michigan State 46-27 seemed to leave an impression more than a few voters for The Associated Press Top 25. The Ducks jumped from No. 3 in last week’s poll to a clear No. 2 in this week’s poll — and are closing in on top-ranked Florida State.
With the loss, Michigan State fell to No. 13.
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At the second spot for the first time since Week 11 of last season, the Ducks garnered 16 first-place votes, 11 more than last week. Many of those were converted from votes for Florida State, which has seen its total of No. 1 votes drop from 59 in the preseason to 46 last week to 38 this week despite two wins.
The jump ahead of the Alabama, which fell to No. 3 after shutting out Florida Atlantic on Saturday, is a significant one. Oregon was No. 1 in Week 12, which despite significant time at No. 2 since then, was the most recent time that the Ducks ranked ahead of the Crimson Tide. Oregon is now 81 voting points clear of No. 3, while 48 behind No. 1.
This is the third consecutive season Oregon has been as high as No. 2, and the sixth season in school history. This is the second earliest the Ducks have reached this level, only slower than a move up to No. 2 in the second poll of 2013.
Oregon will next take on Wyoming before starting what could be a daunting Pac-12 schedule. It will have a five-game stretch Oct. 2-Nov. 1 that includes home games with Arizona, Washington and Stanford and trips to UCLA and California. The two highest ranked Pac-12 teams at the moment will avoid each other, however, as the Ducks do not have Southern California, which moved up to No. 9 after a win against Stanford. Meanwhile, Florida State faces one of its tougher tests of the season in two weeks, a home matchup with Clemson, but won’t have many chances to impress after that until an October game against Notre Dame. The rate Oregon has been picking up first-place votes and Florida State has been dropping them, wins for both could mean a smaller and smaller gap in coming weeks.
The win against one of the best teams in the Big Ten is impressive, but it is the manner that Oregon did so that likely swayed some voters. After allowing Michigan State to come back and take a halftime lead, Marcus Mariota led the way to a 28-3 second half. Mariota threw for 318 yards and ran for 42. In doing so, he set the program career records for total offense and touchdown passes. In what was the first non-conference top-10 matchup in Autzen Stadium history, the Ducks converted on five of their last seven third downs, scored four times from outside the red zone and grabbed two interceptions. It was the first matchup between top-10 teams this season.
Other notes from the Top 25:
Virginia Tech entered the poll at No. 17 after upsetting then-No. 8 Ohio State, which fell to No. 22 in the Hokies’ first road win against a top-eight AP team in program history. … BYU also entered the poll at No. 25. … Notre Dame moved up five spots to No. 11 after its shutout of Michigan.