The best three-loss team in the country.
Nobody aspires to be that, but that’s what the Arizona Wildcats can claim to be. Let’s just say they have the best resume of any three-loss team — and that resume is better than many teams with one or two losses.
It’s good enough, to me, to put Arizona at No. 22 on my AP ballot this week.
Strength of schedule, quality victories and no “bad” losses lead to picking the 5-3 Cats over teams with better records. The combined mark of Arizona’s seven FBS opponents is 43-12. Take out UA’s results against those teams, and those seven foes have gone 39-9 against the rest of their schedules.
Arizona’s 49-0 loss at Oregon looks bad, but the Ducks do that to a lot of teams, and the game was closer the score indicated for through much of three quarters at least. The Cats were within a whisker of beating two other ranked teams — Oregon State and Stanford.
Meanwhile, Arizona’s season-opening win against Toledo continues to look better (the Rockets have won eight in a row, including a win over then-ranked Cincinnati). Oklahoma State is 5-2 and working its way back to relevance after solid wins over Iowa State and TCU in the past two weeks. USC is still USC.
I put each of those three teams at the tail end of my AP ballot.
UCLA, at 6-2, is one of the teams I considered for a spot on my Top 25. The Bruins have a good home win (Nebraska) and a got a last-second field goal Saturday to secure a solid road victory at Arizona State. But a big loss at Cal was the deal-breaker.
UCLA can further its case with this Saturday night’s home game against Arizona (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
Here is my AP ballot for the week.
3. Kansas State
4. Notre Dame
6. Ohio State
9. Florida State
10. South Carolina
14. Oregon State
16. Texas A&M
17. Boise State
18. Texas Tech
20. Mississippi State
21. Louisiana Tech
24. Oklahoma State