The first major poll shakeup of the season also brought a divide among teams at the very top. The Associated Press pegged Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma in the top 5 this week.

Ralph D. Russo of the AP reported the first-place vote breakdown went like this:

  • Alabama 30
  • LSU 12
  • Clemson 11
  • Ohio State 9

This could add more oxygen to the argument of strength of schedule as LSU’s rise to No. 2 in the poll would help all the teams on its schedule. Conversely, Clemson is the only ACC team in the poll, as Wake Forest and Virginia both got votes, but fell from the AP Top 25.

But it also reinforces Alabama’s dominance at the top of the poll during the Nick Saban era, and how much of a drop off the voters see in the other top teams. It also brings to mind that Oklahoma is a clear fifth in this ranking even after a solid victory over rival Texas.

The most intriguing part of the second half of the season will be these 5 teams, and then the jockeying for position in the SEC for teams to reach Atlanta. Georgia’s upset loss to South Carolina mathematically opened the door for other teams, but also psychologically gave at least Florida and Missouri a realistic shot to upset the Bulldogs, too.