COLUMBIA — After making its way into the Associated Press Top 25 following a season-opening victory against Illinois, the Missouri football team has failed to re-enter the rankings since, despite a 4-0 start.
The Tigers were ranked for the entire 2008 season, and this year's preseason poll was the first to leave out Missouri since Week 2 of the 2007 campaign.
5. Boise State
6. Virginia Tech
7. Southern Cal
9. Ohio State
14. Oklahoma State
15. Penn State
25. Georgia Tech
The Missourian asked some of the AP pollsters from around the country about their rationales for ranking Missouri, and what would need to happen for the Tigers to improve their ranking.
Sal Interdonato,Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.
Rank: Not ranked
General impressions: "I had them as one of the last two teams to get in," Interdonato said. "I thought Nevada was going to be a better team, so that win isn't as good on paper as it might have been at the beginning of the season."
Trend: Steady. Interdonato had the Tigers ranked 25th after the 27-20 win over Bowling Green. But with all the movement taking place within the bottom five teams of the top 30 each week the Tigers weren't impressive enough against Furman and Nevada to climb back in. "I had them ranked at the beginning of the season, but it's sort of 'What have you done for me lately?'"
A win over Nebraska would ... Give the Tigers a quality win, but not much else. Interdonato doesn't have the Huskers ranked in his top 25, and he says it's a result of Nebraska's lack of a quality win thus far. "They had a good showing against Virginia Tech," Interdonato said. "But if you look at their other three wins there's not anything close to a quality one."
Bob Condotta, Seattle Times, Seattle, Wash.
Rank: No. 23
General impressions: "I pretty consistently had them in there," Condotta said. "I was impressed by the Illinois win, but I've been less impressed because Illinois didn't look very good. And I don't think Nevada's great. Missouri kind of did what you gotta do, but they didn't look like a top 10 team. I think if you look at their resume, they've done what they ought to have done."
Trend: Steady. After Missouri's win against Illinois, Condotta has had the Tigers between 21-23 for each of the past four polls.
A win over Nebraska would ... Sort things out. Condotta said the struggles of Nevada and Illinois have left a lot of questions about how good the Tigers really are, but a win over Nebraska would help some of those questions get answered.
Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas, Nev.
Rank: No. 13
General impressions: Anderson has Missouri ranked higher than all but one of the AP voters in this week's poll and ahead of both Southern California and Michigan. Anderson said the majority of his exposure to Missouri came during the win over Nevada, and that they looked like a solid, well-coached team that avoided mistakes and made Nevada pay for their own. But his ranking is a product of other team's missteps as much as his confidence in Missouri. "In some ways Missouri kind of slides up because I've slid some of these other teams down," Anderson said. "I think that a lot of it is these other teams took some hits that they had to pay for and Missouri hasn't taken a hit yet."
Trend: Up. Anderson had the Tigers unranked for the first two weeks, but with each win Missouri has continued to move up. MU has gone from 21 to 16 to 13 in the past three polls. Anderson said he feels too many pollsters are influenced by the name on the jersey rather than what's happening on the field. "Each week I try to take a brand-new look at it," Anderson said. "I try to base it off of results."
A win over Nebraska would ... Move Missouri into the top 10, but not far beyond that. Anderson has Nebraska ranked No. 9 in this week's current poll, but many of his other top 10 teams are undefeated teams that have also scored a quality win over a highly-touted FBS opponent.
Jake Schaller, The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Rank: Not ranked
General impressions: "That's a team that's kind of right there," Schaller said of Missouri. "I think they're probably the next team in for me at this point. I've been impressed with what they've done so far, especially in the opener."
Trend: Steady. After the win over Illinois, Schaller said he hasn't seen anything else that would vault the Tigers any higher. "They weren't as impressive against a MAC team, and then Furman," Schaller said. "Seven points over Bowling Green. Ten points over Nevada. Those aren't fairly overt wins."
A win over Nebraska would ... Solidify Missouri as a top 25 team. "Absolutely," Schaller said. "I know they have Nebraska and then a pretty tough slate after that. I think that's going to prove it all right there."