AP poll reaction: What's next for each Top 25 team

ByESPN Staff ESPN logo
Sunday, October 13, 2019

The new AP Top 25 poll is out, and while Alabama remains No. 1, there's plenty of movement below that after a wild Week 7. Here's what's next for each ranked team.

Jump to: Best of Week 7

What's next for each Top 25 team

No. 1 Alabama

Tua Tagovailoa threw his first interception of the season, but the good news is that he threw four touchdown passes as the Crimson Tide cruised to another SEC victory. Special teams made a big impact with a dominant return game and a touchdown of its own; an important piece of the Tide's championship puzzle. If you want to pick nits -- and Nick Saban certainly likes to -- the Tide have allowed, 23, 31 and 28 points in their three SEC games. Some of those points were in mop-up time, but it's something Saban will likely point out to his squad. - Sam Khan Jr.

No. 2 LSU

If for some reason you thought the first five games were a mirage and LSU's offense would revert to its old conservative ways against a top-notch defense, think again. Going head-to-head with Florida's top-10 defense, the Tigers couldn't be contained.Joe Burrowand those receivers were -- and are -- too good. Though the defense needs some retooling, LSU's offense will keep the Tigers in any game, including the ones against No. 12 Auburn in two weeks and No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 9. - Alex Scarborough

No. 3 Clemson

What's wrong with Trevor Lawrence? The answer: nothing. For the past two weeks after a narrow one-point win at North Carolina, Clemson's been answering questions about its sluggish star QB, about its inconsistent offense, about falling from the top spot in the AP poll. The Tigers delivered an emphatic answer Saturday, demolishing Florida State and reminding fans that, yes, this team is still more than capable of delivering a knockout blow. -- David M. Hale

No. 4 Ohio State

Ohio State's dominant win against Michigan State last week showed the country this team is in the discussion as the nation's best. The Buckeyes have proved to be the most balanced team in the conference on offense and defense. After this week's bye, Northwestern is up next, but Ohio State's toughest test to date will come the week after against Wisconsin and the Buckeyes finish up with Penn State and Michigan. All three will be challenging, but the way this team is playing, it will be difficult to slow the Buckeyes down. -- Tom VanHaaren

No. 5 Oklahoma

The Sooners' defense is no longer a weakness, and it could be the missing piece in the team's national title quest. Lincoln Riley's team won the Red River Showdown primarily with defense, consistently pressuring Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and overwhelming the Longhorns' offensive line. First-year coordinator Alex Grinch has Oklahoma attacking with different players and from different angles, including linebacker Kenneth Murray who is playing at an All-America level. Oklahoma showed it can win without an A-level Jalen Hurts, who received plenty of help from top receiver CeeDee Lamb (171 yards, three touchdowns) and the defense. - Adam Rittenberg

No. 6 Wisconsin

At the midway point of the season, the debate over who's the strongest team in college football is only going to heat up. Why not Wisconsin, which looks more dominant by the week and absolutely throttled Michigan State in a 38-0 beatdown on Saturday? And if defense truly wins championships, the Badgers are in great shape there. They've yet to give up more than 15 points in six games and already have four shutouts. Wisconsin visits Illinois next week, then travels to Ohio State on Oct. 26 in a game that will have major College Football Playoff implications. -- Chris Low

No. 7 Penn State

Nothing came easy for the Nittany Lions, but they earned a tough road win against a ranked opponent -- an important step toward building some playoff credibility while still revealing they have work to do. PSU hurt itself with eight penalties for 80 yards, and it will need more from its offense if it's going to contend for the Big Ten title. The Nittany Lions have another chance to make a statement Saturday against Michigan. -- Heather Dinich

No. 8 Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish survived a closer-than-expected victory over rival USC on Saturday night, which might have been the nail in the coffin for Trojans coach Clay Helton. It was Notre Dame's 15th consecutive win at home, its longest streak since winning 19 in a row from 1987 to 1990. Tony Jones Jr. ran for 176 yards in 25 attempts -- his third straight game with 100 yards or more -- and the Irish ran for 308 and averaged 6.6 yards per attempt. If the Irish can survive an Oct. 26 trip to Michigan, they'll be heavy favorites in their final five games. But is there enough meat left on Notre Dame's schedule to impress the CFP selection committee? Georgia's stunning home loss to unranked South Carolina certainly didn't help the Irish. -- Schlabach

No. 9 Florida

GiveKyle Traskand the Gators' offense credit. A group that wasn't known for putting up points went shot for shot with LSU for the better part of three quarters. Then reality hit, and now the focus has to be on what exactly happened on defense. Injuries are one thing, but the secondary was a mess that needs to get sorted out soon with a trip to a suddenly resurgent South Carolina next, followed by the Georgia game, which probably will determine which team reaches the SEC title game. -- Alex Scarborough

No. 10 Georgia

Georgia has no one to blame but itself for Saturday's 20-17 loss to South Carolina in two overtimes. Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who was perfect before Saturday, missed two field goals, including a 42-yarder in the second OT. Quarterback Jake Fromm, who hadn't thrown an interception in the first five games, threw three (one off a receiver's hands and another that was a pick-six) and muffed a snap for a lost fumble. Georgia's offensive playcalling, especially in the final minute of regulation, was also perplexing. The stunning defeat to a 20-point underdog doesn't entirely knock UGA out of the CFP race, but it leaves it absolutely no margin for error the rest of the way.-- Mark Schlabach

No. 11 Auburn

Auburn has been in this position before under Gus Malzahn after a tough early-season loss and still managed to make it to the SEC championship game. The most recent time was in 2017. The Tigers go back on the road to Arkansas this coming weekend before traveling to LSU on Oct. 26. Three SEC road games in four weeks is never easy, but the Tigers have the defense to win every game they play the rest of the way. They need freshman quarterback Bo Nix to continue to develop and will have to go to more of a running back by committee approach now that JaTarvious Whitlow is out for the next four to six weeks with a knee injury. -- Chris Low

No. 12 Oregon

For the Ducks, their Friday rout of Colorado probably felt like it was a long time coming. They've been outstanding on defense all season, but considering the opponent, this was easily the team's most impressive, comprehensive performance of the season. It came at a good time, too, with a trip to Washington next week. The Ducks' official start to the second half of the season might be their toughest game left on the schedule. When they play as well on both sides of the ball as they did against Colorado, though, there might not be a team in the Pac-12 that can beat them. -- Kyle Bonagura

No. 13 Utah

Even in the wake of their most complete performance of the season, the stench of the Utes' loss to USC still lingers. That's because when Utah plays to the level it did against Oregon State, it is the clear favorite in the Pac-12 South and resembles a team that could wind up firmly inside the national top 10. Instead, the Utes are in a four-team pack in the division. One of those teams, Arizona State, heads to Salt Lake City next week for a matchup between ranked teams. Mathematically, it's not a must-win game for either team, but it comes pretty close. -- Bonagura

No. 14 Boise State

And then there were three. Boise State, SMU and Appalachian State are the only remaining undefeated teams at the Group of 5 level, after Temple's upset of Memphis. The Broncos remain in pole position for a Cotton Bowl bid, but they lost quarterback Hank Bachmeier in the first of Saturday's win against Hawai'i. It's not yet clear how serious the injury is ahead of next week's trip to BYU. But if Bachmeier can't go, it appears the Broncos will be in capable hands: Both backups, Chase Cord and Jaylon Henderson, were effective in relief. -- Bonagura

No. 15 Texas

The Longhorns might get another shot at dethroning Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship, but they have a lot to improve. They showed fortitude in repeatedly battling back and capitalizing on Hurts' red zone struggles, but season-long tackling issues, protection problems and an inconsistent run game proved too much to overcome. Ehlinger is a special player but doesn't have the supporting cast at this point to make a serious CFP push. Texas needs a lot more depth in a lot of places, including in both lines and in a secondary that will be tested throughout Big 12 play.-- Adam Rittenberg

No. 16 Michigan

The Wolverines were able to get the offense on track against Illinois in the first half, putting up 355 yards. The second half was a different story, though, as the offense stalled in the third quarter and the defense gave up 25 unanswered points. Turnovers continue to be a problem, with two lost fumbles, something that has hampered this team all season. Michigan needed a confidence booster, but the second half showed some flaws in this team that now has to get through Penn State on the road, followed by Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State to finish out this season. If Michigan is going to have a chance to win those games, it'll need the offense to carry its own weight and not rely on the defense to win games. -- Tom VanHaaren

No. 17 Arizona State

ASU is still trending up, thanks in large part to the poise of freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels, who helped orchestrate Saturday's comeback win. Though the Sun Devils have earned two impressive road wins, none looms larger than next Saturday's trip to Utah. If ASU is going to make a serious run at the Pac-12 South Division, it has to beat the Utes, and ESPN's FPI gives it just a 22.6% chance to win. -- Dinich

No. 18 Baylor

While most eyes in the Big 12 are affixed squarely on Oklahoma, there could be another team lurking. Baylor moved to 6-0 on Saturday with a thrilling 33-30 double-overtime victory against Texas Tech, and looking down the Bears' schedule -- even though it gets more difficult -- it's not out of the realm of possibility to think they could be 9-0 when they face Oklahoma at home on Nov. 16. Baylor takes on Oklahoma State on the road next week, then West Virginia at home and TCU on the road before the Sooners visit McLane Stadium. It's remarkable how far the Baylor program has come under Matt Rhule after the Bears went 1-11 in his first season in Waco in 2017. -- Low

No. 19 SMU

By not playing this week, SMU avoided a loss opportunity. The Mustangs watched as Memphis lost to Temple and prepared to host the Owls this coming week. The main goal for SMU during bye week: smooth out some efficiency issues in the passing game. Shane Buechele's outing was awfully up-and-down during the tight win over Tulsa, and if this team is going to make a serious run in the American, he's got to be more consistent. - Bill Connelly

No. 20 Minnesota

After winning their first four games by a touchdown or less, the Gophers have overwhelmed their past two opponents to move to 6-0 for the first time since 2003. Minnesota blasted Nebraska 34-7 on Saturday night by running for 322 yards in wintry conditions. The Gophers have won eight straight games dating to the last two contests of 2018, which is the school's longest winning streak since 1948-49. Will it be enough to earn them some respect? According to Elias Sports Bureau research, Minnesota was the first Big Ten team to start 5-0 and not be ranked in the AP poll since Northwestern in 2010. If Minnesota fans really want to be dream big, consider this data from ESPN Stats & Information: It's the fifth time the Gophers have started 6-0 in the AP poll era (since 1936). In three of the previous four instances, the Gophers won national titles, in 1940, '41 and '60. - Mark Schlabach

No. 21 Cincinnati

It took a bit, but the roll continued for the Bearcats, who have lit the world afire since losing to Ohio State. A pick-six iced an eventually comfortable win. If Luke Fickell's squad can handle a tricky Tulsa team next week, it'll likely head into mid-November with just the Columbus blemish. And the Bearcats are looking so good that their New Year's Six bowl case could be pretty convincing even with the loss. -- Connelly

No. 22 Missouri

The Tigers have bounced back nicely from a season-opening loss at Wyoming, which doesn't look nearly as bad as it once did. Missouri has won five straight games, including a 38-27 victory over Ole Miss on Saturday night. Missouri's offense is balanced -- quarterback Kelly Bryant threw for 329 yards with one touchdown, and tailback Larry Rountree III ran for 126 yards with two scores against the Rebels. The Tigers will be heavy favorites in their next two games, at Vanderbilt and Kentucky, and might be 7-1 heading into a Nov. 9 trip to Georgia. Remember, though: They'll have to win a pending appeal of their one-year NCAA ban to play in the postseason this year. - Mark Schlabach

No. 23 Iowa

The Hawkeyes haven't quit, but they've also lost their two biggest games to this point, first against Michigan and now to Penn State. Iowa has played the role of CFP spoiler before, and it still can, as the Hawkeyes travel to Wisconsin on Nov. 9. There won't be an upset, though, if Iowa can't squeeze more out of its offense, which had two turnovers and was held to under 100 rushing yards. -- Heather Dinich

No. 24 Appalachian State

After surrendering 109 points in victories over North Carolina, Charlotte and Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State turned in its best defensive performance of the season in a 17-7 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday night. The Mountaineers limited the Ragin' Cajuns to only 254 yards of offense -- 131 passing and 123 rushing. Louisiana averaged 44.4 points, 314 rushing yards and 540 yards of offense in its first five games but was stonewalled by coordinator Ted Roof's unit. ASU first-year coach Eliah Drinkwitz remained undefeated, and the Mountaineers have emerged as Sun Belt Conference favorites once again.- Mark Schlabach

No. 25 Washington

Despite two early Pac-12 losses, the Huskies will still have a lot to say about their conference's title race. Chris Petersen's crew hosts playoff hopeful Oregon this week, then Utah on Nov. 2. And, after routing the Wildcats 51-27 in Tucson, the Ducks will be in for a challenge this week - Mark Schlabach

Best of Week 7

Sleight of hand

EvenJalen Hurtswas impressed when he saw the replay of his behind-the-back maneuver to avoid a sack and complete a pass in Oklahoma's win over Texas.

Quick snap

Legendary former Duke coach Steve Spurrier takes a moment to get his grandson to help him take a photo with him on the sideline.

As the Falcon flies

South Carolina-Georgia wasn't the only upset Saturday, although Bowling Green's win over Toledo probably won't make too many highlight reels. Nonetheless, the Falcons, 20.5-point underdogs, snapped a nine-game losing streak to their rivals to take back the I-75 trophy (the schools are less than 30 miles apart via the interstate).

Fine football dining

The glorious setting of the Texas-Oklahoma game in the middle of the State Fair of Texas means fans can partake of a whole different type of culinary experience than tailgating usually offers.

Let's check in on a couple of highlights from this year's fair offerings:

This year's Big Tex Choice Award winner for sweet foods, Big Red Chicken Bread is a play on chicken and waffles. It features a homemade donut topped with frosting flavored with Big Red (a Texas/Southern creme soda with a bubble gum-type taste), with a fried chicken wing resting in the middle.

New for 2019, the PB&J Bacon Pickle Dog is made of a large, crunchy dill pickle, rolled in batter and deep fried. It's served on a sweet Hawai'ian hot dog bun, drizzled with peanut butter and topped with bacon jam.

Horns Down watch

Horns Down -- taunting Texas by turning its hand sign upside down -- has become a hot-button issue (as chronicled here) for some reason. Sooners coach Lincoln Riley has already said his players won't do it. Oklahoma's spirit squad has reportedly been told not to do it. But they're not the boss of Kyler Murray.

GameDay's Gene Wojciechowski takes a deeper look at the heat behind the issue and talks to Barry Switzer, Sam Ehlinger and more about the disrespectful gesture.

The legend of Death Valley

For College Football 150, former Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer tells a story from his playing days, giving a little insight into what the current Gators will be up against Saturday night when they visit LSU.

Bigger than life

Fifty-five years after he last played for Illinois, Dick Butkus, a member of the College Football and Pro halls of fame whose No. 50 was retired by the Illini in 1986, was honored with a 12-foot-tall statue outside Memorial Stadium on Friday.

Butkus, the namesake of the Butkus Award given to the best linebackers in football, found it humbling, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"You wonder, why, man?" he said of getting a statue. "I did what I thought I was supposed to do. ... I had fun knocking the [expletive] out of people."

Samford and sons and dads

Samford offensive lineman George Grimwade surprised his stepfather by changing his last name to Musto -- his stepdad's name. Watch this incredibly sweet story and see the power of how much the last name on a jersey can mean.

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