AP Top 25 college football poll reaction: What's next for each ranked team?

ByESPN college football reporters ESPN logo
Sunday, September 11, 2022

The AP Top 25 college football poll is out after another wild weekend of games.

Alabama, which entered the week at No. 1, needed a last-minute drive and Bryce Young heroics to defeat Texas.

Two teams (Notre Dame and Texas A&M) that started the week ranked in the top 10 lost to two teams from the Sun Belt (Marshall and Appalachian State). A third top-10 team, Baylor, lost to a rankedBYUsquad in double overtime.

And through all the missed kicks and trick plays that underscored the ups and downs, defending national champion Georgia still looked as dominant as ever, while schools like Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson also won handily.

But what happens from here? We break down what's next for each ranked team.

1. Georgia Bulldogs(2-0)

Previous ranking: 2

Week 2 result:33-0 win vs. Samford

What's next: at South Carolina (Saturday, noon ET)

Two games into the season, Georgia hasn't been challenged. Quarterback Stetson Bennett has been able to retire to the bench by the third quarter, and the defense has yet to allow a touchdown. To this point, it's been hard to find any holes in a Georgia team that lost a wealth of talent, especially on defense, to the NFL draft. The Dawgs face their first road test this week on the road in the SEC opener against South Carolina, which had a hard time matching up physically with Arkansas last week in a 44-30 road defeat and lost several key players to injury. -- Chris Low

2. Alabama Crimson Tide(2-0)

Previous ranking:1

Week 2 result:20-19 win vs. Texas

What's next: vs. UL Monroe (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)

The offensive line struggling against Texas isn't necessarily a surprise. Go back and watch its play last season when it was inconsistent at best. But what did seem noteworthy coming out of Austin was the Tide's lack of playmakers at receiver. The three starters -- Jermaine Burton, Traeshon Holden and Kobe Prentice -- didn't show up. If Louisville transfer Tyler Harrell can come back from injury, maybe he'll help. But this offense is a long way from where it was when Bryce Young had a healthy Jameson Williams and John Metchie III to throw to.-- Alex Scarborough

3. Ohio State Buckeyes(2-0)

Previous ranking: 3

Week 2 result:45-12 win vs. Arkansas State

What's next:vs. Toledo (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

The Buckeyes might not be whole on offense until Big Ten play begins Sept. 24 against Wisconsin, as coach Ryan Day will rightfully take no chances with top wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (hamstring). Wide receiver depth is a clear strength, and Ohio State has another opportunity to build against Toledo before facing an always-stingy Badgers defense. The Buckeyes are still settling into their new defensive scheme under coordinator Jim Knowles, and Toledo dual-threat quarterback Dequan Finn could provide a solid test. -- Adam Rittenberg

4. Michigan Wolverines(2-0)

Previous ranking:4

Week 2 result:56-10 win vs. Hawai'i

What's next: vs. UConn (Saturday, noon ET)

Jim Harbaugh announced after the second game that J.J. McCarthy will get the start against UConn in Week 3 after a near perfect performance against Hawai'i. McCarthy went 11-of-12 passing for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and looked accurate and decisive. While UConn will only be McCarthy's second career start, Harbaugh did not clarify whether McCarthy will be the starter the rest of the way or just for this third game. Either way, McCarthy led the offense, looks to be the more productive quarterback and is going to get his shot to keep the starting job from Cade McNamara. -- Tom VanHaaren

5. Clemson Tigers(2-0)

Previous ranking:5

Week 2 result:35-12 win vs. Furman

What's next: vs. Louisiana Tech (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)

The Tigers get another tuneup in Week 3 with Louisiana Tech, but the bulk of the quarterback conversation has likely cooled after DJ Uiagalelei looked sharp against Furman, while freshman Cade Klubnik completed just 1-of-4 passes in mop-up duty. Still, the pressure is on for Clemson to have its offense humming after next week, as the subsequent two games -- at Wake Forest and vs. NC State -- could possibly decide the ACC Atlantic. At this point, it seems clear Uiagalelei will be the guy. Will he have enough support from his O-line and receivers to get Clemson back on top of the ACC?-- David M. Hale

6. Oklahoma Sooners(2-0)

Previous ranking:7

Week 2 result:33-3 win vs. Kent State

What's next: at Nebraska (Saturday, noon ET)

It took OU a while to get going in Saturday evening's 33-3 win over Kent State; it would behoove the Sooners to start a little stronger moving forward. They head to Lincoln to face the enigma that is Nebraska next week, then they return home to host a Kansas State team that looks tough as nails at the moment. They are favorites in the Big 12, but there are plenty of bumps ahead, especially if they sleepwalk through another first half.-- Bill Connelly

7. USC Trojans(2-0)

Previous ranking:10

Week 2 result:41-28 win vs. Stanford

What's next: vs. Fresno State (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET)

Two intriguing tests await the next two weeks with Fresno State coming to town before the Trojans travel to Oregon State. There is plenty of reason to label USC as a true playoff contender at this stage, which makes every game nationally relevant in a way the Trojans have seldom been over the last decade-plus. -- Kyle Bonagura

8. Oklahoma State Cowboys(2-0)

Previous ranking:11

Week 2 result:34-17 win vs. Arizona State

What's next: vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

The Cowboys will face Arkansas-Pine Bluff in what should be a tuneup for next week's big matchup with Baylor, a rematch of last year's excellent Big 12 championship game, a 21-16 Baylor win. ESPN's FPI gives Oklahoma State a 99.9% chance to win this weekend, so Mike Gundy should be able to get a lot of players some game action. --Dave Wilson

9. Kentucky Wildcats(2-0)

Previous ranking:20

Week 2 result:26-16 win vs. Florida

What's next: vs. Youngstown State (Saturday, noon ET)

The Wildcats return home to play FCS Youngstown State in a game that is especially meaningful for coach Mark Stoops. He grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and joked on Saturday night that he wasn't sure whether athletic director Mitch Barnhart was ready for the crowd that would be coming into town. Stoops praised his team for making adjustments from the opener against Miami (Ohio) to the Florida game, in particular the way his young offensive line has started to play more consistently. -- Andrea Adelson

10. Arkansas Razorbacks(2-0)

Previous ranking:16

Week 2 result:44-30 win vs. South Carolina

What's next: vs. Missouri State (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

The road for Arkansas doesn't get much easier after a pair of rousing home wins over Cincinnati and South Carolina. The Hogs should be able to handle a visit from Bobby Petrino and Missouri State next week, but from there they go to Arlington to play Texas A&M, host Alabama, then play three straight road games. That's a lot to ask, but Sam Pittman's squad has given us no reason to think they can't handle things with aplomb. It's been a rock solid start in Fayetteville.-- Bill Connelly

11. Michigan State Spartans(2-0)

Previous ranking:14

Week 2 result:52-0 win vs. Akron

What's next: at Washington (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

Junior quarterback Payton Thorne was disappointed after completing just 50% of his passes last week against Western Michigan. Ever the perfectionist, Thorne knows he will need to improve quickly after going 18-of-28 for 212 yards with two interceptions Saturday in the 52-0 victory against Akron. Senior wide receiver Jayden Reed didn't return after leaving late in the first half with a cut on his back, a result of landing awkwardly out of bounds following a 22-yard reception. Mel Tucker's team takes a trip out to the Pacific Northwest next week to meet Washington before welcoming Minnesota to East Lansing on Sept. 24 to open Big Ten play. -- Blake Baumgartner

12. BYU Cougars(2-0)

Previous ranking:21

Week 2 result:26-20 win vs. No. 9 Baylor (2OT)

What's next: at Oregon (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

It doesn't get any easier for BYU after a tough matchup against Baylor. Next week, they'll travel to Autzen Stadium to face off an Oregon team that is coming off a 70-14 drubbing of Eastern Washington. The Cougars will be the Ducks' first true test since dropping the opener to Georgia in blowout fashion. Wide receiver Chase Roberts is a player to watch after he led all BYU receivers with 122 yards, a touchdown and over 10 yards per catch against Baylor. -- Paolo Uggetti

13. Miami Hurricanes(2-0)

Previous ranking:15

Week 2 result:30-7 win vs. Southern Mississippi

What's next: at Texas A&M (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET)

The Week 3 matchup against Texas A&M might have lost a little luster from a national perspective, but make no mistake: This is a big road test for the Hurricanes, no matter what happened to the Aggies on Saturday. Miami has not beaten an SEC team since 2013. There is plenty for the Hurricanes to work on headed into the matchup, starting with their play on the offensive and defensive lines. For quarterbackTyler Van Dyke to maximize his potential, Miami is going to have to find a deep threat as well to complement what Xavier Restrepo brings to the table as a go-to possession receiver. -- Andrea Adelson

14. Utah Utes(1-1)

Previous ranking:13

Week 2 result:73-7 win vs. Southern Utah

What's next: vs. San Diego State (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET)

It's a revenge opportunity next, with San Diego State coming to Salt Lake City. The Aztecs, who lost handily to Arizona in Week 1, beat Utah in triple overtime last year before the Utes went on to win nine of their next 10 to reach the Rose Bowl. -- Kyle Bonagura

15. Tennessee Volunteers(2-0)

Previous ranking:24

Week 2 result:34-27 win vs. No. 17 Pittsburgh (OT)

What's next: vs. Akron (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

After finding a way to escape on the road Saturday in overtime against nationally ranked Pittsburgh, Tennessee will get another tuneup week at home against Akron. But in two weeks, the Vols face what figures to be one of the biggest games they've played in Neyland Stadium in years when Florida comes to town. The priorities this week will be cleaning up some of the mistakes that plagued them against the Panthers as well as being more consistent in running the ball and stopping the run. Coach Josh Heupel became the first Tennessee coach in the AP Poll era (1936) to record at least one road win against a nationally ranked team in each of his first two seasons with the program. -- Chris Low

16. NC State Wolfpack(2-0)

Previous ranking:18

Week 2 result:55-3 win vs.Charleston Southern

What's next: vs. Texas Tech (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

Charleston Southern wasn't much of an obstacle, but it was at least reassuring to see the Wolfpack's offense find its footing again after a woeful second half against ECU in the opener. Devin Leary was exceptional, accounting for six touchdowns, but he'll face a far tougher challenge in Week 3 against 2-0 Texas Tech. The Wolfpack rarely play a challenging out-of-conference slate, but when they have faced off against a Power 5 foe, it has not gone well. Since 2004, the Wolfpack are just 1-8 vs. nonconference Power 5 foes in the regular season. -- David M. Hale

17. Baylor Bears(1-1)

Previous ranking:9

Week 2 result:26-20 loss vs. No. 21 BYU (2OT)

What's next: vs. Texas State (Saturday, noon ET)

The Bears will be waving goodbye to their top-10 ranking this week after losing to BYU in double overtime, but they will get to try to bounce back next weekend when they face Texas State at home. Dave Aranda's squad will be looking to reignite the offense against a lesser opponent, hoping that both quarterback Blake Shapen and their backfield can get something going after wilting against the BYU defense. Shapen's game managing can be good enough to beat Albany, but against opponents like BYU and better, which Baylor hopes to beat this season, will require far better play from the guy Aranda tapped as QB1 before the season. -- Paolo Uggetti

18. Florida Gators(1-1)

Previous ranking:12

Week 2 result:26-16 loss vs. Kentucky

What's next: vs. South Florida (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

The victory over Utah set expectations soaring, but the reality is that Florida is two games into the Billy Napier era, and nobody thought it was going to be easy to get the program pointed in the right direction. A talented quarterback like Anthony Richardson makes it easier, but he is far from a finished product -- as evidenced by his performance in a loss to Kentucky. The Gators host USF next. His performance against the Bulls as the backup to Emory Jones last year opened some eyes and had Gator fans clamoring for more. He went 3-of-3 for 152 yards and two scores, and rushed for 115 yards and another. -- Andrea Adelson

19. Wake Forest Demon Deacons(2-0)

Previous ranking:23

Week 2 result:45-25 win vs. Vanderbilt

What's next: vs. Liberty (Saturday, 5 p.m. ET)

The Demon Deacons can't snooze on 2-0 Liberty, but they shouldn't lose, either -- especially at home. It's one more opportunity to fine-tune things before hosting Clemson in what will be a critical Atlantic Division game on Sept. 24. -- Heather Dinich

20. Ole Miss Rebels(2-0)

Previous ranking:22

Week 2 result:59-3 win vs. Central Arkansas

What's next: at Georgia Tech (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Nobody looked at the first part of Ole Miss' schedule before the season and predicted that Rebels would have a hard time getting out of September unscathed. They've won easily over Troy and Central Arkansas the first two weeks, and now go the road this Saturday against Georgia Tech before closing out the month against Tulsa back home. A lot of eyes will remain on the quarterback position, especially with Luke Altmyer suffering an injury and leaving the game in the 59-3 win over Central Arkansas. The running game under Lane Kiffin is always stout, and this year's no different. Tight end Michael Trigg, a transfer from USC, looks like he will be a real factor on offense for the Rebels. -- Chris Low

21. Texas Longhorns (1-1)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 2 result:20-19 loss vs. No. 1 Alabama

What's next: vs. UTSA (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)

The Longhorns will be without quarterback Quinn Ewersfor a projected four to six weeks with a shoulder injury. The freshman came out firing against Alabama and led two scoring drives before being injured. The defensive line handled Alabama up front and was a Bryce Young escape act away from what could've been a game-winning sack. This was the rare loss that actually seemed to give a team confidence. But with a tough UTSA team coming to town, it bears watching how the Longhorns respond to an emotional loss. -- Dave Wilson

22. Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 2 result:46-10 win vs. Ohio

What's next: at Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Nittany Lions will try to keep their running game moving at Auburn, which just held San Jose State to 54 yards on the ground. Freshman Nicholas Singleton gave Penn State an added dimension against Ohio, but this will be a tougher test. Penn State was held to 98 rushing yards in its season opener against Purdue. This game will help reveal if the Nittany Lions found somebody who can not only run the ball consistently, but also be explosive. -- Heather Dinich

23. Pittsburgh Panthers(1-1)

Previous ranking:17

Week 2 result:34-27 loss vs. No. 24 Tennessee (OT)

What's next: at Western Michigan (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

Playing without starter Kedon Slovis for much of the second half, Pitt's offense scuffled, with backup Nick Patti completing just 9 of 20 passes -- including one final incompletion in overtime that gave Tennessee a 34-27 win. Beyond Slovis' health, Pitt needs to be concerned with the sieve on its O-line. Tennessee had four sacks, nine tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hurries. Pitt returned all five of its starters on the line from last season's ACC championship team, but the unit hardly looks dominant in 2022. If the Panthers can't get better up front, it's not going to matter who's playing quarterback. -- David M. Hale

24. Texas A&M Aggies(1-1)

Previous ranking:6

Week 2 result:17-14 loss vs. Appalachian State

What's next: vs. Miami (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET)

The A&M-Miami matchup that looked to be a marquee matchup two weeks ago suddenly lost a lot of luster with the Aggies' dreadful performance in a 17-14 loss to Appalachian State. With Arkansas the following week, Jimbo Fisher has an urgent need to fix an ailing offense that has hamstrung the Aggies' hopes at making a run in the SEC West. The Aggies surprised Alabama last year, so there's precedent that Fisher can find the right solution. But he'll need it in a hurry.-- Dave Wilson

25. Oregon Ducks (1-1)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 2 result:70-14 win vs. Eastern Washington

What's next: vs. BYU (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Ducks needed a layup after the humiliation against Georgia, but it's right back into the cauldron next week with BYU coming to town. BYU celebrated its 5-0 record against the Pac-12 last season, which gives a little heat to this one in Eugene. -- Kyle Bonagura

Dropped out: Notre Dame (8), Wisconsin (19), Houston (25)