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

ByESPN college football reporters ESPN logo
Sunday, November 27, 2022

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

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

1. Georgia Bulldogs(12-0)

Previous ranking: 1

Week 13 result:37-14 win vs. Georgia Tech

What's next:SEC championship game vs. LSU (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)

The Bulldogs were No. 1 a week ago in the College Football Playoff rankings, and they likely did enough to stay No. 1 in the penultimate rankings on Tuesday. Up next is an SEC championship game date with LSU on Saturday in Atlanta. It's probably the last thing Kirby Smart wants to hear, but Georgia is likely already in the playoff, even if it were to lose to LSU. The Bulldogs will be looking for their first SEC championship since 2017. Balance both offensively and defensively has been the key for Georgia, which is ranked 11th nationally in scoring offense and first in scoring defense.-- Chris Low

2. Michigan Wolverines(12-0)

Previous ranking:3

Week 13 result:45-23 win vs. No. 2 Ohio State

What's next:Big Ten championship game vs. Purdue (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)

The Wolverines beat Ohio State 45-23 in the final game of the regular season. It was a convincing win for Michigan with star running back Blake Corum on the sideline for most of the game with an injury. The win puts Michigan into the Big Ten championship game for a second year in a row, where the Wolverines will play against Purdue. A win in the conference championship game would put Michigan into the College Football Playoff consecutive years and give it a shot at earning a spot in the title game. -- Tom VanHaaren

3. TCU Horned Frogs (12-0)

Previous ranking:4

Week 13 result:62-14 win vs. Iowa State

What's next:Big 12 championship game vs. Kansas State (Saturday, noon ET)

After finishing off an undefeated regular season, the 12-0 Horned Frogs will travel all of 18 miles to AT&T Stadium for a rematch with Kansas State for the Big 12 championship game. The two played a barn burner in Fort Worth in October, with Will Howard replacing an injured Adrian Martinez and leading the Wildcats to a 28-10 lead, before TCU rallied for a 38-28 win. Aside from a conference title on the line, the Horned Frogs' College Football Playoff hopes probably hinge on a win, with a one-loss Ohio State -- and yes, a two-loss Alabama -- both looming behind them. TCU remembers the lessons of 2014, when the Buckeyes leapfrogged an 11-1 Horned Frogs team, and don't want to leave anything to chance, aka a selection committee that can sometimes get enamored with "brands." -- Dave Wilson

4. USC Trojans(11-1)

Previous ranking:5

Week 13 result:38-27 win vs. No. 13 Notre Dame

What's next:Pac-12 championship game vs. Utah (Friday, 8 p.m. ET)

It's all been building up to this for USC. A little over a year ago, the Trojans were 4-8 looking for some direction after hiring Lincoln Riley. Now, they're one game from not just winning the Pac-12 title, but also earning the program's first College Football Playoff berth. The turnaround has been quicker than even some inside the program expected, yet USC has looked like the best team in the conference all year. Next week in Las Vegas, the Trojans get a chance to prove it and then some.-- Paolo Uggetti

5. Ohio State Buckeyes(11-1)

Previous ranking: 2

Week 13 result:45-23 loss vs. No. 3 Michigan

What's next:No game

After falling to Michigan for the second straight year, Ohio State must wait a week to see if it lands a playoff berth as an at-large team. The Buckeyes have wins against Notre Dame (home) and Penn State (road) in their favor, but their second-half shrivel against Michigan certainly hurts their profile. If Ohio State misses the playoff, it will land a New Year's Six bowl spot, although quarterback C.J. Stroud said he isn't sure if he would play in a non-CFP game. Ohio State should regain some healthy bodies at running back for the postseason, but the team's immediate concern is figuring out what went so wrong on defense in the Michigan loss. -- Adam Rittenberg

6. Alabama Crimson Tide(10-2)

Previous ranking:7

Week 13 result:49-27 win vs. Auburn

What's next:No game

Whether Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr.suit up for bowl practice or skip out and start preparing for the NFL draft is beside the point. In all likelihood, they're not going to be on the team next season anyway. So the next month becomes about finding playmakers, whether that's seeing who stands out in bowl practices or who becomes available via the transfer portal. Alabama needs to identify its next quarterback and find help at several key positions -- receiver, offensive line and defensive back, to name a few -- before it can be penciled in for playoff contention next season. -- Alex Scarborough

7. Tennessee Volunteers(10-2)

Previous ranking:9

Week 13 result:56-0 win vs. Vanderbilt

What's next:No game

Had you told any Tennessee fan before the season that the Vols were going to win 10 games for the first time since 2007, they would have been ecstatic. But the sting of the 63-38 loss to South Carolina last week will linger, especially with a potential playoff spot at stake. To their credit, the Vols bounced back and hammered Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale to put themselves in excellent shape to play in a New Year's Six bowl game, which would be a first for Tennessee. Plus, it gives Joe Milton III another game at quarterback. He's likely to be the Vols' starter next season with Hendon Hooker headed to the NFL. -- Chris Low

8. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

Previous ranking:11

Week 13 result:35-16 win vs. Michigan State

What's next:No game

If this season has been defined by the contributions of their highly touted freshman running backs, Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, the Nittany Lions' sophomore class chipped in considerably against Michigan State on Saturday. Wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith threw and caught a touchdown pass, while two tight ends, Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren, hauled in scores. Penn State has reached the 10-win plateau for the first time since 2019 and harbors ample New Year's Six hopes. -- Blake Baumgartner

9. Washington Huskies (10-2)

Previous ranking:12

Week 13 result:51-33 win vs. Washington State

What's next:No game

If the Huskies did anything this season, it was thoroughly proving that the hire of Kaelen DeBoer was one of the best in the country. Washington went from a tumultuous 4-8 record last season to a 10-win regular season within 12 months. Beating Oregon and Washington State in the same season is usually good enough, but the remarkable turnaround that DeBoer has engineered now also has Washington with the chance to play in a Rose Bowl in his debut season.-- Paolo Uggetti

10. Clemson Tigers(10-2)

Previous ranking:8

Week 13 result:31-30 loss vs. South Carolina

What's next:ACC championship game vs. North Carolina (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)

The Tigers are in some unusual territory: For the first time in their last eight ACC championship game appearances, they are coming off a loss to rival South Carolina. Clemson has to figure out a way to get its offense in sync and limit the big plays its secondary allowed headed into the game against North Carolina, which has one of the best offenses in the ACC. Though Dabo Swinney said he never really considered benching a struggling DJ Uiagalelei against South Carolina, there cannot be much margin for error with a championship on the line -- especially since Clemson is back in this game after missing it a year ago. -- Andrea Adelson

11. LSU Tigers (9-3)

Previous ranking:6

Week 13 result:38-23 loss vs. Texas A&M

What's next:SEC championship game vs. No. 1 Georgia (Saturday, 4 p.m.)

Forget sneaking into the College Football Playoff now. That hope probably evaporated during an inexplicable loss at Texas A&M. It was a loss that exposed LSU's defense and revealed just how much work there's still left to do under first-year coach Brian Kelly. But that will have to wait because there's still an SEC championship game to play. If Devon Achane was able to run for 215 yards, what will the Bulldogs' Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton do? -- Alex Scarborough

12. Utah Utes(9-3)

Previous ranking:14

Week 13 result:63-21 win vs. Colorado

What's next:Pac-12 championship game vs. USC (Friday, 8 p.m. ET)

With three losses by only 16 combined points, this wasn't quite the playoff-caliber season Utah envisioned. But the Utes' dominant win over Colorado on Saturday -- Cameron Rising went 17-for-19 for 234 yards and three touchdowns while the Utes led 42-0 at halftime -- gave them a 9-3 record and qualified them for the Pac-12 championship for the fourth time in five seasons. They are the only team to beat USC this season and now head to Las Vegas to try to pull it off a second time. -- Bill Connelly

13. Kansas State Wildcats (9-3)

Previous ranking:15

Week 13 result:47-27 win vs. Kansas

What's next:Big 12 championship game vs. TCU (Saturday, noon ET)

The last time Kansas State and TCU played, the Wildcats used a 21-0 run to go up 18 late in the first half before the Horned Frogs charged back with 28 unanswered points to win 38-28. That was the first game of the season for K-State quarterback Will Howard, who has since been behind center for four more games, all wins, by an average of 44-15. Following a 47-27 win over rival Kansas, the Wildcats are peaking just in time for a Big 12 championship rematch in Jerry World, where they will attempt to win their first conference title in a decade. This one's going to be dynamite. -- Bill Connelly

14. Florida State Seminoles (9-3)

Previous ranking:16

Week 13 result:45-38 win vs. Florida

What's next:No game

The Seminoles are headed to a bowl game for the first time since the 2019 season and are rolling with five straight wins to close out the regular season. No matter the bowl destination, this season has been a major success for coach Mike Norvell, who led the program out of its darkest moments in recent history and now has a team that is playing tough and united with a chance to win 10 games for the first time since 2016. That might seem hard to believe, considering there were many outside Tallahassee who wondered whether he was on the hot season headed into the season. -- Andrea Adelson

15. Oregon Ducks (9-3)

Previous ranking:10

Week 13 result:38-34 loss vs. No. 22 Oregon State

What's next:No game

It was always going to be a transition year for Oregon under new coach Dan Lanning. And yet the feeling can't be shaken that this season was disappointing in several ways. The Ducks clearly still had the talent to compete not just for the Pac-12 title, but for a CFP spot too. After a blowout loss to Georgia in the season opener, they appeared to have settled into a groove that had them back at the top of the rankings. A letdown loss to Washington seemed to sour things, but the conference title and a trip to the Rose Bowl was still in play. Losing to OSU feels like the more disappointing of the three and leaves Lanning with plenty of questions to address heading into next season.-- Paolo Uggetti

16. Oregon State Beavers(9-3)

Previous ranking:22

Week 13 result:38-34 win vs. No. 10 Oregon

What's next:No game

Not many, if any, would have expected the Beavers to finish with the same regular-season record as Oregon, but there's no doubt that the work Jonathan Smith has done in Corvallis is starting to pay dividends. Oregon State is now in line for its best bowl game selection in quite some time, and the future of the program is trending upward. The only hitch in its way now could be if Smith is pulled away by a bigger program, but he did sign an extension last year through 2027.-- Paolo Uggetti

17. UCLA Bruins (9-3)

Previous ranking:17

Week 13 result:35-28 win vs. Cal

What's next:No game

The Bruins had clearly built on last year's success but needed to avoid a late-season buzzkill. After a strong second half against Cal, UCLA improved to 9-3, and it might end up finishing in the CFP selection committee's top 15. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who went through a lot in his first three seasons, has secured a notable legacy in Westwood, along with running back Zach Charbonnet and other veterans. The Bruins await what should be a solid bowl appearance and the chance to win their 10th game for the first time since doing so in 2013 and 2014 under Jim Mora. -- Adam Rittenberg

18. Tulane Green Wave (10-2)

Previous ranking:19

Week 13 result:27-24 win vs. No. 21 Cincinnati

What's next:AAC championship game vs. UCF (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)

Tulane, winners of 10 games for the first time in 24 years, flipped its 2021 record (2-10), and it will be making its first trip to the AAC championship game by virtue of snapping Cincinnati's 32-game home winning streak. With Friday's win, the Green Wave's first conference title since 1998 (Conference USA) is in reach after ending a 61-game losing streak against AP-ranked opponents -- dating back to 1984 and the longest in FBS history.-- Blake Baumgartner

19. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4)

Previous ranking:13

Week 13 result:38-27 loss vs. No. 5 USC

What's next:No game

It's safe to say that the results for Marcus Freeman's first season as the Irish's head coach were a bit of a mixed bag. The loss to Marshall will sting for a bit, but the fact that Freeman was able to get Notre Dame back to the top 15 in the country from that low point speaks to what he is building in South Bend. Even in a slightly disappointing 8-4 season, there's plenty of promise and potential for the Irish going forward.-- Paolo Uggetti

20. South Carolina Gamecocks (8-4)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 13 result:31-30 win vs. No. 8 Clemson

What's next:No game

Coach Shane Beamer has done a terrific job in two short years with South Carolina, not only leading the program to bowl appearances in both seasons but getting the Gamecocks in position for their first nine-win season in six years. That probably did not seem possible three weeks ago, after a loss to Florida in which they scored just six points. But in the past two wins over top-10 teams, South Carolina has scored a combined 94 points to end the season on a high note.-- Andrea Adelson

21. Texas Longhorns (8-4)

Previous ranking:24

Week 13 result:38-27 win vs. Baylor

What's next:No game

The Longhorns were denied a shot at the Big 12 championship game since Kansas State beat Kansas to claim second place in the conference. At 8-4, Texas is likely to land in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio against a Pac-12 opponent after missing a bowl last year in Steve Sarkisian's first year. The big question is if Bijan Robinson will play or if he'll opt to declare for the NFL draft and skip the bowl game. -- Dave Wilson

22. UCF Knights (9-3)

Previous ranking:25

Week 13 result:46-39 win vs. USF

What's next:AAC championship game vs. Tulane (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)

UCF led 31-7 early in the third quarter, then trailed 39-38 midway through the fourth by allowing four touchdown runs and one field goal on five consecutive drives. Luckily for the Knights, Mikey Keene's 14-yard touchdown pass to Alec Holler with 20 seconds gave them a win that propelled them to the AAC championship game, where they will face a Tulane team they've already beaten once (38-31 on Nov. 12). If coach Gus Malzahn is to lead UCF to its first conference title since 2018, he'll have to make sure his team doesn't turn the ball over (five times over the past two games) and can stop the run (546 rushing yards allowed over the past two games). -- Matt Eisenberg

23. UTSA Roadrunners (10-2)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 13 result:34-31 win vs. UTEP

What's next:Conference USA championship game vs. North Texas (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

After a frantic comeback, rallying from 17 points down to score the final 20 points of the game, the Roadrunners will prepare for the Conference USA championship game on Friday in the Alamodome against North Texas. Speaking of comebacks, UTSA beat North Texas 31-27 on Oct. 22 on Frank Harris' 10-yard TD pass to De'Corian Clark with 15 seconds left. -- Dave Wilson

24.North Carolina Tar Heels (9-3)

Previous ranking:18

Week 13 result:30-27 loss vs. NC State (2OT)

What's next:ACC championship game vs. Clemson (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)

The Tar Heels are headed to their first ACC championship game since 2015, but they must find some answers leading up to the matchup against Clemson after dropping two straight. One area that has to improve is the offensive line, which has struggled to handle the pressure up front in North Carolina's past two games. Clemson has one of the more formidable defensive lines in the league, so finding a way to protect Drake Maye and give him time to throw is huge. So is the ability to find some balance; the Tar Heels only averaged 3 yards per carry in the loss to NC State. -- Andrea Adelson

25. Mississippi State Bulldogs(8-4)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 13 result:24-22 win vs. No. 20 Ole Miss

What's next:No game

It was an up-and-down season for the Bulldogs, who finished on a high note by winning three of their last four games, including an Egg Bowl victory. Quarterback Will Rogers had a huge season with 3,713 passing yards, 34 touchdowns and only six interceptions, as Mike Leach wrapped up his third regular season in Starkville. All four of the Bulldogs' losses came to teams ranked at the time or currently in the CFP poll. A bowl game victory would give the Bulldogs nine wins; they last won nine games during the 2017 season. -- Chris Low

Dropped out: Ole Miss (20), Cincinnati (21), Coastal Carolina (23)