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

ByESPN Staff ESPN logo
Sunday, October 20, 2019

After a chaotic Week 8 that saw undefeated Wisconsin go down, here's the latest AP Top 25, along with what's next for each ranked team.

Jump to: Top 25 games | Best of Week 8

What's next for each Top 25 team

No. 1 Alabama

The moment Tua Tagovailoa rolled his ankle and left the game against Tennessee, everything changed. The offense changed, and, perhaps, the Tide's playoff outlook changed. Remember, No. 2 LSU is coming to town in three weeks. AlthoughMac Jones steadied himself enough to lead Alabama to a win over Tennessee, it's clear that the passing game took a step back. If Tagovailoa can't return or isn't close to 100 percent, it will be interesting to see how the game plan changes and whether the running game and defense will be enough. -- Alex Scarborough

No. 2 LSU

A slow start against Mississippi State wasn't ideal, but then quarterback Joe Burrow and the offense stopped settling for field goals and found the end zone. In doing so, it became more than the Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson show at receiver, as it had been in recent weeks. Derrick Dillon and Racey McMath scored touchdowns. Tight end Thaddeus Moss even had a few nice catches, showing the scary depth of the Tigers' new-look offense, which they will need against their next two opponents, Auburn and Alabama. -- Alex Scarborough

No. 3 Ohio State

The Buckeyes' blowout road losses against Big Ten West Division opponents (Iowa, Purdue) kept them out of the playoff the past two years. Ohio State made sure the mini trend would end, thrashing Nebraska and Northwestern by a combined score of 100-10. QuarterbackJustin Fieldsshowed he belongs in the Heisman Trophy race with 194 pass yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and only five incomplete passes. The first-year starter converted several third-and-long situations early in the game that opened up big-play opportunities later. After initially struggling to stop Northwestern's run game, Ohio State gave up only 199 yards to an utterly feeble offense. Ryan Day's team surges into next week's home showdown against Wisconsin. -- Adam Rittenberg

No. 4 Clemson

The shaky start to the game is not the way Dabo Swinney would draw it up, and sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence continues to make the kind of questionable decisions he didn't make a year ago as a freshman, but the Tigers remained unbeaten Saturday by turning on the jets in the second half and racing past Louisville on the road. Lawrence threw a pair of first-half interceptions in the red zone and got away with another iffy throw that wound up being a touchdown on a great catch by Justyn Ross. The good news for the Tigers is that they are oozing with players capable of making big plays on offense, but the lack of consistency could catch up with them down the road -- even though that road doesn't look all that daunting in what remains of the regular season.-- Chris Low

No. 5 Oklahoma

The Sooner Schooner might have crashed, but OU's offense shows no signs of slowing down. Jalen Hurts & Co. put up 52 points on West Virginia, and Hurts -- who had two turnovers against Texas -- had none on Saturday while accounting for five TDs with only one incomplete pass. Alex Grinch's defense had no letdown and continues to play fast and furious. If this OU team continues to improve, it's hard to picture anyone else knocking off the Sooners before the postseason. -- Sam Khan Jr.

No. 6 Penn State

During a season of video game QB stats, Penn State's Sean Clifford isn't gaudy and he isn't greedy. He's also 7-0. Now he needs to figure out how to put together two halves instead one. On Saturday against Michigan, he opened the night by calmly stretching and striking the Michigan defense with both his arm and his legs. The first TD drive of the night ended on a pair of drone strike passes, the second score came via a 2-yard scrambling goal-line run, and the third on a perfect 25-yard timing toss, making it 21-0 halfway through the second quarter. So much for those early-game jitters that Clifford and head coach James Franklin addressed earlier in the days leading up to the Michigan contest. The new issue might be second-half jitters. Penn State failed to score in the third quarter while Clifford scuffled (30 yards, 1 first down on 16 plays) and let Michigan creep back to within striking distance before putting away the win. Said the QB: "We are undefeated, but we are nowhere near our best yet. I certainly am not. There's still a lot of work to do." - Ryan McGee

No. 7 Florida

The Gators showed resilience in the rain against South Carolina, most especially quarterback Kyle Trask, who put a poor start behind him to lead a comeback win with a monster fourth quarter. That helps Florida stay in the race for the SEC East with a crucial open week before playing Georgia on Nov. 2. No. 1 on the list this upcoming week? Trying to get defensive ends Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard healthy so they can be ready to go against the Bulldogs in a game that could determine the division champion. Both have been dealing with high ankle sprains, severely hampering Florida's ability to put pressure on the quarterback over the past two games. Not having Greenard in particular has been a huge blow, since he leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss. If Florida has both players healthy, the Gators will give themselves the best possible chance to get past Georgia.-- Andrea Adelson

No. 8 Notre Dame

Notre Dame had the perfect weekend for a bye, coming off of a close win against USC to clean a few things up before heading to Ann Arbor, to face Michigan. The Irish gave up 444 yards of offense to the Trojans and have been up and down in big games this season. The offense has been consistent this season, ranking 14 in points scored per game and that will have to continue against Michigan's improving defense. With one loss already this season, Notre Dame is going to need another good performance out of the offense against Michigan to keep the playoff hopes alive. Having a week of rest and a week to scout the Wolverines could end up being very beneficial for those hopes. - Tom VanHaaren

No. 9 Auburn

Auburn took advantage of a struggling Arkansas team that has now lost four straight. While that won't compensate for the Tigers' Oct. 5 loss at Florida, a win Saturday at LSU might. The Tigers have no more margin for error heading into Death Valley, and ESPN's FPI gives them a 32.8 percent chance to win. Auburn fans should also pay attention to Oregon, because it's possible they could have a win over the Pac-12 champs on their résumé.-- Heather Dinich

No. 10 Georgia

Let's just say the Bulldogs' performance against Kentucky didn't do much to tamp down concerns about the offense, especially with an SEC East Division showdown against Florida on Nov. 2 following an open date. A week after struggling in a loss to South Carolina, Georgia played Kentucky to a scoreless first half and then relied on its run game to open things up. The game was played in wet conditions, but getting the passing game going has to be a major point of emphasis during the open date, because it will be difficult to be one-dimensional against the Gators and still win. Jake Fromm ended up averaging just 2.9 yards per pass and throwing for just 35 yards. Right now, Georgia remains the FPI favorite to win the East, but it's only a slim margin over Florida. It's safe to say Georgia isn't playing to its potential on offense headed into its most important stretch of the season. -- Andrea Adelson

No. 11 Oregon

Any hope Oregon had of remaining in the College Football Playoff conversation seemed close to vanishing after Washington went up 28-14 in the third quarter, but the Ducks found a way to claw out of the hole. With five games left in conference play, it already feels like Oregon has the Pac-12 North locked up. The team in sole possession of second place? Oregon State (2-2).-- Kyle Bonagura

No. 12 Utah

Quietly, the Utes are still in the Pac-12 South hunt after that grueling 21-3 win over Arizona State. A healthier Zack Moss has now rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the past two games, and after totally dominating ASU's offensive line, Utah's defense heads into next week's game against Cal holding every offense it's faced to under 390 yards thus far. - Edward Aschoff

No. 13 Wisconsin

While Ohio State surges into next week's top-10 showdown, Wisconsin will be licking its wounds. Playing away from home for the first time since Aug. 30, the Badgers stumbled against an Illinois team that came in allowing 201.8 rush yards per game and 30.7 points per game. Wisconsin couldn't generate long runs for Jonathan Taylor, found itself in too many third-and-medium or third-and-long situations, and had uncharacteristic busts and penalties on defense. Part of the offense's struggles can be linked to a conservative game plan against a weaker opponent, but Paul Chryst will need to take more chances with his calls -- and get much better execution -- for Wisconsin to recover and even have a chance against Ohio State.-- Adam Rittenberg

No. 14 Baylor

It wasn't easy, but Baylor is still undefeated -- which helps the Big 12, and also means the Bears will be a legitimate road challenge for undefeated Oklahoma on Nov. 16. The question is if the Bears are a true contender or have benefited from the nation's No. 90 schedule. Baylor has yet to play a ranked opponent and still has to face both OU and Texas. ESPN's FPI gives the Bears less than a 50 percent chance to beat each. -- Heather Dinich

No. 15 Texas

Really, we didn't learn much new about Tom Herman's team this week. The Longhorns' defense is still all sorts of problematic, and the offense is still good enough to bail the defense out. Still, even if there was a lot more drama involved than expected, the Longhorns survived in a game they had to win to stay close in a tight Big 12 title game race. No rest, though -- now it's off to TCU for another potential must-win. -- Bill Connelly

No. 16 SMU

SMU has rattled off seven wins to start the season, going 7-0 for the first time since 1982. Quarterback Shane Buechele and a high-powered offense under OC Rhett Lashlee have been a big part of this team's success. Buechele had over 450 passing yards and six touchdowns, only the third player in AAC history to pull that off. Receiver Reggie Roberson had 250 yards and three touchdowns. The way this team is playing, it's going to be tough for any of the Mustangs' remaining opponents to stop them.

No. 17 Minnesota

Minnesota was able to roll past Rutgers to remain undefeated. It's the first time the Gophers have started the season 7-0 since 1960, which is quite an accomplishment. The offense has been productive this season, averaging 36.4 points per game, but the teeth of the schedule is about to start. Minnesota will face Maryland next, then has to finish the season with Penn State, Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin. To get through that stretch, the Gophers are going to need to continue scoring at a high clip as all of those teams field excellent defenses. It has already been a historic season, but finishing on a high note instead of a losing streak would be an impressive feat. -- Tom VanHaaren

No. 18 Cincinnati

With Saturday's win over Tulsa, Cincinnati is in the hunt for a spot in a New Year's Six bowl because the highest-ranked Group of 5 champion earns a bid. Cincinnati's win, coupled with Temple's loss to SMU, gives the Bearcats further separation for the AAC East Division. Cincinnati is on a collision course to face undefeated SMU in the league title game, as ESPN's FPI favors the Bearcats in each of their remaining games. -- Heather Dinich

No. 19 Michigan

The Wolverines lost to a ranked opponent in a crucial conference game upon which their hopes for a meaningful November and beyond squarely rested. Did I simply CTL+C that sentence from every big Michigan Top 25 takeaway assignment over the past three seasons? No. But I could have. The Wolverines' early discombobulation began on their first play from scrimmage, a timeout, and continued as they dug themselves a 21-0 hole. (See: sideline warning flag, ineligible receiver downfield, sideline interference penalty on a kickoff.) But QB Shea Patterson maintained his composure throughout and fought back to give UM a chance to tie it up in the closing minute, ultimately foiled by a dropped pass. Michigan has one week to figure out how to get its tires out of the mud, before Notre Dame rolls into Ann Arbor for another of these prime-time spotlight showcase games that have come to define the Jim Harbaugh era, for all the wrong reasons. -- Ryan McGee

No. 20 Iowa

Iowa's offense scored only 15 total points against Michigan and Penn State combined, then opened the game against Purdue with three field goals in three trips to the red zone. Eventually the offense was able to get into the end zone, but it remains a concern with Wisconsin and Minnesota coming up on the schedule. The defense has been doing its part, but the offense has to get better and capitalize when it gets into the red zone.-- Tom VanHaaren

No. 21 Appalachian State

App State will need help making a case for the Group of 5's New Year's Six bowl bid -- for starters, Boise State and SMU probably need to lose -- but the Mountaineers let their play talk for them today. Quarterback Zac Thomas and the devastating App offense played Name Your Score on poor ULM (it settled on 52), and Eliah Drinkwitz's squad should keep rolling until its Nov. 9 trip to South Carolina. -- Bill Connelly

No. 22 Boise State

With starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier out, it was too little too late for backup Chase Cord in Boise's 28-25 upset loss at BYU. The Broncos will have time to lick their wounds -- and hope Bachmeier heals -- before visiting San Jose State on Nov. 2, but with this loss, their chances of crashing the playoff are all but done. A New Year's Six Bowl is still in play, but the margin for error is now razor-thin. -- Edward Aschoff

No. 23 Iowa State

The Cyclones have returned to their winning ways after a couple of early setbacks, and they found a new star running back in the process. Freshman Breece Hall, from Wichita, Kansas, ran 19 times for 183 yards with two touchdowns in a 34-24 victory at Texas Tech. Hall has registered 315 rushing yards and five scores in his past two games. The Cyclones lost two contests by a combined three points -- 18-17 to rival Iowa and 23-21 at Baylor -- before winning three in a row to emerge as perhaps the Big 12's second-best team behind Oklahoma. Iowa State will play the Sooners on the road on Nov. 9. -- Mark Schlabach

No. 24 Arizona State

Herm Edwards wasn't ready to crown his team a true Pac-12 South contender before the Utah game, and he certainly isn't now. It was an ugly, undisciplined loss to the Utes, made even more painful by the fact that the Sun Devils managed just 136 total yards of offense. Freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels completed just four passes for 25 yards, but has a good chance to bounce back next week against 2-5 UCLA. -- Edward Aschoff

No. 25 Wake Forest

Wake Forest's high-powered offense wasn't nearly as potent in poor weather conditions caused by Tropical Storm Nestor. The Demon Deacons settled for five field goals in the red zone and scored just one touchdown, but that was enough in a 22-20 victory over Florida State, which snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series. Nick Sciba tied the school record with his five field goals, including a 25-yarder with 4:18 left that put the Demon Deacons ahead for good. Sam Hartman made his first start at quarterback this season and completed 21 of 38 passes for 308 yards. Sage Surratt caught seven balls for 170 yards. Wake Forest remained one game behind Clemson in the loss column of the ACC Atlantic Division standings. The Demon Deacons will play the Tigers at Death Valley on Nov. 16. -- Mark Schlabach

Best of the week

Wisconsin, you're entering a House of Pain

After Illinois' shocking 24-23 win over No. 6 Wisconsin, the Illini trolled the Badgers by playing their signature "Jump Around" during the postgame celebration.

Play of the day

Minnesota's Casey O'Brien is a four-time cancer survivor. He's also a Big Ten football player who played in his first game on Saturday, as the holder on an extra point.

Uniform tributes

Air Force is honoring the pilots who fly C-17s with special uniforms as part of its "Air Power Legacy Series" for the Falcons' game at Hawaii on Saturday (11 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network). According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, a C-17 will fly these uniforms, the team's equipment and some team managers to Hawaii. The Falcons are 7-0 when wearing uniforms from the series.

On the back of their jerseys this week, UAB players wore the names of patients at Children's Harbor, a local no-cost charity that provides support for kids with serious illnesses and their families.

The kids also signed the inside of game balls that will be used for Saturday's matchup against Old Dominion.

This is why we can't have nice things

Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern players celebrated the beginning of the fourth quarter with a little dance party. So fun!

Adventures in kicking

Ohio kicker Michael Farkas appears to have invented the greatest onside kick strategy, kicking the ball right into a Kent State player's head, allowing the Bobcats to catch the rebound.

During Wednesday night's Troy-South Alabama game, a Troy student had a shot at a 45-yard field goal in a "Kick for Cash" contest. He did not make it. But an official (who was very far away from the goalposts) made a good catch.

Down 17-0 to Auburn, Arkansas tried to get a little something going with a fake punt. It was about as successful as that guy's kick for the dollars.

Drink it up

Pitt quarterbackKenny Pickett and offensive lineman Jimmy Morrissey celebrated Pickett's touchdown pass to Maurice Ffrenchby shotgunning invisible beers on Friday night as the Panthers beat Syracuse 27-20.

A wild ride

Oklahoma's Sooner Schooner took a sharp turn and went down. All passengers are reportedly fine.

Love overcomes all

A Penn State fan proposed to a Michigan fan live on GameDay, landing the ring on her finger despite some nervously shaky hands.

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