The Associated Press Top 25 poll doesn’t come out until midday Sunday, but why wait. Like we do every week, here’s a quick preview of what the AP poll should look like long before it’s released. Here are last week’s results.
Remember, credit is given to teams for what they’ve actually accomplished on the field (a crazy idea, I know), not where they were ranked in the preseason, their tradition or who their coach is.
So with that said, here is our Top 25:
25) Ohio State Buckeyes (last week: No. 4)
Ohio State’s last five games have played out like this: A 17-16 win over Michigan State (after the Spartans failed to convert a 2-point conversion), a win over Michigan where the Buckeyes were literally 1 yard from losing, a shutout against Clemson in the College Football Playoff, a win over Indiana where they trailed at the half and a 31-16 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday.
The point is that the Buckeyes offensive woes aren’t just a coincidence, they’re a trend at this point. And there’s no reason to think they’ll get better any time soon.
24) Miami Hurricanes (last week: No. 23)
Hurricane Irma not only kept Miami off the field this week, but their game against Florida State already has been postponed to mid-October. Miami will be 1-0 when it returns against Toledo on Sept. 23.
23) Auburn Tigers (last week: No. 8)
Auburn fans will disagree with me, but I don’t think Saturday’s disappointing 14-6 loss was about how bad Auburn is, but more about how dominant Clemson’s defensive front is. These Tigers are still a good team, and should win their next four games (Mercer, at Missouri, Mississippi State and Ole Miss) before heading to LSU in October.
22) Stanford (last week: No. 12)
Poor Stanford coach David Shaw. Not only did his team lose to USC on Saturday, but the Cardinal have to go to San Diego State next week. After opening their season on Aug. 26 in Australia, they won’t play their first home game until a month later. Even that won’t be easy as they face the UCLA Bruins on their return to the Farm.
21) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (last week: No. 21)
The Irish lost to Georgia on Saturday night, but it was a valiant effort against a Bulldogs team with the talent to make the College Football Playoff. Mock the Irish and Brian Kelly if you want, but even though this loss was at home, it was a step in the right direction for this program.
20) Florida State Seminoles (last week: No 19)
Like Miami, not only was Florida State’s game this weekend canceled, but next weekend’s as well. The Seminoles will next play N.C. State two Saturdays from now.
19) Virginia Tech Hokies (last week: No. 6)
Again, these rankings are based on what happened on the field and because of it, the Hokies take a slight fall after a lackluster effort against Delaware on Saturday. Virginia Tech won 27-0, but the Blue Hens were within reach into the fourth quarter.
In all honesty, it really doesn’t matter, though. All that does matter is that with games against East Carolina and Old Dominion the next two weeks, Virginia Tech should be 4-0 heading into a matchup against Clemson on Sept. 29.
18) Wisconsin Badgers (last week: No. 20)
The only really noteworthy thing about Wisconsin’s 33-14 win over Florida Atlantic was how devastating it was for gamblers. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, a whopping 95 percent of wagers came in on the Badgers and the point spread, meaning that Wisconsin left a lot of folks wildly unhappy in Vegas.
In terms of the on-field stuff, we should learn a lot more about Wisconsin next week when it visits BYU.
95% of the money at the 108 William Hill sportsbooks in Nevada is on Wisconsin to cover as 34-point favorites against FAU 👀
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 9, 2017
17) Tennessee Volunteers (last week: No. 14)
A wild win over Georgia Tech was followed by a ho-hum win victory over FCS foe Indiana State on Saturday. Now it will really get interesting for the Vols, though, as they travel to Florida next week.
16) Oklahoma State Cowboys (last week: No. 15)
The Cowboys are 2-0, but unlike so many teams ahead of them, they have yet to face a team from another Power 5 conference (although admittedly, Tulsa is a reallllly good Group of 5 team). That will change this week, as Mike Gundy’s club travels to Pitt to play a tough Panthers club that just faced Penn State.
15) Washington Huskies (last week: No. 16)
The Huskies had to slug out a win against Rutgers after flying across country in Week 1, but had no problems putting away FCS power Montana on Saturday. They get one more nonconference game (against Fresno State) before opening Pac-12 play in two weeks at reigning Pac-12 South champion Colorado.
14) Maryland Terrapins (last week: No. 5)
The AP voters might have done a major disservice to MY Maryland Terrapins, but I won’t do the same. D.J. Durkin’s club went on the road and beat an AP Top 25 team in Week 1 (even if Texas was overrated) and followed with a solid 63-17 bludgeoning of Towson on Saturday. The Terps now get a bye, before facing Central Florida in two weeks.
13) TCU Horned Frogs (unranked)
Unlike Maryland, TCU didn’t seem to warrant enough to be ranked after Week 1 (despite what those lame AP voters said) but that flipped in a big way Saturday. The Horned Frogs went on the road and dominated an Arkansas team 28-7 that beat them last year, throwing themselves in the Big 12 title conversation as well as our top 15.
12) UCLA Bruins (last week: No. 7)
Josh Rosen was unreal in the Bruins opener against Texas A&M, but considering the way the Aggies played on Saturday, maybe it’s time to reconsider just how much credit they get for that win. (The Aggies had to hold on against FCS school Nicholls State.) Regardless, the Bruins are 2-0, heading into a sneaky tough road trip to Memphis next week.
11) LSU Tigers (last week: No. 3)
If a team plays an FCS school on the SEC Network, but no one saw it, does it really count? That’s worth asking about LSU after its 45-10 victory over Chattanooga. Still, coupled with a dominant win over BYU last week, the Tigers are still more than worthy of this ranking.
10) Oregon Ducks (unranked)
How does a team go from unranked to the top 10? Easy — with a dominant 42-35 victory over Nebraska that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated (this, after a 70-7 victory over Southern Utah in Week 1). Admittedly, the Ducks probably aren’t the 10th-best team in college football, but after what they’ve done the first two weeks, they’re deserving of this ranking.
9) Louisville Cardinals (last week: No. 22)
Quick, how many other teams have two wins over Power 5 teams in college football, neither at home (the answer: none that we can find, except for the team below them). Therefore, Louisville deserves this ranking and that’s without even taking into account that Lamar Jackson is once again the most electrifying player in college football, becoming the first Power 5 quarterback to throw for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 in back-to-back weeks. The Cards host Clemson next week in what should be another thriller.
8) South Carolina (last week: No. 13)
Another one of those “they’re probably not as good as this ranking, but are deserving based on what we’ve seen on the field” teams. Not only is South Carolina 2-0 but, like Louisville, has picked up two wins over Power 5 schools away from home. Will Muschamp’s club dominated Missouri on Saturday night in a 31-13 victory.
7) Penn State Nittany Lions (last week: No. 10)
Now it’s time to get into the teams that have looked the part early and probably will be title contenders late. The Nittany Lions improved to 2-0 with a dominant win over Pitt, but more important, it’s how they did it. Saquon Barkley rushed for 88 yards, had another 45 receiving and had two touchdowns, throwing his name in the thick of the Heisman conversation, along with the likes of Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and others.
6) USC Trojans (last week: No. 25)
Remember when folks were worried about USC after last week’s close win over Western Michigan? As it turns out, Darnold (21 of 26, 316 yards, four touchdowns) and Co. may be all right after all following a 42-24 victory over Stanford, in which the Trojans rolled up over 600 yards of total offense.
5) Michigan Wolverines (last week: No. 2)
Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines didn’t play their best football Saturday, but it’s hard to blame them for a lack of focus after their dominant win over Florida last week. Still, a win is a win, as the Wolverines now get set to face a pesky Air Force club on Saturday.
4) Clemson Tigers (last week: No. 8)
Most will look at the Tigers’ 14-6 win over Auburn and make the result more about “Auburn looking bad” than what actually happened: Clemson’s D-line was dominating. It held Auburn to just 117 yards of total offense and 0.9 yards per rush.
On a different note, this was another monster win for Clemson, which, over the last 36 months, has beaten Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State twice, Auburn twice and Oklahoma twice.
I don’t care if he just won the national championship. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney remains one of the most unappreciated coaches in the sport.
3) Georgia Bulldogs (last week: No. 17)
I’ve been one of Georgia coach Kirby Smart’s biggest critics over the last year (it’s hard to take anyone seriously with that hair) but Saturday night he got the signature win he’s been looking for since he arrived in Athens. The Bulldogs went on the road and beat a really good Notre Dame team, and did it with a true freshman making his first career start at quarterback.
This team has the personnel to beat everyone on its schedule, and could finally be the SEC East challenger to Alabama that fans and opponents inside and outside the league want to see emerge.
2) Oklahoma Sooners (last week: No. 10)
A hell of a case could be made for Oklahoma at No. 1 in this week’s poll, but instead it will have to settle for “only No. 2” after a dominant win at Ohio State. In the process, much was learned about these Sooners: That even at 34 years old, Lincoln Riley is a brilliant coach. That Mayfield (27-for-35, 386 yards, three touchdowns) is now in the Heisman mix. And that, yes, Oklahoma has as good a shot as any team in America to make the College Football Playoff.
1) Alabama Crimson Tide (last week: No. 1)
Again, if you want to put Oklahoma No. 1 in your poll, we won’t object — but we’ll stick with the Crimson Tide here. Alabama was once again dominant against Fresno State on Saturday and should be again next week against Colorado State.