Tomorrow's Top 25 Today: Does LSU deserve No. 1 spot in the college football rankings?
Predicting the new AP Top 25 college football rankings after Week 7 of the 2019 season
LSU is almost certain to move up into the top four of the new college football rankings when the AP Top 25 is released on Sunday. But even if it doesn't jump No. 3 Ohio State, No. 2 Clemson or No. 1 Alabama in the consensus balloting, the Tigers are going to be getting more consideration from individual voters as the No. 1 team in the country.
Last week's balloting had all of the top-five teams receiving first place votes. Alabama received 32 of the 62 first-place votes, Clemson followed with 15, Ohio State with 10 and then Georgia (3) and LSU (2) rounded out the count. If LSU was getting that first-place consideration before an impressive win against the Gators in a top-10 matchup, then that win combined with Georgia's loss should result in the Tigers closing the gap with that trio of national championship contenders at the top.
There's still a long way to go for LSU to see this championship contention through to the finish, but its profile so far in 2019 is worth putting the Tigers right next to Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State on the top tier of the sport. Up next is a road trip to Mississippi State, then a home game against Auburn before an off week and then the much-anticipated showdown with Alabama on Nov. 9. If LSU continues these winning ways, the consideration for No. 1 might be truly put on the line on that Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
But enough about what might happen in November, here's how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday.
1. Alabama (1): No one in the country gets more quality YAC (yards after catch) than Alabama. Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith all contributed to another impressive aerial attack from Tua Tagovailoa in the 47-28 win at Texas A&M.
2. Clemson (2): Dabo Swinney has one of the most talented rosters in the country, but what's scary is that they're also really good at things like hidden yardage, field position and creating winning plays with its defense. Back after an idle week, the Tigers jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 31-point win against Florida State.
3. Ohio State (3): The Buckeyes were off in Week 7.
4. LSU (5): There's a lot more work to do for LSU to accomplish all of its goals, but withstanding Florida's best effort and holding on for a two-score win shows the Tigers are up to championship standard.
5. Oklahoma (6): Georgia's loss is going to move the Sooners up, but I don't think Oklahoma will reach No. 4 even as the win against Texas builds the case for it as a national title contender.
6. Wisconsin (8:) The game flew below the radar so allow me to reinforce to those who didn't see: Wisconsin absolutely whooped up on Michigan State. The score was 38-0 but it felt like 50-0, or at least quickly became obvious that Sparty wasn't going to be getting any kind of offense going. Jonathan Taylor is the star people know, but the Badgers defense is the reason they are playoff contenders.
7. Penn State (10): We could see the Nittany Lions jump Notre Dame after grinding out a 17-12 win at Iowa, but I doubt this is a team that will get ahead of Wisconsin in the pecking order. This was a huge test for a Penn State team that has hit the most challenging turn of its midseason schedule and it most certainly passed. Up next is another primetime game but only this time at home against Michigan.
8. Florida (7): Now the Gators get judged against the one-loss teams, and there will be a bit of a boost added not only for the fact that Florida's only loss came to a top-five team in Death Valley -- at night -- but because of how it looked against a national championship contender. Florida was competitive and ready for the fight, and I think that keeps Florida ahead of rival Georgia on the edge of the top 10 despite the 14-point loss.
9. Georgia (3): Voters do a pretty good job of respecting a head-to-head advantage when there isn't too much conflict with the win-loss record. Because of that, you can comfortably guess that the Bulldogs won't fall below Notre Dame after losing at home to unranked South Carolina.
10. Notre Dame (9): This year's team has established an identity of being dominant at the line of scrimmage on offense, and on Saturday night they were pushing USC around and rolling up more than 300 rushing yards. Ian Book got involved along with Tony Jones Jr. and the rest of the Irish skill position players, wearing down the Trojans and holding on for a 30-27 win.
11. Auburn (12): The Tigers were off in Week 7.
12. Oregon (13): A strong run-pass balance on a prolific night for Oregon's offense suggests great things are in store the rest of the season for that side of the ball, but the Ducks' 45-3 win against Colorado really highlighted the defense, which might be the key to winning the Pac-12. Oregon's defense has held opponents to seven points or less in all five of its wins, and now they need that group to take its dominance on the road with arguably one of the season's most important games at Washington next Saturday.
13. Boise State (14): The Broncos had yet to crack 40 points against an FBS opponent but even with a starting quarterback out they were able to run it up against Hawaii in a 59-37 win.
14. Texas (11): There's no doubt that Texas will be the highest-ranked two-loss team in the country, but where they land could end up being higher than some would expect based on how the top 25 appears to be tiered at the moment. In last week's balloting, you could see some clear separation between Oregon and Boise State and then again between Michigan and Iowa. Those gaps between 10 and 20 probably mean Texas won't drop past 15 after the close loss to Oklahoma in Dallas.
15. Utah (15): There was little resistance as Utah rolled Oregon State with Zack Moss back in the lineup. Moss only needed five carries to total 121 yards and two scores thanks a 91-yard welcome-back run in the first half.
16. Michigan (16): A late push by Illinois made what should have been a solid Michigan road win look less spectacular. On one hand, the Wolverines took advantage of the breaks they got to establish a big lead early, but on the other, it's not encouraging to see them let up and allow the Illini back into the game.
17. Arizona State (18): Jayden Daniels added another special moment to the most impactful freshman season in the Pac-12, leading the Sun Devils on a game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter and capping it with a aerial touchdown run against Washington State.
18. Baylor (22): A double-overtime win against Texas Tech marks a third straight thriller for 6-0 Baylor, which is riding its fantastic defense to a breakthrough season here in Year 3 for Matt Rhule.
19. SMU (21): The Mustangs were off in Week 7.
20. Cincinnati (25): In a spot that might have been a letdown for Cincinnati following its win against UCF, the Bearcats went on the road and beat Houston 38-23 to improve to 5-1 overall.
21. Minnesota (NR): The first team from "Others Receiving Votes" from a week ago could have a splash appearance after beating Nebraska handily to improve to 6-0. Both the opponents and margin of victory have kept voters from backing the Gophers, but Saturday night's dominance could lead to an overcorrection on Sunday morning's balloting.
22. Missouri (NR): The Tigers took down Ole Miss and now stand as the only team in the SEC East with no losses in conference play.
23. Appalachian State (NR): Expect the 5-0 Mountaineers to make an appearance on enough ballots to crack the top 25 after going on the road last Wednesday and winning a grinder of a game against Louisiana in a rematch of last year's Sun Belt title game.
24. Iowa (17): Here's where I think the Hawkeyes land after a second straight loss to a ranked opponent. It's that Texas A&M "our only losses are quality losses" spot right on the edge of the polls.
25. Washington (NR): The Huskies were next up in line for a spot in the top 25 based on last week's balloting. Since they played late and pulled away for a 51-27 win I think they'll show get a few more votes int he 20s and crack the rankings.
Projected to drop out: Wake Forest (19), Virginia (20), Memphis (23), Texas A&M (24)
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