Tomorrow's Top 25 Today: Florida beating LSU makes it tough to sort college football rankings
Projecting the many changes in the new AP Top 25 poll college football rankings after Week 5
Sunday, expect some amount of second-guessing and outrage from fans upset with where their team stands in compared to conference rivals and former foes when the new slate of college football rankings is released Sunday afternoon. Considering there were three top 10 teams that lost in Week 6, the tradition of shake ups that we've come to expect once the college football season has once again hit this October.
The fallout for the AP Top 25 includes making voters needing to choose between best and most deserving, resume or head-to-head results, while considering the changing value of a win or loss as we see more from every team in college football. No conundrum is quite as interesting as what voters might do with Florida, LSU and Kentucky. Florida now has its best win of the year, following up a strong and gritty road win at Mississippi State by taking down the previously undefeated LSU. The Tigers, now with one loss, are going to fall, but not lower than Miami, which is now its best win after Auburn's loss to Mississippi State.
Florida will make a step forward after going 2-0 against its SEC West draw, but its movement up the rankings could be capped by Kentucky, which is set to fall after losing at unranked Texas A&M. So does Kentucky, which checked in at No. 13 as an undefeated team last week, have to remain ahead of Florida? I think no because what the Gators have is a win that's more impressive (against LSU) than Kentucky's best win, Florida. It's messy and complicated now, but luckily college football in October continues to sort these things out from week-to-week.
Here's how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday:
1. Alabama (Last week: 1): Nick Saban collected plenty of tape he can use to chew into his defense this week, but the rest of us recognize that there's no in the country playing on Alabama's level right now.
2. Georgia (2): Saturday night was showing off Georgia's many weapons. Jake Fromm connected with three different receivers for scores and the Bulldogs rolled up more than 550 yards of offense while running away from Vanderbilt in a 41-13 win.
3. Ohio State (3): No letdown for Ohio State. Indiana was able to push, but not stop the Buckeyes. It wasn't the best performance for the defense, but as long as Dwayne Haskins keeps putting up big numbers there's no reason to doubt Ohio State as one of the best teams in the country.
4. Clemson (4): Trevor Lawrence is back, looking sharp and leading Clemson's offense in the right direction after a scare last week against Syracuse. The biggest storyline coming out of the game though wasn't Lawrence as much as Travis Etienne continuing to be a game-breaking running back. In his last four games, Etienne has rushed for 162, 122, 203 and 167 yards.
5. Notre Dame (6): If Notre Dame runs the table and goes 12-0, it will be in the College Football Playoff. Saturday night was a huge hurdle in that effort, getting in and out of Blacksburg, Virginia, healthy and victorious.
6. West Virginia (9): We won't spend much time looking back on West Virginia's performance against Kansas, but the coaching staff will, and I expect the Mountaineers to look much tighter when they return to action next week in Ames, Iowa, against Iowa State. If not, they'll be on upset alert quickly.
7. Washington (10): UCLA brought the fight to Washington but had no answer for the Huskies' reliable ground game. One of the two biggest Pac-12 games on Washington's schedule comes up next week with a trip to Eugene to play Oregon.
8. Penn State (11): The Nittany Lions were off in Week 6.
9. UCF (12): The thing that held UCF back in last year's playoff run was starting so low in the rankings. We're still a couple weeks from the first College Football Playoff Rankings, and the Knights are already set to break into the top 10 here.
10. Michigan (15): It seems like Shea Patterson is starting to get comfortable in Michigan's offense, and nothing points that more than the balance and third down efficiency (9 for 13) shown in the 42-21 win against Maryland. Patterson's 288-yard passing total was a season high, and while there was an interceptions he finished the game averaging an impressive 10.5 yards per passing attempt.
11. Texas (19): The steps forward that this Longhorns team has made since the loss to Maryland in Week 1 will allow voters to look past that result in sliding Texas right up the ballot. Tom Herman's team is in the driver's seat to make an appearance in the Big 12 title game, so it's ranking will likely reflect that after beating Oklahoma.
12. Oklahoma (7): Brutal loss for the Sooners, who now could hit November needing to run the table in order to even make the Big 12 championship game.
13. Wisconsin (16): We could see Wisconsin make a bigger jump up, depending on how badly the team is still being penalized for that BYU loss. For now, we'll assume that a one-loss Oklahoma gets ranked ahead of a one-loss Badgers team and Texas' jump really might put the Longhorns -- not Wisconsin -- on the edge of the top 10.
14. Florida (22): A top-five win has brought the Gators back into the SEC East title race, and it's going to spark what we assume will be one of the bigger jumps in the polls. Where and how Florida is related to Kentucky will differ from ballot to ballot, but that head-to-head result is probably going to cap the rise at some point.
15. LSU (5): The win at Auburn was huge in the context of the SEC West title race, but it's losing its shine for AP voters considering profiles. Losses for both teams in the same week probably lead to an even bigger drop from LSU, settling between the Gators and the Hurricanes.
16. Miami (17): While Miami fans get to celebrate its first home win against Florida State in more than a decade, the voters won't give the Hurricanes a huge boost in the polls for the win. The best chance Miami has for making moves up the poll will be rolling up some style points in its next couple ACC games.
17. Oregon (18): The Ducks were off in Week 6, back in action in Week 7 with a huge game against Washington.
18. Kentucky (13): It almost broke all the way for Kentucky, and after the scoop-and-score game-tying touchdown, there was a feeling of inevitability. But credit Texas A&M's defense for coming up with some huge plays behind the line of scrimmage in crunch time, getting the game to overtime so Kellen Mond could ice the win.
19. Colorado (21): Laviska Shenault is building a case as the best wide receiver in the country, and now that the Buffs are 5-0 it's time to start taking them seriously as a primary candidate to win the Pac-12 South. Shenault totaled 127 receiving yards and scored four times (two rushing, two receiving) in one of the most competitive games of the day, a 28-21 win against Arizona State.
20. NC State (23): It's time to consider that NC State has an argument as the second-best team in the ACC, and by beating Boston College it has set itself up for a winner-take-all scenario against Clemson later this month with the ACC Atlantic Division on the line. A head-to-head win in Death Valley would give Dave Doeren's team an in-road to the program's first ACC Championship Game appearance.
21. Auburn (8): A season opening win against Washington is going to be the anchor that keeps Auburn in the rankings. The bigger concern is the product on the field, not the standing in the rankings, as the Tigers are just simply not consistent enough at this point of the year to overcome adversity when they get bad breaks -- and there were plenty on Saturday night in Starkville, Mississippi.
22. South Florida (NR): Undefeated, barely, after a shootout win against UMass, USF is set to make its 2018 poll debut after 302 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Jordan Cronkite.
23. Texas A&M (NR): Gritty win against Kentucky probably gives the Aggies a boost into the bottom of the top 25 as one of only two two-loss teams in the rankings.
24. Iowa (NR): With only one loss to Wisconsin on the resume, the Hawkeyes are off to an impressive start to 2018. The head-to-head loss to the Badgers could keep Iowa from competing for a Big Ten title, but this could be a double-digit win season for Kirk Ferentz.
25. Cincinnati (NR): Odds favor a course correction, but Luke Fickell has Cincinnati on pace for the program's best season since 2014, when Tommy Tuberville got the Bearcats a share of the American Athletic Conference title. As one of the last 11 undefeated teams, expect Cincinnati to show up in the rankings heading into Week 7.
Projected to drop out: Stanford (14), Michigan State (20), Virginia Tech (24), Oklahoma State (25)
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