The new college football rankings aren't going to have too much shake up near the top after No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Notre Dame both flexed their strength against ranked teams on Thanksgiving weekend, but we could have a new arrival to the top 10 after Iowa State's win against Texas on Friday.
Matt Campbell has done something historic with Iowa State, knocking off both Oklahoma and Texas in the same season and leading the Cyclones to their first win in Austin since 2010. AP Top 25 voters are going to be coming out of the weekend with Friday's win and Iowa State's Big 12 championship chances on the mind, so a slight boost is in the cards.
The door has opened for an arrival in the top 10 with Northwestern's loss at Michigan State and Oregon's loss at Oregon State. The Cyclones are sure to jump back ahead of Oklahoma thanks to their head-to-head advantage and the Sooners having their game canceled, leaving just Georgia and Indiana in the pecking order. We think Iowa State will land there thanks to its win coming against a top-25 team, even if that Longhorns team isn't likely to be in the top 25 when the rankings are updated on Sunday.
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If you're looking for intrigue in the top five, keep your eye whether Clemson will pass Ohio State for the No. 3 spot after the College Football Playoff Selection Committee put the Tigers ahead of the Buckeyes in its first set of rankings on Tuesday night. There's a better chance of the AP voters bending towards the committee with that debate than following suit with Georgia's top. 10 ranking or a lower ranking for BYU.
Here's how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday. Last week's rankings in parenthesis.
1. Alabama (1): A unanimous No. 1 ranking should be coming on Sunday after a 42-13 win in the Iron Bowl. Mac Jones threw for five touchdowns, and the Crimson Tide defense controlled the game at the line of scrimmage, forcing Bo Nix off his spot all afternoon. Everything was clicking on both sides of the ball as Nick Saban spent the afternoon watching from isolation. This is the best team in the country.
2. Notre Dame (2): There's not one player that stands out for Notre Dame's defense, and it's OK with that because it is a total team effort that is tied intimately to the program development. The Fighting Irish are experienced and deep on the defensive side of the ball, and that group stood tall in the second half to limit North Carolina's explosive offense and seal the 31-17 road win.
3. Clemson (4): The return of Trevor Lawrence brought a reminder of how deep Clemson's wide receiver room is heading into December with young blue chippers getting more snaps while breakout star senior Cornell Powell continues to be one of the most reliable targets in the passing game. The Tigers can overwhelm opponents with their weapons, and the defense (which forced five turnovers against Pitt) is getting healthier at the right time.
4. Ohio State (3): The Buckeyes had to cancel their Nov. 28 date against Illinois because of COVID-19 issues in the program, including a positive test result for coach Ryan Day.
5. Texas A&M (5): While there might have been an expectation that facing LSU's defense would be a spotlight moment for Kellen Mond, it was the Aggies defense that stood out in the win against the Tigers. Texas A&M's offense was slow to get going, but the game never seemed out of hand thanks to the defense absolutely dominating the Tigers at the line of scrimmage.
6. Florida (6): A sleepy start in The Swamp had things close early, but Florida took control of the game in the second half and cruised to a 24-point win against Kentucky. The big takeaway is all about the return of Kyle Pitts, who picked up right where he left off before the injury as the best pass catcher in the country. Kyle Trask continued his streak of 3+ touchdown games and looks to remain the Heisman Trophy favorite.
8. BYU (8): The Cougars were off in Week 13.
9. Miami (10): The Hurricanes did not play and have seen their schedule shuffled several times in recent weeks as the ACC realigns the matchups in response to COVID-19 issues. Miami's next scheduled game isn't until Dec. 12 against North Carolina.
10. Iowa State (15): With a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game basically locked up, attention turns to how the Cyclones stack up against Oklahoma at this point in the season and whether it's possible to beat Lincoln Riley twice in one campaign. Good problems to have if you're Iowa State, but that's the kind of expectation that comes with being the frontrunner.
11. Indiana (12): A leg injury for Michael Penix Jr. dampens what was a hard-fought win against Maryland. This was a natural letdown spot after the comeback effort came up short against Ohio State and Indiana leaned on its defense to pull out the win to improve to 5-1. Up next is Wisconsin and a chance to solidify the Hoosiers' status as one of the best one-loss teams in the country.
12. Georgia (13): A blowout win against South Carolina isn't going to do much for the voters, but it served as good work for the offense with J.T. Daniels in at quarterback.
13. Oklahoma (14): The Sooners' at West Virginia was postponed.
14. Coastal Carolina (16): Did you think this team might get caught off guard in the wake of essentially clinching the Sun Belt East? The Chanticleers got back to work on Saturday and beat Texas State 49-14, improving to 9-0 on the season.
15. Marshall (17): The Thundering Herd were off in Week 13.
16. Northwestern (8): A bad loss at Michigan State will bounce Northwestern from the top 10 and maybe even the top 20. Wins against Wisconsin and Iowa give the Wildcats' profile enough strength to think the drop might not be too significant. Plus, since it was not a division foe Northwestern hasn't given a game away to anyone who can threaten its lead on getting a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.
17. Wisconsin (18): The Badgers' game against Minnesota was canceled.
19. Oklahoma State (21): Saturday's win against Texas Tech was the "psycho scorecard" golf round of football games. Only instead of an eagle, birdie, par, bogey, double and beyond it's a pick six, a kickoff return touchdown, fumbles, a safety and multiple onside tries by the Red Raiders. Oklahoma State survived with a six-point win, but it won't be the kind of result that leads to a major jump above idle teams in the rankings.
20. Louisiana (23): Unranked by the CFP committee, Louisiana had something to prove in a 50-point rivalry win at Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. Levi Lewis had five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) and Louisiana is hitting its stride before the biggest stretch of the season, at Appalachian State on Dec. 4 and then the Sun Belt Championship Game against Coastal Carolina.
22. Oregon (9): There's bound to be a floor for the Ducks' fall within the top 25, but how they're compared to two-loss teams from the Big 12 (Oklahoma State) and Big Ten (Iowa) will determine the ranking after losing a fog-filled thriller at Oregon State.
23. Iowa (NR): The CFP committee gave its blessing to Iowa as a top 25 team on Tuesday night, and on Friday afternoon, the Hawkeyes gutted out a 26-20 win against Nebraska. AP voters who weren't already on board will be more likely to add Iowa in one of those final spots and move the poll in sync with the committee.
24. Buffalo (NR): The Bulls are the best team in the MAC and just made headlines with yet another stellar performance by Jaret Patterson. The Buffalo running back topped his 301-yard, four touchdown night against Bowling Green on Nov. 17 with 409 yards and an FBS record-tying eight touchdowns on Saturday against the next-best team in the MAC East. At 4-0, Buffalo deserves consideration as one of the 25 best teams in the country.
25. North Carolina (25): Losing to a higher-ranked team as an underdog isn't usually enough to bounce a team from the top 25, but the Tar Heels were right on the cut line in last week's balloting. But it may be SMU's loss that help North Carolina's case for the top 25 as much as whatever confidence it got from a strong start against Notre Dame, even if it ended with a dominant second half performance by the Irish.
Projected to drop from the rankings: Texas (20), Auburn (22)