Tomorrow's Top 25 Today: Notre Dame makes a move to top five of college football rankings
Projecting the many changes in the new AP Top 25 poll college football rankings after Week 5
The primetime slate during Week 5 was the kind of stuff that helps voters get a better picture for the national landscape. At one point there were a half-dozen games going on at once with ranked teams in the mix, and three of those games were between ranked teams. After all that action to wrap up a busy day for the top 25, the new college football rankings are going to get an update.
One of the most significant adjustments will be the arrival of Notre Dame to the table of national title contenders. The Irish welcomed both Michigan and Stanford to Notre Dame Stadium this year and walked away from bthwith wins. Now 5-0 and surging with Ian Book entrenched as the new starting quarterback, this year's team is starting to look like one that can make a run at the program's first College Football Playoff appearance.
We still have a few weeks before the CFP Selection Committee starts unveiling its rankings, but it's no secret that we don't see too much differing of opinion at the top of the rankings between the committee and the equally human voters who make up the AP Top 25. How voters react to the Irish will be a preview into what the selection committee might think when comparing Notre Dame against the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Clemson. Given the style points -- looking explosive on offense and relentless on defense against a good Stanford team -- I think the AP voters will move Notre Dame to No. 5 in the poll.
But pointing to Notre Dame as a playoff contender is as much to do with the schedule remaining as the body of work or profile to this point. The product on the field has been impressive, so much so that it looks like there are very few teams left on the schedule that will be considered less than a touchdown underdogs to this Irish team. If this recent quality of play continues, Notre Dame could be one of the last undefeated teams in the country and very much in the playoff race. For now, they'll make a jump in the rankings.
Here's how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday:
1. Alabama (Last week: 1): And it might be unanimous after this week, depending on what the last Clemson first-place voter thinks about the Tigers after the Syracuse game. It's been a slow consolidation across five weeks, but no one in the country has looked better than Alabama.
2. Georgia (2): Justin Fields provided a spark for the Georgia offense, which continues to lean on its offensive line and ground game. The most notable improvement in the win against Tennessee was a better effort defending the run, as that talented and improving Georgia defense continues to round into form.
3. Ohio State (4): Dwayne Haskins has now led second-half comeback wins against TCU and Penn State, both away from home, and the Buckeyes enter October as the last undefeated team in the Big Ten and as the league's most likely College Football Playoff contender. There's a chance the big stage comeback gets OSU up to No. 2, but for now I'll assume just a swap with Clemson.
4. Clemson (3): An emotional week in Clemson had enough ups and downs to feel like it lasted a month, but while the saga will continue with Trevor Lawrence, Chase Brice and the "what ifs" regarding Kelly Bryant, the good news is the Tigers were able to avoid the upset loss, pull out a win and will keep their top-five status for another week.
5. Notre Dame (8): We weren't expecting to see the Irish look as dominant as they did, and while it's worth considering that Stanford ran out of gas that would also be a nod to the incredible depth on display from Notre Dame's defense. Book was great, Dexter Williams looks explosive in his return, and this team is ready to start putting together a playoff argument after Saturday's win.
6. LSU (5): The Tigers currently hold a lead against Ole Miss in Baton Rouge.
7. Oklahoma (6): Kyler Murray's argument as the best offensive player in the country got reinforced in the box score of a runaway win against Baylor. Murray's seven-touchdown total adds to what is a growing statistical profile and the Sooners offense has shown no signs of slowing down all year.
8. West Virginia (12): The final score doesn't even really give enough credit to the job West Virginia's defense did establishing an edge in this game and making life pretty easy for Will Grier and the offense. Some wild fourth quarter action, including the Red Raiders making it work with their third quarterback of the season, added points and yards that don't indicate winning football for most of the afternoon.
9. Penn State (9): This shouldn't be a drop for Penn State, who outplayed Ohio State for a lot of the game and in many different phases but left too many points on the board to beat a team as talented as the Buckeyes.
10. Kentucky (17): When it comes to discussion of the Heisman Trophy picture, is Benny Snell being included? He should be because no one else has been more valuable to his team as an individual than Snell, carrying so much of the playmaking responsibility on offense for this 5-0 Wildcats team.
11. Washington (11): The Huskies thumped BYU. A dominant ranked win like that can get you a boost in the polls, but that loss in the season opener could be the tiebreaker that keeps Washington behind the likes of West Virginia and Kentucky.
12. Stanford (7): The offensive line could not protect K.J. Costello in obvious passing situations, and when Bryce Love was knocked out of the game, the Cardinal offense started to sputter. This loss doesn't change the Cardinal's chances to win the Pac-12, but there will be a slight step back in the rankings.
13. UCF (13): On one hand, beating up on a Power Five team should lead to an adjustment in the rankings. On the other hand, that Power Five team is among the bottom handful in the ACC this season. I think the Knights stay close to steady.
14. Auburn (10): A long weather delay changed the feel of the game, but when they returned to action it was far too close against Southern Miss for voters to feel good about Auburn as a top-10 team. I expect the Tigers will take a small step back.
15. Michigan (14): The Wolverines were going to have to prove it away from home before the voters would buy in, and thankfully the old adage that "defense travels" applies here when it comes to Michigan's elite defense. Second half stops powered a three-score comeback win, and Michigan's Big Ten title hopes are still alive and well even as its offense still searches for some consistency.
16. Wisconsin (15): The Badgers were off in Week 5; they'll be back in action next week against Nebraska.
17. Miami (16): The Hurricanes defense scored as many touchdowns as N'Kosi Perry and the Hurricanes offense in a 37-point win against North Carolina. No change coming despite plenty of shine for the turnover chain.
18. Texas (18): Voters who make decision based on profile have a limit on where they put Texas because of the Maryland loss, but this is a better team right now. There are spells, as we saw against Kansas State, that still leave plenty to be desired, but things are clicking more frequently and Texas is entering the Red River game with confidence that its best football can beat Oklahoma.
19. Florida (NR): The meeting of the offensive minds in the SEC went Dan Mullen's way, and the hard-earned road win will get the Gators into the top 25. Mullen and the Gators had a great game plan for limiting Nick Fitzgerald and enough scheming to free up Feliepe Franks and the offense to be efficient when a physical, low-scoring, heavyweight SEC battle broke out.
20. Oregon (19): The Ducks picked up the bounce-back win they needed, downing Cal on the road to improve to 4-1.
21. Michigan State (21): Bad news out of East Lansing as Michigan state will lose sophomore wide receiver Cody White for an extended period of time after suffering a broken hand against Central Michigan. It's a huge loss as White had really flashed early in this season, emerging as Brian Lewerke top passing target.
22. Colorado (NR): Why not Colorado in the Pac-12 South? The Buffs have a difficult October coming up with back-to-back road games at USC and Washington, but at 4-0 with a dangerous passing attack there's a lot of reasons Colorado looks at itself as a real contender.
23. Boise State (NR): The Broncos absolutely blasted Wyoming on the road and seem to have started to earn back the voters trust after the Oklahoma State loss.
24. USF (NR): Of the three undefeated teams left in the American Athletic Conference, USF seems the closer to UCF at the moment than Cincinnati. The Bulls have wins over Illinois and Georgia Tech on its 4-0 profile, and while they were off in Week 5 that record has been good enough to get USF on the fringes of the top 25 last week and possibly in the national rankings heading into Week 6.
25. BYU (20): The Cougars might fall out of the top 25, but with some more shake ups in the back half of the rankings and no clear-cut next up from last week's balloting it's possible we see BYU hold on after a road loss to Washington.
Projected to drop out: Duke (22), Mississippi State (23), Cal (24), Texas Tech (25)
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