Tomorrow's Top 25 Today: Oklahoma jumps into the top three after Ohio State upset
Projecting the new AP Top 25 poll college football rankings after Week 2
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee won't start releasing its rankings until Oct. 31, but Saturday night provided two of the most significant data points of the season with Oklahoma's stunning win against Ohio State in Columbus and Clemson's win against Auburn in Death Valley.
In the playoff era, these high-profile, nonconference games in September have been used as tiebreakers in debates that will rage into November. For Ohio State in 2016, the win at Oklahoma contributed to securing a playoff bid despite watching the Big Ten title game from the couch. Oklahoma, now with a win at Ohio State, will enter the round-robin Big 12 conference schedule with a little bit of wiggle room in the eyes of the committee. Saturday night was a playoff play-in game in Columbus, and Oklahoma advanced.
The same can be said for Clemson -- a team that will ride its defense to several more wins this season in its pursuit of a third-straight ACC title and playoff berth. Beating Auburn on the road helped a resume that was hurt by a late loss to Pittsburgh a season ago, and with the close win, they've advanced to the next round of playoff contention.
For Ohio State and Auburn, the losses in the defacto play-in games leave no margin for error moving forward. It will likely take running the table and winning their respective conferences to make it to the playoff, at which point the strength of the Big Ten and SEC will anchor their argument as a worthy playoff participant.
But those playoff rankings won't come out for another seven weeks. Until then, all we have are the polls, and here's how we think the AP Top 25 Poll will look on Sunday:
1. Alabama (Previous --1): The Tide won't be displaced from the top spot for not covering the massive spread against Fresno State. The 41-10 win was most notable for Jalen Hurts' production on the ground (154 rushing yards) and some good snaps for the highly-touted freshmen on the roster. Tua Tagovailoa threw a touchdown pass to fellow freshman Henry Ruggs III and Najee Harris ran for 70 yards on 13 carries.
2. Clemson (3): There was something almost Alabama-esque about Clemson's 14-6 win against Auburn. Riding a suffocating defensive front that totals 11 sacks and extinguishes any hope for offensive success made the Tigers look like the team in Crimson they have met in each of the last two title games. Kelly Bryant met his toughest opponent in a nasty and deep Auburn defensive line, but was able to make enough big plays to defend the home turf and show the nation that this team can accomplish everything the previous squads were able to do under Deshaun Watson.
3. Oklahoma (5): There hasn't been a more impressive win yet in this early season than what the Sooners did in Columbus on Saturday night. Only a couple of early turnovers kept the game from being a total blowout as Baker Mayfield credited what was a terrific gameplan from Lincoln Riley and the OU staff.
4. USC (6): The offensive line deserves a ton of credit for paving the way during USC's 307-yard performance on the ground against a good Stanford team. Quarterback Sam Darnold bounced back from a rocky opener with a 316-yard, four-touchdown performance and USC's offense, clicking like it was on Saturday, is one of the most potent units in the country. Texas is in trouble next week.
5. Penn State (4): After beating Pitt 33-14, James Franklin dropped the most savage rivalry quote of the season (and it's still early September).
6. Washington (7): Dante Pettis is proving to be one of the best special teams threats in the country, returning yet another punt for a touchdown in the 63-7 win against Montana. It's the seventh of Pettis' career and second in as many weeks this season. Washington should handle Fresno State and will be favored in most of the early part of its Pac-12 schedule, but when Washington is winning tight conference games in October and November and competing for a playoff spot, it will be partly due to their success in the game's margins; specifically, winning with special teams.
7. Michigan (8): The box score looks fine. Michigan outgained Cincinnati 414-200, Ty Isaac ran for 137 yards and the Wolverines won 36-14. But the box score doesn't fully describe long stretches of the second and third quarter where this game was close and Michigan looked out of sorts. If the defense continues to not only dominate but score touchdowns, then Wilton Speight's stints of ineffectiveness might be insignificant, but it's something to track moving forward.
8. Wisconsin (9): The next great Wisconsin running back has arrived. Jonathan Taylor is a true freshman, but he's ready for the big time. Taylor ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter of his first career start (Bradrick Shaw missed the game with an injury) and finished with 223 yards and three scores.
9. Ohio State (2): Will the Buckeyes see their poll ranking plummet? Normally a loss to a top-five team shouldn't lead to too much of a shake-up, but this was not only at home, but a performance where Ohio State never looked dominant. The talent on this team and potential moving forward has not changed -- we could even see a rematch of Saturday night's loss to Oklahoma in the playoff -- but the knee-jerk reaction from getting run in your own house is probably going to be a step back in the polls.
11. Oklahoma State (11): Mason Rudolph became the school's all-time leading passer during his 335-yard performance against South Alabama on Friday night, and given his production so far this year -- 45-of-62, 638 yards, eight total touchdowns and no interceptions in six quarters of action -- it's possible he could push that record to a point where they write his name in permanent marker in the record book.
12. LSU (12): The Tigers aren't going to shift much because I doubt AP voters got to see much of their 45-10 win against Chattanooga, but fans in the stadium frustrated with penalties and some execution issues are more than concerned about this team's readiness for SEC play.
13. Georgia (15): I think the lesson we all learned about this year's Georgia team is that its defense is filthy. Lorenzo Carter, Roquan Smith, Davin Bellamy and the rest of the Bulldogs defense looked outstanding against a Notre Dame offensive front led by future pros. There will be a lot of grinding wins as Jake Fromm continues to settle in, but they are set up to win those games with a stout defense and a heavy dose of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
14. Miami (16): The Hurricanes game at Arkansas State was also canceled due to Hurricane Irma and the team will be off next week as well with the rescheduling of the Florida State game.
15. Louisville (17): Goodness gracious Lamar Jackson. I've long believed that there will not be another two-time Heisman Trophy winner after Archie Griffin, but Jackson is going to make it tough on voters to look past their recent affection for moving on to the next big thing. Against North Carolina, he accounted for 525 total yards and six touchdowns, giving him more than 1,000 yards of total offense in two wins against Power Five opponents.
16. Virginia Tech (18): No big change for the Hokies after a 27-0 win against Delaware. The offense wasn't clicking like it can and they missed some big plays, but the defense was (and is) so strong that it didn't matter in this follow-up to Sunday night's win against West Virginia.
17. Kansas State (19): The Wildcats have scored 55 points in consecutive games (55-7 vs. Charlotte, 55-19 vs. Central Arkansas last week) to open a season for the first time since 1998. Is Bill Snyder about to tap into the magic of that season and make another run at the Big 12 title? The schedule sets up well with Oklahoma, TCU and West Virginia all coming to Manhattan later in the year.
18. TCU (23): If you were to predict which team would bring the physicality in Saturday's game between the Frogs and the Hogs, you'd probably pick Arkansas. TCU flipped the script on the road, stunning the home crowd and dominating at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The defense, in particular, was tenacious against the pass and stout against the run, pitching a shutout over the final three quarters while TCU's rushing attack slowly wore Arkansas down. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are top teams in the Big 12, but this kind of win makes you think that TCU has a decent shot to wind up in that rebooted Big 12 title game at the end of the year.
19. Auburn (13): How much of Saturday night's loss in Death Valley was a result of Clemson's defense? What does this say about Auburn moving forward? Jarrett Stidham is talented, but he has not transformed the Auburn offense in a dramatic way from how it looked in previous years. The Tigers won't fall out of the top 25 for losing to a top-three team, but there's definitely more doubt in their potential to make a run at Alabama in the SEC West.
20. Stanford (14): Last year, Stanford pushed USC around in this game. This year, USC pushed Stanford around. It's a disappointing loss for the Cardinal but if there's a bright spot it's a secondary that many expected to be a strength this season showing up with a couple of interceptions against Sam Darnold. The issue, it seems, is going to be whether Stanford can come up with a passing attack of its own when teams sell out to stop Bryce Love and the ground game.
21. Washington State (20): The Cougars ushered in #Pac12AfterDark in style in a 47-44 triple-overtime win against Boise State. In the end, it was senior running back Jamal Morrow, of Price is Right fame, who cashed in on the winning score to give Washington State a huge comeback win in what has been a memorable home-and-home series between these two schools over the last two years.
22. South Florida (21): USF's game at UConn was not played due to Hurricane Irma.
23. Florida (22): Florida's home-opener against Northern Colorado was also canceled due to Hurricane Irma.
24. Tennessee (25): A comfortable 42-7 win against Indiana State will keep the Volunteers in the rankings, with the notable takeaway being an apparent ongoing battle at quarterback. Both starter Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano received first-half snaps, making that battle even more interesting heading into SEC play.
25. UCLA (NR): Josh Rosen was a headline-grabber in the offseason with his mouth and now he's a front-page star for his arm. Rosen had more touchdowns (5) than incompletions (3) against Hawaii, giving him nine touchdowns and zero interceptions in the last six quarters of play.
Dropped out: Notre Dame (24)
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