The new college football rankings are sure to see some changes Sunday with two teams in the top 10 of the AP Top 25 taking losses and several more results that will lead to shake ups among the top teams in the nation. While defeats for No. 7 Penn State and No. 8 Oklahoma State remain as some of the most significant results in terms of the AP Top 25, the landscape nearly shifted even more on a Saturday whose slate suggested mostly "as expected results".
Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Alabama -- ranked No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in last week's poll -- all faced first-half deficits as double-digit favorites with the Bearcats and Sooners narrowly escaping an upset while the Crimson Tide pulled away late against a feisty Tennessee team. Oregon, ranked No. 10 last week, was on the ropes as well against UCLA, but the Ducks came up with clutch plays late to leave Pasadena, California with their College Football Playoff hopes intact following a 34-31 win.
Those near-upsets should resonate just as much as the ones that sparked some of the big movements, reminding college football fans everywhere of how fleeting a certain ranking or position can be at this point in the season. Ole Miss is expected to be one of the big beneficiaries from the shake up in the top 10 as the Rebels improved to 6-1 with a win against LSU in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week.
Further down in the rankings, we're expecting to see a noticeable move for Wake Forest as it improved to 7-0 on the season with a 70-burger on the scoreboard against Army West Point and a fascinating debate around where to rank Coastal Carolina after the Chanticleers took their first loss of the season at Appalachian State on Wednesday night. There's not a ton of movement in and out of the rankings thanks to Pitt's win against Clemson and Iowa State jumping back into the picture with a victory against Oklahoma State, but how those teams from No. 15 to No. 25 slot against each other becomes even more subjective as the resumes get complicated by head-to-head results.
Here's how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday after Week 8.
1. Georgia (Last week -- 1): The Bulldogs were off in Week 8 and will be back in action next week against Florida in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week.
2. Cincinnati (2): Voters could call into question the Bearcats' position after a 27-20 win at Navy, but Oklahoma didn't do itself any favors in the debate by struggling at Kansas.
3. Oklahoma (3): The final score of 35-23 doesn't reflect just how dire things got for the Sooners before quarterback Caleb Williams pulled off one of the most stunning in-play improvisations we've seen all season taking the ball from a teammates hands to extend the play and get a first down.
4. Alabama (4): Tennessee provided the kind of test that makes any doubts about Alabama's title contention linger, but the way QB Bryce Young stepped up when he was needed should remind voters of the high ceiling that led them to keep the Crimson Tide up in the top five even after the Texas A&M loss.
5. Ohio State (5): A truly terrifying offense has hit its stride, and there's something worth noting when the Buckeyes are rolling through a defense like that presented by Indiana with the same efficiency as Rutgers and Maryland.
6. Michigan (6): Beating up opponents on the ground is the preferred method of dispatching opponents for the 2021 Wolverines, and even a well-coached defense like Northwestern wasn't be able to withstand four quarters of punishment from this group in a 33-7 Michigan win.
7. Michigan State (9): The Spartans were off in Week 8 and will be back in action next week against Michigan.
8. Oregon (10): There was a lot of good and bad for Oregon fans to chew on after the game, but beating UCLA after a slow start is good enough to stay on track in the Pac-12 title race and in the pecking order for the AP Top 25.
9. Ole Miss (12): There was a big gap in voting points last week between Ole Miss and Iowa, but with a convincing win against LSU, it's almost certain that gap narrows and we're predicting there will be enough momentum to put Ole Miss ahead of the Hawkeyes.
10. Iowa (11): The Hawkeyes were off in Week 8 and back in action next week at Wisconsin.
11. Notre Dame (13): After what was one of the most complete performances of the season for QB Jack Coan and Notre Dame's offense, it's time to start talking about where a potential one-loss Fighting Irish team fits among the top teams in the country if they can hold serve the rest of the way.
12. Wake Forest (16): The gap between Kentucky and Wake Forest was notable last week, and while those 56 points allowed in a 70-56 win should be noted, I think voters will be more motivated to get behind the Demon Deacons' undefeated record and high-octane offense for a slight bump up in the pecking order.
13. Kentucky (15): The Wildcats were off in Week 8 and will be back in action next week at Mississippi State.
14. Oklahoma State (8): No longer undefeated, Oklahoma State's profile now gets compared to the rest of the one-loss teams. Its win against Baylor probably provides the best cushion for any potential drop, which is quite a statement considering it also has a win against Texas.
15. Texas A&M (17): The debate for second-best team in the SEC West only continues to heat up as the Aggies were just as impressive in Week 8 as Ole Miss, albeit against a different level of competition in South Carolina.
16. Penn State (7): The nine-overtime loss was so epic I'm not even sure the 23-point spread heading into the game matters as much anymore to me, but voters will note that the supposed top-10 Nittany Lions got drug into a rock fight with one of the bottom teams in the Big Ten and ended up with a home loss.
17. Auburn (19): The Tigers were off in Week 8 and will be back in action next week against Ole Miss.
18. Baylor (20): The Bears were off in Week 8 and will be back in action next week against Texas.
19. SMU (21): A 55-26 win against Tulane on Thursday will keep SMU moving up and maybe even provide enough evidence for a jump ahead of two-loss teams like Texas A&M and Penn State. I'm going to point to SMU's strength of schedule ratings and guess this result alone won't do the trick, but the AP voters could prove me wrong.
20. San Diego State (22): A huge Mountain West win against Air Force resonates more within the conference than it probably does nationally, but the Aztecs will keep chopping wood with their terrific defense and next week get a chance to improve the profile further with a quality opponent in Fresno State.
21. Pittsburgh (23): The Panthers are in the driver's seat in the ACC Coastal and on the path to competing for their first-ever ACC championship after handling Clemson at home.
22 UTSA (24): Another week, another big win for Jeff Traylor's Roadrunners. This time, it's a 45-16 victory against Louisiana Tech, marking the third straight week UTSA has put up at least 40 and setting up a huge matchup next week against UTEP.
23. Iowa State (NR): After being written off early, Iowa State is back after a 24-21 win against Oklahoma State. Look at the profile and see the Cyclones only losses are to Baylor and Iowa -- both ranked teams -- and it's easy to see how they are back where they started in the top 25 and right in the thick of the Big 12 title race.
24. Arkansas (NR): It's possible that BYU gets this spot, or maybe even UTEP, but since Arkansas was the third team outside the top 25 last week and both Clemson and Utah lost, it's more likely the Razorbacks have enough momentum to break back into the rankings after an eye-popping result on the scoreboard, even if it was against an FCS foe.
25. Coastal Carolina (14): The 30-27 loss at Appalachian State will result in a drop behind SMU and San Diego State for sure but probably not all the way out of the top 25.
Projected to drop out: NC State (18), Purdue (25)