Reactions to the College Football AP Top 25 Poll for Week 10

    This is a historic week for the AP Top 25 poll. Seven spots feature new teams that were previously unranked -- the most ever in the history of the poll,

    October 28, 2018

    This is a historic week for the AP Top 25 poll. Seven spots feature new teams that were previously unranked — the most ever in the history of the poll, which dates back to 1989. Eleven of the 20 ranked teams that played over the weekend lost, including nine teams ranked between No. 15 and No. 25, so it’s a great time to be a 6-2 team in the ACC (Syracuse, Virginia, Boston College) or a 7-1 team from outside of the Power Five (Houston, Utah State, Fresno State).

    Here are our reactions to the latest AP Top 25 poll.

    The top four stays the same and the margin for error is small

    There’s a clearly defined top tier in the AP Top 25 poll, where undefeated Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame hold the top three spots. LSU leads a group of 7-1 teams at No. 4, followed by No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 8 Ohio State.

    If the Crimson Tide, Tigers and Fighting Irish win out, they’ll make the College Football Playoff. That leaves potentially just one spot up for grabs between the Big Ten champion, Big 12 champion, Pac-12 champion and maybe a second SEC team.

    Of the one-loss teams, LSU has the best wins (Georgia, Mississippi State, Auburn and Miami). Michigan has the “best,” or least damaging, loss — a 24-17 defeat at Notre Dame in Week 1.

    Alabama and Clemson could lose prior to their respective conference championship games and still make the playoff. Both schools have done it before. That’s the benefit of being undefeated this late in the season.

    Notre Dame might have to run the table in order to make the playoff, given that it won’t play in a conference championship.

    Get ready for a new top four

    There will be a new top four next week, even if it’s only a new order among the same four teams. That’s because No. 1 Alabama travels to play No. 4 LSU in Baton Rouge this week.

    The Tigers need to win to feel comfortable with their College Football Playoff chances because a win for Alabama would clinch the SEC West for the Crimson Tide and a two-loss team has never made the playoff.

    If LSU wins, especially in a close game, there’s a chance both schools could still be in the top four of next week’s AP Top 25. That could lead to an order that looks something like this: No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 LSU and No. 4 Alabama.

    You can make the case that Alabama-LSU is the biggest game to date this college football season. Let’s hope it lives up to the billing.

    Ohio State is back in the playoff hunt (and it always was)

    Even after the Buckeyes lost to unranked Purdue and dropped to No. 11, Ohio State was still in the playoff picture. It only took the Buckeyes one week to climb three spots to No. 8. Now they potentially have five more games to close the gap to reach the top four.

    Make sure to circle November 24 on your calendar. That’s when Michigan plays at Ohio State for a game that could decide the Big Ten East, the Big Ten Championship and and a spot in the playoff field.

    Is the Big 12 on pace to get left out of the playoff?

    The Big 12 Conference was in a much better position to be represented in the College Football Playoff a week ago with Texas and Oklahoma both ranked in the top eight.

    After the Longhorns’ loss at Oklahoma State, No. 7 Oklahoma (7-1) appears to be the conference’s best hope of making the playoff.

    West Virginia, ranked No. 12 and also a one-loss team, is a secondary Big 12 contender but right now the Mountaineers’ wins — Tennessee, Youngstown State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Kansas and Baylor — leave a lot to be desired. Their next four games are at Texas, home against TCU, at Oklahoma State and home against Oklahoma.

    There’s a chance the conference cannibalizes itself out of the playoff field.

    Keep an eye on Washington State

    We already wrote about how Washington State could potentially carve out a path to the College Football Playoff. There’s still room on the Cougars’ bandwagon if you want in but after they cracked the top 10 of the AP poll, that space is filling out fast.

    With a 7-1 record, back-to-back wins over ranked opponents and pole position in the Pac-12 North, Washington State could make a late push into the top four if it continues to win and teams in front of it start dropping.

    Utah is the only other ranked team in the Pac-12 (and Washington State already beat the Utes), so the lack of potential quality wins moving forward could be what holds the Cougars back from playoff contention.

    Welcome to the party

    As we mentioned at the top, the back half of the AP Top 25 poll was a revolving door from last week to this week. Say goodbye to Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, South Florida, NC State, Stanford and Appalachian State. Say hello to No. 17 Houston, No. 18 Utah State, No. 20 Fresno State, No. 21 Mississippi State, No. 22 Syracuse, No. 23 Virginia and No. 24 Boston College.

    For several programs, cracking the AP Top 25 is a notable achievement in terms of public perception and national recognition given how long it’s been since they were ranked.

    The Orange hadn’t been ranked since 2001. Utah State (2012) and Virginia (2011) have also experienced significant AP poll droughts.

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