AP poll reaction: What's next for each Top 25 team

ByESPN Staff ESPN logo
Sunday, September 15, 2019

The new AP Top 25 poll is out, and here's a look at what's next for every team in the rankings, plus those that dropped out from last week. Plus, a look at the top plays and highlights from Week 3's action.

New AP Top 25

No. 1 Clemson

It was not pretty, and it was not perfect, but Clemson's victory against Syracuse was never in doubt -- and that is far more than the Tigers could say the past two years about games against the Orange. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables once again authored the perfect game plan, swarming Syracuse quarterbackTommy DeVitoat nearly every turn with new blitzes, and the Orange run game was nonexistent. But questions will continue to persist about an offense that is not quite in sync just yet.Trevor Lawrencethrew two more interceptions to bring his season total to five. He had four all of last season. With Charlotte coming up next week, it will be a good time for the Tigers to fine-tune their offensive rhythm and get just a little more balance, after passing the ball more than they ran it with their starters in the game. -- Andrea Adelson

No. 2 Alabama

It's still odd to see Alabama not even trying to consistently bloody opponents' noses with the running game. But when first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has the playmakers at his disposal in the passing game that he does -- buoyed by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa -- it's pretty obvious this is a new day for the Crimson Tide. Their victory over South Carolina on Saturday was highlighted by Tagovailoa's 444 passing yards, a career high, and five touchdown passes, matching a career high. The only real concerns: Alabama didn't run the ball well in the red zone at times, which could be a problem against better defenses, and the Tide missed another field goal attempt ... and an extra point attempt. -- Chris Low

No. 3 Georgia

The Bulldogs' defense deserves a shout-out after pitching its first shutout since the 2018 season opener, but the offense is undeniably clicking now. And it's just in time for next week's marquee matchup with Notre Dame. It's not just that Jake Fromm was so efficient under center or that D'Andre Swift continues to show off his big-play ability. It's the balance of seven different players scoring touchdowns against Arkansas State. And even though stud freshman George Pickens wasn't one of them, he played well and continues to show why he's going to be a threat all season. -- Alex Scarborough

No. 4 LSU

After last week's exhausting win over Texas, you had to figure LSU might be a little less than sharp out of the gates against Northwestern State. Indeed, the Tigers trailed after one quarter and led by only three late in the second. But once the defense stabilized, things got out of hand.Joe Burrow(21-for-24, 373 yards) had another absurd night, and now it's on to the SEC opener at Vanderbilt in a week. -- Bill Connelly

No. 5 Oklahoma

In what looked and felt like a tune-up game against UCLA inside the Rose Bowl,Jalen Hurtskicked the evening off with 99 rushing yards on the opening drive and finished with 128 more total yards of offense than the Bruins' entire team (439-311). Hurts didn't play the full game, and that rest should probably concern Texas Tech, which travels to Norman next week. Oklahoma is now averaging 676 yards and 55.7 points through three games. -- Edward Aschoff

No. 6 Ohio State

The Buckeyes are showing they're a complete team, from Justin Fields' command of the passing game, to the defense limiting the explosive plays it struggled with last season. Most importantly, running back J.K. Dobbins is back on track. Dobbins ran for a career-high 141 yards in the first half against Cincinnati, then topped that with 175 in the first half against Indiana. The offensive balance will benefit the Buckeyes greatly down the line. -- Tom VanHaaren

No. 7 Notre Dame

It's time to talk Georgia. After a somewhat pedestrian yet expected 2-0 start, Notre Dame is heading into its most difficult game with a chance to prove its legitimacy in the playoff race. According to ESPN's FPI, it's the only game Notre Dame isn't favored to win (33.5%). The Irish faced doubts even when undefeated last year, but a win at Georgia could give them lasting credibility with the selection committee if they're in the hunt again. -- Heather Dinich

No. 8 Auburn

This was the kind of game the Tigers needed to get ready for next week's big road test at Texas A&M. The offensive line, which struggled to get consistent push the first two games of the season, suddenly found its footing against Kent State, opening up big holes. And -- surprise, surprise -- the running game finally got clicking as a result, especiallyJaTarvious Whitlow, who rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns. As freshman quarterback Bo Nixsettles into the position and prepares for the difficult schedule ahead, he needs the help. -- Scarborough

No. 9 Florida

Florida's depth and chemistry were both tested in Lexington -- and both passed.Feleipe Frankssuffered a gut-wrenching injury in the second half, but the Gators outscored the Wildcats 19-0 in the fourth quarter anyway. This has been a snakebitten year for SEC East quarterbacks, with South Carolina'sJake Bentley and Kentucky's Terry Wilson out for the season and now Franks down, as well. But backup Kyle Traskpassed his first test as Franks' replacement. Tennessee is up next. -- Connelly

No. 10 Utah

As expected, Utah went through the nonconference without much difficulty and enters Pac-12 play how it started the year -- as the Pac-12 favorite. The next two weeks could decide a lot with games at USC and home against Washington State. The Utes should head to Los Angeles with plenty of confidence after the Trojans lost to BYU, a team Utah calmly swept aside to open the season. -- Kyle Bonagura

No. 11 Michigan

Michigan had a bye this week and it came at a good time to regroup after a close win against Army in week two. The Wolverines have had some issues on offense, losing five fumbles in the first two games, and adjusting to new coordinator Josh Gattis' system. They will need to fix those mistakes quickly as they travel to Wisconsin and take on an impressive Badgers team who has shown very few weaknesses. If the Wolverines don't beat Wisconsin, it will create more questions about what the ceiling is for this team. -- VanHaaren

No. 12 Texas

After a tough home loss to LSU, the Longhorns needed a positive step forward psychologically and got one by dominating an overmatched Rice squad. By not allowing their Week 2 loss to linger, Texas enters Big 12 play with plenty of confidence. The Longhorns will need it -- Oklahoma State comes to Austin next week and the Pokes have won five consecutive there. -- Sam Khan Jr.

No. 13 Penn State

Penn State narrowly beat Pitt in a back-and-forth game that came down to the last drive. The Nittany Lions have had slow starts in the first half two weeks in a row, finding themselves down 10-7 against Buffalo in Week 2 and tied 10-10 with Pitt in this game. Penn State was able to find a rhythm against Buffalo and scored 28 in the second half but came up with only seven against Pitt. The offense is going to need to find a way to produce earlier in the game with a tough stretch of Maryland, Purdue, Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State coming up on the schedule. -- VanHaaren

No. 13 Wisconsin

Wisconsin has been impressive in its first two games of the season, scoring a combined 110 points and not allowing a single point on defense. The offense has improved from last season with Jack Coan at quarterback and involving running back Jonathan Taylor in the pass game. As well as Wisconsin has played, Michigan will be a real test for this team to see if there's potential this team could contend for a conference championship at the end of the season. -- VanHaaren

No. 15 UCF

True freshman Dillon Gabriel made his second straight start and dazzled once again, supplanting more heralded transfer Brandon Wimbush to cement the job after throwing for 347 yards and four touchdowns in a decisive win over Stanford. The Knights have made a habit of beating Power 5 teams in nonconference play, so what happened Saturday is nothing new. But what was on full display was a team playing with a confidence, an edge and a speed advantage that flummoxed the Cardinal throughout the game. On top of it all, UCF was more physical than a team that has built its name on playing a physical brand of football. Whether an impressive win like this carries any weight with the College Football Playoff selection committee remains to be seen. If history is any indication, the victory will be explained away as UCF beating a team that was not ranked and not that good. But this was a big win, and the best thing UCF can do is to continue to win games like this to stay in the national conversation. The Knights will get another chance to make a statement in their final regular-season game against a Power 5 opponent next week at Pitt, a team it beat 45-14 last season. -- Adelson

No. 16 Oregon

Since letting the opener against Auburn slip away, Oregon has outscored a pair of overmatched opponents 112-9. The Ducks certainly look capable of making a run at the Pac-12 title and will head to Stanford this week to catch a Cardinal team that has been abysmal in blowout losses to USC and UCF the past two weeks. If quarterbackJustin Herbertwants to climb back into the Heisman discussion, this would be a good place to start. -- Bonagura

No. 17 Texas A&M

WithJashaun Corbin out for the year, the Aggies need a lead back to lean on. It just might be Isaiah Spiller. The true freshman from Houston already had impressed the coaching staff in training camp with his speed and effectiveness as a runner and receiver, and he looks more than ready to take the reins, with two 100-plus yard performances in the first three weeks. Spiller's future in A&M's offense looks bright, which is key for an A&M team about to enter SEC play. -- Khan

No. 18 Iowa

A day that began with the first College GameDay in Ames and included a lengthy delay also included a slow-but-steady Hawkeyes comeback. (Is there any other kind?) Iowa needed two fumble recoveries -- one that set up a second-quarter field goal and the excruciating punt miscue that sealed the game -- to survive while being outgained by 105 yards. Now, they get a bye week and a tuneup against MTSU before the meat of the schedule begins with a trip to Michigan. -- Connelly

No. 19 Washington State

Another year, another productive Mike Leach quarterback. Fifth-year senior Anthony Gordon is off to an impressive start with three consecutive games with more than 400 yards and three touchdowns. He has an exceptional arm, is accurate, can throw well on the run and seems to be a perfect fit for Leach's Air Raid. With a fast, aggressive defense showing growth, the Cougars look like a formidable foe heading into Pac-12 play. -- Khan

No. 20 Boise State

The Broncos will open Mountain West play this week against Air Force as the conference favorite, but with three other undefeated teams in the league, this won't be a cakewalk by any stretch. Air Force is one of those unbeatens -- coming off a win at Colorado that featured a surprisingly effective passing game -- and should provide an interesting test in Boise. The path isn't as difficult as it could have been, as the Broncos don't have San Diego State or Fresno State on the schedule. -- Bonagura

No. 21 Virginia

Bronco Mendenhall billed Saturday's game against Florida State as a true test of how good Virginia really was. Set aside the records, he said. FSU was the more talented team, no question. That talent disparity was obvious at times, and FSU never folded -- down to the final snap. But it was, indeed, a momentous win for the Cavaliers, who can now officially take its spot in the ACC Coastal driver's seat. -- David M. Hale

No. 22 Washington

Hawai'i quickly learned that Washington is significantly better than the two Pac-12 teams -- Arizona and Oregon State -- it beat to open the season. The Huskies will try to teach a similar lesson next week with a trip to BYU -- where the Cougars just knocked off Southern California -- before jumping back into conference play against USC and Stanford. Despite the wacky, lightning-delayed loss to Cal last week, Washington still probably views itself as the conference favorite, but that 0-1 hole means the margin for error is razor-thin. -- Bonagura

No. 23 Cal

Maybe the Golden Bears were due for a letdown after their huge win over Pac-12 rival Washington, but they managed to survive 23-17 over North Texas. Now they will need to be sharper as they head first into SEC-land for a date with Ole Miss this coming weekend, then into the heart of Pac-12 play, with games against No. 24 Arizona State and No. 16 Oregon on the horizon.

No. 24 Arizona State

The Sun Devils were very fortunate to hang on for a 10-7 win at Michigan State on Saturday, after the Spartans' 42-yard field goal attempt with six seconds left was wiped out because they had 12 men on the field. The Spartans missed a 47-yard attempt on the next play. ASU still has a long way to go on offense, after struggling for the second week in a row, but its defense is stout in Herm Edwards' second season. -- Mark Schlabach

No. 25 TCU

The Horned Frogs rolled to a three-touchdown win over Purdue behind RB Darius Anderson's big day, with 179 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Gary Patterson's squad hosts SMU this week before hitting Big 12 play. And after easing into things with Kansas, TCU travels to Ames, then Manhattan and then returns home to host Texas, so they will need to stay sharp.

Week 3's best moments

Playing for Wendy

ManyGeorgia fans ditched their traditional red for a "pink out" to honor the late Wendy Anderson, wife of Arkansas Statecoach Blake Anderson. Wendy died on Aug. 19 after being diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. This was Blake's first game back since Wendy's death, and David Hale tells the emotional story of love and loss in a coaching family.

He flies high

No lie. You know this.Mississippi State QB Garrett Shraderput in all kinds of extra effort to try to get a first down, including being spun around horizontally way up in the air while taking a hit.

Party in Provo!

On the field ...

And in the locker room ...

Is now not a good time?

South Carolinacoach Will Muschamp did a sideline interview just moments afterRico Dowdlewas ruled down at the 1-yard-line on a play that might have been a touchdown. It did not get reviewed, and South Carolina did not score as the half ended with the Gamecocks down 24-10 to Alabama. He was instantly greeted for an interview and wasn't ready to talk about it. "I'll get fined for the rest of my life if I comment on that."

The wide world of receiving

Mississippi State'sOsirus Mitchellcould get only one hand free but snagged the ball anyway.

And Georgia'sGeorge Pickensdidn't need to get both feet in, but did anyway.

Have a nice trip, see you next fall

Honestly, he played it off so well, I'm sure nobody even noticed.

Good luck, ushers

After a lightning delay forced fans to seek shelter at Penn State, watching the fans pour back into the stadium just before kickoff was mesmerizing.

Just a bit outside

During Washington State's 31-24 win over Houston on Friday night, Mike Leach tried to have a wide receiver snap the ball, but the officials called an illegal snap.

Just like Mom never made

LSU's mascot, Mike the Tiger, celebrated his third birthday on Friday with a crisp, refreshing dessert of frozen goat milk cake and oxtail bones.

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