AP Top 25 college football poll reaction: What's next for each ranked team?

ByESPN via ESPN logo
Monday, September 26, 2022
ESPN

The AP Top 25 college football poll is out after another wild weekend of games.

But what happens from here? We break down what's next for each ranked team.

1. Georgia Bulldogs(4-0)

Previous ranking: 1

Week 4 result:39-22 win over Kent State

What's next: at Missouri (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

Georgia knows now what it's like not to completely blow out a team after winning a sloppy decision over Kent State on Saturday. The next two games are on the road against Missouri and Auburn, two teams the Bulldogs will again be big favorites against, and their offense continues to put up big numbers. Sophomore tight end Brock Bowers has emerged as one of the top playmakers in college football for the Dawgs, who have gained more than 470 yards in all four games. -- Chris Low

2. Alabama Crimson Tide(4-0)

Previous ranking:2

Week 4 result:55-3 win over Vanderbilt

What's next: at Arkansas (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Crimson Tide's offensive line couldn't generate running lanes and couldn't keep pressure off the quarterback against Texas earlier this month. Oh, and it committed way too many penalties. But the past two weeks there has been a noticeable improvement in all three areas, first against Louisiana Monroe and then against Vanderbilt. Against the Commodores, Alabama ran for more than 150 yards and didn't allow a single sack of Bryce Young. But this Saturday's road trip to Arkansas will reveal whether that progress was real as the Hogs boast one of the best defenses in the SEC in terms of creating pressure on the backfield. --Alex Scarborough

3. Ohio State Buckeyes(4-0)

Previous ranking: 3

Week 4 result:52-21 win over Wisconsin

What's next: vs. Rutgers (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Ohio State had no problems with Wisconsin, winning by a large margin and dominating most of the game. The Buckeyes remain undefeated and have the offense playing at an elite level. Quarterback C.J. Stroud is still among the Heisman favorites and continues to put up big numbers. Ohio State has Rutgers, Michigan State and Iowa next on the schedule. If any of those teams are going to try to compete with the Buckeyes, they'll have to figure out how to stop this offense. -- Tom VanHaaren

4. Michigan Wolverines(4-0)

Previous ranking:4

Week 4 result:34-27 win over Maryland

What's next: at Iowa (Saturday, noon ET)

The Wolverines are 4-0 and have to go on the road to play Iowa in a rematch of last season's Big Ten Championship game. Michigan got its first test of the season against Maryland where quarterback J.J. McCarthy said he didn't have his best performance. McCarthy and the offense leaned on running back Blake Corum to help win against the Terps and they will likely need Corum to have another big game against the Hawkeyes. McCarthy said he is going to learn from his mistakes against Maryland and use it to improve the offense going forward. -- VanHaaren

5. Clemson Tigers(4-0)

Previous ranking:5

Week 4 result:51-45 2OT win over Wake Forest

What's next: vs. NC State (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

The concern for Dabo Swinney shifts from the offense to the defense, which couldn't get to Sam Hartman or stop the Wake Forest quarterback, who carved up the Tigers for an ACC-record six touchdown passes. First-year coordinator Wes Goodwin must evaluate both personnel and scheme before hosting Devin Leary and NC State in a game that could decide the ACC's Atlantic Division. The good news is Clemson can lean more on its own quarterback, D.J. Uiagalelei, after his best passing performance since his first start in 2020. --Adam Rittenberg

6. USC Trojans(4-0)

Previous ranking:7

Week 4 result:17-14 win over Oregon State

What's next: vs. Arizona State (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET)

After a tough battle in Corvallis that kept their undefeated season on track, the Trojans get to come down a bit and face what's likely their easiest conference opponent of the season when they host Arizona State. Against the Sun Devils, whose lone win is against Northern Arizona, USC's offense should have no trouble getting back on track while the defense will continue to sustain its ridiculous takeaway rate (14 in four games). -- Paolo Uggetti

7. Kentucky Wildcats(4-0)

Previous ranking:8

Week 4 result:31-23 win over Northern Illinois

What's next: at Ole Miss (Saturday, noon ET)

The Wildcats are going to take a 4-0 start to the season every time. But Saturday's win over Northern Illinois lacked the kind of dominant effort you'd expect from a top-10 program nationally. One potential area of concern is the running game, which managed 103 yards on 34 carries against the Huskies. The good news: Chris Rodriguez, the leading returning rusher in the SEC, will make his debut on Saturday against Ole Miss after being suspended to start the season. -- Alex Scarborough

8. Tennessee Volunteers(4-0)

Previous ranking:11

Week 4 result:38-33 win over Florida

What's next: at LSU (Oct. 8)

The Vols were able to shake their Florida hex -- barely. They almost blew a big fourth-quarter lead, but held on to win Saturday over the Gators to move to 4-0. Given Tennessee's woes against Florida over the years, nobody was complaining. It was a huge win for the Vols, but they have some issues on defense to correct in a hurry, especially in the secondary. The good news is that they have an open date this weekend before going to LSU. They hope to get star receiver Cedric Tillman back for that game, and quarterback Hendon Hooker can also use a week off after taking several big hits in the Florida game. -- Low

9. Oklahoma State Cowboys(3-0)

Previous ranking:9

Week 4 result:Open date

What's next: at Baylor (Saturday, TBD)

The Cowboys travel to Waco to face Baylor in a rematch of last season's Big 12 championship game, a key game as the Big 12 race starts to take shape. OSU beat Baylor in Stillwater last year 24-14 before losing a heartbreaker, coming up just inches short on a goal-line stop in the 21-16 loss at AT&T Stadium. The good news: The Cowboys are coming off a bye week and had a chance to get ready to face a Bears team that just ended Iowa State's 11-game home streak in conference play. -- Dave Wilson

10. NC State Wolfpack(4-0)

Previous ranking:12

Week 4 result:41-10 win over UConn

What's next: at Clemson (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

OK, so you survived a closer-than-expected season-opener against East Carolina and then took care of business against Charleston Southern, Texas Tech and UConn. But now comes the real test -- which could define the rest of season -- with Saturday's road game at No. 5 Clemson. Devin Leary is playing well at quarterback and could attack a Tigers' secondary that didn't look sharp in a close win at Wake Forest on Saturday. -- Scarborough

11. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0)

Previous ranking:14

Week 4 result:33-14 win over Central Michigan

What's next: vs. Northwestern (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

James Franklin had imposed orders to try and improve on the running game coming into the season. After churning out over 200 yards rushing in each of the past two weeks -- including 245 yards in a road win at Auburn last week -- Penn State ran for 166 yards on Saturday in a 33-14 win against Central Michigan. Freshman Kaytron Allen led the way with 111 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. The Nittany Lions welcome Northwestern to State College next week, which is followed up by a bye prior to a trip to the Big House and a date with Michigan on Oct. 15. -- Blake Baumgartner

12. Utah Utes(3-1)

Previous ranking:13

Week 4 result:vs. Arizona State

What's next: vs. Oregon State (Saturday, TBD)

From a national perspective, the Week 1 hiccup against Florida still lingers, but the Utes are just as strong a conference-title favorite as when the season began. They'll get an important test this week with Oregon State coming to Salt Lake City before back-to-back games against the L.A. schools (UCLA, Oct. 8; USC, Oct. 15) to start October. -- Kyle Bonagura

13. Oregon Ducks (3-1)

Previous ranking:15

Week 4 result:44-41 win over Washington State

What's next: vs. Stanford (Saturday, TBD)

After a hard-fought win over Wazzu, things get easier for the Ducks over the next few weeks. Oregon welcomes Stanford to town next week, and it will be interesting to see whether Dan Lanning's team and quarterback Bo Nix can keep up the recent offensive production. They've now scored 40 points or more in their last three games after only mustering a field goal against Georgia. -- Uggetti

14. Ole Miss Rebels(4-0)

Previous ranking:16

Week 4 result:35-27 win over Tulsa

What's next: vs. Kentucky (Saturday, noon ET)

The constants for Ole Miss this season had been running the ball with a vengeance and playing stout defense. The Rebels still ran the ball well Saturday in a win over Tulsa but were outscored 13-0 to end the game. It hasn't been the toughest of schedules for Ole Miss to this point, but that changes this weekend when unbeaten Kentucky visits Oxford. A win over the Wildcats could send the Rebels on their way to a 7-0 start. They play at Vanderbilt on Oct. 8 and then come back home to face Auburn on Oct. 15. -- Low

15.Washington Huskies (4-0)

Previous ranking: 18

Week 4 result: vs. Stanford

What's next:at UCLA (Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET)

After starting the season with four straight home games, the Huskies travel to UCLA to begin a stretch that includes just one home game (Arizona, Oct. 15) through the end of October. There is a case for UW as the most impressive team in the conference to this point, and a win against undefeated UCLA would further establish the Huskies as a conference-title favorite. -- Bonagura

16. Baylor Bears(3-1)

Previous ranking:17

Week 4 result:31-24 win over Iowa State

What's next: vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday, TBD)

After starting Big 12 play with a gritty, physical win at Iowa State, Baylor might have to raise its game even further now, returning home to face Oklahoma State. Then again, quarterback Blake Shapen already raised his game. He enjoyed maybe the best performance of his career against Iowa State, going 19-for-26 for 238 yards and three scores. The Baylor defense will have its hands full against a high-flying OSU offense, but Shapen and the Bears passing game could land some blows, too. -- Bill Connelly

17. Texas A&M Aggies(3-1)

Previous ranking:23

Week 4 result:23-21 win over Arkansas

What's next: at Mississippi State (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)

The Aggies' running game got going on Saturday against Arkansas as Devon Achane had a 63-yarder en route to a 159-yard day on 19 carries. They'll need his help controlling the ball as the passing came continues to be a work in progress with a trip to Starkville against Mike Leach's offense coming off a 409-yard, 6-TD performance by QB Will Rogers against Bowling Green on Saturday. -- Dave Wilson

18. Oklahoma Sooners(3-1)

Previous ranking:6

Week 4 result:41-34 loss to Kansas State

What's next: at TCU (Saturday, noon ET)

OU managed to trip up at home against Kansas State once again, but the tests have just begun for the Sooners. They will make two straight trips to the DFW region -- first to TCU to face the unbeaten Horned Frogs, then to Dallas to face a Texas team that also suffered a Week 4 upset. Dillon Gabriel and the Sooner offense was mostly fine against KSU, but Brent Venables' defense got lit up for the first time. How will it respond against a TCU offense averaging 46 points per game? -- Connelly

19. BYU Cougars(3-1)

Previous ranking:19

Week 4 result:vs. Wyoming

What's next: vs. Utah State (Thursday, 8 p.m. ET)

The Cougars remain at home again next week for an in-state game against Utah State before heading to Las Vegas on Oct. 8 to play Notre Dame. If BYU can win out, a New Year's Six bowl could be within reach, but the margin for error remains small. -- Bonagura

20. Arkansas Razorbacks(3-1)

Previous ranking:10

Week 4 result:23-21 loss to Texas A&M

What's next: vs. Alabama (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Razorbacks will be upset after letting a win over Texas A&M get away in a game they could've finished. There's no time to stew on it, however, with Alabama coming to town. Sam Pittman has worked wonders in a short time in Fayetteville, but the Hogs haven't beaten the Tide since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, and last won when Houston Nutt beat Mike Shula 24-23 in 2006. -- Wilson

21. Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-0)

Previous ranking: unranked

Week 4 result:34-7 win over Michigan State

What's next: vs. Purdue (Saturday, noon ET)

Minnesota responded quite well in its first road test of the season and its first test without senior wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell, who suffered a season-ending injury last week against Colorado. The Golden Gophers racked up 508 total yards -- their third straight week going over 500 total yards offensively. Senior QB Tanner Morgan threw for 268 yards with three touchdowns and connected with 10 different receivers, with six of them hauling in at least two passes. Morgan found junior wide receiver Daniel Jackson for a pair of scores. Off to their second 4-0 start under PJ Fleck and first since 2019, the Golden Gophers host Purdue next week before traveling to Illinois on Oct. 15 after their bye. -- Baumgartner

22. Wake Forest Demon Deacons(3-1)

Previous ranking: 21

Week 4 result:51-45 2OT loss to. No. 5 Clemson

What's next: at Florida State (Saturday, TBD)

The Demon Deacons won the ACC Atlantic Division in 2021 despite a Clemson loss, so there's still plenty out there for Sam Hartman and his teammates. The defense is the immediate concern after allowing a combined 87 points in the past two games, both at home. Wake Forest now heads to Florida State to face a confident Seminoles team, which hasn't beaten the Deacons since 2017. The status of starting cornerback Caelen Carson, who missed the Clemson loss with a leg injury, will be worth monitoring. -- Rittenberg

23. Florida State Seminoles (4-0)

Previous ranking: unranked

Week 4 result:44-14 win over Boston College

What's next: vs. Wake Forest (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Jordan Travis continues to impress at quarterback for the Seminoles. With some questions about his health last week after suffering a leg injury against Louisville, Travis not only started against Boston College but was sharp, completing 16 of 26 passes for 321 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. But now the junior from West Palm heads into the treacherous part of the schedule with games against Wake Forest, NC State and Clemson in consecutive weeks. -- Scarborough

24. Pittsburgh Panthers(3-1)

Previous ranking:24

Week 4 result:45-24 win over Rhode Island

What's next: vs. Georgia Tech (Saturday, TBD)

Coach Pat Narduzzi said going into the season he wanted his team to be a much better running team. Israel Abanikanda has made that a reality, with at least 125 yards rushing over the past three games. Next up is Georgia Tech, a team that has struggled across the board. While the running game is improving week after week, the Pitt passing game remains a work in progress and something that the Panthers will need to work on once the ACC schedule becomes more challenging. -- Adelson

25. Kansas State Wildcats (3-1)

Previous ranking: unranked

Week 4 result:41-34 win over Oklahoma

What's next:vs. Texas Tech (Saturday, noon ET)

Chris Klieman recorded his third career victory over Oklahoma in four tries behind the heroics of senior quarterback Adrian Martinez. Martinez ran circles around the Sooners' defense to the tune of 148 rushing yards and a career-high four touchdowns on 21 carries as the Wildcats secured the victory. The Nebraska transfer led an offense that churned out 277 rushing yards and Saturday was the 10th time in Martinez's career he had run for multiple touchdowns in a game. With last week's home loss to Tulane now a memory, Kansas State hosts Texas Tech -- an 37-34 overtime winner over Texas -- next week before a trip to Ames beckons on Oct. 8. -- Baumgartner

Dropped out: Miami, Texas, Florida