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

ByESPN college football reporters ESPN logo
Sunday, October 30, 2022

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

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

1. Georgia Bulldogs(8-0)

Previous ranking: 1

Week 9 result:42-20 win vs. Florida

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

The Bulldogs went into Saturday's game against Florida ranked last in the SEC in sacks and next to last in tackles for loss. Georgia's defense, despite losing eight starters who were selected in the NFL draft, was still pretty good in its first seven games, allowing just 9.1 points per contest. Georgia finally generated a pass rush against the Gators, sacking quarterback Anthony Richardson three times with eight tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hurries. A big reason for the improvement: the return of defensive tackle Jalen Carter. A potential top-five pick in the 2023 NFL draft, Carter missed the last two games with a sprained MCL in his left knee. His return comes at the right time, with No. 3 Tennessee's high-flying offense coming to Sanford Stadium. -- Mark Schlabach

T-2. Ohio State Buckeyes(8-0)

Previous ranking: 2

Week 9 result:44-31 win vs. No. 13 Penn State

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

Coach Ryan Day noted after the Penn State game that his team doesn't always have to play four quarters and yet still delivered against a capable Nittany Lions team. If the Buckeyes are playing four quarters like these against woeful Northwestern, there are some bigger problems going on. Ohio State likely will look to reestablish its run game with TreVeyon Henderson, who had 41 of his 78 rushing yards against Penn State come on one play, a fourth-quarter touchdown. The injury status of running back Miyan Williams and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be worth monitoring, although Ohio State doesn't need either of them this week. -- Adam Rittenberg

T-2. Tennessee Volunteers(8-0)

Previous ranking:3

Week 9 result:44-6 win vs. No. 19 Kentucky

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

The games just keep getting bigger for the Vols, who romped past Kentucky. Just like the Florida game in September and the Alabama game earlier this month, the trip to Georgia will be monumental. The Vols haven't beaten all three of those rivals in the same season since 2004, one of three times they've been to the SEC championship game since their unbeaten national championship season in 1998. This will be the first AP Top-5 matchup between Georgia and Tennessee in the history of the series. Quarterback Hendon Hooker continues to make a hard push for the Heisman Trophy, and the Vols will almost certainly be one of the top three teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday. -- Chris Low

4. Michigan Wolverines(8-0)

Previous ranking:4

Week 9 result:29-7 win vs. Michigan State

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

Running back Blake Corum had 177 yards and is now up to 14 rushing touchdowns on the season. Despite the unblemished record, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy spoke after the Michigan State game about improving in the red zone, scoring touchdowns rather than field goals. That improvement will be imperative with Ohio State still on the schedule. The Wolverines take on Rutgers next, then Nebraska, and will have to get through a 7-1 Illinois team before their meeting with the Buckeyes. -- Tom VanHaaren

5. Clemson Tigers(8-0)

Previous ranking:5

Week 9 result:bye

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

The Tigers and DJ Uiagalelei return to Notre Dame for the first time since 2020, when Uiagalelei started in place of Trevor Lawrence and threw for 439 yards and two touchdowns in a 47-40 double overtime loss. It was his performance in that game that set the expectations for Uiagalelei as a starter. Though Dabo Swinney has remained adamant that Uiagalelei is his starter and has defended him at every turn, another performance like the one he had at Notre Dame will go a long way toward quieting some of his doubters. -- Andrea Adelson

6. Alabama Crimson Tide(7-1)

Previous ranking:6

Week 9 result:bye

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

Whether it was a close call at Texas or a loss at Tennessee, Alabama has proven to be a different team on the road this season. The Crimson Tide have been shaky to say the least, whether it's been drops, busted coverages on defense or penalties. It's been startling to see a Nick Saban-coached team lead the FBS in penalties, but here we are. With a trip to LSU on Saturday and no margin for error when it comes to the playoff race, Alabama must find a way to play with more poise on the road. -- Alex Scarborough

7. TCU Horned Frogs (8-0)

Previous ranking:7

Week 9 result:41-31 win vs. West Virginia

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

Sonny Dykes' Horned Frogs moved to 8-0 on Saturday with a 10-point win at West Virginia, but the Big 12 schedule remains relentless. They host a fun-and-gun Texas Tech squad to start November, then make trips to Texas and Baylor after that. Max Duggan has thrown for 2,212 yards, 22 touchdowns and only two interceptions, and the Frogs are the clear Big 12 front-runners at the moment. But will the fatigue of this recent run of close games -- they've won five games by 10 or fewer points in six weeks -- catch up to them? Can they find another gear in the home stretch? -- Bill Connelly

8. Oregon Ducks (7-1)

Previous ranking:8

Week 9 result:42-24 win vs. Cal

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

The Ducks have reached 5-0 in Pac-12 play, but four of those wins have come against teams with a combined conference record of 4-17. It's more of the same against Colorado (1-7, 1-4). After that, though, the schedule gets more difficult, with games against Washington, Utah and Oregon State prior to a possible appearance in the conference championship game.-- Kyle Bonagura

9. USC Trojans(7-1)

Previous ranking:T-10

Week 9 result:45-37 win vs. Arizona

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

The Trojans get to return home to host a Cal team that's lost four games in a row. It will be a "get right" week and game for USC, as a handful of their starters were not able to play Saturday due to injuries, including starting wide receivers Jordan Addison and Mario Williams. If there's any consolation for Lincoln Riley's team, it is that this stretch of games against inferior opponents is likely the most ideal time to be dealing with depleted depth. -- Paolo Uggetti

10. UCLA Bruins (7-1)

Previous ranking:12

Week 9 result:38-13 win vs. Stanford

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

After handling Stanford with ease, the Bruins will attempt to start another winning streak when they go to Tempe. At this point in the season, every game is a trap game on their way to a matchup against USC that will likely decide who gets to travel to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 championship. However, the Sun Devils should be an easy hurdle to clear. -- Paolo Uggetti

11. Ole Miss Rebels(8-1)

Previous ranking:15

Week 9 result:31-28 win vs. Texas A&M

What's next: vs. Alabama (Nov. 12)

It will be interesting to see what Lane Kiffin cooks up during the bye week. The timing couldn't be better. On Saturday, Ole Miss rebounded from a deflating loss at LSU. And next up is Alabama after a week off. But the question is which Ole Miss offense will show up in two weeks? Will it be the run-heavy, two-headed monster of Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans that was so effective for most of the season? Or will it be something different? LSU figured out how to slow the Rebs' rushing attack. Kiffin might need to find a way to get more out of Jaxson Dart and the passing game. -- Alex Scarborough

12. Utah Utes(6-2)

Previous ranking:14

Week 9 result:21-17 win vs. Washington State

What's next: vs. Arizona (Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET)

With Arizona and Stanford up next, it would be catastrophic for the Utes (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) to arrive in Oregon on Nov. 19 with another loss. A win in that game would likely seal a trip to the title game, however without divisions this year, the Pac-12 features an intriguing race with Oregon, USC, UCLA and Utah. -- Kyle Bonagura

13. Kansas State Wildcats (6-2)

Previous ranking:22

Week 9 result:48-0 win vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State

What's next:vs. Texas (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

The Wildcats cemented their status as serious Big 12 title contenders with the waxing of Oklahoma State. Next up: a home game against Texas, which has beaten K-State five straight times. But four of those five have been decided by one score or less. A couple of trends are working in the Wildcats' favor: Steve Sarkisian is 3-8 in one-score games at Texas, and the Longhorns have struggled on the road under Sarkisian, going 1-6 away from Austin. This will be a big test toward a potential title run. -- Dave Wilson

14. Illinois Fighting Illini (7-1)

Previous ranking:17

Week 9 result:26-9 win vs. Nebraska

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

The Illini have started the season at 7-1 after beating Nebraska, and it's the first time the team has done so since 2001. Illinois is the only team in the Big Ten West with one loss and seems to be in the driver's seat to make it to the Big Ten Championship game if it continues playing the way it has. The team still has to go through Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan and Northwestern, but Illinois has already beaten Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin in case of any potential tiebreakers for the conference championship. Running back Chase Brown has run for 100 or more yards in each of his last eight games and doesn't look to be slowing down. If Brown and quarterback Tommy DeVito keep rolling, Illinois should be in good shape. -- Tom VanHaaren

15. LSU Tigers (6-2)

Previous ranking:18

Week 9 result:bye

What's next: vs. Alabama (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

Not many people would have believed after that dysfunctional loss to Florida State to open the season, that LSU would be playing Alabama this Saturday night in Tiger Stadium for the SEC Western Division lead. The Tigers and Crimson Tide are both coming off bye weeks, which is historically the case before this game. LSU has played well enough on offense coming into the game with back-to-back 45-point outings that Alabama will also need to be on top of its game offensively. Some of LSU's most talented younger players are coming into their own, but the biggest difference has been the multidimensional play of quarterback Jayden Daniels. LSU has two more SEC games remaining after Alabama, both on the road against Arkansas on Nov. 12 and Texas A&M on Nov. 26. -- Chris Low

16. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-2)

Previous ranking:13

Week 9 result:44-31 loss vs. No. 2 Ohio State

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

The Lions' chances of contending for a Big Ten title likely evaporated with their poor finish in the Ohio State loss. But a 10-win season still seems realistic, especially if Sean Clifford and the offense take better care of the ball. Penn State visits Indiana, which is coming off of an open week and has lost five straight. The Lions must regroup and build on some of their highlights from the Ohio State contest, especially on defense. PSU lost 36-35 in its last trip to Bloomington in 2020. -- Adam Rittenberg

17.North Carolina Tar Heels (7-1)

Previous ranking:21

Week 9 result:42-24 win vs. Pitt

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

Halfway through the ACC schedule, the Tar Heels remain undefeated, with their lone loss coming in nonconference against Notre Dame. They'll hit the road for the next two games against Virginia and Wake Forest, before finishing the season at home against Georgia Tech and NC State with conference title and New Year's Six bowl aspirations.-- Kyle Bonagura

18. Oklahoma State Cowboys(6-2)

Previous ranking:9

Week 9 result:48-0 loss vs. No. 22 Kansas State

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

The Cowboys suffered one of their most stunning losses of the Mike Gundy era on Saturday. OSU lost Spencer Sanders, who had already been playing through injuries, in the game, so his status will be in question against Kansas. The good news, however, is Gundy is 13-1 against the Jayhawks, with his only loss coming in 2007, and the Jayhawks have lost three straight Big 12 games since starting the season 5-0. -- Dave Wilson

19. Tulane Green Wave (7-1)

Previous ranking:23

Week 9 result:bye

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

Tulane hasn't won double-digit games in a season since Tommy Bowden led the program to an undefeated season in 1998. That goal is very much attainable with four games left. Its tough defense (17.4 PPG) will be asked to stop three of the AAC's top four offenses (Tulsa, Central Florida and SMU) in its next three games. The Green Wave close the regular season Thanksgiving weekend at Cincinnati, where the program's first conference title since 1998 (Conference USA) could hang in the balance. -- Blake Baumgartner

20. Wake Forest Demon Deacons(6-2)

Previous ranking: T-10

Week 9 result:48-21 loss vs. Louisville

What's next: at NC State (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)

The Demon Deacons will have to find a way to put an embarrassing blowout loss to Louisville behind them with a huge game at rival NC State coming up Saturday. Sam Hartman has had performances in which he turned the ball over multiple times over the course of his career, and responded each time. He will have to do it again -- especially because his presence should give the Demon Deacons a huge advantage. NC State does not have its senior quarterback in Devin Leary and instead will try to rely on true freshman MJ Morris in their matchup. -- Andrea Adelson

21. NC State Wolfpack(6-2)

Previous ranking:24

Week 9 result:22-21 win vs. Virginia Tech

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

The remainder of the schedule does not get any easier for NC State. Rival Wake Forest is up next. There is no love lost between these two programs. Wake Forest has won four of its last five, including a 45-42 thriller last season that kept the Wolfpack from winning the Atlantic Division. While the defense has been solid all season long, the offense has struggled -- especially without Devin Leary. Freshman quarterback MJ Morris proved he deserves to lead the offense moving forward. -- Andrea Adelson

22. Syracuse Orange (6-2)

Previous ranking:16

Week 9 result:41-24 loss vs. Notre Dame

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

Quarterback Garrett Shrader suffered a lower-leg injury late in the first half and didn't return in Saturday's 41-24 loss to Notre Dame. Shrader's status going forward becomes the immediate concern for a team that has suddenly lost two games in a row after a 6-0 start. Redshirt freshman QB Carlos Del Rio-Wilson, a Florida transfer, played the rest of the game (11-of-22 passing, 190 yards, one TD, one interception). Syracuse has three of its four remaining games on the road, which could make a first 10-win season since 2018 a climb at this juncture. -- Blake Baumgartner

23. Liberty Flames (7-1)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 9 result:bye

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

After a blowout of BYU last week, Hugh Freeze's Flames got the weekend off before an even bigger game, a trip to face Arkansas in Fayetteville. Liberty is 7-1, a single point from an unbeaten record (a 37-36 loss to Wake Forest in September). The defense has carried the team at times, but if home run hitters Dae Dae Hunter (6.3 yards per carry), Demario Douglas (14.6 per catch) and Noah Frith (20.3 per catch) get going, they could wreck the Razorbacks' Homecoming. -- Bill Connelly

24. Oregon State Beavers (6-2)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 9 result:bye

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

The Beavers are headed to Seattle next week for a Friday night matchup against Washington. A win against the Huskies on the road would cement Oregon State as the fifth-best team in the conference and set them on a pathway to play spoiler against their in-state rivals Oregon on the last weekend of the season.-- Paolo Uggetti

25. UCF Knights (6-2)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 9 result:25-21 win vs. No. 20 Cincinnati

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

Sophomore quarterback Mikey Keene (15-of-21, 176 passing yards) was efficient enough after starter John Rhys Plumlee left the game due to injury as UCF upset Cincinnati. Keene was helped tremendously by a UCF running attack that gashed the Bearcat defense for 258 yards. The Knights are now in a three-way tie for second (3-1) in the AAC behind unbeaten Tulane. The Knights, in search of their first conference title since going 12-1 overall in 2018, get their shot at the Green Wave on Nov. 12. -- Blake Baumgartner

Dropped out: Kentucky (19), Cincinnati (20), South Carolina (25)