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

ByESPN college football reporters ESPN logo
Sunday, November 20, 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(11-0)

Previous ranking: 1

Week 12 result:16-6 win vs. Kentucky

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

The SEC part of the regular season is over for Georgia, as the Dawgs return home to face in-state rival Georgia Tech on Saturday. Georgia will be a huge favorite in the game and will look to be much more polished on offense, particularly when it comes to finishing drives, than it was in the 16-6 win over Kentucky. A win over Georgia Tech would likely lock up a spot in the College Football Playoff for Georgia even if it were to lose to LSU on Dec. 3 in the SEC championship game.-- Chris Low

2. Ohio State Buckeyes(11-0)

Previous ranking: 2

Week 12 result:43-30 win vs. Maryland

What's next:vs. No. 3 Michigan (Saturday, noon ET)

Since falling to Michigan last year in the snow at the Big House, coach Ryan Day and the Buckeyes have pointed to this game, The Game, and a chance for redemption. Ohio State comes in 11-0 but has endured its share of injuries and struggles. The health of running back Miyan Williams and other key players will be worth monitoring leading up to kickoff. Ohio State got bullied at the line of scrimmage last year and faces two Michigan fronts that remain formidable. Although the Buckeyes might have a bit more CFP leeway than Michigan, they will approach the contest as a must-win. Ohio State hasn't lost consecutive games to Michigan since 1999 and 2000. -- Adam Rittenberg

3. Michigan Wolverines(11-0)

Previous ranking:3

Week 12 result:19-17 win vs. Illinois

What's next:at No. 2 Ohio State (Saturday, noon ET)

The Wolverines are 11-0 for the first time since 2006 after a close win against Illinois. The team has dealt with some injuries, including with running back Blake Corum going down in the second quarter Saturday, and playing without running back Donovan Edwards, tight end Luke Schoonmaker and defensive end Mike Morris. Coach Jim Harbaugh said he isn't concerned with the injuries, though, as the team readies for the final game of the season against Ohio State. It will be a matchup that determines who goes on to the Big Ten championship game and likely on to the CFP. -- Tom VanHaaren

4. TCU Horned Frogs (11-0)

Previous ranking:4

Week 12 result:29-28 win vs. Baylor

What's next:vs. Iowa State (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)

The Horned Frogs are down to two final hurdles to likely clinch a CFP berth, beginning with this weekend's home game against Iowa State, before the Big 12 championship game. The Cyclones have had a disappointing season, but they still pose a serious threat to TCU's season of destiny, with six of the Cyclones' seven losses coming by a touchdown or less. Iowa State's defense has been stifling this season, allowing just 16.5 points per game, with only Baylor (31 points) surpassing the 30-point mark against it. TCU won't take this one lightly, with the Cyclones winning the past three matchups and four of the past five. -- Dave Wilson

5. USC Trojans(10-1)

Previous ranking:7

Week 12 result:48-45 win vs. No. 16 UCLA

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

USC doesn't get a chance to come down after its thriller against UCLA. The Trojans will have to refocus quickly as they welcome a surging Notre Dame team to the Coliseum. A win would push the Trojans closer to a playoff spot. A loss, and once again, the Pac-12 might find itself with no playoff team to show for itself.-- Paolo Uggetti

6. LSU Tigers (9-2)

Previous ranking:6

Week 12 result:41-10 win vs. UAB

What's next:at Texas A&M (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

All signs point to the SEC championship against Georgia on Dec. 3. Win, and LSU is a shoo-in to make the College Football Playoff. But first comes the regular-season finale on the road at Texas A&M on Saturday. The Aggies are reeling with a 1-6 record in SEC play, but don't take anything for granted. Remember, LSU needed all four quarters to beat Arkansas a few weeks ago. -- Alex Scarborough

7. Alabama Crimson Tide(9-2)

Previous ranking:8

Week 12 result:34-0 win vs. Austin Peay

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

When the Crimson Tide lost to LSU and were eliminated from the playoff hunt earlier this month, it felt like the season could go sideways in a hurry. It was the first time since 2010 that Alabama had two losses before the Iron Bowl. With no chance to play for the SEC championship, what was there left to play for? Rather than pack it in, Nick Saban's squad chose to stick it out, winning a hard-fought game at Ole Miss and then beating Austin Peay on Saturday. Now the Tide have a chance to win 10 regular-season games if they can find a way to beat archrival Auburn at home on Saturday. -- Alex Scarborough

8. Clemson Tigers(10-1)

Previous ranking:9

Week 12 result:40-10 win vs. Miami

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

The Tigers are still in the CFP conversation after getting through ACC play unscathed for the first time since 2019. They will finish the regular season with their third consecutive home game and try to beat in-state rival South Carolina for the eighth straight time, which would mark a record in the series. Clemson has held the Gamecocks to 10 points or fewer in four of the past five meetings, and has played very well defensively since the loss to Notre Dame. Defensive tackle Bryan Bresee's status will be worth monitoring after he missed the Miami game. -- Adam Rittenberg

9. Tennessee Volunteers(9-2)

Previous ranking:5

Week 12 result:63-38 loss vs. South Carolina

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

Talk about deflating losses. The Vols were ranked No. 5 last week and seemingly in good shape to move into the College Football Playoff committee's top four if they could win out. Then came their 63-38 collapse at South Carolina. They were outplayed and outcoached by the Gamecocks, and even worse, senior quarterback Hendon Hooker left the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury. He was replaced by Joe Milton. Tennessee now wraps up the regular season Saturday with a road game at Vanderbilt, which has won its past two SEC games against Kentucky and Florida and is playing for a chance to become bowl-eligible. -- Chris Low

10. Oregon Ducks (9-2)

Previous ranking:12

Week 12 result:20-17 win vs. No. 10 Utah

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

The path to the Pac-12 title will go through Corvallis next week as the Ducks head to Oregon State in what will be a ranked rivalry game for the first time since the early aughts. Oregon needs to beat the Beavers to make it to the championship game. If it loses to one of Oregon State's best teams in recent memory, it needs Washington to lose or UCLA to beat Cal in order to still make it.-- Paolo Uggetti

11. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2)

Previous ranking:11

Week 12 result:55-10 win vs. Rutgers

What's next:vs. Michigan State (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)

A pair of ESPN 300 running backs, Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, are two of the biggest reasons for Penn State getting back on track in 2022. After rushing for only 62 yards in the first half Saturday against Rutgers, the Nittany Lions had churned out 237 yards by game's end. Allen ran for 117 yards and a score while Singleton chipped in with a 100-yard kickoff return. The Nittany Lions host Michigan State to end the regular season next week and can reach the 10-win plateau for the first time since 2019. -- Blake Baumgartner

12. Washington Huskies (9-2)

Previous ranking:15

Week 12 result:54-7 win vs. Colorado

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

The Huskies have turned around so many things about their program in Year 1 under Kalen DeBoer. They have restored their ability to win and massively upgraded at quarterback and in the passing game. Washington found more balance in its offense (295 pass yards, 280 rushing yards) in Saturday's 54-7 win over Colorado. The final step is to win the Apple Cup after falling to Washington State last year for the first time since 2012. Success on the Palouse would give Washington its first 10-win season since 2018.-- Adam Rittenberg

13. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-3)

Previous ranking:18

Week 12 result:44-0 win vs. Boston College

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

Three-loss seasons are never celebrated at Notre Dame, but if the Irish can complete their second-half surge with a win at USC, coach Marcus Freeman's first season will be viewed in a more positive light. Notre Dame's only road loss came in the opener at Ohio State, and the team has won four straight against the Trojans. Cornerback Benjamin Morrison (five interceptions this month) and a surprisingly solid Notre Dame secondary will be tested against Jordan Addison and USC's receiving corps. If the Irish are successful in Los Angeles, they will have a chance for their sixth straight 10-win season. -- Adam Rittenberg

14. Utah Utes(9-2)

Previous ranking:10

Week 12 result:20-17 loss vs. No. 12 Oregon

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

With a Pac-12 championship defense now almost out of reach, the Utes will end their regular season by getting to play the worst team in the Pac-12 on the road in Colorado. What could be considered a disappointing season for Kyle Whittingham's team is still likely going to be a nine-win campaign with a chance to win 10 at their bowl game. And if Utah, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington all win next week, the Utes will somehow still have a shot at defending their title.-- Paolo Uggetti

15. Kansas State Wildcats (8-3)

Previous ranking:19

Week 12 result:48-31 win vs. West Virginia

What's next:vs. Kansas (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)

The Wildcats control their own destiny in a shot at a rematch with TCU in the Big 12 championship game, clinching a berth with a win over Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown. The Wildcats' three losses this year came by a total of 24 points, including building an 18-point lead against TCU, so a second shot at the Horned Frogs would be a chance for redemption. First, they have to get past a bowl-eligible Kansas team, but have won 13 straight in the rivalry matchup against the Jayhawks.-- Dave Wilson

16. Florida State Seminoles (8-3)

Previous ranking:20

Week 12 result:49-17 win vs. Louisiana

What's next:vs. Florida (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

The program has finally achieved stability under Mike Norvell and enters this week's rivalry game with Florida on a four-game win streak. Since consecutive single-digit losses to NC State and Clemson, FSU has been dominant on both sides of the ball, outscoring opponents 173-39 during the surge. Dual-threat quarterback Jordan Travis and a deep group of running backs have overwhelmed opponents, and the defense has markedly improved under coordinator Adam Fuller. FSU should expect to record its first win against Florida since 2017, and first in Tallahassee since 2016. -- Adam Rittenberg

17. UCLA Bruins (8-3)

Previous ranking:16

Week 12 result:48-45 loss vs. No. 7 USC

What's next:at Cal (Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET)

Cal awaits UCLA next week as the Bruins try to avoid their third straight loss. Dorian Thompson-Robinson appeared to be banged-up during the loss to USC but should be available to play. The game might not matter much to either team but could give the Bruins their first nine-win season since 2014. -- Paolo Uggetti

18.North Carolina Tar Heels (9-2)

Previous ranking:13

Week 12 result:21-17 loss vs. Georgia Tech

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

With a spot already locked up in the ACC championship game against Clemson, the Tar Heels played like it and slumbered through a 21-17 loss at home to big underdog Georgia Tech. It was North Carolina's worst offensive showing of the season, and the Tar Heels will get a chance to work out the kinks offensively Friday at home when they face NC State in the regular-season finale. Before the loss to Georgia Tech, North Carolina had scored more than 30 points in all but one game.-- Chris Low

19. Tulane Green Wave (9-2)

Previous ranking:21

Week 12 result:59-24 win vs. SMU

What's next:at Cincinnati (Friday, noon ET)

Tulane's defense has given up a combined 938 total yards against UCF and SMU the last two weeks. The Green Wave's defense entered Thursday as the AAC's best in total defense (323.4 ypg), and it'll have to tighten things up considerably at Cincinnati next week with a piece of the program's first conference title since 1998 (Conference USA) hanging in the balance. The Green Wave can reach double-digit victories for the first time in 24 years if it can end the Bearcats' 32-game home winning streak. -- Blake Baumgartner

20. Ole Miss Rebels(8-3)

Previous ranking:14

Week 12 result:42-27 loss vs. Arkansas

What's next:vs. Mississippi State (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET)

All of a sudden, Ole Miss has hit the skids. The Rebels' 42-27 loss at Arkansas on Saturday was their third in the past four games, and they don't have much time to get ready for their regular-season finale. They take on Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night in their annual Egg Bowl rivalry. There will continue to be speculation surrounding Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin and whether he will leave for the Auburn head-coaching job, and it's the kind of distraction that's never ideal for a team, especially with a rivalry game looming. Ole Miss has continued to run the ball well but has given up 117 points in its three losses.-- Chris Low

21. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-2)

Previous ranking:22

Week 12 result:23-3 win vs. Temple

What's next:vs. Tulane (Friday, noon ET)

Senior quarterback Ben Bryant (9-of-18 passing for 130 yards, one TD) left for good late in the first half with a foot injury. Sophomore Evan Prater replaced him and was solid, going 12-of-17 for 127 yards. Bryant's status will be worth watching with Tulane coming to Nippert Stadium on Friday and the AAC regular-season title at stake. An opportunity for a third straight AAC title before they leave for the Big 12 next year awaits the Bearcats if they pick up their 33rd straight home victory. -- Blake Baumgartner

22. Oregon State Beavers(8-3)

Previous ranking:25

Week 12 result:31-7 win vs. Arizona State

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

It's already been the best season in a decade in Corvallis; now it's time to take things up a notch. Jonathan Smith's Beavers moved to 8-3 -- their most wins since 2012 -- with a 31-7 win over Arizona State, and now they get a shot at Oregon at home on Friday in a particularly interesting Civil War battle. The Beavers have won only twice in the series since 2007, but a 10-win season remains on the table if they can pull off a minor upset next weekend.-- Bill Connelly

23. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (9-1)

Previous ranking:23

Week 12 result:No game (canceled)

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

In Coastal's first game without injured star quarterback Grayson McCall, the Chanticleers started Jarrett Guest and narrowly escaped a 26-23 challenge from Southern Miss to clinch the Sun Belt East. After Saturday's game against Virginia was canceled, Jamey Chadwell's squad will head to James Madison for a tune-up before playing either Troy or South Alabama for what would be their second conference title in three years. What a run it's been for the Chants, who are 31-4 since the start of 2020. -- Bill Connelly

24. Texas Longhorns (7-4)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 12 result:55-14 win vs. Kansas

What's next:vs. Baylor (Friday, noon ET)

This season has produced flashes of what Texas could become, especially in road wins over Kansas State and Kansas as well as the historic shutout of Oklahoma in Dallas. But the Longhorns have strung together wins only once, during a three-game burst in the middle of the season. They can finish with back-to-back wins by beating defending Big 12 champion Baylor in what surely will be Bijan Robinson's final home game as a Longhorn. Robinson comes off his third career 200-yard rushing performance. A win over Baylor would give Texas sole possession of third place in the conference. -- Adam Rittenberg

25. UCF Knights (8-3)

Previous ranking:17

Week 12 result:17-14 loss vs. Navy

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

Next week's trip to Tampa to face South Florida got a little more interesting, as Gus Malzahn may have a quarterback decision to make. After he benched senior John Rhys Plumlee (11-of-18 for 107 yards, one interception) at halftime, sophomore Mikey Keene (8-of-15 passing, 123 yards, one TD) sparked the Knights' offense early in the third quarter. But giving up five sacks and not running the ball effectively (84 yards) put a dent in their New Year's Six hopes. -- Blake Baumgartner

Dropped out: Oklahoma State (24)