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

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The AP Top 25 college football poll is out, and there's a new No. 1 team thanks to Notre Dame taking down Clemson. Here's what's next for each team in the rankings.

No. 1 Alabama (6-0)

You have to wonder how much revenge will be on Alabama's mind as it goes on the road to LSU on Saturday. Remember, the Tigers took great joy beating the Crimson in Tuscaloosa last year, celebrating at midfield and having some choice words about their rivals. But this year's game doesn't have nearly the same stakes, as LSU has fallen below .500 and is unranked, while Alabama is undefeated and in the thick of the playoff hunt. The matchup of the Tide offense vs. the Tigers' defense appears to be woefully one-sided. --Alex Scarborough

No. 2 Notre Dame (7-0)

The Irish not only got the elite-level signature win that has eluded them for quite some time, but they did so in a way that helps going forward. Senior Ian Book, long labeled a very good quarterback who struggled against upper-crust competition, rallied his team late against Clemson with a 91-yard touchdown drive and then two more touchdown drives in overtime. Book showed he can deliver in the big moments, and so can Notre Dame's defense, which held Travis Etienne to 28 rushing yards on 18 attempts. The absence of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, linebacker James Skalski and several other Clemson standouts might diminish Notre Dame's win for some, but the Irish now have confidence they can compete with the Tigers, who they likely will see in a rematch in the ACC championship game.-- Adam Rittenberg

No. 3 Ohio State (3-0)

Ryan Day had a perfect Saturday evening in Ohio State's 49-27 win over Rutgers: His Buckeyes won easily, Justin Fields looked good again (and stayed healthy) and Day gets to yell at his team for how shaky it was in second-half garbage time. They now prepare for a trip to College Park to face a Maryland team that just won at Penn State by a larger margin than they did. Focus during this string of easy wins is a must. -- Bill Connelly

No. 4 Clemson (7-1)

On a night whenTrevor Lawrence watched from the sideline and Travis Etienne couldn't get going against a stout Notre Dame defense, freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei nearly lifted Clemson to its biggest win of the season. Uiagalelei passed for 426 yards, the most ever against Notre Dame, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Notre Dame ultimately stifled Clemson in the second overtime, as a Tigers defense that held up for most of the night couldn't stop Ian Book down the stretch and in overtime. Clemson's incredible winning streaks -- 36 regular-season games, 29 ACC games, 14 road games -- all ended at Notre Dame Stadium. -- Adam Rittenberg

No. 5 Texas A&M (5-1)

The Aggies, who didn't exactly look like world-beaters the first two weeks of the season, have turned the corner in a big way, winning four straight games. The defense is coming off a strong performance against South Carolina, and senior quarterback Kellen Mond continues to string together great games, throwing seven touchdowns and no interceptions his past two times out. Who knows? With only Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU and Auburn remaining, they could find themselves in contention for a New Year's Six bowl before it's all said and done. -- Scarborough

No. 6 Florida (4-1)

All the pressure was on Dan Mullen and Florida to finally beat Georgia for the first time since he became Gators head coach, and they got the job done behind quarterback Kyle Trask. It has been a familiar theme for Florida this season, as Trask has blossomed into a Heisman Trophy candidate. Against Georgia, Trask threw for a career-high 474 yards and four touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for at least four touchdowns in five straight games. Florida is now in the driver's seat in the SEC East, and its College Football Playoff hopes got a big boost with the much-needed win. - Andrea Adelson

No. 7 Cincinnati (6-0)

The Bearcats stayed hot against Houston. Desmond Ridder had 162 yards passing, 103 yards rushing, and four total touchdowns (three on the ground). Their defense played up to their typical standard, forcing two turnovers and holding Houston under 100 yards rushing. This week, they've got 1-5 East Carolina at home. Expect more of the same from Cincinnati. -- Harry Lyles Jr.

No. 8 BYU (8-0)

The Cougars' most impressive performance of the year came against the most respected team on their schedule: Boise State. It wasn't just a win, it was a comprehensive blowout that gives credence to the idea that BYU could hang with the very best in the country. Quarterback Zach Wilson is not only playing like a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate but as someone who could have a bright future at the NFL level. -- Kyle Bonagura

No. 9 Miami (6-1)

Thanks primarily to D'Eriq King and Mike Harley, Miami survived a wacky Friday night battle at NC State and remains just one game back of the ACC lead, but the Canes will likely have to win out to have a shot at the title game. First up: a trip to Blacksburg to face an angry Virginia Tech team coming off of a loss to Liberty. Can King and company win another potential track meet? -- Connelly

No. 10 Indiana (3-0)

Indiana head coach Tom Allen and his team had a lot to celebrate on Saturday. It was the program's first win against Michigan in 25 tries and the first time the program has beaten two ranked teams in one season since 2004. The Hoosiers are getting a ton of production from quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns in the win against Michigan. If Penix and this offense can continue to put up points, this could be one of the better seasons for Indiana in recent years in conference play. -- VanHaaren

No. 11 Oregon (1-0)

The Ducks were balanced on offense, tough in the red zone on defense and largely cruised to an encouraging 35-14 win against Stanford to open the season. Quarterback Tyler Shough completed 17 of 26 passes for 227 yards, added 85 yards rushing and was one of four Ducks to score on the ground. They entered the season as the Pac-12 favorite and remain in that role for at least another week heading into a game against Washington State, a team that has given the Ducks problems in recent years. -- Bonagura

No. 12 Georgia (4-2)

The Bulldogs simply could not overcome a litany of injuries or their ineffective play at quarterback in a loss to Florida, severely diminishing, if not outright ruining, their chances at making the SEC championship game. With several key starters out on defense, including Jordan Davis and Richard LeCounte, Georgia could not slow down the high-powered Gators. Stetson Bennett was pulled from the game in the second half in favor of D'Wan Mathis, but the results on offense did not change. Georgia ended up with 277 total yards, as both quarterbacks combined for 112 yards passing, two touchdowns and three interceptions. -- Adelson

No. 13 Wisconsin (1-0)

The Badgers have had to cancel two games so far this season and paused football activities because of a COVID-19 breakout. The team is now sitting at a critical point where it will need to get six games in to be considered for the Big Ten championship game unless the rest of the conference averages only six games as well. The latest update from Wisconsin was that the team resumed limited conditioning on Friday and is at 14 active cases. There is no guarantee the team will be able to play its next game against Michigan. -- Tom VanHaaren

No. 14 Oklahoma State (5-1)

The bye week is coming at the perfect time for the Cowboys, who were without two All-Americans (WRTylan Wallace and RB Chuba Hubbard, who was injured during the game) and safetyKolby Harvell-Peelagainst Kansas State. They were banged up on the offensive line as well, but a gutsy performance by LD Brown and the Cowboys' stout defense kept their Big 12 title hopes alive. Next up? An improving Oklahoma team in Norman on Nov. 21. -- Dave Wilson

No. 15 Coastal Carolina (7-0)

The Chanticleers' miracle season continues, this time by beating South Alabama to reach 7-0 and remain in first place in the Sun Belt. Every week they rank in the top 25 they're making history -- this being their fourth appearance all-time. To put it into further perspective, consider that Coastal Carolina entered this season having never won more than two conference games in a given season. Now they're 5-0 in-conference and poised for more. They'll travel to Troy next, which is coming off a loss to Georgia Southern. --Scarborough

No. 16 Marshall (6-0)

The schedule hasn't been difficult for Marshall since its win over Appalachian State, and that trend appears like it will continue into the upcoming week. After an impressive 51-10 win over UMass (sure, it's UMass, but it's also 51 points!), Marshall will welcome Middle Tennessee for what should be another one for the win column, especially if it has another balanced offensive attack as it did against the Minutemen, with 228 passing yards and 267 rushing yards. -- Lyles

No. 17 Iowa State (5-2)

They didn't make it easy on themselves -- Brock Purdy threw three first-half picks, and ISU fell behind by two touchdowns -- but Matt Campbell's Cyclones survived Baylor on Saturday evening and moved to 5-1 in conference play for the first time ever. They lead the Big 12 with one-third of the conference slate left and get a bye week before the stretch that will decide their fate in the title game race: Kansas State, at Texas, West Virginia. -- Connelly

No. 18 Oklahoma (5-2)

Since starting 1-2, the Sooners have won four straight, scoring 50 or more points in three of those wins. Rhamondre Stevenson has returned from suspension and posted five rushing TDs in his first two games, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. FPI currently projects OU as having the best chance of winning the Big 12, at 31.7%, with Texas second at 30.5. The Sooners will begin the stretch run after a bye week with Bedlam at home against Oklahoma State on Nov. 21. -- Wilson

No. 19 SMU (7-1)

After its Oct. 24 loss to Cincinnati, SMU has lit up the scoreboard, scoring 51 against Navy on Halloween and 47 on Saturday in a win over Temple. The Mustangs are still in control of their ability to reach the AAC conference championship game with a key game coming up at Tulsa this week. If Shane Buechele and the Ponies continue to light up the scoreboard, they could find themselves in a rematch with Cincy in the title game. -- Sam Khan Jr.

No. 20 USC (1-0)

With six games in total before the conference title game, the margin of error has never been smaller in the Pac-12. And for three-and-a-half quarters, USC was on track to sink into irrelevance. If not for a pair of touchdowns, aided by an onside kick in the final 2:52, USC would be in sky-is-falling mode. Instead, the Trojans are firmly positioned, again, as the favorite in the Pac-12, especially with Utah's opening game getting canceled and the Utes' next game uncertain. -- Bonagura

No. 21 Texas (5-2)

The Longhorns aren't winning pretty, but they're winning nonetheless, having strung together three in a row. The defense seems to have finally found its footing under new defensive coordinator Chris Ash, and it's been huge, because the offense has been inconsistent as a banged-up Sam Ehlinger continues trying to tough it out. An upcoming off week is well timed, followed by a road game at Kansas. A win there means the Longhorns will go into the final two weeks with at least a remote chance of sliding into a Big 12 title game slot, but they might need help (as they do currently). -- Khan

No. 22 Liberty (7-0)

The Flames faced a test against Virginia Tech and passed partially thanks to a Justin Fuente timeout that gave them a second opportunity at a field goal, and a win. They played a good game, and this week, will get to be Western Carolina's first opponent of the season. If what we've seen so far is any indication, Liberty should feel good about facing a team with inevitable rust due to the pandemic. -- Lyles

No. 23 Northwestern (3-0)

The Wildcats and the Hoosiers are both 3-0 to start the season, just like we all expected. This is actually the first time both teams have ever started Big Ten play at 3-0. The defense has come through in these first three games, holding Maryland to just three points and holding Nebraska to 13 points in the latest win. There is still a lot left on the schedule with Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota and Illinois remaining, but with the issues Wisconsin is facing with its COVID-19 outbreak, there is a chance this team could find its way into the Big Ten championship game. That's a long way away, but it's not out of the question. -- VanHaaren

No. 24 Auburn (4-2)

Despite nearly losing to Arkansas and Ole Miss and being generally underwhelming to start the season, Auburn has a chance to flip the script. After dominating LSU last Saturday, Gus Malzahn and Co. find themselves at 4-2 entering the home stretch. The Tigers will likely be favored in their next two games at Mississippi State and home against Tennessee. But then it's on to the real test: on the road at No. 1 Alabama and at home against No. 5 Texas A&M. -- Scarborough

No. 25 Louisiana (6-1)

Louisiana moved to 6-1 with a win over Arkansas State on Saturday, but like basically all of the Cajuns' Sun Belt wins, it didn't come easily. They trailed 6-0 at halftime and found themselves still tied until an Elijah Mitchell touchdown in the closing minutes. Still, they're 6-1 and will be favored in each of the next three games. Billy Napier's third season could end up as a second straight rousing success. -- Connelly

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