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

The new AP Top 25 college football poll is out, and Alabama remains a unanimous No. 1, with Notre Dame and Ohio State behind the Crimson Tide. Here's what's next for each ranked team.




No. 1 Alabama (9-0)

It's hard to express just how well Steve Sarkisian has this offense rolling right now. Mac Jones is a Heisman Trophy favorite and now DeVonta Smith is making his case for votes. And of course, Najee Harris is maybe the best running back in college football. But the unsung hero is the offensive line. It's big and physical and should take home the Joe Moore Award for all the wide-open running lanes and clean pockets it provides. It opens up the entire playbook for Sarkisian, which makes this Alabama team so dangerous.--Alex Scarborough



No. 2 Notre Dame (10-0)

The Irish had already clinched a spot in the ACC championship game before Saturday's matchup against Syracuse, so it was perhaps not a surprise that they came out a bit flat. What was worth noticing, however, is that once Notre Dame stepped on the gas, things accelerated quickly. Three TDs in the final four minutes of the first half showcased the strengths on both sides of the ball and offered yet another reminder that there's no guarantees a healthier Clemson will win a rematch in the league's title game. Perhaps more importantly, by avoiding any upsets along the way, Notre Dame has a good case to make the playoff regardless of the outcome of the ACC championship game-- David M. Hale



No. 3 Ohio State (5-0)

The Buckeyes returned to the field and performed very well at Michigan State, especially without four starters, including three offensive linemen, and four full-time coaches, including head coach Ryan Day. Though Day will return to his duties Monday and expects some players to return, too, Ohio State must wait to see whether archrival Michigan resumes activities after its own COVID-19 outbreak. If Michigan can't play, Ohio State could face another Big Ten opponent or sit out again, which might prompt Big Ten athletic directors to reconsider the six-game requirement to reach the league championship. There's little doubt Ohio State is the class of the conference, led by do-it-all quarterbackJustin Fields. "If you're going to be a head coach for one day, you want Justin Fields with you," acting head coach Larry Johnson said after Saturday's win. -- Adam Rittenberg



No. 4 Clemson (9-1)

The Tigers have made so many ACC championship games in a row, the really surprising story would be the day they fail to make it. Until then, we will keep talking about yet another accomplishment, this one tying them for the most consecutive conference championship game appearances in FBS history with Northern Illinois (2010-15) and Marshall (1997-02). Unlike every other season, though, the Tigers have an open date before facing Notre Dame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 19. Coach Dabo Swinney said they would treat it like any other open date but noted the timing is fortuitous because players have finals next week. -- Andrea Adelson



No. 5 Texas A&M (7-1)

The Aggies broke a three-game losing streak against Auburn, and they looked every bit of the tough, physical team that Jimbo Fisher has hoped to get SEC-ready since he arrived in College Station. Devon Achane worked a little more into the running back rotation as well, adding 99 yards to Isaiah Spiller's 120. The Aggies have done what they can to stay in the thick of the playoff race, handling their toughest road test since a loss at Tuscaloosa in Week 2. With Ole Miss and Tennessee remaining, A&M will be favored from here on out. -- Dave Wilson



No. 6 Florida (8-1)

Though the Gators clinched a spot in the SEC championship game against Alabama, there are still several areas they need to improve next weekend in a rescheduled matchup with LSU if they want to have any shot against the Crimson Tide. No. 1 is the running game, which was virtually nonexistent in the win over Tennessee. No. 2 is the pass defense, which relaxed late against the Vols and gave up too many easy plays in the fourth quarter. LSU is a struggling team, so this is an opportunity to truly show out before heading to Atlanta. -- Adelson



No. 7 Cincinnati (8-0)

Luke Fickell's team had another week off and will now have had two weeks to prepare for Tulsa, which improved to 6-1 after a 19-6 win over Navy on Saturday. Tulsa's lone loss came to Oklahoma State in the first week of the season and has proved itself to be one of the better Group of 5 schools around. But considering how well Cincinnati has played, the Golden Hurricane are going to have to bring their best to upset the Bearcats. -- Harry Lyles Jr.



No. 8 Indiana (6-1)

Tom Allen was swarmed by his players in his postgame interview after Indiana's 14-6 win over Wisconsin on Saturday. It was the Hoosiers' first game without QBMichael Penix Jr., but Jack Tuttleproved he was capable of leading the offense, and a defense that has been tough all season continued its efforts. Up next is Purdue, which shouldn't be any problem for the rolling Hoosiers. -- Lyles



No. 9 Miami (8-1)


Sure, the Hurricanes are no longer in contention for the ACC championship, but they are already talking about their game next weekend against North Carolina. There might not be championship stakes on the line, but this is a game that means something to Miami. The Hurricanes' 28-25 loss last year still sits with them because of the way they lost -- on a last-second touchdown drive that dropped them to 0-2 to start the season. "Remember the game a year ago left a bad taste in our mouth," coach Manny Diaz said. "Our players will be highly motivated for North Carolina coming into our stadium. Make no doubt about that." -- Adelson



No. 10 Iowa State (8-2)

The Cyclones have done it. For the first time in program history, they're headed to the Big 12 championship game. They'll also finish alone at the top of the Big 12 standings, another first for the program. And they get an extra week to prepare -- Saturday was their 10th and final regular-season game, so they're off next week before a rematch with Oklahoma on Dec. 19. -- Sam Khan Jr.



No. 11 Coastal Carolina (9-0)

The Chanticleers are one of just two teams in college football with 10 wins, and the latest was not only their most impressive this year, but stands as the biggest win in school history. Nothing about Coastal Carolina's win against BYU felt fluky and it solidified coach Jamey Chadwell's team as one of the best storylines of the 2020 college football season. -- Bonagura



No. 12 Georgia (6-2)

The postponement of Saturday's game against Vanderbilt stung. The Bulldogs had the momentum of back-to-back wins, and JT Daniels was settling in nicely at quarterback. Now they have to wait again and start preparing for a Missouri team that quietly has become one of the most difficult programs to prepare for in the conference. The Tigers are winners of four of their past five games, and coach Eli Drinkwitz has his offense firing on all cylinders with freshmanConnor Bazelak playing beyond his years at quarterback and running back Larry Rountree IIIpowering the running game. -- Scarborough



No. 13 Oklahoma (7-2)

The Sooners have clinched a berth in the Big 12 championship game and will be looking for their sixth consecutive Big 12 title when they meet Iowa State on Dec. 19. But first, the Sooners still have one regular-season game left Saturday at West Virginia. Lincoln Riley said that, despite clinching, the Sooners don't plan to "back down" from their regular-season finale, even though it has no bearing on their conference standing. -- Khan



No. 14 BYU (9-1)

Despite climbing into the top 10 on the strength of a 9-0 record, BYU remained somewhat of a mystery going into Saturday's game against Coastal Carolina because of how bad its strength of schedule was. The circumstances were unique because the Cougars didn't find out about the game until midweek, but either way, they whiffed on their best opportunity to make the case they deserve to be considered among the best teams in college football this year. Had they not scheduled the game, the Cougars would have likely landed in the Fiesta Bowl. Now? The New Year's Six appears off the table. -- Bonagura



No. 15 Northwestern (5-1)

It was a big Saturday for the Wildcats. They clinched the Big Ten West title and a spot in the conference championship game with a ... bye week after their weekend game was canceled because of COVID-19 issues at Minnesota. Their opponent is likely to be Ohio State, pending Big Ten discussions on requirements to make the game since the Buckeyes have had two league games canceled. This week, the Wildcats face Illinois, whom they've beaten in the past five meetings. -- Wilson



No. 16 USC (3-0)

It's Sunday night football for the Trojans tonight, as they host Washington State in a game that was pushed back for COVID-19-related reasons. They'll head into the game as the conference favorite but the last two teams in that position -- Washington and Oregon -- suffered deflating losses. After the game against Wazzu, USC shifts its attention to the rivalry game against UCLA. -- Bonagura



No. 17 Louisiana (9-1)


The Ragin' Cajuns beat App State for the first time this past week, and immediately get to jump into their biggest challenge of the season: a rematch in the Sun Belt title game against Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are coming off of a huge win against BYU, and proved themselves to be one of the best teams in the country. Louisiana lost 30-27 the last time the two teams met, and we should expect another competitive game in one of the best seasons the Sun Belt has ever seen. -- Lyles



No. 18 Tulsa (6-1)

The Golden Hurricane will get two shots at Cincinnati, and with it, their chance to potentially play their way into a New Year's Six bowl berth. After beating Navy on Saturday, Tulsa has clinched a spot in the American Athletic Conference championship game against the Bearcats, but first, they must host Cincinnati next week. Next week's game has some stakes: the winner will get to host the conference title game. -- Khan



No. 19 Iowa (5-2)

The Hawkeyes are out of contention for a spot in the Big Ten championship game (Northwestern clinched early Saturday, the conference announced), but they can finish out the regular season on a high note when they host Wisconsin next week. After falling to Purdue and Northwestern by a combined five points to start the season, the Hawkeyes have won five straight, with the latest a 14-point win over Illinois. -- Khan



No. 20 North Carolina (7-3)

Back in September, next week's showdown with Miami might've felt significant. It still is for both teams, but it won't make a dent in the ACC's championship game, which is already set with Clemson and Notre Dame facing off. Still, for North Carolina, establishing itself as the clear No. 3 behind two potential playoff teams has its perks. The Heels came up short in their showdown against the Irish, and they let two lesser teams run up big leads that couldn't be overcome, which could be a frustrating narrative for the 2020 season. But a win over Miami would erase a lot of those bitter tastes, and the showdown between Sam Howell and the Heels' explosive offense against a very good Miami D should still make for one of the ACC's best games of the season. -- Hale



No. 21 Colorado (4-0)

How's this for a bizarre 2020 twist? Colorado can end the season as the only undefeated Pac-12 team but still not win the conference. If Colorado and USC both win out, USC would hold the tiebreaker and go to the conference title game. Then, if the Trojans lose, and Colorado continues to win, the Buffs would be the league's only team without a loss. --Bonagura



No. 22 Liberty (9-1)

With several players and coaches in quarantine, including star quarterback Malik Willis, it would have been a tall task to have played against undefeated Coastal Carolina on Saturday. Instead, the game was canceled and Liberty's regular season ended. At 9-1, there's nothing left for Hugh Freeze's team to do but wait and hope that other teams fall so the Flames can move up in the rankings and secure a more high-profile bowl game. -- Scarborough



No. 23 Texas (6-3)

Rumors continue to swirl about the job status of coach Tom Herman, but the Longhorns didn't let that affect them on the field, rolling up 608 yards of total offense in a 69-31 rout over Kansas State. Texas finishes its season at Kansas on Saturday, and while there's likely not much doubt as to the outcome of that one, the biggest question remains who will be patrolling the sideline next year. Does Herman get a reprieve? Can Texas lure Urban Meyer out of retirement? It will be an interesting few weeks in Austin.



No. 24 Buffalo (4-0)

Buffalo's game against Ohio was canceled this weekend, but that just gave the Bulls an extra week to enjoy their epic 70-41 triumph over Kent State from the week before, when Jaret Patterson ran for a mere 409 yards and eight (!) touchdowns. If you want to get another look at Patterson, Buffalo is slated to square off with Akron, which just snapped a 21-game losing streak, on Saturday.



No. 25 Wisconsin (2-2)

The Badgers have had a difficult season. They have had three canceled games due to the coronavirus, a 17-7 loss to Northwestern, and now another close loss (14-6) to Indiana on Saturday. The Hoosiers' defense never let the Badgers get into a flow on offense and forced Wisconsin into a pair of turnovers. They had a chance late, but Indiana made big plays as the Badgers got into the red zone to seal the deal.-- Lyles

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