AP Top 25 poll: What's next for each ranked team

ByESPN Staff ESPN logo
Sunday, December 1, 2019

The new AP Top 25 poll is out. Here's what's next for every ranked team.

What's next for each Top 25 team

No. 1 LSU

There would be no seven overtimes or postgame drama, as Joe Burreaux(that's what the jersey said) and the Tigers flexed on Texas A&M from the start. The Heisman Trophy front-runner led three touchdown drives in the first quarter, as LSU averaged 11.4 yards per play. LSU never looked back, piling up 50 points and 553 yards and also holding Texas A&M to seven points and 169 yards. A Tigers offensive line that hasn't received much national praise gave Burrow plenty of time to attack downfield, and he found Ja'Marr Chase and others for huge gains. After being bumped from the No. 1 spot on Tuesday, the Tigers made their case to reclaim it. They can strengthen their argument by beating Georgia this week for their first SEC championship since 2011. -- Adam Rittenberg

No. 2 Ohio State

Ohio State: Ohio State once again beat rival Michigan, and it now has a chance at the Big Ten championship and, possibly, a national championship. The team went 12-0 -- and even in the few times of adversity they faced, the Buckeyes were able to find ways to come out on top. Quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins climbed the stat record lists, and they have been difficult to stop all season. As good as this team has been, the biggest challenge it will face lies ahead if Ohio State can reach the College Football Playoff and have to face Clemson or LSU. That will be the test to see how good this Buckeyes is. -- Tom VanHaaren

No. 3 Clemson

The debate will surely continue about Clemson's level of competition, but there's no debate about how dominant the Tigers have been ever since the 21-20 scare against North Carolina on Sept. 28. Clemson's 38-3 rout of South Carolina on Saturday was its seventh straight victory of least 31 points. Most heartening to Clemson fans heading into next week's ACC championship game is how complete this team looks right now. The Tigers haven't allowed more than 14 points on defense since that North Carolina game, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence has thrown 19 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his past 23 quarters. -- Chris Low

No. 4 Georgia

Georgia closed the regular season by scoring the most points it had ever registered against the Yellow Jackets, but it was far from pretty. Georgia was dreadful in the second quarter, when it lost two fumbles, failed to recover an onside kick and missed a field goal. On top of that, Bulldogs star tailback D'Andre Swiftleft in the third quarter with a left shoulder injury, though head coach Kirby Smart said Swift should be fine for next week's SEC championship game against No. 2 LSU. Also, freshman receiver George Pickens was ejected in the third quarter for fighting with a Tech defensive back. Under NCAA rules, he would be suspended for the first half against LSU. UGA's defense was again dominant, allowing only seven first downs and 139 yards of offense -- 40 passing and 99 rushing. UGA has allowed only 125 points in 12 games; the school record for at least a 12-game schedule is 198 in 2004. -- Mark Schlabach

No. 5 Utah

Utah's convincing win coupled with Alabama's loss has the Utes in prime position to move up to No. 5 in this week's CFP rankings, and that opens the door further for a top-four finish on Selection Day. Utah clinched the South division, and if it beats Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game, it will get into a debate with the winner of the Big 12 championship for No. 4. Utah still needs LSU to beat Georgia in the SEC title game, though, to open the fourth spot. -- Heather Dinich

No. 6 Oklahoma

Oklahoma: There is a lot to like about Oklahoma's 34-16 victory over cross-state rival Oklahoma State. The Sooners didn't turn the ball over, after giving it away 10 times in their previous four games. On a night when a cold, capricious wind took away the big plays in the passing game, Oklahoma scored on drives of 12, 9, 11 and 11 plays. And the defense held the Cowboys to a season low in points and Heisman hopeful Chuba Hubbard to a next-to-season-low 104 rushing yards. Does any of this matter when the conditions will be pristine in Jerry World on Saturday for the Big 12 championship rematch against Baylor? It matters that, with so much at stake, the Sooners met the challenge. --Ivan Maisel

No. 7 Florida

Dan Mullen hasn't cleared the Georgia hurdle yet, but you figure he has scored some points with the fan base by beating FSU by a combined score of 81-31 in two tries. On a lovely senior night in Gainesville,Kyle Traskthrew for 343 yards, and the Gators scored on seven of their first eight drives and cruised to a 10-2 record and an almost certain New Year's Six bid. SEC East champs? Not yet. Florida state champs? Most certainly. -- Bill Connelly

No. 8 Baylor

A dominant win over last-place Kansas won't get Baylor into the playoff, but it won't hurt the Bears' chances, either. If anything, Alabama's loss to Auburn did more for the Bears' odds. TheBaylor defense continues to impress, as it has all season. And now the Bears will look to avenge their lone loss, to Oklahoma, when they meet the Sooners in the Big 12 championship. With Alabama's loss to Auburn and Baylor's move into the top 10 earlier this week, could a win over Oklahoma put the Bears in the playoff? It's not out of the question. -- Sam Khan

No. 9 Alabama

Alabama: There were questionable calls, wild plays and another instance in which one second was put back on the clock. Coach Nick Saban nearly blew a gasket over the refs' decision just before halftime. But none of that matters in a world where getting into the playoff is all that matters. You can kiss goodbye winning the eye test when you've lost your second game of the season and you're not playing for a conference championship. QuarterbackMac Jones played well but not well enough. And the defense, especially those young inside linebackers, were exposed once again. -- Alex Scarborough

No. 10 Wisconsin

Wisconsin: The Badgers advance to the Big Ten title game for the fourth time in six years, where they will play No. 1 Ohio State on Dec. 7. It's a rematch of a 38-7 Ohio State win from earlier in the year and presents a number of possibilities for the Badgers. A win likely wouldn't be enough to propel them into the College Football Playoff, but it would put them in the conversation. A close loss keeps the Rose Bowl in play, while another poor showing against the Buckeyes could see the Badgers wind up outside the New Year's Six. -- Kyle Bonagura

No. 11 Auburn

Auburn: It wasn't pretty. If anything, the Iron Bowl was pretty much all over the place. Consider this: Auburn scored 48 points despite scoring just three offensive touchdowns. Instead, it was a barrage of pick-sixes and field goals that kept the Tigers in the game. Freshman quarterback Bo Nix did just enough, completing a handful of wild passes and even running in a score. His defense bent but didn't break, and star D-lineman Derrick Brown reminded everyone why he is a potential top-5 draft pick by getting into the backfield over and over again. -- Alex Scarborough

No. 12 Penn State

When Penn State announced Saturday that a number of starters were sitting, it declared two things: that the Nittany Lions were (justifiably) unconcerned about Rutgers making any major upset bid; and that they probably weren't going to cover. Regardless, after a dreadful sleepwalk of a first half, PSU slowly pulled away. Now, with double-digit wins for the third time in four years, theLions await word of what should be a very good bowl bid. -- Bill Connelly

No. 13 Oregon

A week after the Ducks were let down by their defense and eliminated from playoff contention, their offense followed suit, getting outgained and going scoreless over seven straight drives to let rival Oregon State hang around. The Oregon D stepped up, however, forcing a turnover and a turnover on downs on two late possessions. That was just enough to lock up Oregon's first 10-win season in five years. Rivalry wins don't have to be pretty. -- Bill Connelly

No. 14 Notre Dame

While the Fighting Irish were an afterthought in the playoff race this fall, their win over Stanford on Saturday gave them a third straight season with double-digit wins and snapped a five-game losing streak at Stanford Stadium. Quarterback Ian Book was instrumental in helping Notre Dame finish strong, throwing 12 touchdowns and no interceptions over the final three games. He threw for four touchdowns and 255 yards against the Cardinal. -- Heather Dinich

No. 15 Minnesota

The loss will keep the Golden Gophers out of the Big Ten title game, ends any lingering dreams of an appearance in the College Football Playoff and likely keeps them out of the Rose Bowl. Those are three tough pills to swallow, but a bowl win would give the Gophers their most wins in a season since 1904, when they went 13-0. -- Kyle Bonagura

No. 16 Memphis

A kick return for a score, five gains of 29 yards or more and 15 tackles for loss helped Memphis seal both a big win on Friday and the AAC West title. The game was closer than the Tigers perhaps would have preferred while facing Cincinnati's backup QB, but they got the job done. Their reward: an even stronger résumé for New Year's Six bowl consideration and a return visit from Cincy next weekend for the conference title game. -- Bill Connelly

No. 17 Michigan

It was the same old story for Michigan in its rivalry game against Ohio State. The Wolverines could not get out of their own way thanks to crucial mistakes, including a fumble inside the Ohio State 10, a penalty on a punt that Ohio State used to score the decisive touchdown and a failed fourth-down conversion after they cut the lead to two scores in the fourth quarter -- not to mention an inability to stop the Buckeyes' offense. Questions surrounding Jim Harbaugh will once again surface after he dropped to 0-5 against Ohio State, capping a regular season that started with Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff hopes. Michigan still has a chance to win 10 games, but it will not be going to a New Year's Six game, and the Wolverines lost three times in Big Ten play in a season that more than likely will be viewed as another disappointment. -- Andrea Adelson

No. 18 Iowa

Iowa beat Nebraska on a late field goal to go 9-3 in the regular season, and Friday's game was similar to how the Hawkeyes' season went. It was hard fought but a little up and down. Losses to Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin gave the Hawkeyes their three defeats and prevented them from having an opportunity to play in the Big Ten championship game. The nine wins tie last season's count, and now the team will have a chance to make it 10 in a bowl game; but there was a lot left on the table with Iowa losing those three contests by a combined 14 points. -- Tom VanHaaren

No. 19 Boise State

The Broncos completed an undefeated regular season in Mountain West play on Friday, and they remain very much alive for the Cotton Bowl berth allotted to the best Group of 5 team in the country. They'll host Hawai'i in the Mountain West title game on Dec. 7, when a win combined with a Cincinnati victory against Memphis in the AAC title game likely would result in a New Year's Six berth for the Broncos. -- Kyle Bonagura

No. 20 Appalachian State

Zac Thomas totaled more than 350 yards and added five touchdowns in another easy victory for App State, 48-13 over Troy. The game was a mere formality with the Mountaineers already set for a Sun Belt title game appearance next week, but it was another essential step to keep the Mountaineers' slim New Year's Six hopes alive. They'll need help from losses by a trio of Group of Five programs who entered play ranked higher, but Thomas and Co. will at least enter championship weekend with a shot. -- David M. Hale

No. 21 Cincinnati

This wasn't an optimal result for the Bearcats -- it hurts their potential New Year's Six candidacy -- but it also wasn't that bad. They held some cards close to the vest. They got banged-up quarterbackDesmond Ridder some healing time. And backup Ben Bryantactually looked pretty solid in the role, giving head coach Luke Fickell another option if Ridder isn't 100 percent when theBearcats come right back to Memphis next week for the AAC title game. -- Bill Connelly

No. 22 Virginia

The Cavaliers ended 15 years of misery with 23 seconds of exhilaration in a 39-30 victory over rival Virginia Tech in the Commonwealth Cup on Friday. Virginia's Brian Delaney kicked a 48-yard field goal to take a 33-30 lead with 1:23 to play, and then the Cavaliers sacked Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker on three consecutive plays. He fumbled on the last one by Mandy Alonso, and Eli Hanback recovered the ball in the end zone for a score with 1:01 remaining. It was Virginia's first win in the series since a 35-21 decision on Nov. 29, 2003. The Cavaliers will play No. 3 Clemson in their first ACC championship game. Virginia also might have secured a spot in the Capital One Orange Bowl -- if it doesn't upset the heavily favored Tigers and knock them out of the CFP. Quarterback Bryce Perkins had 475 yards of offense -- 311 passing and 164 rushing -- with three total touchdowns against the Hokies. -- Mark Schlabach

No. 23 Navy

The Midshipmen are the most improved team in the FBS after finishing 3-10 in 2018. Navy won its ninth game on Saturday, 56-41 at Houston, and can win its 10th contest when it plays Army in Philadelphia on Dec. 14. Against the Cougars, the Midshipmen ran for 447 yards on 56 attempts, while attempting only four passes and completing two. Fullback Jamale Carothers ran 18 times for 188 yards with five touchdowns, and quarterback Malcolm Perry ran 18 times for 146 yards with one score. The Navy defense forced five turnovers, four interceptions and one fumble. Coach Ken Niumatalolo's staff shakeup after last season's disappointing finish has paid big dividends. The Midshipmen's only losses were at Memphis and Notre Dame. -- Mark Schlabach

No. 24 USC

The Trojans' regular season ended with a 52-35 decision over rival UCLA a week ago. They won't play in the Pac-12 championship game after Utah beat Colorado and won the Pac-12 South on Saturday night. Now, the waiting game begins for embattled USC coach Clay Helton, who has a 40-21 record in four-plus seasons at the school. After guiding the Trojans to a 21-6 record and a Rose Bowl victory in his first two full seasons, his teams were 13-11 over the past two campaigns. Helton reportedly has the support of USC president Carol Folt and recently hired athletic director Mike Bohn. Plus, the Trojans would have to pay Helton and his assistants between $15 million and $20 million if they are fired. With the way the Trojans battled through injuries and showed improvement on offense this year, the USC brass is going to have to weigh whether it might make more sense to bring Helton back for another season. -- Mark Schlabach

No. 25 Air Force

The Falcons ended a three-game losing streak to Wyoming with a 20-6 decision, which assured them of their first 10-win season in 21 years. It also was Air Force's seventh consecutive victory, after early-season losses at Boise State and Navy, which is its longest winning streak since it won eight in a row in 1998. The 400th victory in the history of the Air Force Academy wasn't secure until Donald Hammond III threw a 75-yard touchdown to Benjamin Waters with 2:04 to play. Hammond completed 5 of 6 passes for 121 yards with one touchdown, and Waters had three catches for 100 yards. Jeremy Fejedelem had two interceptions, and the Falcons limited the Cowboys to only 225 yards of offense -- 114 passing and 111 rushing -- and forced three turnovers. -- Mark Schlabach

The best of Rivalry Week

A historic Iron Bowl ... and a celebration to remember: A few Auburn fans didn't let the hedges at Jordan-Hare Stadium get in the way of storming the field.

Throwing some 'Row the boat' shade

Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck's catchy saying apparently took on a new meaning after the Golden Gophers' 38-17 home loss against Wisconsin. The Badgers took Paul Bunyan's Axe back and celebrated at midfield by using it as an oar to row a boat.

That's one way to stop him

Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson took off Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins' shoe after a tackle.

Hammer time for the Hoos

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall has used a stone with goals painted on it as a motivational tool for the Cavaliers. After the win against Virginia Tech, Bronco grabbed the hammer, broke it, then broke it down.

Hawkeye kisses

Iowa's Keith Duncan blew a kiss to the Nebraska sideline after his 48-yard field goal lifted the Hawkeyes to a 27-24 win, leaving Nebraska at 5-7.

Don't forget about Baby Yoda

Just because ...

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