AP Top 25 Reality: Time for upsets passes with little chaos and ranked teams with gaudy records


The time for upsets have come and gone with little chaos in college football and not much movement in the AP Top 25 for much of the season.

For the first time in more than 14 years, the same eight teams held the top eight spots in the poll for five straight weeks.

Behind No. 1 Georgia this week was Michigan returning to No. 2, followed by Washington, Florida State and Oregon in the top-five. Ohio State slipped to No. 6 after losing to Michigan.

No. 7 Texas and No. 8 Alabama held their spots. Eight playoff contenders, four unbeaten and four 11-1. All but Ohio State will play in a conference championship game next week.

Throughout the entire Top 25 the records are gaudier than usual.

Last year the Top 25 teams heading into championship weekend had lost 59 games. In 2021, that number was 47.

This year, the Top 25 has 40 combined losses after the completion of the 12-game regular-season. Of those 40 losses, 24 have come against other teams that are currently ranked.

Has that made life easy on AP poll voters this year? Maybe a little, but Reality Check will always find places to ponder the rankings.

No. 1 Georgia (12-0)

Next: vs. No. 8 Alabama, SEC championship, Saturday.

Reality check: The Bulldogs allowed 10 rushing touchdowns combined in their two championship seasons. This season: 12. Weird to see Georgia with a so-so run defense.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 2 Michigan (12-0)

Next: vs. No. 18 Iowa, Big Ten championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Loss of G Zak Zinter (left leg) will test the Wolverines’ depth up front if they end up in a third straight College Football Playoff.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 3 Washington (12-0)

Next: vs. No. 5 Oregon, Pac-12 championship, Friday.

Reality check: Huskies don’t have a Hypnotoad but all these close victories — now six straight by 10 points or fewer — give them 2022 TCU vibes.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 4 Florida State (12-0)

Next: vs. No. 15 Louisville, ACC championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Seminoles found some offense in the second half after a rough start with QB Tate Rodemaker against Florida. That offense was RB Trey Benson, who scored three touchdowns.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 5 Oregon (11-1)

Next: vs. No. 3 Washington, Pac-12 championship, Friday.

Reality check: Oregon is tied for 12th in the nation in defense at 4.83 yards per play allowed with … Georgia.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 6 Ohio State (11-1)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: When you have a perennial top-five program, especially these day when rosters can be so fragile with the transfer portal, you don’t make coaching changes unless you absolutely have to. Ohio State doesn’t.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 7 Texas (11-1)

Next: vs. No. 19 Oklahoma State, Big 12 championship, Saturday.

Reality check: RB Jaydon Blue had a breakout game (121 yards on 10 carries) against Texas Tech as the Longhorns look for someone to pick up some of the slack for the loss of star Jonathon Brooks.

Ranked: Touch low.

No. 8 Alabama (11-1)

Next: vs. No. 1 Georgia, SEC championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Tide allowed 244 yards rushing against an Auburn team that could barely complete a pass. Puzzling.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 9 Missouri (10-2)

Next: TBD

Reality check: Tigers have the SEC’s leading rusher in RB Cody Schrader, a former D-II transfer and walk-on, and third-leading receiver in Luther Burden III, a former five-star recruit.

Ranked: This group of four teams is tricky. This one is fine.

No. 10 Penn State (10-2)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Incongruous stats: Nittany Lions rank 14th in the nation in scoring at 37 points per game, but 81st in yards per play at 5.46.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 11 Mississippi (10-2)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Rebels had never won 10 regular-season games and now have done it twice in three seasons under coach Lane Kiffin. Complain about his failure to win more “big games,” but Ole Miss throughout its history often loses a lot of the not-so-big games.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 12 Oklahoma (10-2)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: S Billy Bowman Jr. had an All-America season with six interceptions, three returned for touchdowns.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 13 LSU (9-3)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: OLB Harold Perkins Jr. didn’t have the dominant season many expected after flashing huge potential as a freshman last year. Still, on a defense that struggled in general, he showed improvement throughout.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 14 Arizona (9-3)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: After one of the best turnarounds of the season, now the goal for the Wildcats is to keep coach Jedd Fisch in Tucson.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 15 Louisville (10-2)

Next: vs. No. 4 Florida State, ACC championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Despite the loss to Kentucky, Cardinals still looks good to earn a spot in the Orange Bowl as long as Florida State makes the CFP.

Ranked: This works.

No. 16 Notre Dame (9-3)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Been some complaints about Notre Dame’s offense, but it ranks ninth in the country in yards per play (6.95). Last time the Irish finished a season with a top-10 offense was 2015.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 17 Tulane (11-1)

Next: vs. No. 25 SMU, AAC championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Green Wave are 23-3 over the last two seasons, a remarkable achievement for a program that had three previous double-digit win seasons, two coming in the 1930s.

Ranked: This is fine.

No. 18 Iowa (10-2)

Next: vs. No. 2 Michigan, Big Ten championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Hawkeyes closed the season on a four-game winning streak, during which they averaged 15 points per game. Amazing.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 19 Oklahoma State (9-3)

Next: vs. No. 7 Texas, Big 12 championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Ollie Gordon II saved the Cowboys’ season with five touchdowns against BYU. If a running back breaks into the Heisman top-five this season, it should be OGII.

Ranked: About right.

No. 20 Liberty (12-0)

Next: vs. New Mexico State, Friday.

Reality check: With a late-season surge that included 765 yards rushing over the last two games, the Flames lead the nation in rushing at 295 per game.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 21 (tie) North Carolina State (9-3)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Under-the-radar quality season by coach Dave Doeren and the Wolfpack, led by LB Payton Wilson, who is an All-America lock and in contention for all the defensive player of the year awards.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 21 (tie) Oregon State (8-4)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: The final results of D.J. Uiagalelei’s second chance after Clemson were OK. The Beavers were a good team and the quarterback was solid, but when teams forced Oregon State to lean on him it didn’t go great.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 23 Toledo (11-1)

Next: vs. Miami, Ohio, MAC championship, Saturday

Reality check: The MAC championship used to routinely produce drama with coaches who might be leaving for bigger jobs. Rockets coach Jason Candle could be in that position this year.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 24 James Madison (11-1)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: The Dukes will go bowling thanks to a shortage of six-win teams. Now let’s see if we can get them a good opponent.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 25 SMU (10-2)

Next: at No. 17 Tulane, AAC championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Mustangs first appearance in the AAC title game has been fueled by a top-10 defense.

Ranked: Just right.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here. AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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