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AP Top 25 - Week 10 (Oct. 26-Nov.2nd)
1. LSU Tigers (8-0)
We have a new top team in the country! The top ranked Tigers faced their toughest test of the season and had to grind it out in old school SEC fashion in a 23-20 win against #11 ranked Auburn. For the first time this season, LSU’s offense was held to under 30 points and had to rely on their defense to make plays on a wet, kind of rough field. QB Joe Burrow’s Heisman hopes didn’t get crushed — he posted 321 yards with two scores and an interception — but he’s not the only playmaker on this Tiger team. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (136 yards, 1 TD) and WR Jamarr Chase (8 catches for 123 yards) helped bail out Burrow when it mattered most, especially Edwards-Helaire who was a workhorse on Saturday. LSU has a week to prepare for their top ranked showdown with #2 Alabama, in what could be a preview of the National Championship.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0)
A week after losing star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to an ankle injury, the Tide have also lost their seat at the head of the table despite shutting down Arkansas 48-7 on Saturday. LSU’s win over Auburn was undoubtedly more impressive, but Alabama still looked like they weren’t down their best player. QB Mac Jones did a fine job filling in for Tagovailoa, going 18-22 for 235 yards and three scores. Two of those touchdowns went to WR Jerry Jeudy, to go along with 103 yards on 7 catches. The Tide defense was arguably the most impressive, forcing four turnovers and holding the Razorbacks to 213 total yards. If Nick Saban and Co. want to reclaim their throne at the top of the standings, they’re going to need Tua back under center. He should be at practice this week, but much like their opponent on November 9, Alabama will also get a week off to prepare for what is probably the best game of the year.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0)
The Buckeyes had their most impressive win of the year, against their toughest opponent thus far, and barely even broke a sweat as they dominated Wisconsin 38-7. The defense was all over this Badgers team, holding them to under 200 yards of offense and essentially taking RB Jonathon Taylor out of the game. QB Justin Fields had a relatively quiet day, but the offense was propelled by RB JK Dobbins and his 163 yards and two touchdowns. The real star of the game, however, was DE Chase Young and the defense. Young put together his own Heisman resume with 4 sacks and two forced fumbles, and Wisconsin had no answer for him. Ohio State might be the most complete team in the country and if they keep playing like this they will be a heavy favorite to win the National Championship.
4. Clemson Tigers (8-0)
The Real Clemson Tigers have finally showed up to the party after Dabo Swinney’s team easily took care of Boston College 59-7. It was a game of 3’s for the Tigers offense, not in terms of field goals. RB Travis Etienne had three rushing touchdowns on the day. QB Trevor Lawrence had three passing touchdowns, and all three of them went to WR Diondre Overton who only had — you guessed it! — three catches. The defense also continued it’s dominance against opponents by holding the Eagles to under 200 yards and holding them to 2-15 on third down. It was such a lopsided game that the backup quarterback came in and threw for 100 yards and a touchdown, while the two Boston College quarterbacks barely broke 100. Just because they play bad teams doesn’t mean they’re a bad team, and plenty of good teams are going to have their hands against them.
Next Up: vs Wofford (5-2)
8. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-0)
QB Sean Clifford threw for four touchdowns and WR Pat Freiermuth caught three of them, giving the undefeated Nittany Lions a 28-7 win at Michigan State. The defense continues to stifle opponents, forcing four Spartan turnovers and holding down the fort for most of the game. Much like their 28-21 win against Michigan a week ago, Penn State got off to a hot start and found themselves struggling to get anything going in the second half. Luckily for them Michigan State’s offense is not very good, otherwise a better team would have been able to make a comeback out of it. Aside from a touchdown to start the 3rd quarter, the offense punted on every single possession thereafter. That has to be an area of concern for this team, especially when they face a team as complete as Ohio State. Next week’s matchup pits them on the road #15 Minnesota, a team that runs a very efficient offense and matches them in the win column. Maybe a week off will get them on track.
6. Florida Gators (8-0)
The Gators probably had the best weekend and they weren’t even playing. Oklahoma losing to Kansas State has opened up the door for Florida to potentially spoil someone’s playoff bid, but first they will have to face off against their rival — and fellow one loss SEC East foe, #8 Georgia. The Gators have had a gauntlet of a schedule recently, with hard fought games against Auburn (a win) and LSU (a loss) and now they take on the Bulldogs in the Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, Florida. While the defense has given up some a slew of points recently, they still possess plenty of playmakers on that side of the ball. The offense has also improved greatly over the past couple of weeks, as QB Kyle Trask has settled into a comfortable groove as the starter. A win this weekend could be what stamps their ticket to the SEC championship game.
Next Up: vs #8 Georgia (6-1)
7. Oregon Ducks (8-0)
Oregon’s defense has been very good this season, but they have been tested in a big way the past two weeks. A week after winning a close one at Washington, the Ducks needed a late FG to take down Washington State 37-35. QB Justin Herbert’s streak of consecutive touchdown passes was broken on Saturday — but RB CJ Verdell could not be stopped, piling up 257 yards and 3 TDs, including an 89 yard run in the first quarter. The sophomore running back posted the best game of his career and gave Oregon another crucial tick in the win column. The Ducks do have a legitimate shot for a playoff spot, and while they have some good competition left, they are in the driver seat for the conference. However, their next opponent, USC, is capable of giving them a hard time.
8. Georgia Bulldogs (6-1)
That loss against South Carolina has left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths when talking about this squad, but this Georgia team is not out of it yet. They still boast a defense that holds opponents to under 10 a game, and when their offense is clicking they are one of the best in the country behind RB D’Andre Smith and that huge offensive line. The key here is QB Jake Fromm, who once led his school to a national championship as a freshman. He has all of the intangibles that NFL scouts love but he has been underwhelming this year, including a 35 yard performance against Kentucky a week ago. If the Dawgs want any shot at the postseason, their signal caller needs to get it together and this upcoming weekend would be the perfect time to do that.
Next Up: vs. Florida (7-1)
9. Utah Utes (7-1)
Utah trounced Cal this weekend 35-0, and it might have been the best defensive performance of the year. The Utes held Cal’s horrendous offense to just 83 yards and only gave up six first downs. That’s insane. It’s that type of performance that allows the offense to play conservatively and that’s where Utah thrives. RB Zack Moss became the school’s leading rusher last week, and this week became the all-time leader in touchdowns. Despite their recent dominance, Utah is actually not locked in for the PAC-12 title —- their 30-23 loss to USC has the Trojans ahead of them due to the tiebreaker. They’ll need some help from Oregon this weekend in that regard, but they will have their hands full against a Washington team that almost beat the Ducks at home two weeks ago.
Next Up: at Washington (5-3)
10. Oklahoma Sooners (7-1)
Oklahoma’s season took a serious hit this Saturday after their 48-41 loss to Kansas State this Saturday. On the surface, it looks like a bad loss and it was — the Wildcats led for the majority of the game and the Sooners defense had no answer for them. However, if you squint, you’ll notice that they put up nearly 500 yards of total offense and almost had a chance to win the game. QB Jalen Hurts should still be a Heisman candidate after putting up four total touchdowns — including three rushing scores on 96 yards. This team will only go as far as Hurts can take them, and you can’t really fault him for this loss. The only interception of the game wasn’t even thrown by him and it set up quick touchdown. Oklahoma can still win the Big 12 if they beat Baylor (twice, maybe), but they might be on the couch watching the playoffs come January.
11. Auburn Tigers (6-2)
Auburn is a really good team that loses to other really good teams. The two losses on their record have been against two top 10 teams, including Saturday’s loss at top ranked LSU. Even when they lose they still look good, as the Tigers put up a strong fight against their SEC West rivals. The defense held high flying LSU offense to their lowest scoring game of the year and at times looked like they might pull off the upset. The real issue was on the offensive side of the ball as freshman QB Bo Nix struggled again on the road. The freshman doesn’t look great on the road, completing less than 50% of his passes and throwing less than 200 yards away from Auburn. The good news is the Tigers host Ole Miss at home this weekend and should take care of business.
Next Up: vs Ole Miss (3-5)
12. Baylor Bears (7-0)
No one is happier to see Oklahoma lose than the Baylor Bears, who got to sit out last weekend and remain as the lone unbeaten team in the Big 12. Now that they are the top dog in the conference, they need to start acting like it. They haven’t played the best competition this year, however they have gradually gotten better as the season has progressed. The offense, led by QB Charlie Brewer, has scored more points with each passing game and they are starting to find their rhythm late in the season. In a sport that is all about momentum, the Bears have plenty of it and look to keep their unbeaten record intact when they face unranked West Virginia on Halloween, a team that is giving up 37 points per contest while only putting up 22 on offense.
Next Up: vs West Virginia (3-4)
13. Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-0)
Another undefeated team outside of the top 10 with a lot to prove this weekend, Minnesota has been slowly climbing up the rankings with each passing week. One of the knocks on this Golden Gopher squad is the weakness of their schedule, however they had no issue beating up on Maryland 52-10 on Saturday. This offense is very good, especially in the run game — they put up 321 yards against the Terps on Saturday, which was 100 yards more than Maryland’s total yards for the game. When you have seven guys you can employ out of the backfield at any time, that’s usually a good thing. The fresh legs keeps the opposing offense off the field and allows the clock to burn. That recipe could spell success during their next outing against #5 Penn State a week from now. If Minnesota wants to be recognized on a national scale, that’s the game they’re gonna have to do it.
14. Michigan Wolverines (6-2)
For the second time in his five year tenure as head coach, Jim Harbaugh won a game against a top 10 opponent and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Sure, many people are assuming he’s on his way out as coach, but there is clearly no giving up with this team as the Wolverines flat out dominated Notre Dame for the entirety of the game. It was probably the best performance of the year for the Michigan offense, behind a powerful running game that racked up 300 yards on the ground thanks to Hassan Haskins (147 yards) and Zach Carbonet (79 yards and 2 TDs). The defense also looked stout, holding the Irish to under 200 yards on offense and giving QB Ian Book (12.9 QBR) a quick spot on the bench. They may not be on their way to a playoff berth, but this team can still fight for a New Years Eve game.
Next Up: at Maryland (3-5)
15. SMU Mustangs (8-0)
SMU caught plenty of breaks in their win against Houston last Thursday. For example, the Mustangs were outgained 510-385 on offense and held the ball for three minutes less than the Cougars. However, they managed to force three turnovers in addition to Houston racking up 11 penalties for 129 yards. It’s that type of game that makes you let out a sigh of relief when it’s over, because had it gone on any longer they might have given up the game. Thankfully, their offense is still very good behind QB Shane Buechele (203 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Xavier Jones (133 yards, 2 TDs), but it is a little concerning when the team you beat actually performed better than you in certain areas. They’ll face an even tougher challenge on the road when they travel to Memphis to take on the 24th ranked Tigers this Saturday.
Next Up: at #24 Memphis (7-1)
16. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-2)
Notre Dame had their playoff hopes up going into their game against Michigan, but those hopes quickly faded by halftime as they were routed 45-14. The offense was dismal to say the least. QB Ian Book (8-25 for 73 yards and a touchdown) looked lost out there and the Irish D gave up 300 yards rushing. Whatever playoff chances they had are basically gone now, opening up the door for another one loss team to take a spot that, had they won, likely could’ve gone to them given their schedule. They’ll look to bounce back at home against Virginia Tech
Next Up: vs Virginia Tech (5-2)
17. Cincinnati Bearcats (6-1)
The trend of bye week teams getting help from other teams continues, as the Bearcats move a step closer to the AAC title with Temple’s loss to UCF. This team is looking like a legitimate candidate for a New Year’s Day game, and if they continue to play like they have in the beginning of the year it could very well happen. RB Michael Warren is a stud and he deserves to be seen in primetime. They should be well rested now and ready for East Carolina on Saturday.
Next Up: at East Carolina (3-5)
18. Wisconsin Badgers (6-2)
It was another rough week for the badgers. The loss to Ohio State not only crushed any hope at the playoffs, but it also exposed a key issue with their team. Star RB Jonathon Taylor has probably the worst game of his storied college career, posting only 52 yards on 20 carries. With Taylor essentially shut down, the offense became nonexistent. If you can stop the run, you can basically beat Wisconsin. However, not many teams boast the talent Ohio State has and their next opponent, #19 Iowa, doesn’t have the same play making ability on offense. If they can get Taylor going they’ll be fine, but it’s concerning that that’s all they can basically do.
19. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2)
The Hawkeyes are a weird team. Sure, they’re 6-2 and those two losses came against top 25 schools — Michigan and Penn State, back to back — but there is nothing exciting about this team. They have an excellent defense, holding teams to under 10 a game, but their offense has struggled lately. They shut out Northwestern 20-0 and found the end zone a couple of times, but it was relatively boring. This upcoming week of would be the perfect time to inject some life into the offense as their next opponent, #18 Wisconsin, is a little vulnerable right now with their own offensive woes.
20. Appalachian State Mountaineers (7-0)
The Mountaineers are a fun team to watch offensively and now their defense is starting to improve, forming a more well balanced team. They haven’t lost a game all year and this Thursday’s game against Georgia Southern shouldn’t put that in jeopardy. Strange things can happen on Halloween, sure, but what’s stranger than Appalachian State potentially earning a New Years Day bowl game? If they win Thursday and their big road test at South Carolina, who’s to say this miracle season can’t end with something strange and exciting? They’d have to be undefeated in order to pull that off and win each of their games convincingly, but it can happen.
Next Up: vs Georgia Southern (4-3)
21. Boise State Broncos (6-1)
The bye week came at a great time for the Broncos as they got a chance to rest up and finish out the season strong. QB Hank Bachmeier may be ready to play after suffering a hip stinger against Hawaii three weeks ago, and while back up Chase Cord did well in his replacement, the true freshman vastly improves this Boise State offense. They still have a chance for a New Year’s Day bowl if they can win out, and this weeks game against San Jose State is an opportunity right the ship. However, the longer Bachmeier site could put that in jeopardy.
Next Up: at San Jose State (4-4)
22. Kansas State Wildcats (5-2)
The Wildcats had the biggest win of the week and for that they are rewarded with a #22 spot on the list. It was an impressive win, the first time since 1996 that Kansas State had beaten Oklahoma at home and that definitely has given their team something to cheer about. Kansas State’s two losses saw them struggle on offense but after dropping 48 on the Sooners they should start getting back on track. They can make up ground and get back into the Big 12 race, and while it might seem like a stretch they did just beat the best team in the conference pretty convincingly. Anything is possible.
23. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-1)
Wake Forest didn’t move up or down and that’s because they didn’t play. To be honest it doesn’t matter where they land because their season is potentially going to come down to their Nov. 16 matchup against #4 Clemson, with whom they share a division. That could likely prevent them from making the ACC Championship game and that’s a shame because they are arguably the second best team in the conference (which isn’t saying much, really). QB Jamie Newman, who’s been pretty underrated all season long, should get the start this week against NC State and the Demon Deacons should take care of the Wolfpack at
Next Up: vs NC State (4-3)
24. Memphis Tigers (7-1)
The Tigers are back in the top 25 thanks to their thrilling 42-41 victory over Tulsa behind freshman RB Kenneth Gainwell’s 143 yards and 3 TDs, including the game sealing score with four minutes left. Memphis did give up over 500 yards of offense but they managed to catch a few breaks here and there to pull away late. They’re a one loss team in a pretty competitive AAC and they have a chance to make the conference championship game with a win against undefeated #15 SMU this Saturday at home. It’s a primetime game on ABC and they may be in line for another primetime game on New Year’s Day if they keep putting up the points.
Next Up: vs #15 SMU (8-0)
25. San Diego State Aztecs (7-1)
Well hello there, San Diego State! Welcome to the Top 25! The Aztecs find their names on the list after coming a way with a very close win against UNLV 20-17. It’s been that way for the majority of the year, as they only have a 7 point differential from what they put up on offense and what they give up on defense. But a win is a win and this team is looking to win a Mountain West Championship, no matter how they have to do it. They get a week off before hosting Nevada but they’re focused on the bigger prize: beating Boise State for the conference title.
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