AP Top 25 Reality Check: Head-to-head losers ranked higher?


Oregon State running back Isaiah Newell (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, November 26, 2022 in Corvallis, Oregon. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)


The college football season goes by so fast.

It seems like just yesterday that Florida State won a wild game against LSU on Sunday of Labor Weekend. Who could forget?

Well, 12 weeks later, it appears some AP top 25 voters have done so.

The Associated Press college football poll, presented by Regions Bank, was rebuilt near the top thanks to the loss of four top-10 teams last weekend, but there were some interesting results among the teams that played to have.

No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 TCU and No. 4 Southern California all moved up a spot behind leader Georgia after Ohio State lost to the Wolverines.

The Buckeyes dropped from second to fifth.

LSU, Clemson and Oregon were the other top 10 teams that lost.

LSU (9-3) finished in 11th place, falling five places. That was three spots ahead of Florida State (9-3). The rising Seminoles finished the regular season with five straight wins, and LSU stumbled at goal and lost at Texas A&M on Saturday night.

To be fair, Florida State lost to the toughest team on its schedule (No. 10 Clemson) and LSU beat No. 6 Alabama. And voters respect the tide.

Alabama (10-2) stayed one spot ahead of a team from Tennessee they lost to in October. The Vols (10-2) have a few one-sided losses on their resume at this point, including last week’s loss to South Carolina.

Oregon (9-3) fell five places to 15th. One spot ahead of Oregon State (9-3), who roared back from 21 down to beat the Ducks on Saturday. So that’s weird.

Reality Check understands that not all head-to-head results need to be treated the same, but when things get close, why not let the scoreboard decide?

No.1 Georgia (12-0)

Next up: vs. #11 LSU in Atlanta in the SEC Championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Kenny McIntosh leads the SEC running backs with 437 yards receiving, and he’s not just catching checkdowns. McIntosh averages 12.49 yards per catch.

Rank: Perfect.

No. 2 Michigan (12-0)

Next up: against Purdue in Indianapolis in the Big Ten championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Michigan had three plays of at least 60 yards and then four touchdowns of 69 yards or more in its first 11 games against Ohio State.

Rank: Exactly right.

#3 TCU (12-0)

Next up: against No. 13 Kansas State in Arlington, Texas in the Big 12 championship, Saturday.

Reality check: The Heisman Trophy appears to be losing to Caleb Williams. And if he loses it, Frogs QB Max Duggan could be best positioned to take it.

Rank: Exactly right.

#4 USC (11-1)

Next up: vs. #12 Utah in Las Vegas in the Pac-12 Championship, Friday.

Reality check: Can the Trojans find a way to slow down Utes TE Dalton Kincaid in rematch? He had 16 catches for 234 yards in Utah’s one-point win in Salt Lake City.

Rank: Exactly right.

No. 5 Ohio State (11-1)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: The defensive collapses against an offense whose best player was missing against Michigan were stunning. That the Buckeyes didn’t take full advantage of their good scoring chances was a trend in the second half of the season.

Rank: Exactly right.

No. 6 Alabama (10-2)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: It was next to impossible for OLB Will Anderson Jr. to match last season’s historic production, but 10 sacks under 17 tackles for loss is a really good year.

Rank: Slightly high.

No. 7 Tennessee (10-2)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Beating Vanderbilt hasn’t been a given for the Vols in recent years, and making that a foregone conclusion rather than a rivalry game is a key part of Tennessee’s resurgence.

Rank: Slightly low.

No. 8 Penn State (10-2)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Nittany Lions were taking care of business in their games outside of Michigan/Ohio State and showing signs they were looking forward to the next few seasons with newcomers like LB Abdul Carter and RB Nick Singleton.

Ranking: Looks good.

No. 9 Washington (10-2)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Some Heisman love shows go to Michael Penix Jr., the Indiana transfer whose career was stalled by injury and who now leads the country with 4,354 yards.

Rank: Touch high.

No. 10 Clemson (10-2)

Next: vs. No. 24 North Carolina in Charlotte, NC, in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Dabo Swinney has sought to deflect blame from QB DJ Uiagalelei for the offensive struggles. Two things can be true. Recipients did not support well enough. The quarterback didn’t pass well enough.

Rank: About right.

No. 11 LSU (9-3)

Next up: against No. 1 Georgia in Atlanta in the Southeastern Conference Championship, Saturday.

Reality check: The offense has often over-relied on QB Jayden Daniels, both for running and passing.

Rank: Too high.

No. 12 Utah (9-3)

Next up: vs. No. 4 USC in Las Vegas in the Pac-12 Championship, Friday.

Reality check: The Utes are a resilient and experienced bunch as the program arrives at the conference’s title game for the fourth time in five seasons.

Rank: Exactly right.

No. 13 Kansas State (9-3)

Next up: vs. No. 3 TCU in Arlington, Texas in the Big 12 championship, Saturday.

Reality check: One of the most understated best coaching jobs of the season comes from Chris Klieman and his staff as the Wildcats play their considered and efficient style to perfection.

Rank: Too low.

No. 14 Florida State (9-3)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Seminoles are as good at creating explosive running plays as any team in the country, with 34 carries of at least 20 yards.

Rank: Too low.

No. 15 Oregon (9-3)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Special team failures and an unreliable defense caused coach Dan Lanning to slip down in fourth place all season. The decisions, which sometimes backfired, weren’t the problem. The bad special teams and defense were the problem.

Rank: Too high.

No. 16 Oregon State (9-3)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: A remarkable feat by coach Jonathan Smith’s Beavers, playing restrictions as quarterback for most of the season.

Rank: Too low.

No. 17 UCLA (9-3)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: May have glimpsed the future when he ran back against Cal for UCLA, with 210-pound freshman TJ Harden running for 89 yards on 12 carries.

Rank: Slightly high.

#18 Tulane (10-2)

Next up: against No. 22 in the American Athletic Conference championship, Saturday.

Reality check: A season-high 181 yards on 35 carries from a 195-pound jam with a conference title game appearance on the line. Tyjae Spears had one of the best individual performances of the college football season against Cincinnati.

Rank: About right.

No. 19 Notre Dame (8-4)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: There could be a what-would-have-been feeling about this team due to some really bad losses, but the growth over the season has been undeniable.

Rank: Exactly right.

No. 20 South Carolina (8-4)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: QB Spencer Rattler threw half his touchdown passes (eight) and almost 30% of his season’s total yards (798) in his last two games against Tennessee and Clemson.

Rank: Exactly right.

No. 21 Texas (8-4)

Next: TBD.

Reality Check: The Longhorns’ QB situation is set to be one of the most watched in the country going forward. Quinn Ewers showed lightning in a volatile first season as a starter. And soon Arch Manning arrives in Austin.

Ranking: That’s fine.

No. 22 UCF (9-3)

Next: at No. 18 Tulane in the American Athletic Conference championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Knights stumbled into conference title game splitting games against Navy and South Florida, but they could still have the highest cap in the AAC.

Rank: Slightly high.

No. 23 UTSA (10-2)

Next up: vs. North Texas in the Conference USA Championship, Friday.

Reality check: An overtime loss to Houston in the first game of the season is probably the only thing keeping the Roadrunners from more serious consideration for being the Group of Five representative in the New Year’s Six Bowls.

Ranking: Meep, Meep!

No. 24 North Carolina (9-3)

Next up: against No. 10 Clemson in Charlotte, NC, in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, Saturday.

Reality Check: Tar Heels crashed as soon as QB Drake Maye’s Heisman campaign took hold. It might still be worth a trip to New York.

Rank: Too high.

No. 25 Mississippi State (8-4)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: The Egg Bowl was an opportunity for the country to get a good look at LB Tyrus Wheat, one of the country’s most disruptive players.

Rank: Slightly low.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com


More AP College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://bit.ly/3pqZVaF

This story was originally published Nov 28, 2022 3:02 am.