Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Tomorrow’s Top 25 Today: Oklahoma’s Red River Rivalry win has Sooners surging up college football rankings

A wild Saturday in college football has resulted in a shake up not only in the top five but throughout the AP Top 25 poll, and the new college football rankings will show plenty of changes when they update Sunday afternoon. No result will have more of an impact than Oklahoma’s late-minute win against Texas in the Red River Rivalry as the Sooners get some validation for their undefeated start, while a Texas team that took its first defeat must now find its spot in the pecking order after its first loss. 

Part of Texas’ adjustment takes into account Alabama — a team the Longhorns defeated on the road — beating Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. While the Aggies weren’t ranked in the AP Top 25, they were a team that got some votes in last week’s balloting, and the oddsmakers made Crimson Tide a narrow favorite in the game, which is reflective of the quality of the opponent and the setting. 

Further down in the rankings we’ll see some significant shake up with Washington State, Miami and Missouri taking their first losses of the season as Notre Dame took its second loss of the season. These defeats create interesting decisions for AP Top 25 voters as they try to justify head-to-head and resume decisions, which will likely be varied outside of the top 15. For example: Kentucky beat the same Florida team that handed Tennessee its only loss, and Notre Dame has a win against Duke but now holds two losses after falling at previously unranked Louisville. 

UCLA is an expected arrival from outside the top 25, but where it lands is uncertain given the way the Pac-12 has played out in the early weeks of conference play. 

Here’s how we think the updated AP Top 25 will look on Sunday after Week 6 action: 

1. Georgia (Last week — 1): The big story from the Bulldogs’ 51-13 win against the Wildcats is how Carson Beck showed out against a solid UK defense with 389 yards passing and four touchdowns. 

2. Michigan (2): The loss of Texas first-place votes will likely help Michigan’s standing in the rankings, especially after a 52-10 win at Minnesota, but we’re not projecting that it will be enough to jump Georgia for No. 1. 

3. Oklahoma (12): The Sooners might not reach the top three (as we’re projecting here), but anything short of top five would be a legitimate surprise given their status at this point in the season. Oklahoma is a 6-0 team with a win against a top-five team in Texas on a neutral site, and that Longhorns team will still be ranked highly after the loss thanks to its win against Alabama. 

4. Ohio State (4): We will see whether voters value the final score or the way the game played out with the Buckeyes. Maryland did everything it needed to try and pull the road upset until turnovers and other late-game errors allowed Ohio State to pull away late. On one hand, it was validation for the strength of the Buckeyes defense to hold things together when the offense is sputtering, but it was also reason to be concerned if you were doubting this team’s argument as the No. 1 team int he country. 

5. Florida State (5): There was a valiant effort from Virginia Tech that included three fourth-down conversions and a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown, but the competition was not close enough for Mike Norvell to leave the starters in for all four quarters despite the 39-17 margin. Trey Benson totaled 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 11 carries, and Florida State stayed on course to accomplish its goals of competing for championships in 2023. 

6. Penn State (6): The Nittany Lions were off in Week 6 and will be back in action next week against UMass. 

7. Washington (7): The Huskies were off in Week 6 and will be back in action next week against Oregon. 

8. Oregon (8): The Ducks were off in Week 6 and will be back in action next week against Washington. 

9. USC (9): A triple-overtime win against Arizona as a three-touchdown favorite will do no favors for USC when it comes to ranking the top undefeated teams, so we’re not projecting any major movement in the pecking order, especially against the Trojans’ other Pac-12 foes.

10. Texas (3): The win at Alabama comes in handy as a nice place for voters to spot Texas after the epic defeat to Oklahoma, and it’s likely that many ballots will still have the Longhorns above other undefeated teams. Ultimately, the consensus likely has Texas as the top one-loss team in the country, and that’s going to be somewhere on the edge of the top 10. 

11. Alabama (11): It wasn’t always pretty, but the Crimson Tide showcased their resilience and defensive excellence in a hard-fought win at Texas A&M. This isn’t the high-powered Alabama offense that we’ve seen at times in the latter Nick Saban years, but it is one that has the caliber to attain many of the same goals throughout his tenure in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is now 5-1, undefeated in SEC play and has its toughest remaining games (LSU and Tennessee) at home, so while you can nitpick how this team stacks up to prior Tide teams, it still has a path to championship contention. 

12. North Carolina (14): Drake Maye is hitting his stride at the perfect time as North Carolina has now improved to 5-0 after a dominant win against Syracuse.  

13. Louisville (25): This might be an aggressive jump, but the Cardinals are undefeated and just beat a Notre Dame team the voters have respected, so it’s expected they’ll be ahead of some other one-loss teams. 

14. Ole Miss (16): A narrow win at home against Arkansas will draw more concern locally than it will nationally as voters are likely to see an SEC win and an improvement to 5-1 as reasons to keep Lane Kiffin’s squad in relatively the same position on their ballots. 

15. Oregon State (15): The Beavers should remain around the same position after piling on the points against Cal.  

16. Washington State (13): The Cougars are going to take a tumble due to their first loss of the season, but the win against Oregon State is going to help provide a nice floor for their ranking. 

17. UCLA (NR): The logjam of Pac-12 teams with head-to-head wins against one another previews the difficulties that not just AP voters but the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will have to sort out in crucial decisions coming down the stretch. The Bruins have a win over a Washington State team that has defeated Oregon State but also a loss to an Utah team that lost at Oregon State. There’s no way that AP voters are in consensus on how these teams sort out, but we expect they will all land in this range of the rankings. 

18. Utah (18): The Utes were off in Week 6 and will be back in action next week against Cal.

19. Notre Dame (10): Losing to two teams that are currently undefeated will help the Fighting Irish but not as much as the win against a Duke team that is ranked and did not play in Week 6. 

20. Duke (19): The Blue Devils were off in Week 6 and will be back in action next week against NC State. 

21. Tennessee (22): The Volunteerss were off in Week 6 and will be back in action next week against Texas A&M. 

22. Kentucky (20): AP voters, historically, have not punished teams too much for losing to the No. 1 team in the country, especially when that team was previously undefeated, ranked and on the road. The Wildcats are going to be the chopping block for many ballots but not enough to fall out of the consensus top 25. 

23. LSU (23): There was an argument to leave LSU out of the rankings last week due to a lack of quality wins, but after going on the road and taking down previously undefeated Missouri, there is some strength added to the Tigers’ profile. They’re a flawed team with issues to correct on defense for sure, but their offensive ceiling also makes them among the most dangerous teams in the country when everything is rolling in the right direction. 

24. Missouri (21): It’s less likely that Mizzou makes the cut than Kentucky, but the Tigers face the same issue as a team that was undefeated but lost as an underdog to a conference foe. The difference here is that, while the Missouri was far more competitive in its game against LSU, it was at home and the defeat came to a two-loss team on the edge of the rankings rather than the two-time reigning champion currently ranked No. 1. 

25. Miami (17): Saturday night’s home loss to Georgia Tech could be devastating enough to get them bounced from the rankings, but the win against Texas A&M and the fact that the Hurricanes have just one loss will likely keep them in the consensus top 25.  

Projected to drop out: No. 24 Fresno State 

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