The college football results from Week 11 did not provide enough wild upsets at the top for a major shake up to the College Football Playoff picture, but the top 25 rankings are going to have plenty of changes when they’re updated thanks to multiple ranked teams taking losses on Saturday.
Kansas and Oklahoma State fell as narrow favorites, while Penn State and Ole Miss were unable to capitalize on top-10 wins as underdogs. We’re projecting a step back for all four of those teams, allowing for some shakeups in the rankings just outside of the top 10. Louisville and Missouri should benefit the most from those results with our projection being that the Cardinals will move into the top 10 while Eli Drinkwitz’s Tigers will move up four spots to No. 12 in the AP Top 25 poll following an impressive win against Tennessee in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week.
Inside the top five, it will be interesting to see how the voting points and ballots shift for Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State as the College Football Playoff Selection Committee has maintained its belief that the Buckeyes, not the Bulldogs, are the nation’s best team. There is also an interesting debate for No. 4 between Florida State and Washington with the Seminoles and Huskies both avoiding upset scares at the hands of conference foes.
Further down in the rankings, there will be dissension about whether to place Group of Five schools like James Madison and Tulane ahead of three-loss teams that were ranked heading into the weekend. Does one value quality wins and losses or simply the records themselves when making such decisions?
With all of those factors considered, here’s how we believe the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday.
1. Georgia (Last week — 1): The return of Brock Bowers and a dominant 52-17 win against top-10 Ole Miss have the Bulldogs rounding into peak form at just the right time.
2. Michigan (2): No individual win in Week 11 was as impressive as Michigan’s manhandling of Penn State in Happy Valley without Jim Harbaugh on the sideline. But while there might be a few more first-place votes headed the Wolverines’ way, it won’t be enough to overtake Georgia for No. 1.
3. Ohio State (3): The highlight reel for Marvin Harrison Jr.’s Heisman Trophy push got plenty of additions as he dominated for 149 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a blowout home win against Michigan State.
4. Florida State (4): The Seminoles had a sizable voting points advantage over Washington for No. 4 last week, and we’re going to project that edge prevents any potential shake ups even after a push from unranked Miami in a seven-point win.
5. Washington (5): The second-half performance from Washington’s defense — shutting out Utah and delivering the stops necessary to maintain an unbeaten record — is probably more encouraging for the big-picture projections than Sunday’s rankings. If Washington is going to win the Pac-12 and compete in the College Football Playoff, it’s going to need timely stops from its defense, and that’s exactly what it got in the 35-28 win against Utah.
6. Oregon (6): No expectation for a shake up. The Ducks’ ceiling remains one spot behind undefeated Washington thanks to the head-to-head result. Still, Oregon continues to look like the top one-loss team in the country.
7. Texas (7): Quinn Ewers returned to the lineup, but a big headline from Texas’ 29-26 win at TCU was star running back Jonathan Brooks leaving the game with an apparent injury. The Longhorns should hang tight in the rankings, but a road trip to Iowa State coming up, plus Brooks’ status, are worth monitoring.
8. Alabama (8): There was no sign of a letdown or hangover coming out of the LSU win as Alabama jumped out to a big lead early and cruised to a 49-21 victory at Kentucky.
9. Louisville (11): The Cardinals are set for a move up into the top 10 — for the first time since 2016 — now that they have improved 9-1 after surviving an upset scare at the hands of Virginia on Thursday night.
10. Oregon State (12): Jonathan Smith’s group had a get-right opponent on the schedule in Stanford and handled their business accordingly, cruising to a 62-17 win.
11. Penn State (9): There are no bad losses on Penn State’s profile, so there is a high floor for the Nittany Lions when voters reconsider their spot among two-loss teams.
12. Missouri (16): One of the most impressive wins Saturday was Mizzou throttling Tennessee, 36-7. The Tigers now stand at 8-2 (for the first time since 2014) with their only losses to Georgia and LSU. This substantial rise is well-deserved.
13. Oklahoma (17): The Sooners demolished West Virginia, 59-20, behind 423 yards passing and eight total touchdowns (five passing, three rushing) from Dillon Gabriel. They move into a three-way tie for second place in the Big 12 and will need some help to play in the league title game.
14. Ole Miss (10): It’s hard to apply too much of a penalty to the Rebels, though they did lose by 35 in a 52-17 rout by Georgia. Ole Miss sits at 8-2 with its only losses to UGA and Alabama.
15. LSU (18): Jayden Daniels made FBS history as the first quarterback to pass for 350+ yards and rush for 200+ yards in a 52-35 win over Florida. Daniels led the Tigers offense to 701 total yards and undoubtedly got himself back in the Heisman Trophy race.
16. Utah (13): Washington ultimately prevailed 35-28, but the Utes took the Huskies to their limit. Now sitting at 7-3, Utah’s only losses are to ranked Pac-12 opponents, including Oregon and Oregon State.
17. Tennessee (14): The lone touchdown scored against Mizzou marked the fewest points posted by the Volunteers under Josh Heupel. It’s possible the Vols take a more significant hit in the rankings, but a lot of teams lost Saturday.
18. Oklahoma State (15): Fresh off a victory over rival Oklahoma in Bedlam, Oklahoma State was caught sleeping by a feisty UCF team, which prevailed 45-3 in Orlando. All three of the Cowboys’ losses have come to unranked teams, though the Pokes do have three ranked victories this season.
19. Tulane (20): Close wins seem to be the calling card of Tulane recently as the Green Wave improved to 9-1 with a 24-22 win against Tulsa. This is the fourth consecutive one-score victory for Tulane and third straight game decided by three points or less.
20. James Madison (21): The Dukes got off to a bit of a slow start but poured it on late in a 44-6 win against UConn.
21. Notre Dame (22): The Fighting Irish were off in Week 11 but will be back in action next week against Wake Forest.
22. Arizona (23): The good news for Arizona is that a loss was avoided at Colorado in a game where the Wildcats never led until the game-winning field goal as time expired.
23. Kansas State (NR): The CFP Selection Committee had Kansas State in its top 25 while the AP voters had the Wildcats at No. 26 last week, so when it comes to filling out those last spots on the ballot, Kansas State will get plenty of attention after nearly putting 60 on the board in a 59-25 win against Baylor.
24. North Carolina (24): The Tar Heels ultimately prevailed 47-45 in an emotional, double-overtime battle with Duke. That should be enough to keep North Carolina in the rankings.
25. Liberty (25): The Flames improved to 10-0 with a 38-10 win against in-state rival Old Dominion.
Projected to drop out: No. 19 Kansas