Sometimes style points matter, and after Ohio State lit up the scoreboard in a 59-31 win against Purdue, it’s possible the Buckeyes will be up in the top four of the new AP Top 25 on Sunday. This after Ohio State started the week down two spots from where it stands in the College Football Playoff Rankings with the CFP Selection Committee favoring the Oregon ahead of the Buckeyes and both teams ahead of Cincinnati.
The Bearcats rank No. 2 in the AP Top 25, ahead of the Alabama team that the CFP has right behind Georgia, and we’re not projecting any shakeup among that top three after a weekend that saw each of the trio win handily. Jumping an Oregon team that has a head-to-head win in Columbus, Ohio, is going to be a challenge for voters, but the quality of performance against Purdue was noticeable enough to close the narrow gap in voting points from last week’s balloting (27).
One of the most noticeable adjustments within the top 10 is going to be the landing spot for Oklahoma, which suffered its first loss of the season at Baylor. The Sooners were No. 4 in the AP Top 25 despite being No. 8 in the CFP Rankings, but some of those same strength of schedule concerns that have been an issue for the CFP Rankings will become more pronounced now that the Sooners are no longer unbeaten. At least a half dozen one-loss teams have a better profile than the Sooners, and the head-to-head result against a surging Baylor team might end up titling the conversation further away from still considering Oklahoma as a top-10 team.
Voters are also going to face some interesting debates regarding four-loss teams and whether they are going to remain in the top 25, but for the most part, the results from Week 11 led to a reshuffling through the middle portion of the rankings.
So with all that in mind, here’s how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday after Week 11 results:
1. Georgia (Last week — 1): After trailing 10-7 at the end of the first quarter, Georgia outscored Tennessee 34-7 the rest of the way in a dominant performance. The 41-17 win that only affirmed the Bulldogs’ position as the best team in the country.
2. Cincinnati (2): While South Florida was able to hang within the four-score point spread, there was not enough struggle for Cincinnati to warrant a change in the voters’ decision to have the Bearcats’ up at No. 2.
3. Alabama (3): If the AP voters didn’t bail on Alabama after last week’s scare against LSU, there certainly won’t be a change after the 59-3 win against New Mexico State.
4. Ohio State (6): The offensive onslaught that might power this move up also served as a reminder of the ceiling for a unit that entered the week ranked among the best in the country. Just because the last two outings have featured below-average scoring doesn’t mean the the potential of 50 points doesn’t linger every time the Buckeyes get off the bus.
5. Oregon (5): The Ducks played to expectations in a double-digit win against Washington State. Oregon’s playoff future is in better shape than the team’s standing with the AP voters, which had the had the one-loss Ducks ranked two spots lower than the selection committee in last week’s balloting.
6. Notre Dame (7): No Brennan Armstrong made the challenge of keeping Virginia limited a bit more manageable, but this was still a statement road win for a Fighting Irish team that caught its rhythm during a three-game home stand. Now 9-1 with the only defeat coming to Cincinnati, Notre Dame has one of the best one-loss profiles in the country.
7. Michigan (9): There’s an argument for a move up in the rankings considering the quality of win following the 21-17 win at Penn State, and that argument might be bolstered in the minds of voters by the committee slotting the Wolverines one spot ahead of the Spartans last Tuesday. Less than 30 voting points separated the in-state rivals last week, and given each team’s results, that might be enough to flip the order in the AP Top 25 as well.
8. Michigan State (8): The Spartans had the kind of get-right win you want to see following a defeat, holding an edge nearly the entire way in a 40-21 win against Maryland.
9. Oklahoma State (10): The quality of Oklahoma State has been strong all season, and now the Cowboys are well-positioned to make the Big 12 Championship Game with a 6-1 conference record and two games left against Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
10. Ole Miss (12): The offense didn’t light the scoreboard up, but the defense showed out in a big way for Ole Miss in a win that brought life to a team that has been grinding through the last month or so with injuries and other setbacks. Beating Texas A&M marks the best win of the season, and it keeps the Rebels in the mix for a top-tier bowl at the end of the season.
11. Baylor (18): The Bears are set to be one of the biggest movers up after their impressive performance in a double-digit win against Oklahoma.
12. Oklahoma (4): There is still a path for Oklahoma to get back into the College Football Playoff, but it’s only through winning the Big 12 and avenging a head-to-head loss that should knock the Sooners from the top 10 in the new AP Top 25.
13. Wake Forest (13): All eyes are ahead on the Demon Deacons’ ACC title hopes now that Wake Forest has beaten NC State to remain unbeaten in conference play. Up next is a Clemson team that has won 12 straight in the series.
14. BYU (14): The Cougars were off in Week 11 and will be back in action next week at Georgia Southern.
15. UTSA (15): Things got awfully tight for UTSA, but the Roadrunners remain undefeated thanks to a 27-17 win against Southern Miss.
16. Texas A&M (11): There’s no doubt that Texas A&M will be the highest-ranked three-loss team, but where the Aggies fall is one of the big mysteries going into this weeks voting. The power of the Alabama win is the strongest support for rankings consideration, but don’t ignore this being a good Saturday for Texas A&M’s losses with both Arkansas and Mississippi State logging wins.
17. Houston (17): Beating Temple by 29 won’t be enough evidence to boost Houston’s stock, but it’s also not going to limit any moves up in the rankings amid the weekly shake up.
18. Wisconsin (20): The Badgers are playing their best football of the season, and I think voters are going to take notice of one of the best three-loss teams in the country.
19. Iowa (19): A tough, low-scoring win against Minnesota will be enough to hold position but not enough to avoid getting passed by a Wisconsin team that owns the head-to-head win.
20. Louisiana (24): No major change for Billy Napier’s squad after a 35-21 win at Troy.
21. Pittsburgh (25): Thursday night’s overtime win against North Carolina moved the Panthers one step closer to securing a second ACC Coastal title. The Panthers have Virginia and Syracuse left on the schedule, needing next week’s win to clinch a spot in Charlotte for the second time under coach Pat Narduzzi.
22. Utah (NR): The Utes have won on six of their last seven after avoiding disaster at Arizona. Currently sitting in first place of the Pac-12 South with a head-to-head wins against both Arizona State and UCLA, Utah is poised for a jump from No. 29 last week in voting points to a top 25 position.
23. Arkansas (NR): Back-to-back wins against Mississippi State and LSU have repositioned the Razorbacks with a top 25 profile following that three-game losing streak in October.
24. NC State (21): The Wolfpack have a three-loss profile that is short on wins against other current AP Top 25 teams, but it’s also going to be tough to imagine the voters booting NC State from the rankings entirely after the narrow road loss to a higher-ranked team.
25. Penn State (23): Will the Nittany Lions get booted from the rankings for losing to Michigan? The challengers for “best four-loss team” include an Auburn team that Penn State beat and Mississippi State, which lost to Arkansas just last week. With respect for Michigan and few clear-cut options elsewhere, we’re projecting Penn State hangs on in the top 25 despite still never showing up in the CFP Rankings.
Projected to drop out: No. 16 Auburn, No. 22 Coastal Carolina
Michigan impresses while Oklahoma and Texas fall, Florida has a rough rough day and more in this week’s Instant Reaction by the Cover 3 crew recapping Week 11 scores and results in college football.