Tomorrow’s Top 25 Today: Washington upsets Oregon, UCF earns key win as college football rankings change

Tomorrow’s Top 25 Today: Washington upsets Oregon, UCF earns key win as college football rankings change

With just two weeks left in the 2022 regular season, the college football rankings are mostly settled. But when the updated AP Top 25 comes out Sunday, we’re expecting some change after a busy 11 weeks of sports scores and results. Each team in last week’s AP Top 25 was dealing with four games between ranked teams to make some movement in the rankings.

The most notable movements will be focused on the Pac-12, where Washington will see a big boost after a road upset by top-10 Oregon and UCLA will take a hit in its home loss to unranked Arizona. Georgia will be in the top spot, possibly approaching the consensus No. 1 selection. While both Ohio State and Michigan dominated in wins, those games came at home against teams with losing records, while the Bulldogs were just as impressive on the road against a team that will be in the postseason.

TCU could potentially move up to No. 3 on some ballots after a low-scoring win at Texas, but the disparity in voting points between the Horned Frogs and Wolverines was too great to expect a change in the consensus rankings last week. When you have four games between ranked teams, such as TCU’s win at Texas and Oregon’s upset of Washington, there is guaranteed to be some change in the order but not always between the teams ranked in the poll.

The Ducks won’t fall too far, and Ole Miss isn’t likely after both teams entered the weekend with just one loss and were beaten by very close margins. Texas faces a different situation as the TCU loss was Steve Sarkisian’s fourth loss of the season, making the Longhorns arguably the most interesting loss of the Top 25 weekend from a ranking perspective.

Some of the most dramatic week-to-week adjustments should come near the bottom of the poll. NC State’s loss to Boston College, Liberty’s loss to UConn, and Illinois’ loss to Purdue will clear spots in the rankings, and AP voters are going to have a diverse collection of nominees for those final spots. That’s especially true because some of the teams outside the top 25 suffered losses last week, including Kentucky, Wake Forest and Baylor.

Here’s what we think the new AP Top 25 will look like on Sunday.

1. Georgia (Last Week — 1): No change at No. 1 after Georgia took its championship form on the road and bowed out against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs won the SEC East for the fifth time in six years and will have a chance to go straight into the CBS Game of the Week against Kentucky next week with an 8-0 conference record.

2. Ohio State (2): There are no concerns about the Buckeyes after a 56-14 win vs. Indiana, though there is some concern about the injury woes on this team. Trevion Henderson didn’t play, and Mian Williams left the game on the cart, leaving the running back room horribly thin late in the game. But as long as C.J. Stroud (five touchdowns) and at least a couple of blue-chip wide receivers are healthy on this roster, the Buckeyes are capable of competing for a national championship.

3. Michigan (3): Michigan’s position hasn’t changed much since the 34-3 result against Nebraska that hurt expectations of how that game is going to play out.

4. TCU (4): Sonny Dykes and the Horned Frogs’ magical run continues as they beat Texas in Austin to clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game and lead the team to 10-0.

5. Tennessee (5): The 66-24 win over Missouri was a give-and-take contest with the Volunteers, with the Tigers starting to hit the gas anytime they got close. Hendon Hooker threw for three touchdowns in his final game at Neyland Stadium and the Vols put a number on the board that will keep voters (and more importantly College football Playoff Selection Committee) are keen on their top four chances.

6. LSU (7): The 13-10 win at Arkansas wasn’t quite offensive, but Harold Perkins Jr. (four sacks, two forced fumbles) was the best player on the field for both teams. Now 6-1 in conference play, the Tigers have just their home finale against UAB and the regular-season finale at Texas A&M before conference championship weekend.

7. USC (8): A season-ending injury to RB Travis Dye overshadowed an otherwise good result, in which QB Caleb Williams threw for three touchdowns and the Trojans won 55-17 against Colorado.

8. Alabama (10): The defense was strong in a 30-24 win at Ole Miss. Alabama forced two punts and two turnovers on downs. Byron Young had a team-high 11 tackles to go along with two sacks and a forced fumble, leading a defensive front that Ole Miss was able to feast on in third-and-long situations.

9. Oregon (6): The biggest strength to Oregon’s ranking profile is the win over UCLA as it allows the Ducks to remain one of the nation’s highest-ranked two-loss teams.

10. Clemson (12): The 31-16 win vs. Louisville was a defining moment for Clemson, which leaned on the run game and totaled 248 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 5.5 yards per carry.

11. Ole Miss (11): The Rebels’ SEC West contention disappeared in a close loss to the Crimson Tide. Coach Lane Kiffin was fired up after the game, not interested in any platitudes after another loss to Nick Saban. Ole Miss is out of SEC and CFP contention but has nevertheless put together a strong season and could make a significant bowl appearance.

12. UCLA (9): The final top-25 result in Week 11 was a poor result for the Bruins, who lost to Arizona. It’s UCLA’s second loss of the season, so there’s a high floor for how far the team will drop in the rankings, but the Bruins’ Pac-12 championship hopes are more damaged.

13. Utah (13): Although Stanford led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, AP voters would wake up to a final score of 42-7 and keep Utah close to its previous position. The Utes currently have two losses and a head-to-head loss against UCLA, limiting their ability to go up. However, USC was the only team to beat one of the best wins of any two-loss team.

14. Penn State (14): The Nittany Lions beat Maryland 30-0 to distinguish themselves as the third-best team in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Michigan. Sean Clifford passed for 10,000 yards in his career, becoming the first Penn State signal caller to do so.

15. North Carolina (15): The Tar Heels won the ACC Coastal crown for the second time in program history (first since 2015) with a 36-34 win at Wake Forest. Although 9-1 and in contention for a conference championship, AP voters may still drop North Carolina behind another two-loss team in the polls. Drake Maye was outstanding again completing 31 of 49 passes for 448 yards and 71 yards rushing for three touchdowns and another score as his Heisman Trophy bid went up another notch.

16. Washington (24): Michael Penix Jr. provided more than 400 passing yards and scores on the biggest stage to help lead to one of the program’s most significant road wins in the CFP era, a 37-34 victory over Oregon.

17. Notre Dame (20): The Fighting Irish led 35-13 and held on for a 35-32 win over Navy. Now 7-3 with four straight wins, Notre Dame faces Boston College before next week’s regular-season finale at USC.

18. UCF (22): The Knights jumped into pole position for a Group of Five New Year’s Six bid with a 38-31 win at Tulane, replacing the Green Wave for the top spot. John Rice Plumlee totaled three touchdowns and 176 yards rushing.

19. Tulan (16): Now coming off an 8-2 win over Kansas State, it’s fair to be disappointed for Tulane in a must-win spot against UCF. If the Green Wave want another shot at the Knights, they can get it, but they need to beat SMU and Cincinnati in the final two games of the season to get to the AAC Championship Game.

20. Kansas State (23): Another week with Kansas State to overcome a quarterback injury, and yet, the Wildcats had an answer. Adrian Martinez left with an injury, but Will Howard threw three touchdown passes in Baylor’s 31-3 win.

21. Texas (18): The Longhorns are in danger of falling out of the top 25 entirely with only four losses. Our guess is that a win at Kansas State, a close margin against TCU and a lack of consensus for the latter teams keep Texas in the top 25.

22. Florida State (25): The Seminoles are now on a roll, following a 42-point win at Miami with a 35-point win at Syracuse. As LSU’s stock rises, so does Florida State’s profile, which features three losses as well as a win over the SEC West champion.

23. Cincinnati (NR): One of the few teams outside the top 25 to win through Week 11, the Bearcats hope to climb back into the rankings after improving to 8-2 with a win over ECU on Friday night.

24. UTSA (NR): The 8-2 Roadrunners just beat Louisiana Tech 51-7 for the team’s seventh straight victory. UTSA is 6-0 in conference play and could be a threat to other teams in the race for a New Year’s Six bid next week.

25. Troy (NR): Like UTSA, Troy is hot now with seven straight wins It improved to 8-2 with the win over Army. Sun Belt rivals Coastal Carolina or Oklahoma State could get the spot, but we think a win over the Black Knights could garner enough attention to increase voting points.

Projected to drop out: No. 17 NC State, No. 19 Liberty, No. 21 Illinois

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