As the dust settles around the latest slate of games on Saturday, let’s look ahead to the next AP top 25 college football rankings
We’re down to just one more regular season game as Rivalry Week gets ready to kick off with a ton still on the line in the conference and College Football Playoff rankings selection process
Note: this isn’t our ranking of the best teams, but our prediction for how top 25 voters will slot them in the official rankings
What we’re working with: Last week’s AP top 25 poll
25. South Carolina. Beating Tennessee is a major boost on its own, but scoring 63 points — the most by an unranked team over an AP top-5 opponent, ever — in the process is something else. The Gamecocks had 18 TDs in SEC games going into Saturday; they added nine in this game alone.
24. Texas. With a 55-14 rout over Kansas, the Longhorns are holding firm in third place in the Big 12 and are hoping for K-State to drop next week’s finale while themselves beating Baylor to get into the Big 12 title game.
23. Oregon State. A good showing for the Beavers, who moved to 8-3 on the year with a comfortable win over Arizona State and with a consequential finale against Oregon coming up next Saturday.
22. Ole Miss. The Rebels dropped a stunner on the road to Arkansas, their third loss in the last four games, and the second time they allowed over 40 points, with some observers wondering if Lane Kiffin has checked out and is looking toward the vacant job at Auburn.
21. North Carolina. Losing at home to Georgia Tech, and not scoring a point in the second half, obliterates what scant College Football Playoff hopes the Tar Heels had, but they’re still the Coastal champs and will play Clemson for the ACC title.
20. Coastal Carolina. Saturday’s game at UVA was canceled after the tragic shooting that killed three Virginia players, but AP top 25 voters should keep the Chanticleers in the rankings this week.
19. Cincinnati. The Bearcats moved into a tie for first in the AAC with Tulane after a clean, 20-point win over Temple, and now those two teams meet in the regular season finale, a game that means more after UCF’s stunning loss to Navy this weekend.
18. Tulane. The Green Wave opened a 21-0 lead and forced five takeaways in a 59-24 beatdown over SMU that strengthens its case to make a run for the AAC title, a strong showing ahead of the Cincinnati game.
17. Florida State. For the first time since 2016, the Seminoles have won eight games in a season, and have scored over 40 points in three of the last four, and now comes a date against reeling Florida that just lost to Vanderbilt.
16. UCLA. A brilliant, valiant effort from Dorian Thompson-Robinson in a Crosstown Rivalry that went for 1,150 combined yards and 93 points, but ultimately not in the Bruins’ favor when DTR threw a costly pick late in regulation with a chance to win.
15. Kansas State. A second straight win that puts the Wildcats in second place for the Big 12 title chase and they appear to be the best shot to keep TCU out of the College Football Playoff.
14. Notre Dame. Make it five straight for the Irish, who have recovered nicely from those early season struggles, stepping on BC in a 44-0 rout and looking ahead to a big matchup against rival USC to close out.
13. Washington. The Huskies piled up 54 points in an easy one over Colorado, their fifth straight victory since a 2-game losing skid midseason.
12. Utah. Cam Rising led a furious comeback, scoring 14 unanswered points in the third quarter, but the quarterback’s three interceptions and lack of any touchdown passes were too much for the Utes to recover from on the road at Oregon.
11. Penn State. The prospects for a 10-win season and a good bowl game are excellent for the Nittany Lions after they thrashed Rutgers, 55-10, with the battle for the Land Grant Trophy up next against Michigan State to close out.
10. Oregon. Bo Nix was nowhere near 100 percent as he deals with an injury, and the Ducks had three costly turnovers and overcame a poor rushing performance, but they did just enough to avoid a third loss at home against Utah.
9. Alabama. A walk for the Crimson Tide at home over Austin Peay in Cupcake Week as Jase McClellan ran for 156 yards and 2 TDs, and now comes the Iron Bowl against an Auburn team under new management in Cadillac Williams, who is 2-1 as interim coach and 6 points removed from being 3-0.
8. Tennessee. That sketchy Vols defense failed this week’s road test, badly, against South Carolina, dropping to two losses and probably putting the kibosh on their once-credible College Football Playoff credentials. Plus, quarterback Hendon Hooker is dealing with a new injury. This one was ugly.
7. Clemson. A 30-point win over a struggling Miami doesn’t move the needle too much, but other losing teams help, keeping the Tigers still in the College Football Playoff hunt if they can stay at one loss and win the ACC Championship Game.
6. LSU. Jayden Daniels hit 22 of 29 passes and Noah Cain ran for three TDs in a big win over UAB with the SEC Championship Game against Georgia still to come, but the Tigers need to win next week over A&M, plus get some help from around the country , to stay in the playoff race.
5. U.S.C. With the statement win at UCLA, the Trojans — wonky defense and all — clinch a spot in the Pac-12 title game and are very much in the College Football Playoff conversation after Caleb Williams hit on a career-high 502 yards passing. Up next is a suddenly confident Notre Dame.
4. TCU. Another crazy comeback for the Horned Frogs, who were down by 8 at Baylor and missed an extra point, but pulled off the winning field goal with no time left to stay in the final four. But there’s still a lot of football to play, with Iowa State and the Big 12 title game to come.
3. Michigan. An injury scare for lead rusher Blake Corumwho didn’t play most of the second half, and it showed as the Wolverines’ offense was touch-and-go all day, but JJ McCarthy did just enough, despite some missed throws late, to move into field goal range and an undefeated record going to Columbus next week.
2. Ohio State. Some questions defensively for the Buckeyes, who had few answers for Maryland’s dynamic aerial attack, but they held on with a strong ground game and a late touchdown on defense, moving to 11-0 for The Game.
1. Georgia. It was closer than most thought, but the Bulldogs held serve in Kentucky on the road in a slugfest to stay perfectly ahead of the Tech game and the SEC Championship after that.