With just two weeks left in the 2022 regular season, the college football rankings have mostly settled. But when the updated AP Top 25 is released Sunday, we are expecting some shuffling after a busy Week 11 of scores and results across the sport. Every team from last week’s AP Top 25 was in action with four games between ranked teams allowing for some movement up and down within the rankings.
The most notable movements will be focused on the Pac-12, where Washington will see a big boost after its road upset of top-10 Oregon and UCLA will take a hit for its home loss to unranked Arizona. Georgia will remain in the top spot, likely coming close to a unanimous No. 1 selection. Though both Ohio State and Michigan dominated in victories, 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 to No. 3 on some ballots after grinding out a low-scoring win at Texas, but the voting points disparity between the Horned Frogs and Wolverines was far too great last week to expect a change in the consensus rankings. When you have four games between ranked teams, like TCU’s win at Texas and Washington’s upset of Oregon, there are guaranteed to be some changes in the order but not always a change in the teams ranked in the poll.
The Ducks are not going to drop too far, and Ole Miss isn’t likely to either after both teams entered the weekend with just one loss and were defeated by a close margin. Texas faces a far different situation as the TCU defeat was Steve Sarkisian’s fourth loss of the season, making the Longhorns arguably the most interesting loser of the top 25 weekend from a rankings 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 at UConn, and Illinois’ loss to Purdue will free up spots in the rankings, and AP voters are going to have a diverse collection of nominees for those final spots. This is especially true because some of the teams who were just outside the top 25 last week took losses, including Kentucky, Wake Forest and Baylor.
Here’s how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday.
1. Georgia (Last week — 1): No change at No. 1 after Georgia took its championship form on the road and flexed against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have clinched the SEC East for the fifth time in six years and will have a chance to win it outright with an 8-0 conference record next week against Kentucky in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week.
2. Ohio State (2): There is no concern about the Buckeyes after a 56-14 win vs. Indiana, though there is some worry about injury issues on this team. TreVeyon Henderson did not play again, and Miyan Williams left the game on the cart, leaving the running back room awfully thin by the end of the game. But as long as C.J. Stroud (five touchdowns) and at least a couple of the blue-chip wide receivers on this roster are healthy, the Buckeyes are capable of competing for a national championship.
3. Michigan (3): No major change in position for Michigan after a 34-3 result against Nebraska that pretty much hit the expectation for how that game was going to play out.
4. TCU (4): The magical run for Sonny Dykes and the Horned Frogs continues as beating Texas in Austin clinches a spot in the Big 12 title game and moves the team to 10-0.
5. Tennessee (5): The 66-24 win against Missouri was a give-and-go contest with the Volunteers establishing the early lead then hitting the gas any time the Tigers got close. Hendon Hooker threw for three touchdowns in his final game in Neyland Stadium, and the Vols put a number on the board that will keep voters (and more importantly the College Football Playoff Selection Committee) interested in their top-four chances.
6. LSU (7): The 13-10 win at Arkansas wasn’t pretty offensively, but Harold Perkins Jr. (four sacks, two forced fumbles) was the best player on the field for either team. Now 6-1 in conference play, the Tigers have just the home finale against UAB and the regular season finale at Texas A&M left before conference championship weekend.
7. USC (8): A season-ending injury for RB Travis Dye overshadows an otherwise good-looking result with QB Caleb Williams throwing for three touchdowns and the Trojans winning 55-17 against Colorado.
8. Alabama (10): The defense was strong closing out 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 with two sacks and a forced fumble, leading a defensive front that was able to feast when Ole Miss got into third-and-long situations.
9. Oregon (6): The greatest strength for Oregon’s rankings profile is the win against UCLA as it provides an opportunity for the Ducks to remain one of the highest-ranked two-loss teams in the country.
10. Clemson (12): The 31-16 win vs. Louisville was a get-right moment for Clemson, which leaned on the run game and totaled 248 yards rushing and three touchdowns at 5.5 yards per carry.
11. Ole Miss (11): The Rebels’ SEC West contention disappeared in the close loss to the Crimson Tide. Coach Lane Kiffin was fiery 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 wind up in a significant bowl game.
12. UCLA (9): The final top-25 result of Week 11 was a bad one for the Bruins, which lost at home to Arizona. It’s only the second loss of the season for UCLA, so there’s a high floor for how far the team will fall in the rankings, but far more damage was done to the Bruins’ Pac-12 championship hopes.
13. Utah (13): Though Stanford held a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, AP voters will wake up to a 42-7 final score and keep Utah close to its previous position. The Utes are currently limited in their ability to move up with two losses and a head-to-head defeat against UCLA. However, while they have one of the best wins of any two-loss team as the only team to beat USC.
14. Penn State (14): The Nittany Lions obliterated Maryland 30-0 to again set themselves apart as the third-best team in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Michigan. Sean Clifford eclipsed 10,000 yards passing in his career, becoming the first Penn State signal caller to do so.
15. North Carolina (15): The Tar Heels clinched the ACC Coastal crown for the second time in program history (first since 2015) with a 36-34 win at Wake Forest. Though 9-1 and competing for a conference championship, AP voters may still leave North Carolina behind other two-loss teams in the poll. Drake Maye was outstanding once again completing 31 of 49 passes for 448 yards and three touchdowns with 71 yards rushing and another score as his Heisman Trophy bid ratcheted up another notch.
16. Washington (24): Michael Penix Jr. delivered on the biggest stage with more than 400 passing yards and the scores needed to help the Huskies notch one of the program’s most notable road wins in the CFP era, 37-34 over Oregon.
17. Notre Dame (20): The Fighting Irish led 35-13 and held on to win 35-32 against Navy. Now 7-3 with four wins in a row, Notre Dame is surging with Boston College next week before the regular-season finale at USC.
18. UCF (22): The Knights jumped into pole position for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bid with a 38-31 win at Tulane, supplanting the Green Wave for the top spot. John Rhys Plumlee returned with three total touchdowns and 176 yards rushing.
19. Tulane (16): Now 8-2 with a win over Kansas State, it’s fair for Tulane to be disappointed in a must-win spot against UCF. If the Green Wave want another shot at the Knights, they can get it, but they will have to defeat SMU and Cincinnati in the final two games of the season to move to the AAC Championship Game.
20. Kansas State (23): Another week with Kansas State having to overcome quarterback injuries, and yet, the Wildcats had the answer. Adrian Martinez left with an injury, but Will Howard stepped in with three touchdown passes in a 31-3 win at Baylor.
21. Texas (18): The Longhorns are at risk of being dropped from the top 25 entirely just by having four losses. Our projection is that the win at Kansas State, the close margin against TCU and a lack of consensus for the next teams up keep Texas inside the top 25.
22. Florida State (25): The Seminoles are on a roll right now, following up a 42-point win at Miami with a 35-point win at Syracuse. As LSU’s stock rises, so does the value of Florida State’s profile, which while having three losses also features a win against the SEC West champion.
23. Cincinnati (NR): One of the few teams just outside the top 25 to win in Week 11, expect the Bearcats to break back into the rankings after improving to 8-2 with a win against ECU on Friday night.
24. UTSA (NR): The 8-2 Roadrunners just beat Louisiana Tech 51-7 for the team’s seventh win in a row. UTSA is 6-0 in conference play and could be a threat to other teams in the running for a New Year’s Six bid in the coming weeks.
25. Troy (NR): Like UTSA, Troy is hot right now with seven wins in a row. It just improved to 8-2 with a win against Army. It’s possible Sun Belt rival Coastal Carolina or Oklahoma State get this spot, but we think the victory against the Black Knights might draw enough attention for a boost in voting points.
Projected to drop out: No. 17 NC State, No. 19 Liberty, No. 21 Illinois