AP Top 25 Takeaways: Michigan, Texas Knocking on Top Four’s Door

The AP Top 25 poll for Week 9 was released Sunday afternoon and there’s a new top five in the wake of Ohio State’s loss to Purdue Saturday night.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the latest poll.


Ohio State plummets

The Buckeyes arrived in West Lafayette, Indiana ranked No. 2 in the country. They’re now No. 11 after losing 49-20 to Purdue on a night in which they failed to establish a running game, committed 10 penalties and failed to contain Boilermakers running back D.J. Knox and wide receiver Rondale Moore.

With four regular season games left plus a potential Big Ten Championship Game appearance, Ohio State isn’t out of the College Football Playoff hunt. The Buckeyes are, however, now on the outside of the playoff picture, likely needing to win out to have a chance at finishing in the committee’s top four.


A new top four

With the No. 2 spot in the AP Poll vacated by the Buckeyes, the teams ranked No. 3 through No. 9 in last week’s poll each moved up one spot. Clemson is No. 2 after a dominant performance against previously unbeaten NC State, followed by Notre Dame and LSU.

The Fighting Irish had a bye week, while LSU’s defense forced four turnovers in a 19-3 win over Mississippi State.

Alabama travels to Baton Rouge to play LSU in Week 10 in a game with massive College Football Playoff implications. The winner will have the inside track for making the SEC Championship game.


Waiting in the wings

Michigan, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Florida are ranked No. 5 through No. 9, respectively. Each team has one loss this season, and besides the Longhorns’ Week 1 loss to unranked Maryland, each loss came against a team that’s currently ranked in the top 15.

This group of teams is in the playoff hunt, but the margin for error is thin, if not nonexistent. Since a two-loss team hasn’t made the College Football Playoff and the top three teams – Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame – are undefeated, each of these teams would likely have to win out to feel good about its playoff chances.

Plus, there are some head-to-head results that will come into play in the final rankings with the current top four and the next five teams. Notre Dame owns a win over Michigan. LSU gave Georgia its first loss of the season. Texas won in a shootout over Oklahoma.

There are two huge matchups in the SEC in the next two weeks. Georgia and Florida will meet in Jacksonville on Saturday, then Alabama travels to LSU on Nov. 3.


UCF stays put at No. 10

Florida jumped UCF in the latest poll despite the Gators having a bye week in Week 8, while the Knights won at East Carolina. As mentioned above, some of the nine teams ranked ahead of UCF will play each other, so the Knights could climb in the rankings as some of those schools will inevitably lose.

However, their only remaining opponent that is currently ranked is No. 21 South Florida, so they may not have the opportunity for a huge jump in the rankings.


Washington State skyrockets

The biggest mover of the week is Washington State, which jumped 11 spots from No. 25 to No. 14 after a win against Oregon. The Cougars are a half-game behind Washington in the Pac-12 North standings with remaining road games against Stanford and Colorado before facing the Huskies in the final game of the regular season.


Welcome to the Top 25

Utah, Stanford and Appalachian State claimed the final three spots, respectively, in the AP poll after being unranked last week. It’s the first time the Mountaineers have ever been ranked in the AP Top 25, showing the progress the program has made under coach Scott Satterfield.

After winning nine, 10 and 11 games in the last three seasons, Appalachian State is off to a 5-1 start with its only loss coming in overtime at Penn State in Week 1. The Mountaineers have held their opponents to 9.8 points per game in their last five games.