The college football AP Top 25 poll for Week 6 was released Sunday afternoon and it featured some major changes at the top.
There’s a new No. 1 team in the country and there’s a new face that joined the top four.
Here are our reactions to the latest AP poll.
‘Bama is back to No. 1
Alabama was the beneficiary of Clemson’s 21-20 scare at North Carolina. The Crimson Tide leapfrogged the Tigers, who are now No. 2, for the top spot in the AP poll. In an ACC that certainly doesn’t appear to have multiple playoff contenders, let alone many opportunities for noteworthy wins that would jump out to the selection committee, Clemson was nearly tripped up by a middling Tar Heels team.
The Tigers will have to hope that Wake Forest, which made its season debut in the AP Top 25 at No. 22, can climb high enough in the polls and CFP rankings that Clemson can add another resume-building win in the regular season.
Meanwhile, Alabama is now ranked No. 1 in both the AP poll and SP+ rankings, which rank the Crimson Tide’s offense at No. 3 nationally and its defense at No. 8.
Ohio State is now in the top four
We predicted this would happen after Ohio State destroyed Nebraska in front of the Huskers’ home crowd in a game that was selected as the location for Week 5’s College GameDay.
The Buckeyes received just two more votes than LSU – 1,324 to 1,322 – so it’s not as if voters perceive there’s a huge gap between Ohio State and the suddenly offensively explosive Tigers.
I, for one, would love to see the two teams play on a neutral field but it’s encouraging to see that AP poll voters are willing to make changes from their collective preseason opinions. You could argue that Ohio State deserves to be ranked even higher than No. 4 but the Buckeyes treating their September opponents with reckless abandon was justifiably rewarded in the AP poll.
What kind of upward mobility is there for the next tier?
The group of teams ranked No. 6 through No. 14 stayed the same as last week with the only movement coming from Notre Dame and Florida flip-flopping with the Fighting Irish now at No. 9 and the Gators at No. 10. Oklahoma, Auburn and Wisconsin are ranked No. 6-8 and Texas, Penn State, Oregon and Iowa are No. 11-14.
It’s probably more responsible to try to group teams into tiers rather than steadfast and linear one-through-25 rankings when discussing the national college football landscape.
Where does the top tier end? Is it after LSU at No. 5? Oklahoma at No. 6? Are Auburn or Wisconsin included?
Smart observers of football can disagree about that but it’s interesting to speculate about which teams just outside of the top four or even just outside of the top 10 are good enough, or have a schedule that’s friendly enough, for them to potentially be ranked, say, No. 6 in early November.
Oklahoma, Auburn, Wisconsin, Florida, Penn State and Iowa are still undefeated. If they keep that up, they’ll climb in the AP poll and they’ll have the chance to make a playoff push as they inch closer to a theoretical 13-0 or 12-1 record.
Notre Dame, Texas and Oregon’s lone losses came against undefeated teams that are currently ranked in the top seven so they haven’t been mathematically eliminated from the playoff, either.
We’ll learn more in Week 6, when Auburn travels to Florida and Iowa goes to Michigan.
Long droughts are over
SMU is ranked No. 24 in the latest AP Top 25 poll, marking the first time the Mustangs have been ranked since 1986. SMU’s death penalty came in 1987.
Wake Forest is ranked No. 22, which is the first time the Demon Deacons have been ranked since 2008.
It’s not unusual for a couple teams every year to end an AP Top 25 drought but to have two teams end 10-plus-year droughts in the same week is remarkable.