The college football rankings will see an upheaval when the new AP Top 25 poll is updated on Sunday after an epic week 7 where scores and results somehow met sky-high expectations ahead of the Saturday split. Eight ranked teams suffered losses in Week 7, but that’s mostly the result of a seven-game slate between ranked opponents. Three of those games had teams undefeated heading into the weekend, and while all three results impacted the new standings, none resonated in the sports world like Tennessee’s 52-49 victory over Alabama. .
The win brought all sorts of stories into play, including Tennessee riding a 15-game losing streak to win for the first time against a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team. It was also the most runs allowed by the Crimson Tide in any game since 1907. All of this creates an interesting question for voters: the Vols, who now sit 6-0 behind arguably the best offense of all. the country, should they be considered for the #1 spot?
What Tennessee has undeniably shown is the most impressive victory of any undefeated team. Alabama lost but by no means Bryce Young (shoulder), back in action for the first time since being knocked out of the game against Arkansas two weeks ago, and the rest of the tide looks unworthy of its own top-five ranking. Teams traded hay in one of college football’s modern epics, and this victory for the Vols stands stronger than anything on the profile of every other team vying for No. 1.
What is debatable is the value of a “ranked win” when considering the difference between the teams ranked at the time of certain matches and the current ranking. Tennessee’s four wins against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 at game time are the most in the nation, but of those four, only one (Alabama) is against a team expected to be in the poll Sunday. The wins over Pittsburgh, Florida, and LSU still have value because all three have winning records, but even then all three were ranked outside the top 15. If a voter wants to criticize the value of those “ranked wins” when cutting hair among undefeated teams, there’s a counterweight to one of the Vols’ strongest CV arguments.
Ultimately, we believe Tennessee will receive the first-place votes in the new college football rankings. The question of how far the Vols can move lies primarily in considering the motivations and thoughts of voters who had already awarded the first-place votes to Georgia and Ohio State in the ballot. of last week. Presumably some, if not most, of the 11 voters who had Alabama at No. 1 last week will shift those votes to Tennessee or Georgia; the Bulldogs beat Vanderbilt, 55-0. How many of the 32 voters who had Georgia at No. 1 will be swayed to roll back the defending national champions in the wake of Tennessee’s win, and how many of the 20 voters who had Ohio State at No. 1 will a similar move while the Buckeyes were away this week?
If Georgia had struggled with their Week 7 opponent, and if Ohio State had been in action and done the same, then the door could have been opened for a push to the top. Instead, the debate will begin with votes for first place and linger through the week among fans across the country. It’s a fascinating twist on the 2022 season and potentially just a preview of the upheavals to come with more games between ranked teams on the schedule in the coming weeks.
Here’s what the new AP Top 25 will look like on Sunday:
1. Georgia (Last week – 1): It’s very unlikely that a majority of voters who thought Georgia was the best team in the country last week will look at the Week 7 results and think a 55-0 win over Vanderbilt wasn’t good enough to that the Bulldogs maintain their position. position.
2. State of Ohio (2): The Buckeyes were out in Week 7 and will be back in action next week against Iowa.
3. Tennessee (6): As mentioned earlier, there is a strong case for Tennessee to be considered for the No. 1 spot. We suspect there will be first-place votes going to the Vols, just not enough to edge out the Buckeyes, who garnered more than 30% of the votes for first place last week.
4. Michigan (5): We predict a return to the No. 4 spot after Wolverines dominated in three games in the spotlight between undefeated sides. The 41-17 win over Penn State rejuvenated voter confidence that had slipped in recent weeks, cementing Michigan’s place as Ohio State’s top challenger in the Big Ten.
5. Clemson (4): The Tigers put on a solid showing in a comprehensive victory over Florida State, closing out their ACC road slate with a 34-28 win.
6. TCUs (13): The Horned Frogs beat three consecutive ranked opponents for the first time in school history after coming back from a double-digit fourth quarter deficit to win in double overtime against Oklahoma State, until then undefeated. Now 6-0 and 3-0 in the league, TCU can start beating the drum for more respect from voters and a place in the CFP conversation.
7. Alabama (3): If there’s going to be a surge behind Tennessee, there’s got to be a high floor for the Tide when it comes to their drop in the standings. A late field goal miss was one of many times Alabama nearly eluded Rocky Top with a comeback victory, and those low margins will be recognized by voters.
8. Ole Miss (9): Voters won’t penalize Ole Miss for allowing a shocked Auburn team to hang around in what turned out to be a better-than-expected start to the game. But the win, which ended up earning 14 points after a weather delay, wasn’t emphatic enough to get the Rebels into contention for a top-five finish.
9. UCLA (11): The Bruins sat out Week 7 and will be back in action next week against Oregon.
10. Oregon (12): The Ducks were out in Week 7 and will be back in action next week against UCLA.
11. Oklahoma State (8): A blown road lead in conference play isn’t uncommon, but it still stings when you consider what this team’s cap could have been with a head-to-head win over another American title contender. Big 12. Oklahoma State is good enough to earn a rematch with TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game, but now the margins to make that game are even smaller with a conference loss on the books and six Big 12 games remaining in the game. calendar.
12. Penn State (10): Wins at Purdue and Auburn are the top marks in the profile, which isn’t particularly strong. The eye test helps Penn State because, while the Nittany Lions were clearly outplayed on Saturday, the pieces are clearly there to make it one of the best teams in the country.
13.USC(7): Losing 43-42 as a road underdog to ranked Utah isn’t going to result in too many adjustments in the poll, but there will be a drop for the Trojans.
14. Utah (20): The Utes will be ahead of USC on many polls due to the head-to-head advantage, but having two losses will remain a factor that prevents a jump to the top 10.
15. Wake Forest (14): The Demon Deacons were out in Week 7 and will be back in action next week against Boston College.
16. Syracuse (18): The Dome were electric and impactful on the result as Syracuse seized the opportunity to pick up a high-profile win over a Devin Leary-less NC State, beating the Wolfpack 24-9 to move to 6-0. Bowl eligible for the first time since 2018, Syracuse is now turning its attention to ACC title contention with a showdown against Clemson next week in Death Valley.
17. Kansas State (17): The Wildcats were out in Week 7 and will be back in action next week at TCU.
18. Illinois (24): After getting off to their best start since 2011 following a 26-14 win over Minnesota, the Illini have now taken the wheel in the Big Ten West race.
19.Cincinnati (21): The Bearcats were out in Week 7 and will be back in action next week at SMU.
20. Kentucky (22): A few jabs at Will Levis and his upcoming status will grab headlines, but the fact that Kentucky’s defense rose to the occasion against a strong Mississippi State offense in a 27-17 victory should be encouraging for Wildcats fans hoping for a successful finish. Campaign 2022.
21. Texas (22): A week of “Can Texas make the college football playoffs with two losses?” The hype was quickly dampened by an upset Iowa State team, but a 24-21 victory keeps the Longhorns in the Big 12 title chase – and that’s the most realistic goal for 2022.
22. North Carolina (NR): Although ranked in the coaches’ poll last week, the Tar Heels were the first team outside the AP Top 25. After beating Duke and improving to 6-1, look for North Carolina to break into the AP Top 25 in 13 months.
23. State of Mississippi (16): Although the Bulldogs lost on the road as favorites to Kentucky, voters will be left with a lack of obvious options to edge their profile 5-2 for the final spots on a ballot.
24. Tulane (NR): The Green Wave improved to 6-1 with a two-touchdown road win over South Florida, and thanks to a handful of teams that suffered losses ahead of them in last week’s ballot, there should be room to pass at the top.
25. Purdue (NR): Now 4-2 after beating Nebraska, the Boilermakers could get even more attention. The argument for Purdue’s resume boils down to the classic “good loss” discussion as its only two losses have come against other ranked teams (one loss to Penn State, Syracuse undefeated) and both losses were four points or less.
Planned retirement: No. 15 NC State, No. 19 Kansas, No. 25 James Madison