AP Top 25 college football poll reaction: What's next for each ranked team?

ByESPN college football reporters ESPN logo
Sunday, October 23, 2022

The AP Top 25 college football poll is out after another wild weekend of games.

So what happens from here? We break down what's next for each ranked team.

1. Georgia Bulldogs(7-0)

Previous ranking: 1

Week 8 result:bye

What's next: vs. Florida (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The first seven games of the season were a prelude. Coming out of an off week, the real action for Georgia begins as it plays Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Georgia Tech down the stretch. The one-two punch of Florida and Tennessee could be particularly interesting for the defense as the Gators and Vols have dangerous quarterbacks in Anthony Richardson and Hendon Hooker, respectively. The fact that star defensive lineman Jalen Carter is still recovering from an MCL injury is concerning. Carter, a potential top pick, hasn't started since Week 2 and didn't play the past two games. -- Alex Scarborough

2. Ohio State Buckeyes(7-0)

Previous ranking: 2

Week 8 result:54-10 win vs. Iowa

What's next: at Penn State (Saturday, noon ET)

When the Buckeyes play defense like they did all game against Iowa, and when they play offense like they did in the second half, they're almost impossible to beat. Even with preseason All-American wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba essentially a nonfactor this season, Ohio State has so many weapons for quarterback C.J. Stroud to target in the passing game. Ohio State now faces likely its toughest road test of the season against Penn State, although the Buckeyes have lost only once in State College since 2005. -- Adam Rittenberg

3. Tennessee Volunteers(7-0)

Previous ranking:3

Week 8 result:65-24 win vs. UT Martin

What's next: vs. Kentucky (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

It's incredible what Josh Heupel has done with Tennessee's program in less than two years. We're going to find out if the Vols are truly a College Football Playoff team over these next two weeks when they face Kentucky at home on Saturday and then go on the road to face No. 1 Georgia on Nov. 5. To be talking playoff and Tennessee in the same sentence would have seemed like pure fantasy back in August, but the Vols are so explosive offensively that they're going to put pressure on anybody they play. They had 52 points by halftime in Saturday's 65-24 win over UT-Martin. They've also played well in spots on defense, but that's the side of the ball that will be tested the most over the next two weeks. -- Chris Low

4. Michigan Wolverines(7-0)

Previous ranking:4

Week 8 result:bye

What's next: vs. Michigan State (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

The 7-0 Wolverines had a bye this week to prepare for in-state rival Michigan State. The Spartans are 3-4 on the season and have struggled, but sometimes records can be tossed out the window in rivalry games. Michigan has Michigan State, Rutgers, Nebraska and Illinois next on the schedule before the team clashes with rival Ohio State. Illinois has had an impressive season thus far at 6-1 and could present as a problem for the Wolverines the week before they take on the Buckeyes. -- Tom VanHaaren

5. Clemson Tigers(8-0)

Previous ranking:5

Week 8 result:27-21 win vs. No. 14 Syracuse

What's next: at Notre Dame (Saturday, Nov. 5)

The Tigers get a much-needed open date after playing eight straight games and dealing with several injuries, the latest to linebacker Barrett Carter. Coach Dabo Swinney reiterated that DJ Uiagalelei is the starting quarterback despite getting benched for Cade Klubnik in the comeback win over Syracuse. Up next on Nov. 5 is a trip to Notre Dame. The last time Clemson played in South Bend, Uiagalelei started as a true freshman in place ofTrevor Lawrenceand threw for 439 yards in a wild 47-40 double-overtime loss. -- Andrea Adelson

6. Alabama Crimson Tide(7-1)

Previous ranking:6

Week 8 result:30-6 win vs. No. 24 Mississippi State

What's next:at LSU (Saturday, Nov. 5)

It took eight games for Eli Ricks to finally play meaningful snaps on defense for Alabama. The former All-American from LSU signed as a transfer during the offseason but didn't crack the starting lineup until Saturday against Mississippi State. He more than held his own: He batted down four passes and allowed only one completion. If he continues to play well, it would be a big help to a secondary that has been shaky at points this season, whether it was a close call at Texas or a loss at Tennessee. -- Alex Scarborough

7. TCU Horned Frogs (7-0)

Previous ranking:8

Week 8 result:38-28 win vs. No. 17 Kansas State

What's next: at West Virginia (Saturday, noon ET)

After two straight cardiac comebacks at home -- the Horned Frogs became just the second team in the past 20 years, along with 2016 Tennessee, to make 17-point comebacks against ranked teams in consecutive games -- TCU heads to West Virginia to test its road mettle. The Frogs will have to continue their revenge tour, as they've lost their past three in Morgantown and are 1-5 in their past six games against WVU. -- Dave Wilson

8. Oregon Ducks (6-1)

Previous ranking:10

Week 8 result:45-30 win vs. No. 9 UCLA

What's next: at Cal (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Ducks will take their show on the road the next two weeks against lesser opponents. First up is Cal, which should be nothing but a small road bump in Oregon's season. There is danger in looking ahead, however. After matchups with the Bears and Colorado in Boulder, Oregon will have to face Washington and Utah at home, as well as Oregon State on the road, on the way to what the Ducks hope is the Pac-12 title game. -- Paolo Uggetti

9. Oklahoma State Cowboys(6-1)

Previous ranking:11

Week 8 result:41-34 win vs. No. 20 Texas

What's next: at Kansas State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Big 12 is a gantlet. Oklahoma State has played in four conference games, and all were tossups in the fourth quarter. The Pokes moved to 3-1 in conference and 6-1 overall with Saturday's 41-34 win over Texas -- they scored the game's final 17 points to secure the victory -- but the race for a spot in the Big 12 championship is only getting started. Next up are trips to Kansas State and Kansas, and Bedlam in Norman is less than a month away. Mike Gundy's Cowboys have proved resilient and ridiculously tough, and they'll have plenty more chances to prove that moving forward. -- Bill Connelly

T-10. USC Trojans(6-1)

Previous ranking:12

Week 8 result:bye

What's next: at Arizona (Saturday, 6 p.m. ET)

The Trojans travel to the desert next week to face a feisty Arizona team that's 3-4, coming off its own bye week but also two losses. On paper, it's the ideal matchup for USC to bounce back from its first loss of the season against Utah and get back on track. It will be interesting to see if Jordan Addison suits up after he appeared to suffer a lower body injury that sidelined him in the second half against Utah. While Caleb Williams has driven the USC offense so far, it's been Addison who has taken the unit to another level. Coach Lincoln Riley said last week that he did not expect the injury to Addison to be a long-term issue. -- Paolo Uggetti

T-10. Wake Forest Demon Deacons(6-1)

Previous ranking: 13

Week 8 result:45-13 win vs. Boston College

What's next: at Louisville (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Fifth-year quarterback Sam Hartman led the way yet again for Wake Forest, throwing for 313 yards and five touchdowns (with another rushing score) during Saturday's 43-15 win over Boston College. Now refreshed after an open week and riding a three-game winning streak since their loss to Clemson on Sept. 24, the Demon Deacons begin a stretch of three straight games against ranked opponents starting Nov. 5 against NC State. Those three games will go a long way in determining whether a trip to the New Year's Six will be in the cards -- somewhere the program has never been. -- Blake Baumgartner

12. UCLA Bruins (6-1)

Previous ranking:9

Week 8 result:45-30 loss vs. No. 10 Oregon

What's next: vs. Stanford (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET)

All is not lost for the Bruins after their first loss of the season. In fact, Chip Kelly's team heads into a soft part of its schedule over the next few weeks before what could be a season-deciding matchup against USC. Before that, however, UCLA will have to beat a Stanford team at home next week that hasn't looked particularly good but has won two in a row, including a surprising victory over Notre Dame in South Bend. -- Paolo Uggetti

13. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-1)

Previous ranking:16

Week 8 result:45-17 win vs. Minnesota

What's next: vs. Ohio State (Saturday, noon ET)

Coming off a loss to Michigan, Penn State bounced back to beat Minnesota 45-17, a needed win heading into Ohio State. The Buckeyes are coming off a 54-10 win over Iowa, and their offense (second in FBS) and defense (fifth) are both clicking. Penn State must have a perfect game to give itself a chance to win. -- Tom VanHaaren

14. Utah Utes(5-2)

Previous ranking:15

Week 8 result:bye

What's next: at Washington State (Thursday, 10 p.m. ET)

The Utes have four games they'll be big favorites in (at Washington State, Arizona, Stanford, at Colorado) and one massive road game against Oregon (No. 19) in what could either be a play-in game to the Pac-12 title game or a preview. The bye week came at a good time after last week's emotional win against USC. -- Kyle Bonagura

15. Ole Miss Rebels(7-1)

Previous ranking:7

Week 8 result:45-20 loss vs. LSU

What's next: at Texas A&M (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

More than a few people had questioned the Rebels' schedule strength going into Saturday's game at LSU, that maybe they hadn't been tested. Ole Miss didn't do a lot to dismiss that notion in being decimated on both sides of the ball in the final three quarters and losing 45-20 on the road. The schedule only gets tougher from here. Ole Miss travels to Texas A&M on Saturday before coming back home to face Alabama, then back on the road to play Arkansas and then the regular-season finale in a short week at home against rival Mississippi State. The Rebels have proved that they can run the ball, but getting back Zach Evans (knee) for this final stretch will be critical and take some of the workload off freshman running back Quinshon Judkins. -- Chris Low

16. Syracuse Orange (6-1)

Previous ranking:14

Week 8 result:27-21 loss vs. No. 5 Clemson

What's next: vs. Notre Dame (Saturday, noon ET)

The Orange are going to have to find a way to put their heartbreaking loss to Clemson behind them because they have Notre Dame coming to town Saturday. While the Irish have struggled this season, Syracuse should have extra motivation to prove its 6-0 start was not a fluke. There remains plenty to play for even though the chances to play in the ACC championship game are extremely remote. A New Year's Six game is very much still on the table should Syracuse regroup and continue winning. -- Andrea Adelson

17. Illinois Fighting Illini (6-1)

Previous ranking:18

Week 8 result:bye

What's next: at Nebraska (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Illini's defense has been exceptional in every way but also hasn't faced any dynamic offenses this season. The unit will be tested more down the stretch, beginning this week at Nebraska, which boasts a dangerous passing combination in quarterback Casey Thompson and wide receiver Trey Palmer. Illinois should get some help to ease Chase Brown's massive carries load, as talented sophomore running back Josh McCray, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2021, is expected to play for the first time since the season opener. The Illini pounded Nebraska 41-23 in their past trip to Lincoln. -- Adam Rittenberg

18. LSU Tigers (6-2)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 8 result:45-20 win vs. No. 7 Ole Miss

What's next: vs. Alabama (Saturday, Nov. 5)

A few weeks ago, the Alabama-LSU game on Nov. 5 didn't look like it would carry high stakes. After consecutive impressive wins by the Tigers, that game two weeks from now will be for the SEC West lead. The environment at Tiger Stadium should be like old times, too. Both teams have this coming weekend off, and LSU (6-2) looks like it's starting to play its best football. Quarterback Jayden Daniels has accounted for 11 touchdowns in his past two games. He was terrific in Saturday's 45-20 win over Ole Miss, and the Tigers' younger players (LB Harold Perkins Jr.) are really starting to blossom. -- Chris Low

19. Kentucky Wildcats(5-2)

Previous ranking:19

Week 8 result:bye

What's next: at Tennessee (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

If the Wildcats are going to win 10 games for a second straight season, they will need to play their best football (and then some) these next five weeks. It's a challenging stretch that starts Saturday on the road against No. 3 Tennessee, which has won eight of the past 10 meetings in the series. Three weeks after the Tennessee trip, Kentucky gets No. 1 Georgia at home. One of the keys for the Wildcats will be keeping Will Levis healthy and protecting him well enough so that he can get the passing game cranked up. After missing the first four games, running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. is starting to look like his old bruising self, and the defense has been solid. What the Wildcats can't do the rest of the way is turn the ball over. They're ranked 95th nationally with 12 lost turnovers. -- Chris Low

20. Cincinnati Bearcats (6-1)

Previous ranking:21

Week 8 result:29-27 win vs. SMU

What's next: at UCF (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Cincinnati escaped some sloppy, undisciplined play to secure a sixth straight victory. Back in the lineup after suffering a concussion two weeks ago, senior quarterback Ben Bryant threw for 200 yards (86 yards in the first half). Penalties continue to be an issue for the Bearcats after committing 14 of them for 127 yards. Luke Fickell is now the program's all-time winningest coach with 54 victories, passing Rick Minter, while the program tied the AAC record for consecutive conference wins (19). As the Bearcats look to keep charging toward a third consecutive AAC title, a share of first place will be on the line next week when they travel to Orlando, Florida, to face UCF. -- Blake Baumgartner

21. North Carolina Tar Heels (6-1)

Previous ranking:22

Week 8 result:bye

What's next: vs. Pitt (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)

Quarterback Drake Maye is coming off a career-high 380 passing yards in North Carolina's 38-35 win at Duke on Oct. 15. The redshirt freshman sensation has thrown for at least 284 yards in all seven of the Tar Heels' games and has tossed at least three touchdowns in five games. However, if the Tar Heels want to continue to harbor hopes of being in the ACC championship game come Dec. 3, figuring out their defensive issues (32.4 PPG and 476.3 YPG, both last in the conference) would be prudent. There's not much time left to do so before perhaps their ultimate litmus test, a Nov. 12 trip to Winston-Salem to face Wake Forest. -- Blake Baumgartner

22. Kansas State Wildcats (5-2)

Previous ranking: 17

Week 8 result:38-28 loss vs. No. 8 TCU

What's next:vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Wildcats lost Adrian Martinez early, then went on a tear behind Will Howard, scoring touchdowns on four straight possessions. Then they didn't score again in a 38-28 loss to TCU. Martinez's status is undetermined, and the Wildcats have a doozy coming up as Oklahoma State comes to town. Both teams' only conference loss has been to TCU, so the winner of this one has an early line on a Big 12 title matchup. The Cowboys have won their past three in this series. -- Dave Wilson

23. Tulane Green Wave (7-1)

Previous ranking:25

Week 8 result:38-28 win vs. Memphis

What's next: at Tulsa (Saturday, Nov. 5)

It appears to be a three-way race for spots in the AAC championship, and while Cincinnati and UCF aren't particularly surprising, Tulane is. The Green Wave moved to 7-1 with a 38-28 win over Memphis on Saturday, and now they get a bye week before a rugged homestretch. Tulane will play at Tulsa on Nov. 5, then host UCF and SMU before a Thanksgiving weekend trip to Cincinnati. A year after collapsing to 2-10, the Green Wave control their own destiny midway through the title race. What a turnaround this has been, particularly on defense, where Tulane went from allowing 34 points per game in 2021 to 17.4 through eight games in 2022. -- Bill Connelly

24. NC State Wolfpack(5-2)

Previous ranking:23

Week 8 result:bye

What's next: vs. Virginia Tech (Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

It's wild that NC State has played just three ACC games, while Clemson is at six. The Wolfpack will be at home for their next three (Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Boston College) before finishing on the road against Louisville and North Carolina. -- Kyle Bonagura

25. South Carolina Gamecocks (5-2)

Previous ranking:unranked

Week 8 result:30-24 win vs. Texas A&M

What's next: vs. Missouri (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)

Shane Beamer has followed a noteworthy debut season with an excellent encore, further proving he was the right man to lead the South Carolina program. The Gamecocks aren't without flaws, especially on offense, but they're finding ways to grind out SEC wins, setting up an exciting stretch run. They enter a very winnable stretch of Missouri (home), Vanderbilt (road) and Florida (road), and will look to spark a pass game that has eclipsed 250 yards just once this season. -- Adam Rittenberg

Dropped out: Texas (20), Mississippi State (24)