Tomorrow’s Top 25 Today: Kansas State soars as turmoil shakes college football rankings

After all the dust from Week 9 has settled, the debate over the top spots in the latest college football rankings has gotten even more interesting. Plus, with seven teams in a row having lost on Saturday, there are plenty of spots up for grabs and the potential for big moves outside of the top 25 as voters wrestle with tough decisions at the end of the ballot.

The top eight teams in the AP Top 25 poll all won, and with Clemson and Alabama shut out, voters could decide to take it easy on their ballots. It is possible that we will not see any major changes when the ranking is updated. But if even a small portion of voters decide to open up their previous thoughts on the nation’s No. 1 team, we could see some adjustments within the top three.

Georgia had 31 first-place votes last week compared to 18 for Ohio State and 13 for Tennessee. (Clemson also received the lone first-place finish.) But while the Bulldogs held a significant advantage, the Buckeyes faced an extremely small deficit in voting points (1,530 points to 1,513 points) with Tennessee slightly further back. All Ohio State needs is a handful of voters to react to Saturday’s 44-31 win against Penn State with a change at the top of the ballot, and we could see the Buckeyes take over the No. 1 spot.

With Florida cutting Georgia’s lead to 28-20, it looked like No. 1 was hanging in the balance, but two second-half touchdowns gave the Bulldogs a 42-20 final, probably strong enough to keep most of them. 31 first place votes. It won’t be a stunner if Ohio State grabs the No. 1 seed after its best win of the season, but poll inertia usually keeps these things right among the top teams as we get late into the season.

Ranking chaos will occur outside the top eight, starting with the response to Kansas State’s stunning 48-0 win against a top-10 Oklahoma State team. The Wildcats are slated to be one of the week’s biggest risers, climbing from No. 22 to knocking on the door of the top 10, boasting a 6-2 profile, with both losses coming to 15-1 teams overall. (TCU, Tulane). Additionally, Saturday’s win against the Cowboys puts the Wildcats in sole possession of second place in the Big 12. Oklahoma State is also sure to see a noticeable drop, as voters will likely penalize the margin of defeat as much as the loss itself.

While a loss to a ranked team will boost the Cowboys in the fall, the same can’t be said for Wake Forest, Syracuse, Cincinnati and South Carolina. None of these teams should be confident in their top 25 status after a costly second (or third) loss of the season to an unranked team, but a turnaround in those spots at the end of the poll will keep some of Saturday’s losers in the standings. head to week 10.

Here’s what we think the new AP Top 25 poll will look like on Sunday.

1. Georgia (Last Week – 1): There’s more to criticize than you’d expect given the 22-point margin, but that’s because we hold Georgia to a higher standard as the reigning champion, the No. 1 team in the country and White’s nemesis. -hot Tennessee team next week.

2. Ohio State (2): We’ve been waiting all season to see the Buckeyes get tested, and after a 14-13 start to the third quarter, it’s fair to say the season was on the line. However, their defense, led by JT Tuimoloau, forced turnovers and even put up points themselves to secure Ohio State’s best win of the season.

3. Tennessee (3): We’ve written before that an Ohio State win could be worth a few more No. 1 votes, but the same can be said for Tennessee. The Volunteers’ offense is inevitable, but it’s how the defense sets up Hendon Hooker with good opportunities that helps this group develop into a fully-formed championship contender.

4. Michigan (4): Running the ball efficiently and playing a suffocating, dominating style of defense has become Michigan’s championship game, and the Wolverines’ ruthless efficiency on the downs will lead to more wins like Saturday’s 29-7 win. against Michigan State.

5. Clemson (5): The Tigers were off in Week 9 and will be back in action next week at Notre Dame.

6. Alabama (6): The Crimson Tide were shut out in Week 9 and will be back in action next week at LSU.

7. TCU (7): Four straight Big 12 wins by 10 points or fewer has made life stressful for a TCU fan, but the team itself doesn’t seem to be disappointed by the cumulative effect of playing in thrillers every week.

8. Oregon (8): Caught in a potential trap at Cal with an early kickoff after a win at UCLA, Oregon shook off a slow start to win late 42-24. Bo Nix totaled six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing) as he continues to build a strong case for the QB1 debate in the Pac-12.

9. USC (10): Although the Trojans led by just two points in the final minutes of the third quarter, the final score of 45-37 will be enough for the voters to keep them in a similar spot with only a slight boost thanks to the Oklahoma State loss.

10. UCLA (12): The Bruins are currently in action against Stanford.

11. Kansas State (22): Not only is the 48-0 result against a quality opponent worthy of a reward in the rankings, but the game deserves a reevaluation of the entire profile of the Wildcats. TCU has emerged as a team on a special run this season, but the Horned Frogs’ win against Kansas State was absolutely marred by injuries to both of the Wildcats’ top two quarterbacks. If AP voters act like the College Football Playoff selection committee and factor in injuries, Kansas State will check in as the top-ranked two-loss team in the country.

12. Ole Miss (15): The Rebels are 8-1 and reach their bye week after a midseason game that nearly saw back-to-back losses when they survived an upset bid at Texas A&M on Saturday night. The 31-28 win featured a heavy dose of the running game that made Ole Miss a contender, and after a week off, they’ll be back in action with the biggest game of the year, hosting Alabama on Nov. 12. The Rebels are off to their best start since 1962.

13. Illinois (17): That Fighting Illini defense continues to be a monster, and after Nebraska grabbed a 9-6 lead early in the second quarter, the Cornhuskers were shut out the rest of the way in a 26-9 Illinois victory. It’s the sixth straight win for Bret Bielema’s team, which has a jump in the rankings, if only due to being one of the last one-loss teams in the country.

14. Penn State (13): Thanks to Penn State, we got to see Ohio State show some vulnerability for the first time in a long time, and the ability to get off the mat and keep charging is a credit to the roster. However, too many mistakes doomed the Nittany Lions, who will feel the pain of the loss more in the locker room than in the rankings.

15. Utah (14): With Cam Rising a surprise addition to the lineup, quarterback Bryson Barnes led the Utes to a tough 21-17 win at Washington State on Thursday night.

16. LSU (18): The Tigers were off in Week 9 and will be back in action next week against Alabama.

17. North Carolina (21): Trailing by double digits in the second half, things looked ominous for the Tar Heels. But Drake Maye continued his impressive freshman campaign with five touchdown passes and North Carolina improved to 7-1 with the win against Pittsburgh.

18. Oklahoma State (9): After a 48-0 loss at Kansas State, the Cowboys are now 6-2 with wins against Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech. It’s a strong profile, but the stock is definitely down after losing two of their last three, albeit to teams that AP voters will likely have in the top 15.

19. Tulane (23): The Green Wave were off in Week 9 and will be back in action next week in Tulsa.

20. Wake Forest (10): On Saturday, we could see the worst single quarter of the entire college football season as Wake Forest saw a 14-13 halftime lead and Louisville led 35-0 in the third quarter. There was a pick six, a lost fumble on the next two drives, another interception that led to a touchdown, a lost fumble that led to a touchdown, a punt, and then a second pick six. And the first possession of the fourth quarter ended in a fumble. It was a disaster of truly epic proportions for the Demon Deacons, who are now 6-2 with a 2OT loss to Clemson but also a 48-21 loss at Louisville.

21. Liberty (NR): The Flames were away in Week 9, but at 7-1 with a lone loss to Wake Forest by one point, there will be more voters adding Liberty to their ballot at either No. 24 or No. 25. Liberty’s ranking also brings more intrigue, as Hugh Freeze leads this team on the road to face Arkansas in Week 10.

22. Notre Dame (NR): Granted, it’s a bold move to project a three-loss team into the top 25 at this stage of the season, but Notre Dame has a unique profile that could make it a candidate for a big jump off the radar and into the rankings. There are losses to Stanford and Marshall that will keep some voters from including the Fighting Irish, but now there are wins against North Carolina and Syracuse that will have some value, aside from being one of the teams that played Ohio State the closest this season.

23. Syracuse (16): Starting QB Garrett Shrader was injured in Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame, but his availability may not have helped a defense that struggled with stops against the Irish. The Orange will now be 6-2 after two straight losses for many voters. Wins against Louisville, Purdue and NC State ultimately bolstered our prediction that Syracuse is barely hanging in the top 25.

24. NC State (24): Third-string QB MJ Morris entered the game and threw three touchdowns to lead NC State on a furious comeback from what would be an extremely tough loss at home to Virginia Tech on Thursday night.

25. UCF (NR): The Knights were already on the verge of cracking the top 25 before last week’s loss at ECU, so there’s plenty of room to get even with the voters after this loss. We expect a 25-21 win against Cincinnati, which was ranked No. 20 last week, to do a lot of heavy lifting. UCF, now 6-2, will return to contention for the final spots on voters’ ballots.

Projected to fall: Kentucky (19), Cincinnati (20), South Carolina (25)

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