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

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 (9-0)

Previous ranking: 1

Week 10 result: 27-13 win vs. No. 2 Tennessee

What’s next: at Mississippi State (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

What was most surprising about the Bulldogs’ defensive performance against Tennessee’s high-flying offense was how much they were able to pressure quarterback Hendon Hooker, who was the Heisman Trophy favorite coming into the game. Georgia sacked Hooker six times and made him uncomfortable throughout the game. The Bulldogs had only 10 sacks in their first eight games. They did it without senior outside linebacker Nolan Smith, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle against Florida and will miss the rest of the season. Robert Beal Jr., the starting outside linebacker on the other side, was hurt against the Vols. The severity of his neck injury wasn’t immediately known. — Mark Schlabach

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0)

Previous ranking: T-2

Week 10 result: 21-7 win vs. Northwestern

What’s next: vs. Indiana (Saturday, noon ET)

The two best things about the Buckeyes’ trip to Northwestern: It’s over, and their perfect record remains intact. How the CFP selection committee views Ohio State’s performance in horrible weather conditions will be a subplot of Tuesday’s rankings. Ohio State needs to start faster after the past two games, and should get well this week at home against a sputtering Indiana team. Injuries remain a storyline, as the Buckeyes are still without wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and hope to regain top running back TreVeyon Henderson. — Adam Rittenberg

3. Michigan Wolverines (9-0)

Previous ranking: 4

Week 10 result: 52-17 win vs. Rutgers

What’s next: vs. Nebraska (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Wolverines beat Rutgers 52-17, holding the Scarlet Knights to 14 rushing yards and 180 total yards of offense. The Wolverines are 9-0 and have Nebraska and Illinois left before finishing the season with Ohio State. The Illini just lost to Michigan State, but the Wolverines can’t look past that game. If Michigan can get through the next two games, it’ll have a shot to make it to the Big Ten championship game and the College Football Playoff two years in a row. — Tom VanHaaren

4. TCU Horned Frogs (9-0)

Previous ranking: 7

Week 10 result: 34-24 win vs. Texas Tech

What’s next: at Texas (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

The Frogs said all the right things this week about how Texas is just another game on the schedule. But this one, in Austin, will go a long way to determine just how seriously a playoff contender TCU is. The committee clearly doesn’t see TCU as a “brand name” that gets respect, and the only way the Horned Frogs can do it is by taking down another big name. They don’t leave the state of Texas in November with Baylor (road) and Iowa State (home) remaining after the Longhorns. The two teams have split the last two games, with them decided by a total of seven points. — Dave Wilson

5. Tennessee Volunteers (8-1)

Previous ranking: T-2

Week 10 result: 27-13 loss vs. No. 1 Georgia

What’s next: vs. Missouri (Saturday, noon ET)

The key now for the Vols is to be as impressive as possible the rest of the way, especially since they don’t have any more ranked teams on their schedule in the regular season. Getting to the SEC championship game after Saturday’s 27-13 loss to Georgia would entail the Dawgs losing two games, and that’s not going to happen. Tennessee returns home to face Missouri, then goes on the road the last two weeks against South Carolina and Vanderbilt. The Vols need to win all three and hope other conference leaders (Oregon, USC, TCU and Ohio State/Michigan) stumble somewhere along the way. Either way, Tennessee still has a chance to make the playoff if it finishes 11-1. — Chris Low

6. Oregon Ducks (8-1)

Previous ranking: 8

Week 10 result: 49-10 win vs. Colorado

What’s next: vs. Washington (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

There will be one final matchup for the Ducks before they host Utah to officially punch their ticket to the Pac-12 championship game. With the Utes and a rivalry game against Oregon State to finish out the season on the horizon, Oregon can’t overlook Washington, which arrives in Eugene straight off a much-needed win over Oregon State. The Huskies may not be as good as we thought after the first few weeks of the season, but they’ll be ready to play spoiler on the road if Bo Nix & Co. aren’t careful. — Paolo Uggetti

7. LSU Tigers (7-2)

Previous ranking: 15

Week 10 result: 32-31 win vs. No. 6 Alabama

What’s next: at Arkansas (Saturday, noon ET)

It’s all right there for the taking. After beating No. 7 Ole Miss and No. 6 Alabama in back-to-back games, LSU is in first place in the SEC West and on track to play Georgia in the SEC championship game in Atlanta. All the Tigers have to do is continue to improve and not take a step back against three unranked teams to end the season. Seems simple enough, right? The catch: Both SEC games against Arkansas and Texas A&M will be on the road. — Alex Scarborough

8. USC Trojans (8-1)

Previous ranking: 9

Week 10 result: 41-35 win vs. Cal

What’s next: vs. Colorado (Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET)

The Trojans will get to take a crack at one-win Colorado in what should be a mere formality at home. Still, health will be a factor as the matchup against UCLA looms in the distance. Wide receivers Jordan Addison and Mario Williams, as well as linebacker Eric Gentry (among many others), have missed two games in a row with injuries. So far it hasn’t mattered, but the longer those key players remain out, the more concern there is about the Trojans’ chances in future, more important games. — Paolo Uggetti

9. UCLA Bruins (8-1)

Previous ranking: 10

Week 10 result: 50-36 win vs. Arizona State

What’s next: vs. Arizona (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET)

It’s tempting to look forward to the much-anticipated game against USC on Nov. 19, but first the Bruins must get through Arizona (3-6) to keep the stakes as high as possible for the battle of Los Angeles. After that, it’s Cal to finish the season. Any loss in the next three could cost the Bruins a shot in the Pac-12 title game and a possible New Year’s Six berth. — Kyle Bonagura

10. Alabama Crimson Tide (7-2)

Previous ranking: 6

Week 10 result: 32-31 loss vs. No. 15 LSU

What’s next: at Ole Miss (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Where does Alabama go from here? With only a faint glimmer of hope of reaching the SEC championship game, who knows? After losing to LSU, Nick Saban couldn’t say that the team controlled its destiny. Because it doesn’t. Instead, Saban said players should “check their hole card” and play for their own personal improvement, as well as the team goal of reaching 10 wins. That might be a tough sell for a team accustomed to playing for national championships. This trip to Ole Miss will say a lot about the mental makeup of this team down the stretch. — Alex Scarborough

11. Ole Miss Rebels (8-1)

Previous ranking: 11

Week 10 result: bye

What’s next: vs. Alabama (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

For a bye week, it wasn’t exactly quiet in Oxford. But that’s what happens when your coach is rumored to be a top candidate for another job. Such is the case with Lane Kiffin and Auburn. For his part, Kiffin brushed off speculation, saying they had “something special” at Ole Miss. And he’s right. At 8-1 with Alabama coming to town, Kiffin and the Rebs have the chance to score a major victory and make a play for a spot in the SEC championship. — Alex Scarborough

12. Clemson Tigers (8-1)

Previous ranking: 5

Week 10 result: 35-14 loss vs. Notre Dame

What’s next: vs. Louisville (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Dabo Swinney admitted Clemson no longer controls its path to the CFP, but other goals remain, including winning the ACC championship. “We’ve got to make sure we respond, and we’ve got an opportunity,” Swinney said after Clemson’s 35-14 loss at Notre Dame. The Tigers host surging Louisville with a chance to clinch the ACC Atlantic Division outright. Clemson’s quarterback situation will continue to be monitored after freshman Cade Klubnik replaced starter DJ Uiagalelei for the second consecutive game. — Adam Rittenberg

13. Utah Utes (7-2)

Previous ranking: 12

Week 10 result: 45-20 win vs. Arizona

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

The Utes host struggling Stanford before their trip to play Oregon at Autzen Stadium on Nov. 19 in what could be one of the biggest games in the Pac-12 this season. Utah is looking to reach the Pac-12 title game for the fourth time in five years. — Kyle Bonagura

14. Penn State Nittany Lions (7-2)

Previous ranking: 16

Week 10 result: 45-14 win vs. Indiana

What’s next: vs. Maryland (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Nittany Lions beat Indiana with an impressive performance from freshman running back Kaytron Allen, who had three rushing touchdowns in the game. Penn State has Maryland, Rutgers and Michigan State remaining on the schedule. Despite two losses, the Nittany Lions have a realistic shot at finishing the season with 10 wins, a big improvement from last season’s 7-6 finish. — Tom VanHaaren

15. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-1)

Previous ranking: 17

Week 10 result: 31-28 win vs. Virginia

What’s next: at Wake Forest (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

A win against in-state rival Wake Forest clinches the Coastal Division and a spot in the ACC championship game against Clemson. Their last two meetings have been wild, high-scoring, down-to-the-wire games — North Carolina won 58-55 last year and 59-53 in 2020. This should be a terrific matchup between the top two quarterbacks in the league, Drake Maye at UNC and Sam Hartman at Wake Forest. — Andrea Adelson

16. Tulane Green Wave (8-1)

Previous ranking: 19

Week 10 result: 27-13 win vs. Tulsa

What’s next: vs. UCF (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Tulane’s fifth straight victory keeps its AAC title hopes very much alive. Led by junior Tyjae Spears’ 157 rushing yards, Tulane’s offense churned out 357 rushing yards at Tulsa. The Green Wave remain the only team undefeated in conference play as they continue the quest for the program’s first conference title since 1998 (Conference USA). UCF, which is tied with Cincinnati for second place, comes to New Orleans next week. — Blake Baumgartner

17. NC State Wolfpack (7-2)

Previous ranking: 21

Week 10 result: 30-21 win vs. No. 20 Wake Forest

What’s next: vs. Boston College (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

The Wolfpack’s primary goals heading into 2022 — an ACC Atlantic title, the program’s first top-10 finish — are mostly out of reach, but with the way youngsters like quarterback MJ Morris (210 passing yards, three touchdowns) and corner Aydan White (four tackles, one interception) performed Saturday, they still have quite a bit to gain from a home stretch that includes a home game against Boston College and trips to Louisville and likely ACC Coastal champion North Carolina. — Bill Connelly

18. Texas Longhorns (6-3)

Previous ranking: unranked

Week 10 result: 34-27 win vs. No. 13 Kansas State

What’s next: vs. TCU (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET)

TCU could be in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings this week. It’s a huge opportunity for Texas, which has been somewhat inconsistent. The Longhorns have been very much a first-half team, while 9-0 TCU has made its reputation as a closer after starting off slowly in several games this season. Texas beat TCU in Fort Worth last season 32-27 after losing six of their previous seven to Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs. Sonny Dykes and Steve Sarkisian are familiar with each other’s styles after their Pac-12 matchups. This one should be entertaining. — Dave Wilson

19. Liberty Flames (8-1)

Previous ranking: 23

Week 10 result: 21-19 win vs. Arkansas

What’s next: at UConn (Saturday, noon ET)

Liberty got on top of Arkansas early and survived to beat Arkansas, the program’s first win over a SEC team. The Flames have rattled off six consecutive wins since its one-point loss at Wake Forest back in September. Two wins shy from Liberty’s second 10-win season in three years (and third season of double-digit wins in program history), a road game at UConn is next. — Blake Baumgartner

20. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-3)

Previous ranking: unranked

Week 10 result: 35-14 win vs. No. 5 Clemson

What’s next: vs. Navy (Saturday, noon ET)

The Irish can’t go back and change their home losses to Marshall and Stanford, but they can build on their most complete performance under first-year coach Marcus Freeman. They also could become spoilers after taking down Clemson and ending the regular season at archrival USC. First, Notre Dame must avoid a letdown against a struggling Navy team. The Irish still need to generate more in the passing game, but their rushing attack turned a corner against Clemson behind Logan Diggs (114 yards) and Audric Estime (104 yards). — Adam Rittenberg

21. Illinois Fighting Illini (7-2)

Previous ranking: 14

Week 10 result: 23-15 loss vs. Michigan State

What’s next: vs. Purdue (Saturday, noon ET)

For the second time this season, Illinois trailed at halftime. And for the second time this season, it lost. The offense amassed 441 total yards and ran 84 plays to the Spartans’ 58. But going 1-for-6 on fourth down and turning the ball on downs three times inside the red zone proved fatal as a six-game winning streak ended. The Fighting Illini welcome Purdue to Memorial Stadium with sights still set on a Big Ten West title before a showdown with Michigan at the Big House on Nov. 19. — Blake Baumgartner

22. UCF Knights (7-2)

Previous ranking: 25

Week 10 result: 35-28 win vs. Memphis

What’s next: at Tulane (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)

UCF didn’t trip up in its first conference road win of the season. Sophomore quarterback Mikey Keene wasn’t fazed being thrown into things with senior John Rhys Plumlee out, completing 22 of 28 passes for 219 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. The Knights kept pace in the AAC and remain one game behind Tulane. Next week’s visit to New Orleans to meet the Green Wave will be an opportunity to move into a tie for first place as the program pursues its first conference title since 2018. — Blake Baumgartner

23. Kansas State Wildcats (6-3)

Previous ranking: 13

Week 10 result: 34-27 loss vs. Texas

What’s next: at Baylor (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

The Wildcats travel to Waco to take on a surging Baylor team. The Bears have won the past four matchups between these two, but three of those four were decided by 10 points or fewer, including two within three points. After losing a tiebreaker in the Big 12 race with Saturday’s loss to Texas, the Wildcats have to win out and hope for a Texas loss to keep a shot at an appearance in the title game. — Dave Wilson

24. Washington Huskies (7-2)

Previous ranking: unranked

Week 10 result: 24-21 win vs. No. 24 Oregon State

What’s next: at Oregon (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)

The Huskies are back on track with three wins in a row, but possibly their most difficult game of the season awaits. A UW win would make things interesting in the Pac-12 title race, which still includes five teams. — Kyle Bonagura

25. Florida State Seminoles (6-3)

Previous ranking: unranked

Week 10 result: 45-3 win vs. Miami

What’s next: at Syracuse (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)

After a three-game losing streak to ranked Wake Forest, NC State and Clemson teams, Florida State has won back-to-back games over Georgia Tech and Miami by a combined score of 86-19. The Seminoles have just one conference game left — at Syracuse on Saturday — before ending the regular season with home games against Louisiana and Florida. — Matt Eisenberg

Dropped out: Oklahoma State (18), Wake Forest (20), Syracuse (22), Oregon State (24)

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