AP Top 25 Heat Check: Status quo before final playoff push


By RALPH D. RUSSO - AP College Football Writer



Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood (70) and wide receiver Cam Sims (17) celebrate a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mercer, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)


Virginia running back Olamide Zaccheaus (4) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)


Almost nothing changed in The Associated Press college football poll this weekend.

A remarkably uneventful week produced little movement in Sunday’s Top 25 . If you liked how the voters had the Top 25 last week, well, you’ll probably be fine with it this week. If not, you’re probably still not thrilled.

Heat check leans toward the latter, but let’s run down the rankings regardless and see where things stand going into what should be a fantastic final two weeks before the College Football Playoff is set.

No. 1 Alabama (11-0)

The word vulnerable is being thrown around in regard to Alabama a lot these days. There is some validity to it, but also: Nick Saban will essentially have had two weeks leading up to the Iron Bowl to pound into his players’ heads that ‘everybody’ thinks they are vulnerable.

Next: at No. 6 Auburn.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 2 Miami (10-0)

The Hurricanes reminded everyone that the team that was pulling wins out of a magic hat early in the season is probably going to keep showing up more often than the one that dominated Notre Dame.

Next: at Pittsburgh, Friday.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 3 Oklahoma (10-1)

The massive chip on the shoulder that Baker Mayfield plays with is what makes him great as well as what makes him do dumb things.

Next: vs. West Virginia.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 4 Clemson (10-1)

The Tigers have retaken control of the Palmetto Bowl with three straight wins against the Gamecocks after losing five in a row to Steve Spurrier’s teams.

Next: at South Carolina.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 5 Wisconsin (11-0)

Aside from an unbeaten record, the Badgers and Hurricanes have one more thing in common: They have each allowed only four rushing TDs, tied for fewest in the country.

Next: at Minnesota.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 6 Auburn (9-2)

Of course, the Tigers will go into their biggest Iron Bowl since the Kick Six in 2013 with additional drama about whether coach Gus Malzahn wants to leap to Arkansas after this season. Never a dull moment on The Plains.

Next: Next: vs. No. 1 Alabama.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 7 Georgia (10-1)

The Bulldogs might be undervalued after one bad game.

Next: at Georgia Tech.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 8 Ohio State (9-2)

The Buckeyes have built a resume mostly on blasting bad teams. It’s fair to be skeptical.

Next: at Michigan.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 9 Notre Dame (9-2)

With one more victory the Irish will have a six-win swing from last season, the best turnaround season for the program since it went from 2-7 to 9-1 in 1964.

Next: at No. 20 Stanford.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 10 TCU (9-2)

Another shot at Oklahoma and an outside shot at getting in the playoff looks like a safe bet.

Next: vs. Baylor, Friday.

Heat check: A touch too hot. Flip-flop with USC.

No. 11 Southern California (10-2)

After 12 straight weeks of games, the Trojans finally get a break before playing for the Pac-12 title.

Next: vs. Stanford or Washington State in Pac-12 championship, Dec 1.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 12 Penn State (9-2)

What do you get for having the nation’s best losses? No. 12 rankings sounds about right.

Next: at Maryland.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 13 UCF (10-0)

Heat check has been fairly skeptical of the Knights, but would also very much like to see how that speed and creative offense would fare against some of those top-10 teams.

Next: vs. No. 22 South Florida, Friday.

Heat check: Just a little too hot.

No. 14 Washington State (9-2)

Is Mike Leach the Pac-12 coach of the year?

Next: at No. 15 Washington.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 15 Washington (9-2)

The Huskies are relegated to spoilers in the Pac-12. Also, proof that outside of Alabama, Clemson and maybe Ohio State, stringing together great seasons is really hard.

Next: vs. No. 14 Washington State.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 16 Mississippi State (8-3)

Winning the Egg Bowl would give Mississippi State its fourth season of at least nine victories under coach Dan Mullen. The Bulldogs had only five seasons of at least nine victories from 1902-2008.

Next: vs. Mississippi, Thursday.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 17 Memphis (9-1)

So much chatter about UCF coach Scott Frost, but remember it was Memphis’ Mike Norvell who entered this season as the AAC’s most likely coach to be moving on up.

Next: vs. East Carolina.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 18 Oklahoma State (8-3)

Hard to call nine wins (assuming a victory against Kansas) a disappointment, but considering the high hopes the Cowboys had when QB Mason Rudolph and WR James Washington returned for another season, it’s a bit of a disappointment.

Next: vs. Kansas.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 19 LSU (8-3)

The Tigers have come a long way since Troy.

Next: vs. Texas A&M.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 20 Stanford (8-3)

Heat check doesn’t buy into the notion that Bryce Love’s Heisman chances go up when he misses time and Stanford plays terribly, but it has become apparent that the Cardinal are just throwing fade routes and hoping without him.

Next: vs. No. 9 Notre Dame.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 21 Michigan State (8-3)

The Spartans’ bounce-back season has been a good story, but they seem like a team that could get overmatched in a bowl game.

Next: at Rutgers.

Heat check: Touch too hot.

No. 22 South Florida (9-1)

The Bulls will get a chance to prove Heat Check and a lot of other doubters wrong against UCF, but no team has been more consistently over-ranked this season.

Next: at No. 13 UCF, Friday.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 23 Northwestern (8-3)

This could be the fourth season of at least nine victories for the Wildcats under coach Pat Fitzgerald. The Wildcats had four seasons of at least nine victories from 1892-2005.

Next: at Illinois.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 24 Virginia Tech (8-3)

Better defenses have exposed the flaws in the Hokies’ offense, but they are deservedly back in the bottom of the rankings.

Next: at Virginia, Friday.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 25 Boise State (9-2)

A resurgent defense has led the Broncos back into the rankings for the first time this season . That makes it 16 straight seasons that Boise State has been ranked for at least one week.

Next: at Fresno State.

Heat check: Just right.

Instead of South Florida … how about Iowa State?

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood (70) and wide receiver Cam Sims (17) celebrate a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mercer, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/11/web1_119238267-aa16b0b3633142a5b70e1d102ea93cc2.jpgAlabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood (70) and wide receiver Cam Sims (17) celebrate a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mercer, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)

Virginia running back Olamide Zaccheaus (4) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/11/web1_119238267-c55b0c64369e4eb18c31b7f092b992a7.jpgVirginia running back Olamide Zaccheaus (4) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

By RALPH D. RUSSO

AP College Football Writer