AP Top 25 Reality Check: Low-turnover season in poll with only 42 teams having been ranked


The AP Top 25 has been more exclusive this season than in recent years.

With just three more AP Top 25s to go, including the final one that is released after the national championship game on Jan. 8, 42 teams have spent at least one week in The Associated Press College football poll.

No. 23 Toledo became the 42nd on Sunday. The rest of the poll, yet again, mostly held form.

There were some notable moves near the top behind No. 1 Georgia. Ohio State jumped to No. 2, ahead of No. 3 Michigan for the first time this season.

No. 4 Washington passed No. 5 Florida State. Still, the same teams have been in the top eight for four weeks.

Overall, poll turnover has been low compared to recent years. From 2018-22, an average of 50 teams per season have made at least one poll appearance.

Getting to that number would be just about impossible at this point. Among the other teams receiving votes this week, five have not yet been ranked.

North Carolina State, SMU and UNLV are the most likely to make a season debut with a strong finish. SMU and UNLV are both in position to reach their conference title games with victories next week.

Reality check has detailed the chalkiness of this season throughout and this is just another example. Poll voters have done more re-arranging than overhauling to the Top 25.

No. 1 Georgia (11-0)

Next: at Georgia Tech, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Carson Beck is not going to win the Heisman Trophy, but a couple more big games and he might be deserving of a top-10 finish.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 2 Ohio State (11-0)

Next: at No. 3 Michigan, Saturday.

Reality check: RB TreVeyon Henderson now leads the Big Ten with 99.3 yards rushing per game and 6.7 yards per carry. He has only played eight games because of injury, but it’s a different offense when he’s healthy.

Ranked: This is fine.

No. 3 Michigan (11-0)

Next: vs. No. 2 Ohio State, Saturday.

Reality check: Rough outing for J.J. McCarthy and the passing game against Maryland. Losing WR Roman Wilson early to an injury didn’t help. The one thing the Wolverines are missing is dynamic receivers.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 4 Washington (11-0)

Next: vs. Washington State, Saturday.

Reality check: The Huskies have proven versatile, finding ways to win when Michael Penix Jr. isn’t having his best game. And maybe a little fortunate.

Ranked: This is fine.

No. 5 Florida State (11-0)

Next: at Florida, Saturday.

Reality check: With Jordan Travis (leg) out, QB Tate Rodemaker is likely the man for the Seminoles. He is in his fourth season and has thrown 93 passes, completing 56 with seven touchdowns. Tough spot, but FSU has the weapons to make life easier for a new starter.

Ranked: OK, for now.

No. 6 Oregon (10-1)

Next: vs. No. 15 Oregon State, Friday.

Reality check: DE Brandon Dorlus is tied for the team lead with six passes broken up, while also leading the team in quarterback sacks (five) and hurries (five). Should get some All-America consideration.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 7 Texas (10-1)

Next: vs. Texas Tech, Friday.

Reality check: Longhorns have allowed 47 yards rushing per game in the last five. If you can’t run the quarterback, you probably can’t run against Texas’ powerful defensive front.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 8 Alabama (10-1)

Next: at Auburn, Saturday.

Reality check: WR Jermaine Burton’s 100-yard receiving game against Chattanooga was his second of the season, and also the second of the season for the entire receiving corps.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 9 Louisville (10-1)

Next: vs. Kentucky, Saturday

Reality check: Wisconsin transfer RB Isaac Guerendo has emerged is a co-No. 1 ballcarrier with Jawhar Jordan, running for 333 yards on 32 carries the last three games.

Ranked: Touch high.

No. 10 Missouri (9-2)

Next: at Arkansas, Friday.

Reality check: DE Darius Robinson has seven straight games with a sack to lead a defense that has been a solid complement to a balanced and explosive offensive.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 11 Penn State (9-2)

Next: vs. Michigan State in Detroit, Friday.

Reality check: Interesting to see what what the Nittany Lions’ offense looks like with QB Beau Pribula not just running the ball.

Ranked: About right.

No. 12 Mississippi (9-2)

Next: at Mississippi State, Thursday.

Reality check: Ole Miss and Penn State make quite a pair, both have only lost to — and not been particularly competitive against — the best two teams in their conference.

Ranked: About right.

No. 13 Oklahoma (9-2)

Next: vs. TCU, Friday.

Reality check: Sooners got a glimpse of the future in QB Jackson Arnold after Dillion Gabriel went out against BYU. They’d probably prefer to put the future off for another game or two with the Big 12 title still a possibility.

Ranked: About right.

No. 14 LSU (8-3)

Next: at Texas A&M, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Jayden Daniels has 3,577 yards passing and 1,014 rushing. Only two players have ever gone for 4,000 and 1,000. Deshaun Watson did it for Clemson in 2015 playing 15 games and Kyler Murray did it for Oklahoma in 14 games in 2018. Daniels would need a huge passing game against A&M to reach it in 12.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 15 Oregon State (8-3)

Next: at No. 6 Oregon, Friday.

Reality check: Beavers might regret not being even more run-heavy against Washington after throwing 33 passes for 169 yards and running for 197 yards on 38 attempts, not including a sack and bad snap on a punt.

Ranked: Little high. Should be behind Arizona.

No. 16 Arizona (8-3)

Next: at Arizona State, Saturday.

Reality check: What has fueled the Wildcats turnaround? The most improved run defense in the country. After allowing 209 yards per game on the ground last year, Arizona is permitting 101 per game this season.

Ranked: Too low.

No. 17 Notre Dame (8-3)

Next: at Stanford, Saturday.

Reality check: Fighting Irish have not allowed a 300-yard passing game. Last time they went an entire regular season without one was 2010.

Ranked: About right.

No. 18 Tulane (10-1)

Next: vs. UTSA, Friday.

Reality check: Green Wave are a victory away from back-to-back AAC title game appearances behind freshman RB Makhi Hughes, the conference’s leading rusher at 1,080 yards.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 19 Kansas State (8-3)

Next: vs. Iowa State, Saturday.

Reality check: Wildcats have had three one-possession losses by a total of 14 points, but still could sneak into a second straight Big 12 title game.

Ranked: Too low.

No. 20 Iowa (9-2)

Next: at Nebraska, Saturday.

Reality check: Hawkeyes are heading back to the Big Ten championship game for the second time in three years, averaging 18 points per game — down five from their average in 2021 when they last won the West.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 21 Oklahoma State (8-3)

Next: vs. BYU, Saturday.

Reality check: All three of the Cowboys’ losses have come against teams that have been unranked all season. No other ranked team has more than one loss against a team that has never been ranked.

Ranked: Weird team. About right.

No. 22 Liberty (11-0)

Next: at UTEP, Saturday.

Reality check: Flames lead the nation with 19 interceptions, lead by S Brylan Green with five.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 23 Toledo (10-1)

Next: at Central Michigan, Friday.

Reality check: The MAC West champs have won 10 straight since a last-second loss to Illinois to the open the season.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 24 James Madison (10-1)

Next: at Coastal Carolina, Saturday.

Reality check: A lawsuit probably won’t get the Dukes into the Sun Belt title game, but they can play spoiler by beating the Chanticleers.

Ranked: Touch low.

No. 25 Tennessee (7-4)

Next: vs. Vanderbilt, Saturday.

Reality check: Step-back season for the Volunteers, who completely lost their explosiveness, and haven’t beaten anybody of note.

Ranked: Too high.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here


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