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

The AP Top 25 college football poll is out, and after a handful of big upsets and a pair of SEC showdowns, there’s a lot of movement in the rankings, especially outside the top five. Here’s what’s next for each ranked team:

No. 1 Clemson (3-0)

A 41-23 win over Virginia was the latest easy victory for the Tigers, but it wasn’t exactly the throttling the experts were predicting. Could that mean Clemson is vulnerable next week against Miami? Certainly there’s reason to worry a bit when Brennan Armstrong throws for 270 yards and three touchdowns. The only QB to do that in 2019 was Joe Burrow in the national championship game. Now D’Eriq King awaits. Perhaps Clemson has just been slowly chipping away at the rust. Perhaps it’s another typical underwhelming start for a Dabo Swinney team that’s never eager to put up style points. Perhaps we’ll all look silly for showing any concern by this time next week. For now though, it’s at least a small bit of room for optimism for the Hurricanes. — David M. Hale

No. 2 Alabama (2-0)

Now that Missouri and Texas A&M have been disposed of, it’s time for the reunion we’ve all been waiting for. Lane Kiffin helped revolutionize Alabama’s offense during his time as coordinator, but on Saturday he’ll be on the opposing sideline as his Ole Miss Rebels host the Crimson Tide. Who knows what kind of tricks Kiffin will have up his sleeve for his old buddy Nick Saban? He’ll surely try to test an Alabama secondary that, while talented, has some depth issues and has been somewhat inconsistent to start the season. — Alex Scarborough

No. 3 Georgia (2-0)

The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry moved from its traditional spot in November to the second game of the season. It made no difference for Georgia, which dismantled Auburn 27-6 on Saturday. Georgia and Tennessee are used to playing each other in October, and that will be the case again this week. The Bulldogs also have had the upper hand in that rivalry, winning eight of their last 10 games in the series, including three straight by a combined score of 122-26. Former Georgia offensive lineman Cade Mays returns after unexpectedly leaving the team for Tennessee in January. He received a waiver to play this season from the SEC last week. — Mark Schlabach

No. 4 Florida (2-0)

The Gators scored 38 points in their win over South Carolina, but coach Dan Mullen found plenty for his offense to improve before going on the road to play Texas A&M. They had two turnovers and only 80 rushing yards and did not score in the final 19 minutes of the game — failing to close it out when it had dominated for large swaths. The defense has struggled, too, and allowed far too many conversions that kept the Gamecocks in the game late. The margin of error will close significantly against an Aggies team that, at least on paper, is a better opponent. — Andrea Adelson

No. 5 Notre Dame (2-0)

With another week to deal with coronavirus case totals and get its two-deep some rest, Notre Dame now embarks on what appears to be a set of manageable challenges. Florida State and Louisville visit South Bend the next two weeks before, finally, the first road trip of the year, to Pittsburgh. Despite a fluid two-deep, the Irish looked very much like a top-10 team in wins over Duke and USF, but the competition does slowly inch upward in difficulty as November 7’s visit from Clemson approaches. — Bill Connelly

No. 6 Ohio State (0-0)

As practice begins for the Buckeyes, there is a lot of anticipation to see what the young receivers can do for this offense. Landing the No. 1-ranked prospect overall, Julian Fleming, along with Gee Scott, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Mookie Cooper, there are endless opportunities at the position. Combine those new faces with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, and quarterback Justin Fields is going to have a ton of options this season. It’s going to be tough for opposing defenses to stop the Buckeyes through the air, especially if they can find a workhorse at running back to replace J.K. Dobbins. — Tom VanHaaren

No. 7 Miami (3-0)

We won’t have to wait much longer to find out if The U is truly back. After an open date this weekend, the Hurricanes travel to Clemson on Saturday. Through three games, Miami certainly looks better on offense with the additions of offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and quarterback D’Eriq King, who transferred from Houston. The Hurricanes have scored 47 or more points in their past two games, both ACC wins. That’s after scoring more than 25 points only four times in their previous 14 ACC games dating back to the 2018 season. — Chris Low

No. 8 North Carolina (2-0)

Drama has been the cornerstone of so many North Carolina games since Mack Brown returned, including six losses last year by a touchdown or less. So while things might’ve been a bit too close for comfort against Boston College on Saturday, the 26-22 final — courtesy of a returned two-point try — was still a win. The ground game continues to look strong, but the Tar Heels’ secondary remains something of a concern, allowing 313 yards to BC’s Phil Jurkovec. With Virginia Tech and its shaky passing game coming up next week in a showdown that could determine who’s ready to challenge Clemson in the ACC, the outcome might be decided by which team can fix its biggest bugaboo first. — David M. Hale

No. 9 Penn State (0-0)

Coach James Franklin confirmed this week that star linebacker Micah Parsons will not return to the team. Parsons opted out and declared for the NFL draft, but had been contemplating a return. That door was closed and the defense will go the season without the All-America linebacker. The coaches are looking to Jesse Luketa and Brandon Smith among others to help fill that gap left by Parsons. It’s a blow to not get such an elite player back, but the defense still has a lot of pieces to compete for a chance at the Big Ten championship game. — VanHaaren

No. 10 Oklahoma State (3-0)

Just like we expected: Oklahoma State is the Big 12’s only unbeaten team not even a month into the season. Well, not really, but the Cowboys showcased their offensive firepower Saturday in a 47-7 romp over Kansas. At halftime, Oklahoma’s explosive running back/receiver tandem of Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace had already combined for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns. True freshman quarterback Shane Illingworth made his second consecutive start and threw three scoring passes. It will be intriguing to see what Mike Gundy does when signal-caller Spencer Sanders is completely healthy after injuring his ankle in the opener. — Low

No. 11 Cincinnati (3-0)

The Bearcats’ defense had five interceptions in its game against USF and has been living up to the hype so far this season. The defense has now held two of its three opponents to 10 points or less and seems to be getting better each game. The offense, however, is still working out some issues. Quarterback Desmond Ridder threw three interceptions this past weekend and while the game wasn’t close, he is going to need to improve his accuracy and decision making as the team moves further and further into this schedule. He’s capable of doing it, but it needs to be more consistent as the team is going to have a target on its back with its ranking and attention the program is getting. — VanHaaren

No. 12 Oregon (0-0)

From a personnel standpoint, the team that Oregon puts on the field in 2020 isn’t going to resemble the one that won the Pac-12 championship a year ago. Most of the Ducks’ star players are gone, and not only on offense, where quarterback Justin Herbert is now in the NFL and offensive tackle Penei Sewell opted out. Three-fourths of the starting secondary also opted out, so ranking the Ducks any higher at this point would be a stretch. Still, Mario Cristobal has recruited extremely well. One of the keys will be running back CJ Verdell staying healthy. –— Low

No. 13 Auburn (1-1)

After beating Kentucky in the opener, the Tigers took a big step back at Georgia. There are concerns on both sides of the ball, particularly on both lines of scrimmage. The Tigers also don’t seem to have much of an offensive identity yet under new coordinator Chad Morris, the former Arkansas coach. Auburn is asking quarterback Bo Nix to do a lot –he threw 41 passes and ran eight times against Georgia–and isn’t doing a great job of protecting him. What looked like winnable games against Arkansas at home this coming week, followed by back-to-back road games at South Carolina and Ole Miss don’t seem like cakewalks anymore –– Schlabach

No. 14 Tennessee (2-0)

Tennessee’s stout offensive line figures to get its biggest test of the season next week against Georgia, but Saturday’s dominance offers some real hope the Volunteers can upset their SEC East rival for the first time since 2016. Tennessee ran for 232 yards and four scores against Missouri, the first time it had done that in an SEC game since Week 12 of 2016. The Vols have the SEC’s longest winning streak — now up to six games — which makes this next game against the Bulldogs the biggest game for Tennessee in years. — Hale

No. 15 BYU (3-0)

The Cougars’ rout of Louisiana Tech was one of just three wins for the program this week. The other two were the additions of Boise State and San Diego State to the schedule. Those games give BYU a better shot at building a resume that could push them into contention for an at-large berth for a New Year’s Six bowl. — Bonagura

No. 16 Wisconsin (0-0)

As the Badgers await the season to start, offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph recently spoke about replacing leading receiver Quintez Cephus and leading rusher Jonathan Taylor. Those are two big pieces of the offense and Wisconsin will need multiple players to step up to fill those shoes. Tight end Jake Ferguson is back and Rudolph said he is as good as he’s ever seen him and that Ferguson has taken on a leadership role. Rudolph also mentioned receiver A.J. Abbott, Taj Mustapha and running backs Isaac Guerendo and Nakia Watson as two that have stepped up. — VanHaaren

No. 17 LSU (1-1)

A trip to Vanderbilt helped LSU look like themselves again in a 41-7 victory.. This week, they’ll get Missouri, which should be another easier game for them to digest, before having to travel to Gainesville to play Florida the following week. Derek Stingley Jr. was back, and looked like his usual self. Overall, things feel a lot better for the Tigers compared to Week 1 in the SEC..— Harry Lyles Jr.

No. 18 SMU (4-0)

The Ponies started fast against Memphis, and despite giving up a 21-point lead, they finished strong with a drive that led to a game-winning field goal. They’ve got the upcoming week off, and then will travel to Tulane, looking to stay undefeated in the American. The bad news coming out of this week is the injury to star WR Reggie Roberson, who left Saturday’s game against Memphis with a noncontact knee injury. — Lyles Jr.

No. 19 Virginia Tech (2-0)

No other Power 5 team has done what the Hokies have in their first two games this season: Win, despite missing 20-plus players and their defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton. It was not pretty at times in their victory over Duke, but the Hokies seem to have found their running game behind Khalil Herbert, who had 208 yards rushing. The big question as they prepare for a big showdown against North Carolina — a team they have beaten four straight years — is whether they will have the bulk of their secondary back against one of the best receiving groups in the league. — Andrea Adelson

No. 20 Michigan (0-0)

While Michigan got offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield back after he had declared for the draft, it looks as though it will stay without cornerback Ambry Thomas. The defense is already replacing defensive end Josh Uche and cornerback Lavert Hill, but defensive coordinator Don Brown and defensive end Aidan Hutchinson believe they have the pieces to have an even faster defense than last season. Hutchinson is going to be relied upon up front and is primed to have a good season for Michigan. The true test for that defense will be at the end of the season when it plays Ohio State and if it truly is faster and able to stop the Buckeyes’ offense. — VanHaaren

No. 21 Texas A&M (1-1)

This was supposed to be the season the Aggies and coach Jimbo Fisher finally wouldn’t have to deal with a treacherous schedule. Then COVID-19 hit, the SEC went to a conference-only slate and A&M’s walk in the park went out the window. Because there’s no time off after a thorough loss at Alabama last weekend. It’s on to another top-five team in the Florida Gators, whose offense with quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts is going to present all kinds of problems for the Aggies. — Scarborough

No. 22 Texas (2-1)

The Longhorns are a miracle finish against Texas Tech away from being 1-2, and Saturday’s loss to TCU was Texas’ sixth to an unranked team when the Longhorns are ranked in the Tom Herman era (most in the FBS in that span). The defense continues to show flaws (it allowed TCU to run for 226 yards, including a late 26-yard score from TCU QB Max Duggan), the running game wasn’t consistent and self-inflicted errors were crucial. Gary Patterson’s teams have beaten the Longhorns six of the last seven meetings, and the Longhorns have much to rectify before meeting Oklahoma next week. — Sam Khan Jr.

No. 23 Louisiana (3-0)

The Ragin’ Cajuns’ next scheduled game was supposed to be Wednesday against App State. Since its cancellation, they moved their Oct. 17 contest against Coastal Carolina up to this coming weekend. Thus far, Coastal is 3-0, with notable wins over Kansas, and Arkansas State (who upset Kansas State earlier this season). Louisiana has passed every test they’ve faced this season, and a 3-0 Coastal Carolina is not one that most of us anticipated. — Lyles Jr.

No. 24 Iowa State (2-1)

After an ugly 31-14 home loss to Louisiana to open the season, Iowa State was an afterthought to most people around the college football world. But Matt Campbell and his Cyclones obviously didn’t get the memo. They’ve come charging back with a win at TCU a week ago and their first home triumph over Oklahoma since 1960 on Saturday, a 37-30 victory that saw the Cyclones score a pair of touchdowns in the final 7:26 of the game. And just like that, Iowa State joined Oklahoma State and Kansas State as the only unbeaten teams in Big 12 play. — Low

No. 25 Minnesota (0-0)

Rashod Bateman is back, and so are the Gophers. Last week, Minnesota’s star wide receiver was cleared for a return after he initially opted out on Aug. 4. Coach PJ Fleck will need him, as the Gophers get tested right off the bat with their season opener against Michigan on Oct. 24. Bateman was the Big Ten’s receiver of the year last season after recording 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. — Ryan Canner-O’Mealy

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