AP Top 25 Reality Check: UGA joins No. 1 club; Tide slips

Published Oct. 11, 2021 2:21 a.m. ET

The No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press college football poll has been in the possession of just a few elite teams over the last six seasons.

Alabama (63 times), Clemson (23), Ohio State (10) and LSU (eight) were the only teams to reach No. 1 from 2015 through Saturday.

Georgia joined that group Sunday, reaching the top spot in the

Georgia was one of four teams to be No. 1 in the 1982 season, holding that spot for the final five weeks of the regular season before losing to Penn State in a Sugar Bowl that decided the national championship.


The last time as many as four teams held No. 1 in a season was 2014, when defending national champion Florida State, Mississippi State and Alabama were atop the polls during before Ohio State won the College Football Playoff.

Since then no more than three teams have been No. 1 in any season.

The record for No. 1 teams in a season is seven in 1981. The were six No. 1 teams in 2008. As famously crazy as the 2007 season was, only four teams reached No. 1. There were nine different No. 2s that year, including California, South Florida, Boston College and Kansas. Yeah, it was weird.

This season has felt more unpredictable than recent ones, and Texas A&M's upset of preseason No. 1 Alabama on Saturday night was the peak. An unranked team had not beaten No. 1 since 2008, when Oregon State knocked off Southern California.

The Trojans dropped eight spots after that late September road loss. Alabama wasn't punished as much by the voters this week, falling only to No. 5.

Reality Check understands that historical greatness buys a program some credibility, but thinks the Tide might have been cut too much slack.

No. 1 Georgia (6-0)

Next: vs. No. 11 Kentucky, Saturday.

Reality check: Bulldogs D is racking up fun numbers. Like this from SportSource Analytics: Opponents have to run 10.27 plays for every point scored against Georgia. Next best in the nation is Clemson, which faces 5.97 plays per point allowed.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 2 Iowa (6-0)

Next: vs. Purdue, Saturday.

Reality check: Hawkeyes are tied for fourth in the country in number of punts with 40. The other nine teams in the top 10 are a combined 12-45. Of course, Tory Taylor is a weapon, putting six of nine kicks inside the 20 against Penn State.

Ranked: The AP poll is a backward looking assessment of what a team has accomplished, not a forward looking projection, so this is fine.

No. 3 Cincinnati (5-0)

Next: vs. UCF, Saturday.

Reality check: Having at least one of the SEC powerhouses lose a regular-season game was another item on the Bearcats' CFP checklist.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 4 Oklahoma (6-0)

Next: vs. TCU, Saturday.

Reality check: Easy to get excited about QB Caleb Williams, especially if his mobility is part of what unlocked the Sooners' running game and RB Kennedy Brooks (217 yards on 25 carries) against Texas.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 5 Alabama (5-1)

Next: at Mississippi State, Saturday.

Reality check: Four of Alabama's six national championships were won after losing a game in the regular season and it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if the Tide were to do that again.

Ranked: Little high. It's OK to make the Tide climb back after losing to an unranked team.

No. 6 Ohio State (5-1)

Next: at Indiana, Oct. 23

Reality check: In three previous games against Akron, Rutgers and Maryland, the Buckeyes allowed just six scoring drives among 36 total offensive possessions. Temper enthusiasm because of the the competition, but there are signs of progress for the defense.

Ranked: Buckeyes should probably still be behind Oregon.

No. 7 Penn State (5-1)

Next: vs. Illinois, Oct. 23.

Reality check: The loss to Iowa made a good case for QB Sean Clifford being the most important player in the country.

Ranked: About right.

No. 8 Michigan (6-0)

Next: vs. Northwestern, Oct. 23.

Reality check: Road wins against Wisconsin and Nebraska in consecutive weeks is a nice accomplishment, but this looks like a season that will be defined by what the Wolverines do against Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State — as is so often the case.

Ranked: Bit high.

No, 9 Oregon (4-1)

Next: vs. California, Friday.

Reality check: Ducks have lost several key players, including leading rusher CJ Verdell, but hope to have offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead (undisclosed non-COVID illness) back this week.

Ranked: Touch low.

No. 10 Michigan State (6-0)

Next: at Indiana, Saturday.

Reality check: Explosive Spartans. Michigan State had more 60-plus yard plays against Rutgers (four) than the the program had in the past three seasons combined.

Ranked: About right.

No. 11 Kentucky (6-0)

Next: at No. 1 Georgia, Saturday.

Reality check: Chris Rodriguez Jr. (128 yards per game and seven TDs) might be the best running back in the SEC and the Wildcats' Benny Snell 2.0.

Ranked: About right, though credit for beating LSU is waning fast.

No. 12 Oklahoma State (5-0)

Next: at No. 25 Texas, Saturday.

Reality check: Back-to-back games on the road against Texas and Iowa State should answer the question, Are the Cowboys for real?

Ranked: Little high.

No. 13 Mississippi (4-1)

Next: at Tennessee, Saturday.

Reality check: Rebels have a Heisman contender quarterback in Matt Corral, but that running game ranks fifth in the country at 260 yards per game gets it contributions from a lot of different players and looks,

Ranked: About right.

No. 14 Notre Dame (5-1)

Next: vs. Southern California, Oct. 23.

Reality check: The run games seems to work best with QB Tyler Buchner in the game so that's probably the best way forward. The Irish now have two weeks to get the freshman healthy and up to speed.

Ranked: Sure, this is fine.

No. 15 Coastal Carolina (6-0)

Next: at Appalachian State, Oct. 20.

Reality check: QB Grayson McCall is on pace to crush the FBS single-season record for passer efficiency rating of 203.4 set by Alabama's Mac Jones last season. McCall's rating is 234.48.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 16 Wake Forest (6-0)

Next: at Army, Oct. 23.

Reality check: What if I told you the Demon Deacons have the best set of receivers in the ACC? Jaquarii Roberson (31 catches for 515 yards and two TDs) and A.T. Perry (23 for 454 and seven touchdowns) have got speed and size.

Ranked: Highest ranking since 2008 for Wake is about right.

No. 17 Arkansas (4-2)

Next: vs. Auburn, Saturday.

Reality check: Razorbacks defense in first five games: 4.32 yards per play allowed. Against Ole Miss, 8.73! Arkansas will be glad to see Auburn's more tame attack.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 18 Arizona State (5-1)

Next: at Utah, Saturday.

Reality check: Sun Devils are tied for the second-most rushing touchdowns in the country with 21.

Ranked: Should be behind BYU.

No. 19 BYU (5-1)

Next: at Baylor, Saturday.

Reality check: Cougars made all the mistakes they were mostly avoiding in their first loss of the season against Boise State.

Ranked: Should be ahead of Arizona State.

No. 20 Florida (4-2)

Next: at LSU, Saturday.

Reality check: Gators have outgained all their opponents. You are what you're record says you are, but Florida is probably better than that.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 21 Texas A&M (4-2)

Next: at Missouri, Saturday.

Reality check: One question for the Aggies after the beat Alabama: Where has that been for five weeks?

Ranked: About right.

No. 22 North Carolina State (4-1)

Next: at Boston College, Saturday.

Reality check: Wolfpack have the best third-down defense in the ACC, allowing just 24% conversions.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 23 SMU (6-0)

Next: vs. Tulane, Oct. 21.

Reality check: Circle Oct. 30. The Mustangs play at Houston and the Cougars might be second best in the AAC.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 24 San Diego State (5-0)

Next: at San Jose State, Friday.

Reality check: Things are about to get real for the Aztecs in the Mountain West with a three-game stretch of at San Jose State, at Air Force and Fresno State.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 25 Texas (4-2)

Next: vs. No. 12 Oklahoma State, Saturday.

Reality check: An epic Red River collapse, but a team that probably has enough firepower to get another shot at the Sooners in the Big 12 title game.

Ranked: Too high, though there are not other great options. Maybe Baylor or Auburn?

Unbeaten Texas-San Antonio is a popular pick among those who love to root for the underdogs.