Though the top teams in the college football rankings are expected to hold their positions, don't be surprised if there are some slight changes in the voting for the AP Top 25 after Week 14 action. The debate of No. 3, for example, has been a split decision between the AP voters and the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, which has the Buckeyes at No. 4 while the AP Top 25 has them at No. 3.
Ohio State's performance against Michigan State while down 23 players only reinforced the opinions of those AP voters who favored the Buckeyes, and there wasn't much from Clemson's win at Virginia Tech that might suggest a change to match the CFP Rankings. But what about Ohio State's distance to Notre Dame for No. 2? There won't be enough shifting to change the rankings, but look for that to be the next great debate because no one is going to question the battle for No. 1 after Alabama hung more than half-a-hundred on LSU in Death Valley.
The most significant result of a ranked-on-ranked game Saturday was Coastal Carolina's win against BYU. The victory is sure to see the Chanticleers make a small jump up in the rankings, but it's going to be even more interesting to see how the AP voters react to the loss for BYU. The game was scheduled on short notice and involved cross-country travel, but those factors may or may not be considered by voters when comparing BYU to other one-loss or two-loss teams in the rankings.
Here's how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday. Last week's rankings in parenthesis.
1. Alabama (1): An absolute throttling of LSU will only confirm the current consensus among the AP voters: Alabama is the best team in the country. The more interesting argument is whether DeVonta Smith is the best player in the country and as worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration as teammate Mac Jones and Florida's Kyle Trask.
3. Ohio State (3): Four touchdowns from Justin Fields highlight a win that reflected the real depth advantage Ohio State holds on the rest of the conference. The Buckeyes were down 23 players, including three starters on the offensive line, a three-time team captain linebacker and multiple reserves in the secondary, and they still had a clear advantage from start to finish in a 52-12 win. That's the kind of result, especially given the circumstances, that should impress the committee and inspire some action from the Big Ten should next week's game against Michigan get canceled.
4. Clemson (4): A spot in the ACC Championship Game was clinched, setting up a rematch with Notre Dame for Dec. 19 in Charlotte. The Tigers weren't up to their standard in terms of passing output but it was a 45-10 win that checked plenty of boxes for a College Football Playoff contender.
5. Texas A&M (5): The Aggies played bully ball at Auburn, running around and through the Tigers defense to snap a three-game losing streak in the series. Texas A&M's offense rolled up 313 rushing yards, and Kellen Mond had three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) as the Aggies turned in a performance worthy of a playoff contender playing on the road late in the season.
6. Florida (6): When Kyle Trask breaks Danny Wuerffel's single-season passing touchdown record next week against LSU, it's going to bring into focus the historic nature of this Gators passing attack. Trask has been this prolific against a delayed, all-SEC schedule even while star tight end Kyle Pitts missed time due to injury. Even in games where Florida seems off for stretches offensively like this one, you have Trask throwing for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns. Consider that, as part of a program with three Heisman-winning quarterbacks in its past, Trask is on his way to producing the Gators' best passing season of all-time.
8. Miami (9): Try telling your 2004 self that Miami-Duke is a revenge game. Well, the Hurricanes lost to the Blue Devils last year in between a bad defeat to FIU in a baseball stadium on the grounds of the Orange Bowl and a bowl game loss to Louisiana Tech. So when Miami blows Duke out 48-0 for the program's first shoutout win in ACC play, let me suggest that getting right for last year might have played a factor.
9. Indiana (10): Jack Tuttle just went on the road in relief of Michael Penix Jr. and beat Wisconsin, something that comes rarely for any Big Ten quarterback. The game was won mostly on the back of a great defensive effort from the Hoosiers, but Tuttle still answered the call and now Indiana is 6-1 with its only loss coming close to Ohio State.
11. Coastal Carolina (14): With a spot solidified in the Sun Belt Championship Game, Coastal Carolina's next aim is going to be making itself the highest-ranked conference champion from the Group of Five to lock up a spot in the New Year's Six. Cincinnati may be higher now, but if the Bearcats slip or are knocked off in the AAC Championship Game, the Chanticleers want to make sure they're in a position to pick up that bowl invitation.
14. BYU (8): This is where BYU will fall back closer to where the committee had it ranked coming into the game. The AP voters were five or six spots higher on the Cougars, and I expect that will be the reaction will be a drop behind the Big 12 title contenders but ahead of Louisiana and Tulsa.
15. Northwestern (16): After suffering their first loss of the season at Michigan State, the Wildcats had Saturday's game against Minnesota canceled because of COVID-19 issues in the Golden Gophers' program.
17. Louisiana (20): Friday night's win at Appalachian State snapped a losing streak that included both regular season and conference championship losses to the Mountaineers.
18. Tulsa (22): The Golden Hurricane had to grind out a win against Navy but should have expected as much given the Midshipmen's five-game winning streak in the series. Up next is the first of two games against Cincinnati: the first to close the regular season, the second to decide the AAC champion.
20. Liberty (25): The Flames were supposed to play at Coastal Carolina, but COVID-19 issues forced the game to be canceled.
21. North Carolina (NR): The CFP committee not only refused to drop North Carolina from the top 25 after its loss to Notre Dame but moved the Tar Heels up in the rankings. Blowing out Western Carolina isn't going to spark the move into the top 25 as much as a few more votes after being one of the top teams below the cut line for the AP Top 25 last week.
22. Buffalo (NR): Even though this week's game was canceled, there's enough momentum behind the undefeated Bulls to make an appearance in the top 25 with other teams dropping out.
23. Colorado (NR): The Buffaloes are 4-0 after a 24-13 win against Arizona. Colorado fell behind early but rallied back and will get some top 25 votes as one of the last undefeated teams in the country.
24. NC State (NR): With a regular season closed out at 8-3, look for the Wolfpack to end up in enough ballots to make the cut for the top 25.
25. Wisconsin (18): Even though the Badgers have taken a couple losses, I think the defeat to Indiana limits the fall and there's not a ton of candidates with widespread support among the voters.