AP Top 25 Reality Check: No. 1 rarely slips after ranked win

The teams that started the season ranked in the top four all won Saturday, none in particularly impressive fashion.

The result Sunday was Oklahoma, Clemson and Ohio State all dropped in The Associated Press college football poll for the second time this season. The fourth-ranked Sooners slipped one spot. The ninth-ranked Tigers fell three. The No. 10 Buckeyes dropped one.

The exception among the powerhouses was No. 1 Alabama. Not particularly surprising. Alabama was tested for the first time this season but still beat No. 11 Florida on the road.

Beating a ranked team rarely costs No. 1 the top spot. The top-ranked team in the AP poll, which dates back to 1936, has been dropped after a victory 76 times. Only eight of those involved No. 1 beating a ranked team, and the last time it happened was 38 years ago.

Penn State fans likely remember when the top-ranked Nittany Lions beat No. 21 Ohio State 63-14 on Oct. 29, 1994, and dropped to No. 2 in the poll behind Nebraska, which was No. 3 when it beat then-No. 2 Colorado 24-7.

Georgia is currently No. 2 behind the Crimson Tide and gained no ground this week.

Is there a case for the Bulldogs to be No. 1? Sure.

Both Alabama and Georgia have a close victory against a ranked opponent (Clemson for Georgia and Florida for Alabama) and an easy victory against another Power Five team (South Carolina for Georgia and Miami for Alabama).

The one edge for the Bulldogs is their non-P5 game was a total domination against UAB, a Conference USA title contender.

Alabama’s non-P5 game was against Mercer, an FCS team and not even one of the better ones.

Three voters gave Georgia first-place votes the last two weeks. A perfectly reasonable decision, but when it’s a close call, the Tide will usually get the benefit of the doubt.

Six national titles in the last 12 years will do that.

Reality Check agrees — for now.

No. 1 Alabama (3-0)

Next: vs. Southern Mississippi, Saturday.

Reality check: Tide’s run defense — or lack thereof — received a lot of attention after giving up 258 yards to Florida. Also notable, and not in a good way for ‘Bama: Tailbacks ran 24 times for 95 yards (3.95 yards per carry) vs. the Gators.

Ranked … just right.

No. 2 Georgia (3-0)

Next: at Vanderbilt, Saturday.

Reality check: QB JT Daniels returned to action after a sore muscle in his side forced him to miss a game and he threw for 303 yards and three TDs against South Carolina.

Ranked … just right.

No. 3 Oregon (3-0)

Next: vs. Arizona, Saturday.

Reality check: Ducks got a scare when QB Anthony Brown was shaken up against Stony Brook. Fortunately, Brown should be able to get a little extra rest if he needs it against Arizona.

Ranked … just right. Somebody needs to be there.

No. 4 Oklahoma (3-0)

Next: vs. West Virginia, Saturday.

Reality check: Sooners are usually a big play waiting to happen. Not so far this season. Oklahoma has five plays of at least 30 yards, tied for 77th in the country. Last year, OU ranked 17th in 30-plus plays after finishing in the top three in the nation in that category the four previous seasons.

Ranked … too high, though it’s hard to come up with a No. 4.

No. 5 Iowa (3-0)

Next: vs. Colorado State, Saturday.

Reality check: Hawkeyes got TB Tyler Goodson going against Kent State with a season-high 153 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Ranked … about right.

No. 6 Penn State (3-0)

Next: vs. Villanova, Saturday.

Reality check: WR Jahan Dotson is going to make a run at All-America. He caught 10 passes for only 78 yards against Auburn but had several tough grabs.

Ranked … little too low.

No. 7 Texas A&M (3-0)

Next: vs. No. 16 Arkansas in Arlington, Texas, Saturday.

Reality check: Aggies got a 70-yard touchdown reception from highly touted freshman Demond Demas against New Mexico. Would help a lot if it was the start of something big.

Ranked … too high.

No. 8 Cincinnati (3-0)

Next: at No. 12 Notre Dame, Oct. 2.

Reality check: What’s with all the penalties? The Bearcats have never finished better than 118th in the nation in penalties per game during coach Luke Fickell’s previous four seasons. They’re ranked 100th currently.

Ranked … little too low.

No. 9 Clemson (2-1)

Next: at North Carolina State, Saturday.

Reality check: Tigers are ranked last in the ACC in yards per play at 4.82 and that’s with a game against South Carolina State to balance out the one versus Georgia.

Ranked … too high.

No. 10 Ohio State (2-1)

Next: vs. Akron, Saturday.

Reality check: It’s not just the defense. QB C.J. Stroud is a good player, but the Buckeyes will probably need more than good against their best competition with that D.

Ranked … too high.

No. 11 Florida (2-1)

Next: vs. Tennessee, Saturday.

Reality check: Gators had the No. 1 passing offense in the SEC last season and were 11th in rushing. This season: No. 1 in rushing and No. 10 in passing. Dan Mullen can call some plays.

Ranked … too low.

No. 12 Notre Dame (3-0)

Next: vs. No. 18 Wisconsin in Chicago, Saturday.

Reality check: RB Kyren Williams seems to rip off a big play whenever the Irish get bogged down.

Ranked … too high.

No. 13 Mississippi (3-0)

Next: at No. 1 Alabama, Oct. 2.

Reality check: QB Matt Corral is the September Heisman, having accounted for 14 touchdowns. He’s got a chance to be Mr. October, too.

Ranked … too low.

No. 14 Iowa State (2-1)

Next: at Baylor, Saturday.

Reality check: Cyclones defense is No. 1 in the nation in yards per play allowed at 3.40.

Ranked … too high.

No. 15 BYU (3-0)

Next: vs. South Florida, Saturday.

Reality check: Cougars have been bend-but-don’t-break on defense, allowing 6.08 yards per play but only 16.7 points per game. Hard to keep that up.

Ranked … about right.

No. 16 Arkansas (3-0)

Next: vs. No. 7 Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, Saturday.

Reality check: Quick! Name the Razorbacks’ quarterback! KJ Jefferson might be the most unheralded QB on a ranked team. The sophomore has thrown only 63 passes, but is averaging 10 yards per attempt.

Ranked … too low.

No. 17 Coastal Carolina (3-0)

Next: vs. Massachusetts, Saturday.

Reality check: Turnover margin so far is minus-2. The Chanticleers led the nation at plus-13 last season.

Ranked … too high.

No. 18 Wisconsin (1-1)

Next: vs. No. 12 Notre Dame in Chicago, Saturday.

Reality check: A good performance by the Badgers against the Irish would make the Big Ten race seem wide open.

Ranked … about right.

No. 19 Michigan (3-0)

Next: vs. Rutgers, Saturday.

Reality check: Wolverines have been dominant with a clear identity. Michigan has run for more yards in three games this season than it did in six last. Your skepticism is noted.

Ranked … little too low.

No. 20 Michigan State (3-0)

Next: vs. Nebraska, Saturday.

Reality check: Led by Wake Forest transfer RB Kenneth Walker III (164.3 yards rushing per game), the Spartans’ transfer-heavy roster looks like it’s ready to be a problem in the Big Ten in Year 2 under coach Mel Tucker.

Ranked … too low.

No. 21 North Carolina (2-1)

Next: at Georgia Tech, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Sam Howell has two straight games of 100 yards rushing and 300 yards passing. The last Power Five quarterback to do that was Lamar Jackson of Louisville.

Ranked … a bit too high, but don’t be surprised if that offensive performance in the loss to Virginia Tech ends up looking like an aberration.

No. 22 Fresno State (2-1)

Next: vs. UNLV, Friday.

Reality check: It is very possible Washington transfer Jake Haener would be the best quarterback in the Pac-12 this season. Instead, he’s making the Bulldogs giant killers again.

Ranked … little too low.

No. 23 Auburn (2-1)

Next: vs. Georgia State, Saturday.

Reality check: Tank Bigbsy might be the toughest running back in the country to tackle.

Ranked … too low.

No. 24 UCLA (2-1)

Next: at Stanford, Saturday.

Reality check: Losing to Fresno State does not mean the Bruins can’t still be the best team in the Pac-12 South.

Ranked … just right.

No. 25 Kansas State (3-0)

Next: at Oklahoma State, Saturday.

Reality check: Stanford has looked functional the past two weeks and Nevada was good enough to beat Cal. The Wildcats pounded both. Intriguing team in Manhattan.

Ranked … just right.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://APpodcast.com

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

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