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Top 25 Reality Check: Assessing voters after volatile weeks

By RALPH D. RUSSO, Associated Press

Two weeks into the regular season and already 12 ranked teams have lost, including five to unranked teams.

That’s a fair amount of upheaval to the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank so early in the season.

Six teams that were ranked in the preseason are currently unranked and another six teams are ranked but with one loss.

Both the 12 ranked teams losing and six ranked teams with a loss after two weeks of the season are more than at the same point in the previous five normal seasons (2015-19). That’s not including last year when the pandemic altered schedules, delaying the start of the season for many teams.

This week Alabama was No. 1 again and Georgia was No. 2 for a second straight week. The rest of the rankings got a good shakeup with Oregon up to four and Iowa at five.

This week’s newcomers include No. 20 Arkansas, No. 23 BYU and No. 25 Michigan.

It usually takes about half a season for the the Top 25 to stabilize, give or take a week. Reality Check is ready to start assessing how the voters are doing, something that was shelved during the pandemic because — well —- that was kind of a mess.

No. 1 Alabama (2-0)

Next: at No. 11 Florida, Saturday.

Reality check: First game in a hostile environment for the Crimson Tide and new starting QB Bryce Young. Will this actually be a test?

Ranked … just right.

No. 2 Georgia (2-0)

Next: vs. South Carolina, Saturday.

Reality check: No need for QB JT Daniels to rush back from a lat injury. Stetson Bennett, who threw for five touchdowns in 12 attempts against UAB, should be able to get the job done this week, too.

Ranked … just right.

No. 3 Oklahoma (2-0)

Next: vs. Nebraska, Saturday.

Realty check: Sooners probably didn’t need a tune-up for the Huskers, but they took one anyway.

Ranked … a bit too high.

No. 4 Oregon (2-0)

Next: vs. Stony Brook, Saturday.

Reality check: Ducks’ RPO (run-pass option) game brings out the best in QB Anthony Brown.

Ranked … a touch low. Make’em No. 3.

No. 5 Iowa (2-0)

Next: vs. Kent State, Saturday.

Reality check: Hawkeyes have some dudes on defense, and a couple of nice wins to start the season, but an offense (3.84 yards per play) that needs a lot of work.

Ranked … too high.

No. 6 Clemson (1-1)

Next: vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday.

Reality check: Nothing about the first two weeks of Atlantic Coast Conference play suggests the rest of the league will catch up to the Tigers.

Ranked … about right.

No. 7 Texas A&M (2-0)

Next: vs. New Mexico, Saturday.

Reality check: Still waiting on word about the injury to QB King Haynes, but the Aggies have not shown much reason to believe they have even close to enough on offense to keep pace with Alabama.

Ranked … too high.

No. 8 Cincinnati (2-0)

Next: at Indiana, Saturday.

Reality check: Future Big 12 member moves into a critical stretch of schedule. Indiana and Notre Dame might not be as good as the preseason rankings suggested. That could be bad news for the Bearcats in a CFP selection process stacked against them.

Ranked … too low.

No. 9 Ohio State (1-1)

Next: vs. Tulsa, Saturday.

Reality check: The Buckeyes’ defense starts nothing but four- and five-star players. Talent can’t be the problem. They either are not being developed or prepared well enough.

Ranked … even with the issues, probably a little low.

No. 10 Penn State (2-0)

Next: vs. No. 22 Auburn, Saturday.

Reality check: The season has started about as well as possible for a team that needed to get its mojo back. Should get a glimpse of the ceiling against Auburn.

Ranked … about right.

No. 11 Florida (2-0)

Next: vs. No. 1 Alabama, Saturday.

Reality check: Ideally, the Gators will identify their best quarterback and go with that guy against the Tide. Because trying to determine who the best QB is while playing Alabama is not a plan for success.

Ranked … about right.

No. 12 Notre Dame (2-0)

Next: vs. Purdue, Saturday.

Reality check: Jack Coan? Tyler Buchner? Both? Buchner’s mobility is a plus with an offensive line that is developing.

Ranked … this seems too high, but the middle of the rankings have a lot of teams like that.

No. 13 UCLA (2-0)

Next: vs Fresno State, Saturday.

Reality check: During a week off, the Bruins looked a lot like the best team in the Pac-12 South.

Ranked … too low.

No. 14 Iowa State (1-1)

Next: at UNLV, Saturday.

Reality check: That preseason top-10 ranking seemed a bit rich, but the Cyclones have established a pattern of surging in October after a sluggish September. They don’t call QB Brock Purdy “Brocktober” for nothing.

Ranked … too high.

No. 15 Virginia Tech (2-0)

Next: at West Virginia, Saturday.

Reality check: Hokies’ three main tailbacks, Jalen Holston, Raheem Blackshear and Keshawn King, have combined for 49 carries and a 3.4-yard average. Red flag.

Ranked … too high.

No. 16 Coastal Carolina (2-0)

Next: at Buffalo, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Grayson McCall leads the nation in yards per attempt (12.7). Pretty good for an option quarterback.

Ranked … about right.

No. 17 Mississippi (2-0)

Next: vs. Tulane, Saturday.

Realty check: Green Wave offense should be a good test for what looks like an improved Rebels’ defense.

Ranked … little low.

No. 18 Wisconsin (1-1)

Next: vs. No. 12 Notre Dame, Sept. 25.

Reality check: Badgers have allowed 66 yards rushing in two games. Jim Leonhard’s defenses rarely miss a beat.

Ranked … Just right.

No. 19 Arizona State (2-0)

Next: at No. 23 BYU, Saturday.

Reality check: The competition hasn’t been much, but Jayden Daniel is completing 73.2% of his passes. Good sign.

Ranked … too high.

No. 20 Arkansas (2-0)

Next: vs. Georgia Southern, Saturday.

Reality check: S Jalen Catalon and the Razorbacks held Texas to one short-field touchdown over the first three quarters before yielding a couple of TD drives when the game was out of hand in the fourth.

Ranked … too low.

No. 21 North Carolina (2-0)

Next: vs. Virginia, Saturday.

Reality check: Tar Heels leading rusher through two games? QB Sam Howell with 139 yards on 24 carries. Probably not something coach Mack Brown wants to continue.

Ranked … too high.

No. 22 Auburn (2-0)

Next: at No. 10 Penn State, Saturday.

Reality check: No Power Five team has had an easier opening two weeks. If nothing else, it should provide a confidence boost under a new coaching staff.

Ranked … just right.

No. 23 BYU (2-0)

Next: vs. No. 19 Arizona State

Reality check: Cougars have a new fun quarterback in Jaren Hall, though he’s more runner than polished passer right now.

Ranked … too low.

No. 24 Miami (1-1)

Next: vs. Michigan State, Saturday.

Reality check: Hurricanes need to get their red zone offense fixed. Miami has converted on two trips inside the 20 into touchdowns.

Ranked … too high.

No. 25 Michigan (2-0)

Next: vs. Northern Illinois, Saturday.

Reality check: Wolverines have started the season with back-to-back 300-yard rushing games behind the combination of Blake Corum and Haasan Haskins.

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