AP Top 25 Reality Check: When streaks end, but not really
By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Football Writer
For the first time since the end of the 2011 season, Ohio State is not ranked in the AP Top 25.
The Buckeyes’ streak of 132 straight poll appearances is the second-longest active streak in the country, behind Alabama’s 198.
Of course, in this strange season of COVID-19, Ohio State’s streak was neither extended nor ended when the first regular-season college football poll came out Sunday.
The Buckeyes were ranked No. 2 in the preseason Top 25, but they, along with eight other teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12, disappeared from the rankings once games started being played.
The AP instructed its voters to only consider teams scheduled to play this fall during regular-season voting. As of right now, the Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and Mid-American Conference are not scheduled to play, but that might change soon with the Big Ten.
So what becomes of Ohio State’s streak? And Penn State’s streak of 58 straight poll appearances, fifth best coming into the season. Michigan is at 34 straight. Wisconsin, Oregon and Utah have appeared in 18 straight polls?
The AP is a news organization, not a stat keeper so it won’t be making any kind of ruling.
Reality Check will simply record what has happened. If and when the Buckeyes and those other teams are up and running and presumably back in the rankings, a notation will be made that their streaks only includes polls in which they were eligible to be ranked.
It’s not ideal, but little has been in 2020.
With that, Reality Check runs down the teams that did make the Top 25 this week. One for the first time in more than 75 years.
No. 1 Clemson (1-0)
Next: vs. The Citadel, Sept. 19
Reality check: The Tigers got immediate contributions from five-star freshman defensive linemen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy in an easy victory against Wake. “They’re freshmen on paper only,” coach Dabo Swinney said.
No. 2 Alabama
Next: at Missouri, Sept. 26.
Reality check: This is Alabama’s 43rd appearance at No. 2 under Nick Saban to go along with 91 appearances at No. 1. Both are by far the most in college football from 2008-20.
No. 3 Oklahoma (1-0)
Next: vs. Kansas State, Sept. 26
Reality check: It was against Missouri State so no reason to go crazy over Spencer Rattler’s debut. But Rattler and receiver Charleston Rambo make up the coolest sounding pass-catch combo in the country. Rattler to Rambo!
No. 4 Georgia
Next: at Arkansas, Sept. 26.
Reality check: The opt out of presumptive starting quarterback Jamie Newman leaves the Bulldogs with former five-star recruit and USC transfer J.T. Daniels competing with D’Wan Mathis.
No. 5 Florida
Next: at Mississippi, Sept. 26.
Reality check: The Gators moved up three spots from the season-opening poll with Penn State dropping out and some key opt outs from LSU’s roster costing the Tigers some voter confidence.
No. 6 LSU
Next: vs. Mississippi State, Sept. 26
Reality check: Since the preseason poll, the Tigers have had All-America receiver Ja’Marr Chase and star defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin opt out. Still, lot of talent in Baton Rouge.
No. 7 Notre Dame (1-0)
Next: vs. South Florida, Sept. 19.
Reality check: The Irish have some explosiveness in the backfield in sophomore Kyren Williams and freshman Chris Tyree.
No. 8 Auburn
Next: vs. Kentucky, Sept. 26.
Reality check: The delayed start to the season has helped the Tigers, who have been dealing with some COVID-19 issues.
No. 9 Texas (1-0)
Next: at Texas Tech, Sept. 26.
Reality check: A 78-yard touchdown pass from Sam Ehlinger to Joshua Moore on the first play from scrimmage against UTEP was a nice way for new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich to debut with the Longhorns.
No. 10 Texas A&M
Next: vs. Vanderbilt, Sept. 26.
Reality check: The Aggies leading returning receiver Jhamon Ausbon has opted out, but A&M has some intriguing young options to replace him.
No. 11 Oklahoma State
Next: vs. Tulsa, Sept. 19.
Reality check: Cowboys had to wait a week to open after Tulsa needed to postpone because of COVID-19 problems.
No. 12 North Carolina (1-0)
Next: vs. Charlotte, Sept. 19.
Reality check: Tar Heels were a great fourth-quarter team last season and put Syracuse away in the opener with three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes.
No. 13 Cincinnati
Next: vs, Austin Peay, Sept. 19.
Reality check: Pitt beat Austin Peay so bad the teams agreed to shorten the second half to 20 minutes. Something for the Bearcats to shoot for.
No. 14 UCF
Next: at Georgia Tech.
Reality check: The Yellow Jackets opening win showed they might provide a stiffer test to the Knights than first thought.
No. 15 Tennessee
Next: at South Carolina, Sept. 26.
Reality check: Another SEC team that has battled with COVID-19 and is benefiting from the delayed start.
No. 16 Memphis (1-0)
Next: at UTSA, Sept. 26.
Reality check: The Tigers won their opener, but COVID-19 caused their scheduled game on Friday to be postponed. They hope to be ready to go the next week.
No. 17 Miami (1-0)
Next: at No. 18 Louisville, Sept. 19.
Reality check: New offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, a Gus Malzahn disciple, unleashed a monster running game in the Hurricanes’ opener. New quarterback D’Eriq King should be a perfect fit.
No. 18 Louisville (1-0)
Next: vs. No. 17 Miami, Sept. 19.
Reality check: Micale Cunningham might the most underrated quarterback in the ACC. That won’t last much longer
No. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette (1-0)
Next: at Georgia State.
Reality check: The Ragin’ Cajuns showed some SEC-like speed and a swarming defense in an upset of Iowa State. And now they’re ranked for the first time since 1943.
No. 20 Virginia Tech
Next: vs. North Carolina State, Sept. 26.
Reality check: Two postponements already for the Hokies. But, hey, now they’re ranked.
No. 21 BYU (1-0)
Next: vs. Troy, Sept. 26.
Reality check: The Cougars looked awesome against Navy, but are now in a holding pattern with their game against Army next weekend postponed because of COVID-19. We’ll have to wait a week to see how much that opener was BYU being excellent and how much was Navy being unprepared.
No. 22 Army (2-0)
Next: at Cincinnati, Sept. 26.
Reality check: No team in the country has started the season looking better prepared than Army, which explains why its athletic director took to Twitter on Sunday to find an opponent to replace BYU.
No. 23 (tie) Appalachian State (1-0)
Next: at Marshall, Sept. 19.
Reality check: For the first time, the Sun Belt conference has two teams ranked at the same time. Appalachian State and Louisiana could definitely hang with most Power Five schools.
No. 23 (tie) Kentucky
Next: at Auburn, Sept. 26.
Reality check: An argument could be made the Wildcats deserved a spot in the preseason poll. Coach Mark Stoops’ bunch is tough up front.
No. 25 Pittsburgh (1-0)
Next: vs. Syracuse, Sept. 19.
Reality check: Panthers did not receive a point in the preseason poll. That was probably an oversight.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/
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