It was a momentous week for Arizona’s football program, as the Wildcats cracked The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in more than two years, and sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate became the first player in history to be named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for four weeks in a row.
The Wildcats, one of college football’s biggest surprises, climbed into the poll at No. 23 following Saturday night’s 58-37 win over then-No. 15. Washington State. 58-37 . Arizona (6-2), picked to be among the worst teams in the Pac-12, can take over the top spot in the Pac-12 South if they can knock off No. 17 Southern California on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Tate totaled 421 yards of offense — 146 yards rushing on 13 carries, 275 passing — ran for one touchdown and threw for two in Arizona’s victory. He had four pass completions of 40-plus yards and a career-long 82-yard run — the fourth game in a row in which he had a run of 70 yards or more.
The Wildcats also had the Pac-12’s Special Teams Player of the Week in freshman kicker Lucas Havrisik. He tied a school record with a 57-yard field goal and booted nine of 10 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
Arizona was one of two new arrivals in this week’s Top 25, along with Mississippi State, which returned to the rankings at No. 21 following a victory at Texas A&M.
Georgia moved up to No. 2 and took two first-place votes from top-ranked Alabama in a major reshuffling of the top 10 in The Associated Press college football poll.
Every team in the top 10 except idle Alabama changed positions following Ohio State’s last-second victory over Penn State and Iowa State’s win over TCU. The Crimson Tide finished with 59 first-place votes, and Georgia snared two after turning the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” into a 42-7 runaway over rival Florida.
Ohio State moved up three places to No. 3 after rallying to beat then-No. 2 Penn State 39-38, Wisconsin climbed one spot to No. 4 and Notre Dame rounded out the top 5 by moving up four places.
Penn State dropped to No. 7 behind Clemson, followed by Oklahoma, Miami and TCU, which dropped six spots after its 14-7 loss to Iowa State.
Alabama and Georgia give the SEC the top two spots in the poll for the first time since 2013. The last conference to go 1-2 in the poll was the Big Ten in 2015, when Ohio State and Michigan State sat atop the poll.
Iowa State made the biggest jump after its victory over TCU, climbing 11 spots to No. 14.
The Cyclones, who moved into the rankings last week, have their highest ranking since being No. 9 on Oct. 13, 2002.
Iowa State, 3-9 last season, became the first team to beat two top-5 teams before Nov. 1 since Florida in 2005. In addition to the win over TCU, the Cyclones defeated Oklahoma when the Sooners were ranked No. 3.
Alabama is ranked No. 1 for the 99th time, passing Notre Dame for third on the all-time list. Ohio State has the record with 105 times at No. 1, and Oklahoma is second at 101.
South Florida dropped out of the poll from No. 17 following a 28-24 loss to Houston that knocked the Bulls (7-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten. West Virginia is out from No. 22 after losing 50-39 to No. 11 Oklahoma State .
RANKED VS. RANKED
It will be a busy week in the Top 25, with seven games pitting ranked teams against each other.
No. 19 LSU at No. 1 Alabama. This rivalry could heat back up if the Tigers can do something no other team has done this season: Put pressure on the Tide.
No. 6 Clemson at No. 20 North Carolina State. A game that will likely decide the ACC Atlantic, barring a slip-up later in the season.
No. 7 Penn State at No. 24 Michigan State. Two teams coming off disappointing losses hoping to keep pace with Ohio State in the Big Ten.
No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State. Bedlam is always must-watch football.
No. 9 Miami at No. 13 Virginia Tech. The unbeaten Hurricanes have pulled off some miracle finishes this season and will need to play well to prevent the Hokies from cutting into their ACC Coastal lead.
No. 23 Arizona at No. 17 USC. The Pac-12 South lead will be on the line in what should be an entertaining game.