For every Week 7 of this year’s college football season, there must be one like Week 8. Those are just the rules.
A week after one of the worst weeks in recent Top 25 history (7 losses, all to unranked teams, with four of the Top 10 going down), ranked teams lost only two games, and both were ranked-v-ranked matchups.
College football rankings: AP Top 25 | Reaction
Boring? Not if you’re in the Top 25. So how did the normalcy affect the rankings?
Let’s take a look behind the numbers of the AP Top 25 after a routine Week 8:
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TOP 8 TEAMS DON’T MOVE
8 — Number of teams in the Top 8 that didn’t budge in this week’s rankings. After last week saw four of the Top 10 get upset, the new Top 8 teams decided to make a statement. To be fair, three of the eight (No. 3 Georgia, No. 6 Ohio State, and No. 7 Clemson) had byes, but the other five that played won their games by an average of 28.6 points, with only one — Miami’s 27-19 win over Syracuse — within three scores. The last time that the Top 8 teams all stayed the same was in Week 5 of the 2013 season (No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Louisville, No. 8 FSU). In fact, that week, no team in the Top 14 budged. Talk about stagnation.
MICHIGAN’S RANKED STREAK ENDS
29 — Number of games in a row that Michigan has been ranked, a streak that will end this week after the Wolverines’ 42-13 loss to Penn State knocked them out of the rankings for the first time since Sept. 26, 2015. The Wolverines have had a rough October, which started with a 14-10 home loss to Michigan State, then a very close win over Indiana, before Penn State got revenge for last year’s loss with a 42-13 blowout win. Michigan has a chance to creep back into the Top 25 with a relatively easy stretch against Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland coming up before games against No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 6 Ohio State loom to close out the season.
BACK ON TRACK
17-2 — Record for ranked teams in Week 8 of the season, winning by an average score of 35-20. A week after the Top 25’s worst performance of the season (by far), ranked teams posted their best week yet, with only two teams falling (the fewest in one week had been four), and no ranked teams suffering an upset at the hands of an unranked foe. Of the 17 wins, 10 came by double digits, eight by three scores or more, and five were at least 30-point wins. Virginia Tech managed the biggest blowout of the week, dominating North Carolina 59-7, while West Virginia survived the closest matchup for a ranked team with a 38-36 win over Baylor.
|Week||Record||Percentage||Top 25 score||Opponent score||Winning margin||Losses to unranked teams|
BIG TEN LEADS THE WAY
7 — Number of conferences represented in the poll (including independent schools). By weighting the conferences inversely to their teams’ rankings (i.e., No. 25 is worth 1, No. 1 is worth 25, etc.), the Big Ten comes out in first place for the eighth straight week. Nothing changed in the Top 8 this week, so the Big Ten’s three members in the Top 6 (No. 2 Penn State, No. 5 Wisconsin, and No. 6 Ohio State) are all still there. The Big 12 has the most representatives of any conference with five, including two in the Top 10, but the ACC has all four of its member schools inside the Top 15.
|Conference||Number of teams||Teams||Weighted score|
|1||Big Ten||4||No. 2 Penn State, No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 16 Michigan State||75|
|2||ACC||4||No. 7 Clemson, No. 8 Miami, No. 13 Virginia Tech, No. 14 NC State||62|
|3||Big 12||5||No. 4 TCU, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 22 West Virginia, No. 25 Iowa State||58|
|3||SEC||4||No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Georgia, No. 19 Auburn, No. 23 LSU||58|
|5||Pac-12||4||No. 12 Washington, No. 15 Washington State, No. 20 Stanford, No. 21 USC||36|
|6||American||3||No. 17 South Florida, No. 18 UCF, No. 24 Memphis||19|
|7||Independent||1||No. 9 Notre Dame||17|
TEAMS THAT HAVE MADE A TOP 25 APPEARANCE
39 — Number of teams that have been ranked at one point this season. With Michigan bowing out of the rankings for the first time all year, Iowa State seized the lone open spot of the week after a 31-13 win over Texas Tech. It was the Cyclones’ third straight win, the first of which was a stunning 38-31 upset over then-No. 3 Oklahoma.
TEAMS THAT HAVEN’T LEFT THE TOP 25
15 — Number of teams that have been ranked every week since the preseason. Michigan became the latest preseason-ranked team to fall out after its 42-13 loss to Penn State, the Wolverines’ second loss in three weeks. Now, Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Clemson, Penn State, Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Georgia, Miami, South Florida, Virginia Tech, and Washington State are the only teams that started the year off in the preseason Top 25 and haven’t left yet. Last year, only seven teams (Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan, Washington, and Louisville) were able to stay in the rankings wire-to-wire.
WHY ALABAMA DIDN’T BUDGE
0 — Spots that Alabama has moved in the rankings this year. Alabama rode the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 from the preseason all the way to the championship game last year, before falling to Clemson and dropping out of the No. 1 spot. This year, the Tide has stayed above the chaos of spots No. 2-25, coasting on flat line through nine weeks in the poll, and it doesn’t look like they’ll fall in the regular season. No. 23 LSU and No. 19 Auburn are the only threats left on Alabama’s schedule, and while anything can happen in the SEC, don’t expect to see anything but a zero in the Tide’s loss column when the end of the regular season rolls around.
TROJANS TAKE THE WEEK’S BIGGEST FALL
10 — The biggest drop in the rankings this week, courtesy of USC. The Trojans started the year off at No. 4, and a 4-0 start seemed to justify that perception, but a close loss to Washington State in late September and a close win over Utah (where the Utes missed a two-point conversion for the win) had the Trojans stumbling before finally being KOd against Notre Dame in a 49-14 beatdown, sending No. 11 to No. 21. There are no more ranked opponents on USC’s schedule, which should pave the way to four more wins before season’s end, but it also leaves very little room for upward mobility in the Top 25.
NOTRE DAME IS THE WEEK’S BIGGEST RISER
4 — The biggest jump in the rankings this week, made by Notre Dame. The Irish are looking as hot as ever. After a one-point loss to now-No. 3 Georgia in Week 2, Notre Dame has won its last five games by an average of 28.4 points, with its most recent win being its most impressive — the aforementioned 49-14 throttling of No. 11 USC, and now Notre Dame sits inside the Top 10 for the first time since 2016’s preseason. The Irish still have games against No. 14 NC State, No. 8 Miami, and No. 20 Stanford, so there’s plenty of opportunities to keep rising in the rankings.