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Breaking Down AP College Football Top 25 Rankings for Championship Saturday

Well, Championship Saturday in college football is officially here. This means it’s the end of the season for teams that didn’t meet bowl eligibility status, and for teams who won’t play for their conference titles. Last week’s climatic contests were games of the year for a few teams, and we, the audience, were fortunate enough to witness them. Below, we will break down the updates to the AP College Football Top 25 Rankings.

Let me explain some insanity to you, the audience. I’ve always mentioned frustration with the AP College Football Top 25 Rankings and even referred to them as the “disassociated” press at times. Well, this week’s rankings are a prime example of confusing picks.

Four teams find themselves behind a team that they beat earlier in the year. To add insult to injury, all four teams have the same exact record as their beaten foe. Yet, they find themselves sitting behind their somehow higher-ranked adversaries. For the record, the tweet’s prediction didn’t exactly come to fruition, in regard to the teams’ actual spots. But the sentiment is there. All the teams listed find themselves in this conundrum. It’s just the final rankings changed their numbers.

Remember, there are two systems of measurement: AP rankings and the College Football Playoff. The latter’s ranking is the one that matters for teams to fight for their national title aspirations. For the majority of the year, and near the end, the Associated Press ranking will more or less align with the CFP ranking, but the playoff committee usually throws in a wild card near the end. As always, remember to check out last week’s rankings, and let’s begin the breakdown!

Breaking Down AP College Football Top 25 Rankings for Championship Saturday
Credit: Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down the AP College Football Top 25 Rankings

1. Georgia

What’s new? Oh, that’s right, nothing. Regarding their ranking, that is. The Bulldogs have simply dominated the NCAA and are favored to win it all this year, which would make it back-to-back championship titles. They will face LSU for the SEC championship game, but Georgia is heavily favored yet again. LSU has been fun to watch, but Georgia is the top dog until proven otherwise.

2. Michigan

Let me start with an announcement: I BELIEVE IN BIG BLUE! They’ve done it, they’ve beaten Ohio State in Columbus. The second quarter saw the two titans trade scores with one another, but the Wolverines turned on their afterburners and pulled away with a dominating victory. The Wolverines will face the Purdue Boilermakers for the Big Ten title. An upset alert should be given for any conference title game, but I can’t imagine a world where Purdue beats this Michigan team.

3. TCU

The TCU Horned Frogs are rolling and bowling this year. They’ve survived the close games and won heartily in others. In other words, they have won in both dramatic and dominating fashion- a trait of a truly great team. Kansas State will challenge TCU for the Big 12 title, but TCU has already bested the Wildcats earlier this year. So, everyone expects history to repeat itself on Saturday.

4. USC

Helmed by Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams, this dynamic duo is fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Quite simply, Caleb Williams has been playing at a Heisman level, and the whole team has been balling. The Trojans will face the Utes for a climatic Pac-12 conference title. But, the plot thickens. Utah bested USC earlier this season in a close game that was decided by one point. You heard it here first, folks. An upset alert of the highest magnitude is in effect for this game.

5. Ohio State

The Ohio State Buckeyes can’t believe what they are seeing. They lost to Michigan and sit outside the top four in the AP College Football Top 25 Rankings and are looking in. You better believe they are hoping and wishing that any team ahead of them loses their conference championship game. That way, the Buckeyes can get another chance at a playoff spot. It’s a lot of “ifs” that they would need to happen. But until then, the Ohio State Buckeyes are in the fifth spot.

6. Alabama

Now, what in tarnation is happening!? How is it that Alabama is ahead of Tennessee, even though they lost to the Volunteers?! Make it make sense to me. Anyone with half a brain can tell you it doesn’t compute, and the other half would tell you that anyone can make a better ranking than this. The Crimson Tide bullied an FCS school and a falling Auburn program to rebound since their losses to Tennessee and LSU. It simply isn’t a good look for Alabama to beat a lower level of competition to earn this ranking, nor one for the AP to grant Nick Saban such a high spot this late in the year. Truly a disgusting pick.

7. Tennessee

This team has done so much this year, and quite frankly, it’s insulting that they are this low. Their QB was playing at a Heisman level and sadly tore his ACL near the end of the year. Nonetheless, the Volunteers still went out every weekend and earned a victory. They were the first team to knock down Alabama! The Volunteers didn’t need a rebound by bullying an FCS team after a loss. They played SEC schools and won(except against South Carolina, but you get my point). Shame on the disassociated press and congrats on a wonderful season to the Volunteers.

8. Penn State

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: the Nittany Lions will forever be the third-best team in the Big Ten. And once again, they are ranked as such, only furthering my statement. They beat Michigan State to close the regular season, but then again, it wasn’t really much of a tough contest. James Franklin is a top coach in college football, to be sure, but has yet to overcome the hump concerning a playoff push and national title.

9. Washington

The Huskies have been slept on by everyone this year. Sure, they’ve flirted with the rankings, but never with a spot this high. Flash forward to now, and they have slipped their way into the top ten. To be honest, it is warranted. They have a solid resume this year and have taken down worthy adversaries. The Pac-12 has six teams, so half of the conference, in the rankings. And if Washington has a good enough track record to be in the top ten, then you can certainly imagine the level of competition they’ve beaten to get here.

10. Clemson

The Tigers have certainly fallen from grace, yet somehow have managed to hold on to their season. They will play in the ACC championship game against UNC. It’s clear that Clemson’s best years are behind them, yet they continue to be ranked in the likes of yesteryear. Dabo Swinney is seemingly the glue holding them together, but the product on the field is not of the caliber to warrant a top-ten spot. Sure, they possess only two losses this year, but the ACC, while a power-five conference, is not at the same level as other conferences. Therefore, I would not be alarmed if another school replaced them here.

11. LSU

It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that the 11th-ranked team is playing in the SEC Championship game against the top-ranked team. The SEC has always been referred to as the best conference in college football, but now, the two teams fighting for its championship title are 10 spaces apart on the rankings. But confusingly, Alabama and Tennessee still somehow find themselves ranked higher than LSU… even though the Tigers are competing for its championship spot and they aren’t? Yes, it’s because of the divisional standings and the win over Alabama previously, but still, unfathomable that there’s this much of a ranking gap between the two teams in the title game.

12. Utah

The Utes will square off against the USC Trojans for a chance at the PAC-12 championship title. And, as luck would have it, the Utes already beat the Trojans earlier this year. In a tightly contested matchup, the Utes won by a one-point difference, 43-42. As the previous score hints, unless the defense steps up, this will most likely be another shootout. I’ll put it this way, I’ll be happy with whoever wins, but I do hope USC keeps its fourth spot and enters the playoffs. That way we have a better representation of conferences fighting for the national crown.

13. Kansas State

The Big 12’s resident Wildcats have had quite the ride this year. They have gone up and down the totem poll here, but have continued to stay inside the lines throughout turbulent times this year. They will face off against TCU for the Big 12 title game. However, the Horned Frogs already beat the Wildcats earlier this year, 38-28. So, K-state will try its hardest to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself this weekend and look for redemption.

14. Florida State

The Seminoles started the month of October with three straight losses. But, they have gone on a five-game winning streak to cap off the year. If you don’t recall, they even toppled LSU to start their 2022 campaign. The Seminoles might have stumbled against strong foes, but have regained their confidence and finished as a better team because of it. They even got revenge on Florida and beat the Gators last weekend. As of now, the Seminoles are the dominant team in the state of Florida.

15. Oregon

The Ducks have fallen to the Beavers. This battle of the semi-aquatic animal kingdom had massive repercussions outside the realm of the ecological system, as the mascots for the programs duked it out on a football field instead. In other words, Oregon lost to its in-state rival, Oregon State. I’ve previously questioned the validity of Oregon a few times throughout the year, and it looks like their mirage didn’t last. Or perhaps, maybe the Beavers are just that much better?

16. Oregon State

Riddle me this, how is it that Oregon State beat Oregon last weekend, yet the Beavers sit behind the Ducks?! Newsflash- it doesn’t make sense. If the AP is going to move Florida State up the rankings for their red-hot finish on the year, then so should the Beavers. Furthermore, they should move ahead of the team they recently bested. Any way you cut it, the Ducks shouldn’t be ahead of the Beavers, especially since the Beavers are a dam good team who beat the Ducks and a handful of other worthy adversaries.

17. UCLA

The Bruins have an impressive resume this year, having beaten both Washington and Utah back-to-back. However, they dramatically lost to USC but rebounded last weekend against the California Golden Bears. All in all, Chip Kelly is rising the ranks again to be considered one of the best coaches in the NCAA. It was an impressive year and a return to glory for UCLA. The future looks bright in sunny Los Angeles with Chip Kelly at the helm!

18. Tulane

The Green Wave is set to fight UCF for the AAC conference title game. For context, UCF already beat Tulane earlier this year, but the Green Wave came crashing back with a much-needed victory against Cincinnati. It’ll be quite the rematch with Tulane ahead in the rankings and looking for revenge. I, for one, am riding this Green Wave. Surf’s up!

19. Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish finished their campaign on the wrong note, with a loss to the Trojans. Notre Dame has been one of the most inconsistent teams this year, spending time both inside and outside of the rankings to reflect this. Given their status and record, they will more than likely play in a bowl game, but I’m not sure about their ranking as the nineteenth-best team in the nation. But, that has been this program lately: having the history, but still being treated as if they are the program of yesteryear.

20. South Carolina

For the past two weeks, the Gamecocks have upset the top ten teams. Let me repeat that, they have beaten two top-ten teams in as many weeks. But somehow, Notre Dame is in front of them?! Riddle me this, what top-ten team did Notre Dame beat this year? Yeah, that’s right, they haven’t beaten a top-ten team this year. Spencer Rattler and the Gamecocks finished their campaign as a powerhouse, and quite frankly, good for them. Let’s see what the future holds in South Carolina.

21. Texas

Ugh. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is no scenario in which Texas belongs on any rankings. Sure, they gave Alabama a run for their money, but ‘Bama this year isn’t as strong as it used to be. So, no. It’s not that impressive to me. Who else have they beaten that’s a truly powerful opponent? Oklahoma isn’t the same without Lincoln Riley, so, once again, it’s not impressive to me that they blew them out. Other teams could easily take this spot, and with better records too, like Coastal Carolina. In conclusion, Horns Down!

22. UCF

The Knights are poised to take on the Green Wave for the AAC championship title. However, the Knights already have a victory against Tulane. And a relatively recent one at that. The Knights are on the rise again after losing Scott Frost to Nebraska. Well, Nebraska didn’t do good with him, and the Knights are doing just fine without him. Let’s see if UCF can make history repeat itself and steal a victory against the Green Wave.

23. UTSA

The Roadrunners are in! Simply put, it’s been too long that UTSA hasn’t been in the rankings. The Roadrunners have been on the rise for years now, but this week, the fruits of their labor are finally being harvested by the Associated Press. The Triangle of Toughness is shining for all the world to see and the future looks bright in San Antonio. The Roadrunners are the essence of puro San Antonio and will represent the city as the premier football team in town.

24. North Carolina

The Tar Heels are stumbling but still manage to stay in the rankings. However, they will fight the Clemson Tigers for a chance at the ACC crown. Once again, the ACC is a power-five conference, but the two teams fighting for its crown are worlds apart in the rankings. Both teams have stumbled throughout the year and I believe it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come out on top.

25. Mississippi State

American icon Mike Leach is back in the AP College Football Top 25 Rankings, and if you ask me, he should never leave them. The Bulldogs have brought their air-raid offense to the SEC and have had decent success. Despite the belief that the SEC is a defense-first conference, Mike Leach continues to win. Also, you just can’t hate him. He is an American Treasure. They closed the year by beating the once-hot Ole Miss Rebels. I’m sure the Bulldogs will find themselves in a bowl game too.

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