Sunday, December 5, 2021

AP Top 25 Reality Check: welcome, clones again; Who is next?

For the first time this regular season, there were no teams in the Associated College soccer poll to make their debut this season.

Iowa and BYU are back in the top 25 AP represented by Regions Bank, but the number of teams ranked for at least one week this season remains at 44.

Iowa returned four weeks later. The Cyclones were number 7 in the preseason, but two losses in September sent them down.

Currently, 13 unrated teams have started in the ranking.

Specifically, Clemson, who was No. 3 in the preseason poll and now sits at 4-3. More and more it looks like the Tigers will have a hard time rescuing this season as injuries grow and the attack remains chaotic.

The schedule is designed so that Clemson can run against the remaining schedule with three losing teams, plus Louisville and No. 13 Wake Forest.

Who else?

North Carolina (No. 10 preseason), Wisconsin (No. 12 preseason), Florida (No. 13 preseason), Texas (No. 21 preseason), and Utah (No. 24 preseason) are all 4-3 with reasonable odds of working off. back to the rating. Or further flames. I can go any way.

It’s safe to say that Miami (preseason 14), Southern California (preseason 15), LSU (preseason 16), Washington (preseason 20), all with four defeats, will not return. At 2-5, Indiana (preseason 17) will have a hard time getting right to the cup.

Among the 13 underdogs, Louisiana-Lafayette (preseason 23, 6-1) and Arizona State (preseason 25, 5-2) look like the best bets to get back where they started.

Reality Check might even argue that Ragin ‘Cajuns should be ranked now.

No. 1 Georgia (7: 0)

Next: against Florida, Saturday.

Reality Check: The insanely good defensive stats that the Bulldogs have posted are likely to increase in the next few weeks due to some competent violations (Florida, Missouri, Tennessee). How much? Let’s see.

By rating: just right.

No. 2 Cincinnati (7-0)

Next: in Tulane, Saturday.

Reality check: Close games should not count as a loss for Bearcats.

Rating: Good, though, but holding back the teams behind them will be difficult through no fault of their own.

No. 3 Alabama (7-1)

Next: vs. LSU, Saturday.

Reality Check: Alabama has been a bit careless about the Vols. But as Texas A&M pulls it all together, Alabama’s lonely loss doesn’t look bad at all. Be careful calling Alabama vulnerable to any enemy other than Georgia.

By rating: just right.

No. 4 Oklahoma (8-0)

Next: Against Texas Tech, Saturday.

Reality Check: Sooner or later, skeptics have scored a few close wins, but this is the first time Oklahoma has shown 8-0 since 2004. Just win, baby!

By rating: Approximately correct.

No. 5 Ohio State (6-1)

Next: v. No. 20, PA, Saturday.

Reality check: Buckays’ offense has been stupidly good lately (16 touchdowns and two shots for a field goal in the last 18 assists in the first half, not counting those that were running out of time). It’d be fair to hit the brakes a bit, given the growth has come from Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana.

Ranked: Still too high, but it’s getting harder to prove it.

No. 6 Michigan (7-0)

Next: at No. 8 Michigan, Saturday.

Reality Check: Among the rated teams, only Coastal Carolina (163) made fewer attempts than Michigan – 166. Georgia, incidentally, dropped 167.

Rating: slightly high.

No. 7 Oregon (6-1)

Next: Against Colorado, Saturday.

Reality Check: It’s hard to stand next to the ducks, but Oregon’s presence behind Bakkey still feels unfair.

Rating: too low.

No. 8 Michigan State (7-0)

Next: versus No. 6 Michigan, Saturday.

Reality Check: Spartan Yakub Panasyuk outshines Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, but he also plays like an All-American.

By rating: just right.

No. 9 Iowa (6-1)

Next: in Wisconsin, Saturday.

Reality Check: Don’t let Iowa’s attacking struggles distract you from Tyler Linderbaum’s dominance in the center.

Rating: slightly high.

No. 10 Mississippi (6-1)

Next: at No. 18, Auburn, Saturday.

Reality Check: Only four quarterbacks made more attempts than Matt Corral’s 100. Yes, there were 30 in one game against Tennessee, but all but one time it was double-digit.

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Rating: slightly low.

No. 11 Notre Dame (6-1)

Next: against North Carolina, Saturday.

Reality Check: RB Kyren Williams’ tacky stats (4.20 yards per carry) have not been available, but there is no question that he is the Irish’s most valuable striker.

Rating: slightly high.

No. 12 Kentucky (6-1)

Next: in Mississippi, Saturday.

Reality Check: The Wild Cats begin chasing the New Year’s Bowl of Six against the remaining opponents, totaling 18-23.

Rating: slightly low.

No. 13 Wake Forest (7-0)

Next: against the Duke, Saturday.

Reality Check: Hartman for Heisman? It’s catchy, and Sam Hartman’s QB numbers (9.7 yards per try and an efficiency rating of 173.63) line up well with those of other contenders.

Rating: too low.

No. 14 Texas A&M (6-2)

Next: against No. 18 Auburn, 6 November.

Reality Check: The round robin between Edgey, Ole Miss and Auburn over the next three weeks should be a lot of fun. Can A&M rely on this aggressive approach against rebels and tigers?

By rating: just right.

No. 15 Oklahoma State (6-1)

Next: against Kansas, Saturday.

Reality Check: Behind the cowboys is the hardest part of Big 12. With the exception of Bedlam vs. Oklahoma. It rarely goes well, but if they can get there without additional losses, a conference title game might be possible no matter how it goes.

By rating: just right.

No. 16 Baylor (6-1)

Next: against Texas, Saturday.

Reality Check: Home games with Texas and Oklahoma over the next three weeks will determine how high the ceiling is for amazing Bears.

By rating: Approximately correct.

No. 17 Pittsburgh (6-1)

Next: vs, Miami, Saturday.

Reality Check: The Panthers are the only team to make the top five in the ACC in both offensive (third – 6.64 yards per game) and defense (fourth – 4.98). This is no coincidence.

By rating: Approximately correct.

No. 18 Auburn (5-2)

Next: against No. 10 Ole Miss, Saturday.

Reality Check: QB Bo Nix has taken a step forward this season but hasn’t gotten much help from the receiver group, which is lacking in true # 1.

Rating: too high.

No. 19 SMU (7-0)

Next: Against Houston, Saturday.

Reality Check: WR Reggie Roberson Jr. has a good comeback season with a knee injury: 30 catches at 406 yards and five touchdowns.

Rating: slightly high.

No. 20 Penn State (5-2)

Next: at No. 5, Ohio, Saturday.

Reality Check: Throwing the ball and stopping the run has been a problem all season, and in the end they conspired to derail a promising season.

Rating: Probably should still be ahead of Auburn. At least another week.

No. 21 San Diego State (7-0)

Next: v. Fresno State, Saturday.

Reality Check: Panting Wins: Matt Araiza, a midseason All-American, has over 80 yards in each of his last two games.

Rating: slightly high.

No. 22 Iowa (5-2)

Next: in West Virginia, Saturday.

Reality Check: DE Will McDonald IV is Cyclones’ Kywon Thibodeau with 7 1/2 bags that always seem to show up in large numbers.

Rating: slightly low.

No. 23 UTSA (8-0)

Further: on UTEP, November 6.

Reality Check: The Roadrunners are gaining momentum, beating the last two opponents 90-16.

By rating: Approximately correct.

No. 24 Coastal Carolina (6-1)

Next: against Troy, Thursday.

Reality Check: Offense is still a lot of fun and is probably good enough to get through the rest of the regular season without a loss.

Ranked: The Sun Belt team may have been misspelled. Hi Louisiana Lafayette.

No. 25 BYU (6-2)

Next: against Virginia, Saturday.

Reality Check: Power Cavaliers and QB Brennan Armstrong will be testing the bend but don’t break cougar’s defenses next week.

Rating: slightly low.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


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