Wednesday, January 19, 2022

NWN Top 25 Reality Check: Chasing the unanimous No. 1 UGA record | NWN News

Georgia is making a historic run at No. 1.

The Bulldogs remained a unanimous top-ranked team for the eighth straight week in an Associated Press college football poll Presented by Sector Bank.

The longest streak of weeks as unanimous No. 1 was Alabama’s run of nine in 2018.

There are two more polls left this season, followed by next week’s championship games and then the college football playoffs after the national title is decided on January 10.

If Georgia can beat Alabama in next weekend’s Southeast Conference title game and score a run through the playoffs, it could break Alabama’s record as a unanimous No. 1 team for consecutive weeks.

But something to keep in mind for the Bulldogs: Alabama’s race for a unanimous No. 1 ranking lost to Clemson in a national championship game and the Crimson Tide finished at No. 2.

With only one more regular-season poll left, Reality Check enters the rest of the rankings where voters still have some room to disagree.

No. 1 Georgia (12-0)

Next up: vs. No. 4 Alabama, SEC Championships, Saturday.

Reality check: The Bulldogs are allowing 6.9 points per game, which would be the lowest figure for the entire season since Oklahoma allowed 6.6 in 1986. This will likely increase as Georgia faces Alabama before going into the playoffs, but the numbers are still from another era of college football.

Rank: Exactly.

No. 2 Michigan (11-1)

Next: vs No. 15 Iowa, Big Ten Championship, Saturday.

Reality Check: DE Aidan Hutchinson (13 sacks) should join the Heisman Trophy discussion.

Rank: That’s fine, but Cincinnati at No. 2 would be fine.

No. 3 Cincinnati (12-0)

Next: Versus No. 16 Houston, AAC Championships, Saturday.

Reality Check: Did Thorpe Award Voters Get the Right Bearcats Defensive Back? The very good CB Kobe Bryant was named a finalist for the best defensive back in the country, not his teammate Ahmed Gardner, who is clearly the team’s best player.

Rank: It works.

No. 4 Alabama (11-1)

Next: Versus No. 1 Georgia, SEC Championships, Saturday.

Reality check: Alabama has allowed 35 sacks, ranking 108th in the nation along with Toledo, Arizona and others.

Rank: Okay.

No. 5 Oklahoma State (11-1)

Next up: vs. No. 9 Baylor, Big 12 Championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Another awards complaint: Not among the Boutiques finalists for best linebacker is Malcolm Rodriguez, who has been the leader of the Cowboys defense, fourth in the nation in yards allowed per game, at 4.44.

Rank: Exactly.

No. 6 Notre Dame (11-1)

Next up: TBD.

Reality Check: The Irish closed with seven wins in a row, none against teams with a better record than 6-6. Coach Brian Kelly has done a good job in the reload season, but it’s fair to say that he took a break with his opponents.

Rank: Slightly higher.

No. 7 Ohio State (10-2)

Next up: TBD.

Reality check: The defense got better but it never recovered, and Michigan exposed with a run of 297 yards and 8.0 yards per game.

Rank: It’s hard to say very little after what happened, but the Buckeyes should be ahead of Notre Dame.

No. 8 Mississippi (10-2)

Next up: TBD.

Reality Check: The Rebels completed their first 10-win regular season in the program’s history.

Rank: Slightly lower.

No. 9 Boiler (10-2)

Next: Versus No. 5 Oklahoma State, Big 12 Championship, Saturday.

Reality check: The only game the Bears have held under 20 points this season was one of their two losses against Oklahoma State.

Rank: Exactly.

No. 10 Oregon (10-2)

Next: Vs. Utah, Pac-12 Championship, Friday

Reality check: The Ducks get a second crack at the team that pulled them out of Salt Lake just two Saturdays ago.

Rank: Slightly higher.

No. 11 Michigan State (10-2)

Next up: TBD.

Reality check: RB Kenneth Walker III has fallen a bit behind in the race to lead the nation over the past few weeks. He enters the bowling season at 136.3 yards per game, behind only Central Michigan’s Lew Nichols III (142.5).

Rank: Slightly lower.

No. 12 BYU (10-2)

Next up: TBD.

Reality check: The Cougars went 5-0 against Pac-12 teams, including 4-0 against the South Division.

Rank: Slightly lower..

No. 13 Oklahoma (10-2)

Next up: TBD.

Reality Check: The first coaching search for Oklahoma since 1999 is underway in the aftermath of the Lincoln Riley-to-USC bombings.

Rank: About right.

No. 14 Utah (9-3)

Next up: Versus No. 10 Oregon, Pac-12 Championships, Friday.

Reality Check: RB Tavian Thomas has run for 573 yards and 12 touchdowns in his last four matches.

Rank: Very low.

No. 15 Iowa (10-2)

Next: vs. No. 2 Michigan, Big Ten Championship, Saturday.

Reality check: RB Tyler Goodson has gone for 130 yards in three of his last four matches.

Rank: Very High.

No. 16 Houston (11-1)

Next up: Vs. No. 3 Cincinnati, AAC Championships, Saturday.

Reality Check: Cougars are number four in the country at the age of 41 and come from all over. Eight players have at least two and seven more players have at least one sack.

Rank: About right.

No. 17 Pit (10-2)

Next up: Vs No. 18 Wake Forest, ACC Championship, Saturday.

Reality Check: With 40 touchdown passes, Kenny Pickett breaks Dan Marino’s school record of 37.

Rank: Slightly lower.

No. 18 Wake Forest (10-2)

Next up: Vs. No. 17 Pitt, ACC Championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Damon Deacon isn’t a particularly good defense, but he does take the ball away. With 27 takeaways, they are ranked fourth on FBS.

Rank: About right.

No. 19 San Diego State (11-1)

Next: Vs. Utah State, Mountain West Championship, Saturday.

Reality check: Only Georgia has allowed fewer early-touchdowns (two) than the Aztecs’ four.

Rank: Exactly.

No. 20 Louisiana-Lafayette (11-1)

Next up: Vs. Appalachian State, Sun Belt Championships, Saturday.

Reality Check: Ragin Cajun has proved he can be good at the last two coaches. Interesting job opening after Billy Napier left for Florida,

Rank: Very High.

No. 21 State of North Carolina (9-3)

Next up: TBD.

Reality check: The Wolfpack put together one of the best defenses in the ACC, despite multiple injuries that forced lineup changes and sank into their depths. LB Drake Thomas led the loss with 13.5 tackles.

Rank: Touch Low.

No. 22 Clemson (9-3)

Next up: TBD.

Reality Check: Whatever Tiger ends up in the second level bowl, there’s going to be a really tough and motivated opponent.

Rank: Touch Low.

No. 23 Arkansas (8-4)

Next up: TBD.

Reality check: Razorback reached eight wins before a Bowl season for the first time since going 11-2 in 2011.

Rank: It’s fine.

No. 24 Texas A&M (8-4)

Next up: TBD.

Reality check: Step-back season for the Aggies, who battled the offense with a backup quarterback. Except, oddly enough, against Alabama.

Rank: Very High.

No. 25 Kentucky (9-3)

Next up: TBD.

Reality check: Two nine-win regular seasons for the Wildcats over the past three years. Kentucky had not won nine regular season games since 1977.

Rank: Very low.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com.

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More NWN College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the NWN College Football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

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