The latest AP Top 25 was released Sunday, with Oklahoma moving into No. 3, followed by three straight Big Ten teams. North Carolina entered the top-10 ahead of its matchup with No. 1 Clemson in the ACC title game, while Notre Dame is at No. 9 after its second loss of the season. Here are three thoughts on this week's AP poll:
1. Oklahoma is now in the top four in both rankings
The Sooners shot up to No. 3 in the last College Football Playoff ranking, and now they are in the same spot in the AP poll. Oklahoma manhandled Oklahoma State 58–23 on Saturday to clinch the Big 12, and now Bob Stoops's team appears to be a lock for the playoff. Whereas the other three teams in the top four have conference title games left to play, Oklahoma will wait for the final playoff rankings after ending its regular season on a high note.
2. Can Stanford or Ohio State sneak in?
The Cardinal moved up to No. 7 in the poll after a win over Notre Dame, while Ohio State is at No. 6 after trouncing Michigan, behind Big Ten foes Iowa and Michigan State. Is there any way for Stanford or Ohio State teams to get into top four? It’s going to take major upsets of Alabama or Clemson for Stanford or Ohio State to even have a prayer at the playoff. Even if both the Crimson Tide and Tigers lose next week, there may still only be room for one. Ohio State has a solid case, with its only loss coming on a last-second field goal to a playoff contender. Stanford has two losses, but it holds a cadre of quality wins and can add another with a victory over No. 24 USC in the Pac-12 championship game. The Buckeyes can only watch and hope next week as their loss to Michigan State kept them out of the Big Ten title game.
3. A Big Ten showdown is looming
With Iowa and Michigan State at Nos. 4 and 5 in the AP poll and likely in the playoff rankings as well, the teams will face off not only for the Big Ten championship, but likely a playoff berth as well. The Hawkeyes have been doubted all season, despite their undefeated record, but a victory over the Spartans would end all chatter about their playoff worth. Michigan State’s only loss this season came to a fledgling Nebraska team, although it narrowly squeaked out wins over Michigan and Ohio State. The Spartans have been among the league’s most consistent team the past five seasons, and a spot in the playoff would be an earned reward for coach Mark Dantonio’s impressive run of success. Of course, getting that will require Michigan State to do what no team has done so far this season: beat Iowa.
Here is the complete AP Top 25:
6. Ohio State
8. North Carolina
9. Notre Dame
10. Florida State
14. Oklahoma State
16. Ole Miss