Despite loss, Tennessee stays at No. 9 in AP Top 25 Poll


(AP) – The top five in The Associated Press college football poll have been firmly established. Now we will see how long they can stay that way.

No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Michigan and No. 5 Washington held their places in the Top 25 released Monday after blowout victories this week. The Big Ten placed two more (No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 10 Nebraska) in the top 10 to give the conference four in the first 10 during the regular season for the first time since 1960.

Good times for the Big Ten. Even with that whole Rutgers thing.

No. 6 Texas A&M and Wisconsin get a chance to give the top five a shake this week. But before they do, time to heat check the rankings and see how the voters did this.

No. 1 Alabama (6-0)

The Crimson Tide has scored nine touchdowns on either defense (seven) or special teams (two). South Carolina has scored 11 touchdowns total in six games.

Next: at No. 9 Tennessee.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 2 Ohio State (5-0)

The latest edition of Bosa is starting to have an impact on the Buckeyes’ defense. Joey’s little brother, Nick, a freshman, had his best game against Indiana, including a key fourth-down stop.

Next: at No. 8 Wisconsin.

Heat check: Too hot, but just a touch.

No. 3 Clemson (6-0)

That slow start for the Tigers, which in retrospect was one sloppy game against Troy, seems like a long time ago. Dabo Swinney says the offense is ahead of where it was last season at this same point.

Next: North Carolina State.

Heat check: Too cold, but just a touch.

No. 4 Michigan (6-0)

The Wolverines did their best to turn the Rutgers game into a Heisman campaign ad for Jabrill Peppers.

Next: Illinois, Oct. 22

Heat check: Just right.

No. 5 Washington (6-0)

The Huskies look like the one Pac-12 team that might rise above the madness of the most balanced Power Five conference.

Next: Oregon State, Oct. 22

Heat check: Just right.

No. 7 Texas A&M (6-0)

The Aggies get a week off to prepare for a game that could change everything about their season.

Next: at Alabama, Oct. 22

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 7 Louisville (4-1)

The Cardinals took a hit without playing when November opponent Houston lost. And they are entering a five-week stretch of schedule where noteworthy victories will be hard to come by.

Next: Duke.

Heat check: Too cold. Don’t forget about the Cardinals.

No. 8 Wisconsin (4-1)

Beating Michigan State is not looking so impressive anymore.

Next: No. 2 Ohio State.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 9 Tennessee (5-1)

The Volunteers have committed 16 turnovers. The only FBS teams with as many or more are Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Bowling Green. They are a combined 8-15. Strange stuff.

Next: No. 1 Alabama.

Heat check: Just right. Kudos to the voters for not punishing the Vols for their latest wild game.

No. 10 Nebraska (5-0)

The Cornhuskers have a chance to play a couple of really big games at Wisconsin and Ohio State, but first Indiana and Purdue. Those Hoosiers could be tricky.

Next: at Indiana.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 11 Baylor (5-0)

The Bears are going to reach the midway point of the season having played one team with a winning record. And maybe get into the top 10.

Next: Kansas.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 12 Mississippi (3-2)

The Rebels enter their toughest stretch of their season with consecutive road games against No. 22 Arkansas and LSU, followed by a home game against No. 23 Auburn.

Next: at No. 22 Arkansas

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 13 Houston (5-1)

From playoff hopes to Miami Beach Bowl possibilities. Remember, the Cougars can’t get to a New Year’s Six Bowl for the second straight season without winning their conference and they can’t win the American if Navy doesn’t lose at least twice.

Next: vs. Tulsa.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 14 Florida State (4-2)

Dalvin Cook still has time to get himself back into the Heisman Trophy conversation. A few more games like he had against Miami (150 yards rushing and a 59-yard touchdown reception) will be needed.

Next: vs. Wake Forest.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 15 Boise State (5-0)

With Houston having lost, the Broncos become the best bet to be the Group of Five champion to reach the New Year’s Six.

Next: Colorado State.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 16 Miami (4-1)

The Hurricanes are not back – but they’re better. The loss to Florida State was probably more impressive than all their wins.

Next: vs. North Carolina.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 17 Virginia Tech (4-1)

The Hokies have a little offense to go with Bud Foster’s defense now – making that defense even better.

Next: at Syracuse.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 18 Florida (4-1)

The LSU game was not postponed because Florida was ducking LSU. That’s ridiculous. But there probably should have been a better attempt to get the game played.

Next: vs. Missouri.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 19 Oklahoma (3-2)

The rankings say one thing. Heat check says the Sooners are the Big 12’s best team.

Next: Kansas State.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 20 West Virginia (4-0)

The voters are leery of buying in on the Mountaineers. Though victories against BYU and Kansas State are looking solid.

Next: at Texas Tech.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 21 Utah (5-1)

The best team in the Pac-12 South? Why not?

Next: at Oregon State.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 22 Arkansas (4-2)

The offensive line is suspect. The running game spotty. The defense gets pushed around. Bret Bielema has a team that doesn’t play like a Bret Bielema team.

Next: No. 12 Mississippi.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 23 Auburn (4-2)

The Tigers are starting to find some offensive identity to go with that good defense, but the next few weeks will determine if this is a real turnaround.

Next: No. 22 Arkansas, Oct. 22.

Heat check: This seems legit. Just right.

No. 24 Western Michigan (6-0)

P.J. Fleck’s team rowed the boat into the Top 25 for the first time in school history.

Next: at Akron.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 25 Navy (4-1)

If you want to start thinking big, the Midshipmen could make a strong case for a New Year’s Six bowl spot by running the table and winning the American Athletic Conference. That would also cause a headache for the selection committee, which would have to wait a week for Army-Navy to be played before finalizing the New Year’s Six bowls.

Next: at East Carolina.

Heat check: Just right.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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