AP Top 25 Poll, Week 15: the top four stays the same, Alabama falls

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

With the regular season finished for everyone but Army and Navy, the sprint to the finish is on. If the Top 3 hold serve, we are set for controversy for the fourth playoff spot. Here is a look at the Week 15 Top 25.

Hoe-lee-cow, that was a fun rivalry week. Ole Miss peed away a shot at overtime. Virginia took home the Commonwealth Cup for the first time since George W. Bush’s first term. LSU and Texas A&M isn’t exactly a rivalry game, and if Joseph F. Burreaux played every game it never would be. Ohio State reminded Michigan of how far away they are. The Week 15 Top 25 reflects that.

Speaking of the Wolverines, it’s odd how Michigan is at once overrated but still counts as a great win. They’re the Schrodinger’s cat of teams: simultaneously bad and good. Continuing to go 9-3 every year will keep them in that nebulous space where the voters and the playoff committee can pretend that Penn State is worthy of a shot because they beat the Wolverines.

And while we’re talking about getting by on reputation alone, how much fun was the Iron Bowl? It seems obvious now (and also last week if anyone gave it any real thought), but Mac Jones isn’t Tua. He will never be Tua. And while football is a team sport, and Alabama has Najee Harris (an absurd Derrick Henry/Bo Scarbrough hybrid) and wide receivers almost as good as Clemson, all offenses run through the quarterback.

Sure, Jones lit it up with four touchdowns and 335 yards. But two pick-sixes are the mistakes that a less-talented, less-experienced quarterback makes. Certainly mistakes Tua doesn’t make. And in a year when Alabama’s defense isn’t what it has been, the Tide couldn’t afford to be less than Tua at quarterback.

It bears noting that Nick Saban mishandled the end of the game as well. Alabama had a chance to get the ball back and win or tie the game, but ended up giving up a first-down on a mental error. That one is all the way on Saban. Even Jerry Jones knows that special teams is 100 percent coaching.

Elsewhere, the teams that were supposed to take care of business did so. Clemson cemented its case for being the in playoff, as they have the best defense in the country and an ungodly arsenal of weapons on offense. If “peaking at the right time” is a thing, then Clemson is Mount Everest.

Georgia dismantled a Georgia Tech team in transition, and Jake Fromm still managed to underwhelm. Utah overcame a very slow start against Colorado to keep pace with the Top 4. Oklahoma avoided a Bedlam bedlam taking care of Oklahoma State. Wisconsin put a Paul Bunyan sized boot-print on Minnesota’s surprising season. Baylor dominated the fighting Les Miles’.

We know which three teams are real contenders. Ohio State, LSU, and Clemson both have insane offensive prowess, and Ohio State and Clemson have the defenses to stop any offense in the country. Right now, Georgia is probably overrated in that fourth spot, considering their offense, but it will work itself out in the SEC Championship. This is a three-horse race, and it isn’t close.

It was a weekend of they-were-who-we-thought-they-were results. Unless, of course, you are a die-hard Alabama or Minnesota fan, in which case it was a cold shower. But you can always blame the refs. Or the kickers. But the blame, at least for Tide fans, should fall squarely on the shoulders of luck and Nick Saban of all people.

Here is a look at the overrated and underrated teams in the Week 15 AP Poll.

AP Poll Top 25

  1. Ohio State
  2. LSU
  3. Clemson
  4. Georgia
  5. Utah
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Florida
  8. Baylor
  9. Alabama
  10. Wisconsin
  11. Auburn
  12. Penn State
  13. Oregon
  14. Notre Dame
  15. Minnesota
  16. Memphis
  17. Michigan
  18. Iowa
  19. Boise State
  20. Appalachian State
  21. Cincinatti
  22. Virginia
  23. Navy
  24. USC
  25. Air Force


No. 5 Utah — Utah hasn’t done anything wrong. Their loss is better than any of the losses in the teams that sandwich them. And yes, Georgia is overrated at No. 4. But the Bulldogs are going to lose to LSU, so that will work itself out. Utah has been a complete team all year. Tyler Huntley won’t light up the scoreboard, but he fits the mold of the “playmaker” type. He’s been there, and he’s done that. But none of that means that they should be in pole position once Georgia loses. Oklahoma has a much higher ceiling right now.

No. 7 Florida — Florida has benefited from the attrition in front of them almost all year. Apart from a win against Auburn, Florida hasn’t really beaten anyone, and the Gators looked an absolute mess when they had to play LSU and Georgia. You get the impression that the voters really, really wanted to get Florida all the way into the Top 5 but for that pesky second loss. Perusing their record, however, shows a series of lackluster wins against decent teams and blowout wins against awful teams. Tenth best team? Maybe. Hardly the worthy of this slot, though.

No. 12 Penn State — Please. Please, just get them away. They beat the quantumly entangled Michigan team and perennial middle of the road Iowa. With an identical record as Minnesota (finally properly rated), it does not make sense that the Nittany Lions get to find a home ahead of the Golden Gophers. Are they really the twelfth best team in the country? Yuck.


No. 6 Oklahoma — Oklahoma should be sitting where Georgia is right now. South Carolina is such an ugly loss (not that Kansas State is that much better), but the Bulldogs are playing like the Sooners are right now. Oklahoma’s offense is continuing to work its magic and its defense is starting to find its footing. If Georgia were running a competent offense, or at least had a quarterback that was better than the players that transferred away from Athens, you could argue that Georgia should be where they are, but Oklahoma is the better team, and the polls should reflect that.

No. 8 Baylor — The Bears have been one of the biggest surprises this season. In their one loss, they took Oklahoma down to the wire. At this point, they should be one spot behind Utah and two spots behind Oklahoma. Right now, let’s say that Oklahoma, Georgia, and Utah all caught the NCAA flu and were banned from post-season play. The AP Poll would rather season Florida in the Playoff than Baylor. Baylor needs a Duck-shaped miracle in the Pac 12 to have a shot.

No. 22 Virginia — The much-maligned ACC was actually sneaky fun this year. Clemson ran away with its division and will run away with the conference, but the Coastal put up two solid teams who happened to meet up on the last week of the season. The Virginia Tech-Virginia game on Friday was intense and captivating and exciting. The Wahoos found a way to win the division — the last team to do so — and spark some well deserved excitement in Charlottesville. At 9-3, Virginia should be higher up in the poll, especially when Iowa State was somehow ranked last week. Such a long way to go to get blown out on the way to the Orange Bowl, but here we are.