College football rankings 2023: Winners and losers from preseason AP Top 25

Caleb Williams, Mason Murphy, USC Trojans. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Caleb Williams, Mason Murphy, USC Trojans. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans
Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images) /

Let’s dissect the winners and losers from college football’s first AP Top 25 Poll of the season.

With the AP Top 25 Poll being released on Monday afternoon, there were some college football teams that were ecstatic about their ranking, while there were others who felt less than stellar…

Admittedly, it was not all that dissimilar from the initial Coaches Poll, to be honest. I mean, yeah, there were some discrepancies, but nothing to blow one’s gasket over. Trust me, that will happen so many times this fall because that’s the way she goes in major college football. However, there are a few teams that got the benefit of the doubt from the AP and others who got unfairly hosed.

Here are the biggest winners and losers from the first AP Top 25 Poll of the 2023 college season.

College football rankings 2023: Winners and losers from first AP Top 25 Poll

Winner: No. 6 USC Trojans

You could honestly rank teams No. 6 to 12 in pretty much any order and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference. However, the AP voters clearly believe in the USC Trojans in year two under Lincoln Riley with last year’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams back for one more season. For ratings and optics purposes, I understand why USC is being so artificially inflated here.

The good news for the Trojans is that while I view them as the ninth-best team in the country, four other Pac-12 schools are ranked, UCLA is just outside of the top 25 and Notre Dame comes in at No. 13. They also get Ohio State in South Bend this year. Simply put, if USC goes 11-1 or wins out, the Trojans will be making the College Football Playoff should they win the Pac-12 one final time.

Starting out at No. 6 gives the Trojans a terrific runway to finish as high as possible in the top four.

Loser: No. 11 Texas Longhorns

Texas feels like a top-10 team, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. If the Longhorns beat Alabama in September, you better believe they will catapult up into the top five. Unfortunately, even reasonable expectations have been Hook Em’s undoing for the better part of two decades now. Even worse, they are the highest-ranked Big 12 team and they are only No. 11…

Sure, they have Alabama on the schedule, as well as three other conference foes inside the top 25 and Texas Tech just outside at “No. 26.” However, what the initial AP Poll suggests is that while there are a handful of teams worthy of being ranked and getting to Arlington, there are no guarantees that the Big 12 champion will be getting in. Just ask last year’s K-State team about it.

Not to say Texas has to go undefeated to make the playoff, but an 11-1 mark is not a guarantee.