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Andy Wittry | | September 14, 2020

College football rankings: Snapped streaks, records and anomalies we're just going to have to accept

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Whether college football fans like it or not, they'll have to get used to AP Top 25 poll streaks, records and droughts getting broken during the 2020 season, plus other historical and statistical oddities. The Week 2 AP Top 25 poll, which was released Sunday, Sept. 13, is the first reminder of this.

Regardless of the outcomes of any of the games from Week 2 of the 2020 college football season, nine teams were going to drop out of the AP Top 25 poll. That's because six Big Ten schools and three teams from the Pac-12, which were eligible to receive votes for the preseason AP poll, were ranked in this season's initial poll, but once games started, they were no longer eligible.

In total, 10 new teams appeared in the Week 2 AP poll — every team that's currently ranked No. 16 through No. 25.

That explains why preseason No. 2 Ohio State experienced as big of a drop as you'll see in the AP poll, although there's a very good reason why. The record for the biggest drop within the AP poll was Cal in 2009, when the Bears fell from No. 6 to No. 24 in one week – a drop of 18 spots within the poll. The closest, recent comparison to Ohio State's drop might be Michigan in 2007, ironically, when the Wolverines dropped out of the AP poll after being ranked No. 5 the week prior.

The last time Ohio State wasn't ranked in the AP poll was in the 2011 season, when the Buckeyes dropped from No. 17 to outside of the top 25 on Sept. 18, 2011, and they were unable to climb back into the poll for the rest of the season.

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Familiar faces in the same places

With Ohio State dropping out of the AP poll, simply because of the Big Ten postponing fall sports as well as the AP poll's voting procedures, the top four teams in the latest AP poll are the same as the 2018 College Football Playoff field, albeit in a different order: No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Georgia.

Alabama, Oklahoma and Georgia each moved up one spot in the poll after Ohio State was no longer eligible to receive votes.

The four programs currently ranked atop the AP poll have combined for 17 of the 24 total College Football Playoff appearances since the playoff started in the 2014 season. Alabama and Clemson have won four of the last five national championships. In the 37 editions of the CFP rankings, those four programs have combined for 28 weeks ranked No. 1.

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'It just means more'

The SEC is the only conference that has sent two of its teams to the College Football Playoff in the same season. That was in the aforementioned 2018 playoff, when Georgia and Alabama were selected.

Get used to an SEC-heavy AP Top 25 poll this fall. Seven teams in the preseason poll hailed from the Southeastern Conference and two others were listed in "Others receiving votes." Since three of the preseason top-10 teams compete in the Big Ten or Pac-12, and preseason No. 11 Auburn and No. 13 Texas A&M are in the SEC, the conference put six teams, or nearly half the conference, in the top 10 in the Week 2 AP poll.

The current AP poll rankings include No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 LSU, No. 8 Auburn and No. 10 Texas A&M. No. 15 Tennessee and No. 23 Kentucky are also ranked, giving the SEC eight teams in the top 25.

For reference, there were five SEC teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll during Weeks 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 16 of last season. But never six.

The longest AP poll drought ends

Prior to the Week 2 AP poll, Louisiana faced the longest AP poll drought among programs that have been ranked before. It had been 1,109 polls since Louisiana was last ranked. Thanks to the Ragin' Cajuns' upset road win over preseason No. 23 Iowa State, their drought is over. They are ranked No. 19 in the latest AP poll.

To provide some perspective on how long it has been since Louisiana was last ranked, before Week 2 of the 2020 season, the sixth-longest drought was Wyoming at 352 weeks, so Louisiana's drought was almost three-times longer.

Other droughts that ended include No. 21 BYU (29 weeks), No. 17 Miami (FL) (27 weeks), No. 25 Pittsburgh (21 weeks) and No. 22 Army (18 weeks).

'Fun Belt' makes its presence known

The Sun Belt had a very successful Week 1, with Louisiana upsetting preseason No. 23 Iowa State on the road and Arkansas State beating Kansas State.

For the first time ever, the Sun Belt has two teams ranked in the AP Top  25 with No. 19 Louisiana and No. 24 Appalachian State both appearing in the poll.

Below is the full AP Top 25, released Sunday, Sept. 13:






1 Clemson (60) 1,524 1 1-0
2 Alabama 1,456 3 0-0
3 Oklahoma 1,361 4 1-0
4 Georgia 1,324 5 0-0
5 Florida 1,237 8 0-0
6 LSU (1) 1,236 6 0-0
7 Notre Dame 1,155 10 1-0
8 Auburn 1,055 11 0-0
9 Texas 1,033 14 1-0
10 Texas A&M 983 13 0-0
11 Oklahoma State 927 15 0-0
12 North Carolina 892 18 1-0
13 Cincinnati 647 20 0-0
14 UCF 632 21 0-0
15 Tennessee 528 24 0-0
16 Memphis 496 NR 1-0
17 Miami (Fla.) 463 NR 1-0
18 Louisville 387 NR 1-0
19 Louisiana 377 NR 1-0
20 Virginia Tech 368 NR 0-0
21 BYU 358 NR 1-0
22 Army 244 NR 2-0
T-23 Kentucky 238 NR 0-0
T-23 Appalachian State 238 NR 1-0
25 Pittsburgh 158 NR 1-0

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