AP Top 25: Georgia is No. 1, Big Ten grabs half of top 10

Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Georgia was the new No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll Sunday by a unanimous vote, taking the top spot during the regular season for the first time since November 1982.

The Bulldogs (62 first-place votes) moved up one spot in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank, a day after preseason No. 1 Alabama lost at Texas A&M. The defending national champion Crimson Tide slipped four spots to No. 5 after its first loss of the season.

After falling out of the rankings last week for the first time this season, the Aggies are back in at No. 21.

Alabama was one of two top-five teams to lose Saturday, opening the door for several teams to rise to rare heights.

Iowa is No 2, up one spot after winning a top-five matchup with Penn State. The Hawkeyes have their best ranking since they reached No. 1 in 1985.

No. 3 Cincinnati has its best ranking ever.

No. 4 Oklahoma moved up two spots after a come-from-behind victory against Texas in the Red River Rivalry.

No. 5 Alabama had a run of 14 straight polls at No. 1 snapped. It is out of the top three for the first time since 2019.

The Big Ten dominates the back half of the top 10 with Ohio State at No. 6, Penn State at No. 7, Michigan at eighth and Michigan State 10th. The Big Ten has five top-10 teams for the first time in the history of the AP poll, which dates to 1936.

Oregon slipped in at No. 9. Kentucky moved up five spots to No. 11 for the Wildcats’ best ranking since 2011.

POLL POINTS

-The last time Georgia was No. 1 was the 2008 preseason poll, but the Bulldogs slipped after the first week of games – even though they won — and has not been back.

This is the 16th time overall the Bulldogs have held the top ranking and the first time they have been a unanimous No. 1.

OUT

Auburn dropped out of the rankings after losing for the second time this season. The Tigers were the latest team smothered by Georgia’s dominant defense.

Auburn did manage to score an offensive touchdown against the Bulldogs, just the second one this season yielded by Georgia.

CONFERENCE CALL

The only other league that has had half the top 10 in the rankings is the Southeastern Conference, which has done it 23 times, according to ESPN.

Not including last season when some FBS teams were ineligible for the poll early in the season because their conferences were not planning on playing a fall schedule, the last time the SEC had five top-10 teams was the final regular-season poll of 2019.

SEC – 7 (Nos. 1, 5, 11, 13, 17, 20, 21).

Big Ten – 5 (Nos. 2, 6, 7, 8, 10).

Big 12 – 3 (Nos. 4, 12, 25).

ACC – 2 (Nos. 16, 22).

American – 2 (Nos. 3, 23).

Pac-12 – 2 (Nos. 9, 18).

Mountain West – 1 (No. 24).

Sun Belt – 1 (No. 15).

Independent – 2 (Nos. 14, 19).

RANKED vs RANKED

No. 11 Kentucky at No. 1 Georgia. The de facto SEC East championship.

No. 12 Oklahoma State at No. 25 Texas. The Longhorns get a crack at the other undefeated Big 12 team this week after a crushing loss to Oklahoma on Saturday.

No. 2 Michigan beats Purdue 43-22 for Big Ten crown

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS – Donovan Edwards ran for 185 yards and a score, J.J. McCarthy threw three touchdown passes and No. 2 Michigan beat Purdue 43-22 on Saturday night for its second straight Big Ten title and a likely No. 2 playoff seed.

College football’s winningest program has the first 13-win season in school history. Two more victories would give the Wolverines (13-0, No. 2 CFP) their first national championship since 1997.

And with injured star Blake Corum sidelined by a season-ending left knee injury, Edwards stole the show for the second straight week.

After shredding rival Ohio State for 216 yards and two scores last week, Edwards broke open this game with a 60-yard on the first play of the second half to set up one score. He added a 27-yard TD sprint on Michigan’s next series to make it 28-13.

Purdue (8-5) never recovered from Michigan’s quick, seven-play onslaught after it trailed 14-13 at halftime.

But quarterback Aidan O'Connell and receiver Charlie Jones helped the Boilermakers make it interesting for a while.

O’Connell was 32 of 47 with 366 yards and two interceptions after missing some practice time early this week to mourn the death of his oldest brother. Jones, who lost to Michigan in last year’s game while playing for Iowa, had 13 receptions for 162 yards.

It just wasn’t enough.

Michigan showed no signs of a hangover after last week’s rout over the Buckeyes, taking a 7-0 lead on its opening possession with a 25-yard TD pass from J.J. McCarthy to Colston Loveland.

Purdue answered with Devin Mockobee’s 1-yard scoring run to tie the score then took the lead on Mitchell Fineran’s 33-yard field goal.

Michigan answered by taking advantage of an offside call on fourth-and-6 by going for the first down, picking it up and eventually converting the drive into a 7-yard TD pass from McCarthy to Luke Schoonmaker. They never trailed again.

Edwards big run set up Kalel Mullings‘ 1-yard TD plunge before Edwards celebrated his own scoring run.

All Purdue could muster was three more field goals.

McCarthy was 11 of 17 with 161 yards and one interception.

Corum posted a message on Twitter on Saturday morning to say his knee surgery went well.

THE TAKEAWAY

Purdue: The Boilermakers’ magical season ended with a solid showing in the championship game where they played better than most expected. Still, they won the Big Ten’s wild, wild West, both trophy games and should be bound for a warm-weather bowl game.

Michigan: Yes, the Wolverines may have already locked up a top-two seed thanks to losses by Southern Cal and TCU. Michigan now has back-to-back conference crowns for the first time since 2003-04 though the hard part remains – ending its national title drought.

DIALING UP TRICKERY

Brohm played one season in the now defunct XFL and has acknowledged that experience helped him understand how to inject personality and creativity into play calling. It was on full display Saturday.

A surprise end around set up Purdue’s first score, a fake punt helped keep its second scoring drive alive and then Mockobee sprinted 25 yards on a fake flea-flicker in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Will find out its bowl game, destination and opponent Sunday.

Michigan: Waiting to see where its headed and who it will face in the national semifinals.

Klubnik, No. 10 Clemson rout No. 24 UNC 39-10 for ACC title

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Backup quarterback Cade Klubnik completed 20 of 24 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score and No. 10 Clemson reclaimed the Atlantic Coast Conference championship with a 39-10 victory over No. 24 North Carolina on Saturday night.

Cornerback Nate Wiggins broke up two passes in the end zone, blocked a field goal and returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown to help the Tigers win their seventh ACC title in eight seasons.

Clemson (11-2, No. 9 CFP) won six straight ACC championships from 2015 to 2020 before failing to reach the title game last season. But coach Dabo Swinney‘s Tigers rebounded in a big way, going 9-0 against ACC foes this season to reach the Orange Bowl.

They have Klubnik to thank for that.

With Clemson down 7-0, Swinney benched two-year starter D.J. Uiagalelei after the Tigers failed to pick up a first down on their first two possessions, Swinney turned to Klubnik, a 5-star recruit from Austin, Texas. He responded by leading the Tigers to four straight scores and a 24-10 lead at halftime.

Clemson stretched it to 39-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t the first time Swinney has turned to Klubnik.

He benched Uiagalelei in the second half against Syracuse and Klubnik responded by leading the Tigers to a come-from-behind 27-21 victory. Swinney also turned to Klubnik against Notre Dame, although the results were the opposite with the freshman throwing a Pick 6 in a 35-14 loss.

Swinney has never been shy about replacing veteran QBs with less experienced players. He did it in 2014, sitting Cole Stoudt for Deshaun Watson, and again in 2018 replacing Kelly Bryant with Trevor Lawrence.

ACC player of the year Drake Maye was limited to 268 yards passing and turned the ball over three times for North Carolina (9-4, No. 23 CFP), which was seeking its first ACC championship since 1980 when Lawrence Taylor was wreaking havoc on quarterbacks.

Maye got things started on the right foot for the Tar Heels, capping an 11-play, 78-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead on UNC’s first possession.

But the Tar Heels repeatedly sputtered on offense inside the red zone after that, the biggest blow coming when Maye misfired near the goal line and Wiggins – who had struggled in Clemson’s 51-45 win over Wake Forest – returned his pass for a touchdown to give Clemson a 32-10 lead with 5:05 left in the third quarter.

Klubnik provided an immediate spark for Clemson.

He led the Tigers on a nine-play, 71-yard drive, culminating in a 1-yard TD pass to Davis Allen. After Maye’s fumble, Klubnik caught a 19-yard pass from Phil Mafah to set up Mafah’s 4-yard touchdown run – Clemson’s second TD in a span of 40 seconds.

Klubnik then showed off his arm strength with a 68-yard pass to fellow freshman Cole Turner to set up his own 1-yard TD run for a 21-7 lead.

END OF AN ERA

This is the final year the ACC will feature its two division winners playing for a championship. In future years, all ACC teams will be lumped together and the two teams with the best records will advance to the title game.

THE TAKEAWAY

North Carolina: Maye garnered plenty of Heisman Trophy talk during the season, but the Tar Heels offense has stalled resulting in a three-game losing streak. But as long as Maye doesn’t transfer – and there are no indications he will given his family history at North Carolina – the Tar Heels have a good chance to get back to the ACC title game next season.

Clemson: The Tigers have set a high bar by winning national championships, so as much as they will enjoy getting back atop the ACC mountain there will be plenty of talk over whether Swinney cost his team a chance at a spot in the College Football Playoff by not turning to Klubnik at quarterback earlier in the season. It seems Uiagalelei might be a logical transfer portal candidate.

UP NEXT

Clemson will play in the Orange Bowl, while North Carolina awaits a bowl bid.