AP Top 25: Tennessee up to No. 3, Alabama’s top-5 streak ends

Jamar Coach/USA TODAY NETWORK
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Tennessee moved to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 poll behind No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Ohio State after knocking off Alabama.

The Crimson Tide was one of five unbeaten teams to fall during a wild weekend and dropped three places to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank. Alabama swapped places with the Vols after losing to them 52-49 on a field goal as time expired Saturday.

Georgia remained No. 1 and received 31 first-place votes and Ohio State had 17 first-place votes.

The Vols received 15 first-place votes and have their best ranking since starting the 2005 season at No. 3. The last time Tennessee was ranked this highly in the second half of the season was 2001, reaching the top 10 in late October and headed into the SEC championship at No. 2.

No. 4 Michigan moved up a spot Sunday, switching places with No. 5 Clemson after the Wolverines blew out now-No. 16 Penn State.

No. 7 Mississippi moved up two spots and No. 8 TCU, No. 9 UCLA and No. 10 Oregon all moved into the top 10.

POLL POINTS

The Crimson Tide had its string of 40 straight appearances in the top five snapped. It was the longest such active streak in the country.

Georgia now has the longest run of top-five appearances with 24.

The Tide’s latest top-five run is only the third longest of the Saban era. The Tide’s 68 straight top-five appearances from 2015-19 is the AP poll record, and a string of 48 consecutive top-five rankings from 2011-13 is tied for fourth.

EXPLAIN YOUR VOTE

Tennessee made a case to be the No. 1 team in the country, and it swayed some voters.

Those who bought in on the Vols cited a resume that includes four victories against teams that were ranked at the time (at Pitt, Florida, at LSU and Alabama).

“I voted Tennessee No. 1 because the Vols’ strength of schedule is far superior to UGA and Ohio State,” said Ron Counts of the Idaho Statesman in Boise.

For comparison, Georgia has played just one team (Oregon) that has been ranked at any point this season. Ohio State has played three, though only one was ranked at the time (Notre Dame) and all of those opponents have at least three losses.

Plus, beating Alabama doesn’t happen often and holds a lot of weight with voters. No team this season has beaten a team with a better ranking at the time the game was played than Tennessee.

“It was a tough call between Tennessee and Georgia for No. 1,” said Kellis Robinett of The Wichita (Kansas) Eagle. “I have been voting the Bulldogs ahead of everyone else for several weeks, mostly because their blowout victory over Oregon has aged like a fine wine. But I think beating Alabama is slightly more impressive.”

So why only No. 3 for Tennessee?

The ranked-at-the-time argument falls flat for some voters, who were less impressed with victories against Florida and Pitt and give Georgia and Ohio State credit for being more dominant overall.

“I’ve been high on Tennessee all year, but I don’t think ranking them No. 3 is any kind of snub this week,” said Mike Barber of the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch.

IN

– No. 22 North Carolina is ranked for the first time this season.

– No. 25 Tulane is this week’s breakthrough team. The Green Wave (6-1) is ranked for the first time since 1998, when quarterback Shaun King led them to an unbeaten season and No. 7 in the final Top 25.

OUT

– Kansas lost two straight games after snapping a poll drought of 13 years and is unranked again.

James Madison is out after becoming the first team to be ranked in its first season as an FBS member. The Dukes lost 45-38 on the road at new Sun Belt rival Georgia Southern.

CONFERENCE CALL

SEC – 6 (Nos. 1, 3, 6, 7, 19, 24).

ACC – 5 (Nos. 5, 13, 14, 22, 23).

Big 12 – 4 (Nos. 8, 11, 17, 20).

Big Ten – 4 (No. 2, 4, 16, 18).

Pac-12 – 4 (Nos. 9, 10, 12, 15).

American – 2 (Nos. 21, 25).

RANKED vs. RANKED

After six games matching ranked teams this past weekend, five more are on tap, including the first top-10 matchup in the Pac-12 since the 2016 conference championship game (No. 4 Washington and No. 9 Colorado).

No. 14 Syracuse at No. 5 Clemson.

No. 20 Texas at No. 11 Oklahoma State.

No. 9 UCLA at No. 10 Oregon.

No. 24 Mississippi State at No. 6 Alabama.

No. 17 Kansas State at No. 8 TCU.

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”