AP Top 25: No. 1 UGA leads unchanged top 5; Ducks, UCLA slip

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No. 1 Georgia led an unchanged top five in The Associated Press college football poll Sunday, while the rest of the Top 25 was shuffled after eight ranked teams lost – including two big upsets in the Pac-12.

For the second straight week, the Bulldogs received all but one of the 63 first-place votes in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank. No. 2 Ohio State received the other first-place vote.

No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 TCU and No. 5 Tennessee held their spots after victories Saturday, with only the Horned Frogs facing a real challenge.

Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and Tennessee won by a combined 203-60 against conference opponents.

Home losses by Oregon (to Washington) and UCLA (to Arizona) shook up the rest of the top 10. No. 6 LSU and No. 7 Southern California each moved up a spot.

The last time two top-10 Pac-12 teams lost at home during the same weekend was Oct. 2-4, 2014, when No. 2 Oregon fell 31-24 to Arizona 31-24 and No. 8 UCLA was defeated 30-28 by Utah.

Alabama jumped two spots to No. 8 after it fell to a season-low No. 10 last week. Clemson moved up four spots to re-enter the top- 0 at No. 8 and Utah climbed to No .10.

POLL POINTS

Georgia is closing in on a school record.

The Bulldogs are No. 1 for the ninth time this season, matching the total from last season, when they won the national title for the first time in 41 years.

Georgia has been at No. 1 a total of 33 times in school history, one behind Michigan for 12th most in the history of the AP poll.

The Bulldogs are at Kentucky next week and close the season against Georgia Tech. Barring a major upset, they’ll go into the Southeastern Conference championship against LSU with 11 weeks as the country’s top-ranked team.

IN

Of the four teams that moved into the rankings this week, Coastal Carolina is the only one making its season debut. The 23rd-ranked Chanticleers have now reached the Top 25 in each of the last three seasons.

– No. 22 Cincinnati is back in. The Bearcats give the American Athletic Conference a season-high three ranked teams along with No. 17 Central Florida and No. 21 Tulane.

– No. 24 Oklahoma State returned after snapping a two-game losing streak by beating Iowa State.

– No. 25 Oregon State is also back. The Beavers broke a nine-year poll drought two weeks ago, immediately lost a close game at Washington and dropped out, and then moved back in Sunday after beating California.

OUT

Texas’ season in the rankings: Unranked for the first two polls, moved in for two weeks in September, out for two weeks, in for two weeks, back for a week and now gone again.

– Illinois tumbled out after a second straight home loss.

– North Carolina State is unranked for the first time this season after the Wolfpack was upset at home by Boston College.

– Liberty’s time in the Top 25 lasted a mere week. The Flames followed up a victory at Arkansas to move into the rankings by losing at UConn to fall out.

CONFERENCE CALL

The Ducks and Bruins getting toppled crushed the Pac-12’s hopes of putting a team in the College Football Playoff. One consolation prize: The conference now has more ranked teams than it has since Sept. 15, 2019.

Pac-12 – 6 (Nos. 7, 10, 12, 15, 16, 25).

SEC – 5 (Nos. 1, 5, 6, 8, 14).

ACC – 3 (Nos. 9, 13, 20).

American – 3 (Nos. 17, 21, 22).

Big Ten – 3 (Nos. 2, 3, 11).

Big 12 – 3 (Nos. 4, 19, 24).

Sun Belt – 1 (No. 23).

Independent – 1 (No. 18).

RANKED vs. RANKED

The Pac-12’s big games lost some luster, but they’re still at the top of the marquee.

No. 7 USC at No. 16 UCLA.

No. 10 Utah at No. 12 Oregon.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. returning for 2023 season

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE – Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. said Sunday he will return to the school for his sixth and final season of eligibility in 2023.

Penix announced his decision on social media and it was a surprising one at that. Penix was the national leader in passing this season, throwing for 4,354 yards and led Washington’s turnaround. The No. 12-ranked Huskies went 10-2 in the regular season, finished tied for second in the Pac-12 and will face No. 21 Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Penix will have a chance at setting Washington’s single-season record for yards passing in the bowl game. He also threw 29 touchdowns this season. Because of his performance this season, Penix saw his NFL draft stock rise to where he was being expected to be a second-day pick at the latest.

In his announcement, Penix wrote, “As I look back on this special season we had, I realized there were so many great moments and things to celebrate, but I KNOW there is so much for out there for this team and the job is still not finished. I can’t wait to be playing in Husky Stadium for the 2023 season!”

Penix started his career at Indiana and showed flashes of stardom while also battling injuries. He transferred to Washington after the 2021 season, a move that reunited him with new Huskies’ coach Kalen DeBoer, who was Penix’s offensive coordinator for one season at Indiana.

North Texas fires Littrell after .500 record over 7 years

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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DENTON, Texas – Bowl-bound North Texas has fired coach Seth Littrell, who went 44-44 over seven seasons.

University president Neal Smatresk said Sunday night that the decision to make the move came after a thorough assessment of the program.

The Mean Green are 7-6 this season after losing 48-27 to UTSA in the Conference USA championship game Friday night.

Phil Bennett, their defensive coordinator the past two seasons, was named interim head coach. North Texas plays Boise State in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 17.

The 44-year-old Littrell had one year left on his contract in what was his first head coaching job. He was the youngest coach in Conference USA and one of the youngest at the FBS level when he arrived after two seasons as offensive coordinator at North Carolina with UNT coming off a 1-11 season at the time.

While the Mean Green are going to their sixth bowl since Littrell first got there, they haven’t won any of those yet. The bowl in his debut season came after only five wins since there weren’t enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of the slots. Consecutive nine-win seasons followed in 2017 and 2018, but they then had three consecutive losing records before this year.

North Texas also has an interim athletic director after Wren Baker was named as West Virginia’s AD last week.

Smatresk said Jared Mosley, the chief operating officer of UNT athletics, will serve as interim AD. The university is working with a search firm to find Baker’s successor.