AP Top 25 Reality Check: IU, I-State reach historic heights

A top 10 of The Associated Press college football poll with Indiana and Iowa State is something never before seen.

The eighth-ranked Hoosiers and No. 10 Cyclones both moved up two spots in the AP Top 25 on Sunday, heights those programs have not reached in decades.

The last time Iowa State cracked the top 10 was 1992, when the Cyclones reached No. 9 after a 6-1 start to the season that included an upset of Nebraska. Iowa State finished that season 1-6 and unranked.

The regular season is over for these Cyclones (8-2). Their next game will be in the Big 12 championship game against No. 13 Oklahoma.

It has been even longer since Indiana was ranked this highly. The Hoosiers peaked at No. 4 in 1967 and played in the 1968 Rose Bowl. That prize is off the table this season because the Rose Bowl is hosting a College Football Playoff semifinal. The Big Ten championship game could still be within their reach, depending on what happens with Ohio State and the conference’s minimum games rule.

Even if the Hoosiers don’t play for the Big Ten championship, Indiana could be in line for its first major bowl appearance since that Rose Bowl loss to Southern California after the 1967 season.

One of the reasons the AP poll is still relevant in a college football landscape where the champion is crowned through a playoff is nothing else records the history of the sport so well.

Neither Indiana nor Iowa State will win the national championship this season, but their special seasons will forever be honored through the AP Top 25.

No. 1 Alabama (9-0)

Next: vs. Arkansas, Saturday.

Reality check: Will the growing movement to recognize the brilliance of WR DeVonta Smith, who had 219 yards at the half against LSU, pull some Heisman support from QB Mac Jones?

No. 2 Notre Dame (10-0)

Next: vs. No. 4 Clemson, ACC championship game, Dec. 19.

Reality check: There is a concerted push right now by Notre Dame to get Ian Book into the Heisman Trophy race. The fifth-year senior is playing better than ever, but he also has as many touchdown passes (15) in 10 games as Ohio State’s Justin Fields has in five games. Book leads in rushing touchdowns, 8-5.

No. 3 Ohio State (5-0)

Next: vs. Michigan, Dec. 12.

Reality check: The Buckeyes yards per carry has increased in every game and was up to 6.71 against Michigan State, despite missing three offensive line starters.

No. 4 Clemson (9-1)

Next: vs. No. 2 Notre Dame, ACC championship, Dec. 19.

Reality check: What’s up with Travis Etienne? The star running back has gone six consecutive games without breaking 100 yards rushing, averaging 3.97 yards per carry. Then again, talented backup Lyn-J Dixon is only averaging 4.12 yards per carry, which suggests the issue isn’t the running backs.

No. 5 Texas A&M (7-1)

Next: vs. Mississippi, Dec. 19.

Reality check: The slow and steady Aggies lead the SEC in time of possession (33:58) by a little more than 2 minutes per game.

No. 6 Florida (8-1)

Next: vs. LSU, Saturday.

Reality check: The Gators are quick to abandon the run, which makes some sense when you throw it as well as QB Kyle Trask and Co. Might not be the best way to beat Alabama, though.

No. 7 Cincinnati (8-0)

Next: at No. 18 Tulsa, Saturday.

Reality check: Ahmad Gardner, Coby Bryant and Arquon Bush give the Bearcats the best set of cornerbacks in the American Athletic Conference, and one of the better trios in the country.

No. 8 Indiana (6-1)

Next: vs. Purdue, Saturday.

Reality check: The Hoosiers are more bend-don’t-break and turnover-reliant than a truly top-notch defense should be, but hard to doubt LB Micah McFadden and CB Jamar Johnson at this point.

No. 9 Miami (8-1)

Next: vs. No. 20 North Carolina, Saturday.

Reality check: If two ACC teams reach the playoff, the Hurricanes look locked into the Orange Bowl no matter how things go against the Tar Heels.

No. 10 Iowa State (8-2)

Next: vs. Oklahoma, Big 12 championship game, Dec. 19.

Reality check: Since halftime of the Baylor game, Iowa State has outscored its opposition 115-7 at home.

No. 11 Coastal Carolina (10-0)

Next: at Troy, Saturday.

Reality check: The Chanticleers secured the biggest victory in program history while passing for a season-low 86 yards.

No. 12 Georgia (6-2)

Next: at Missouri, Saturday.

Reality check: Suddenly, this trip to Columbia looks a lot trickier for the Bulldogs than it might have a month back.

No. 13 Oklahoma (7-2)

Next: at West Virginia, Saturday.

Reality check: Return of DE Ronnie Perkins has received a lot of attention, but Nik Bonitto and Isaiah Thomas have also been dominant off the edge for the Sooners.

No. 14 BYU (9-1)

Next: vs. San Diego State, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Zach Wilson probably wasn’t going to win the Heisman, but a so-so performance in his team’s biggest game combined with a loaded field might have cost the him a spot as a finalist.

No. 15 Northwestern (5-1)

Next: vs. Illinois, Saturday.

Reality check: Wildcats have gone from first to last to first in the Big Ten West over three seasons.

No. 16 Southern California (3-0)

Next: at UCLA, Saturday.

Reality check: The outburst against Washington State didn’t factor into the latest Top 25, but the Trojans showed a ceiling that no other Pac-12 team can touch.

No. 17 Louisiana-Lafayette (9-1)

Next: at Coastal Carolina, Sun Belt championship game, Dec. 19.

Reality check: The Ragin’ Cajuns get a week off before the conference title rematch against Coastal Carolina, which did not go unnoticed by Chants coach Jamey Chadwell.

No. 18 Tulsa (6-1)

Next: vs. No. 7 Cincinnati, Saturday.

Reality check: A foot injury forced LB Zaven Collins to miss most of the second half of the Golden Hurricane’s victory against Navy, but coach Philip Montgomery says his star should be good to go against the Bearcats.

No. 19 Iowa (5-2)

Next: vs. No. 25 Wisconsin, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Spencer Petras has completed at least 60% of his passes in the last three games after being under 57% in the first four games.

No. 20 North Carolina (7-3)

Next: at No. 9 Miami, Saturday.

Reality check: Sam Howell is one of eight quarterbacks in FBS averaging at least 10 yards per pass at 10.5.

No. 21 Colorado (4-0)

Next: vs. Utah, Friday.

Reality check: Buffs are back in the rankings for the first time since 2018, led by RB Jarek Broussard. The unheralded sophomore has 733 yards rushing in four games, six more than Rashaan Salaam had in his first four games when he won the Heisman in 1994.

No. 22 Liberty (9-1)

Next: TBD.

Reality check: Will the Flames still have Hugh Freeze as coach when they play their bowl game? Might depend on how things go over the next couple weeks at Tennessee and Auburn.

No. 23 Texas (6-3)

Next: at Kansas, Saturday.

Reality check: RB Bijan Robinson’s breakout game against Kansas State (222 yards from scrimmage on 12 touches) was a glimpse of what could be to come from the freshman.

No. 24 Buffalo (4-0)

Next: vs. Akron, Saturday.

Reality check: Welcome to the Top 25 for the first time, Bulls. RB Jaret Patterson carried them here with 920 yards and 16 touchdowns.

No. 25 Wisconsin (2-2)

Next: at No. 19 Iowa, Saturday.

Reality check: It’s been an especially challenging season to rank teams so Reality Check has tried to go easy on the voters. But no idea why the Badgers are still ranked.

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This story has been corrected to show that Indiana was last ranked No. 8 in the AP Top 25 in 1967, not 1969, and played in the 1968 Rose Bowl.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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