Georgia reclaimed the top spot in the Associated Press college football poll from Alabama on Sunday after being ousted last week by the Crimson Tide, who slipped to No. 3.
The Bulldogs received 32 first-place votes and 1,535 points in the Top 25 presented by Regions Bank to easily reclaim the No. 1 spot. They were just two points behind No. 2 Alabama last week.
Georgia beat Auburn 42-10 on Saturday. The Tide, whose Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young was sidelined with an injury, escaped an upset bid at home from Texas A&M.
Ohio State moved up to No. 2, receiving 20 first-place votes and 1,507 points.
No. 3 is a season low for Alabama, which was No. 1 in the preseason but fell to No. 2 after Week 2. The Tide received 11 first-place votes.
There were two notable Top 25 season debuts: No. 24 Illinois is ranked for the first time since 2011, and James Madison is in the AP Top 25 for the first time in program history. The Dukes are playing their first season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference in Division I college football’s highest level.
Clemson passed Michigan to climb to No. 4, and the Wolverines fell one spot to No. 5.
Tennessee climbed to No. 6, the best ranking for the currently undefeated Volunteers since No. 5 at the start of the 2005 season. Tennessee stumbled to 5-6 and finished unranked that year.
Southern California fell one spot to No. 7, and Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Penn State held their spots to round out the top 10.
Georgia’s move from No. 1 to No. 2 and back to No. 1 in three polls hasn’t happened in more than a decade.
Florida went back and forth between No. 1 and No. 2 in 2009, rolling with Alabama, both teams winning in late October.
The Tide became the first team to fall from No. 1 to No. 3 after a win in 25 years when Nebraska beat Missouri in overtime on the famous “Flea Kicker.” Michigan jumped from No. 4 to No. 1 on Nov. 10, 1997, after a 34-8 win at No. 2 Penn State.
A week after Kansas surrendered the ignominious Power Five conference title to Illinois’ longest unranked streak, the Illini are already out of the picture in their second year under coach Brett Bielema.
Illinois improved to 5-1 by beating Iowa and landed in the poll for the first time since Oct. 16, 2011 – 178 polls.
Next on the list of longest droughts for Power Five schools are: Rutgers (2012), Oregon State (2013 preseason) and Vanderbilt (2013 final), Georgia Tech (2015), Arizona (2017).
• James Madison has been a powerhouse in championship football for years, winning a national title in 2016 and losing to North Dakota State in the NCAA championship game in 2017 and ’19. The Dukes have had no trouble rolling so far, going 5-0 and averaging 44 points per game.
JMU’s transition has been unlike others that need a year or two to acclimate before playing a full FBS-type schedule while building from 63 scholarship players to 85.
Aided by temporary eligibility rule changes due to the pandemic, plus relaxed transfer rules, the Dukes were able to dive in with a more FBS-ready roster, coach Curt Cignetti told the AP.
“There were a lot of unknowns going into the season,” Cignetti said. “The one thing about our program is that we’ve had so much success from 2016 on … there’s a culture here, a standard, an expectation. And our guys expect to win every time we come out.”
Since Division I football split into divisions in 1978, JMU is the first team to be ranked in a season when it was promoted.
“All the national publicity we’ve had has been extremely positive for the university, the program, the athletic department and our supporters and supporters,” said Cignetti, son of Hall of Fame coach Frank Cignetti, who died in September. “Getting into the Top 25 is just another step.”
• No. 22 Texas is ranked again after blowing out rival Oklahoma to tie with Kentucky in the Top 25.
• BYU is unranked for the first time this season since the loss at Notre Dame.
• Washington dropped out of the rankings after its second straight loss.
• LSU’s return to the Top 25 was short-lived after being defeated at home by Tennessee.
The Sun Belt went from its inception in 2001 to 2015 without having a ranked team. The conference has now had at least one team ranked for at least one week each of the last five seasons and six of the last seven.
James Madison is the second Sun Belt team to reach the Top 25 this season, along with Appalachian State.
DEC – 6 (No. 1, 3, 6, 9, 16, 22).
Large 12 — 5 (8, 13, 17, 19, 22).
ACC — 4 (Nos. 4, 14, 15, 18).
Big Ten — 4 (Nos. 2, 5, 10, 24).
Pac-12—4 (#7, 11, 12, 20).
American — 1 (No. 21).
Sunbelt — 1 (No. 25).
RANKED vs. RANKED
Season-best six games matched against ranked teams:
No. 10 Penn State at No. 5 Michigan. Third top 10 game in the series and first since 1997.
No. 3 Alabama at No. 6 Tennessee. The second top 10 game of 2000.
No. 8 Oklahoma State at No. 13 TCU. The Horned Frogs have their best ranking since they were No. 9 in 2017.
No. 15 North Carolina State at No. 18 Syracuse. First home game between ranked teams for Syracuse since 2001.
16 Mississippi State at 22 Kentucky. For the first time, the teams will meet as ranked teams in 49 games.
No. 7 USC at No. 20 Utah. Second straight game against a ranked Los Angeles team for the Utes.