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NCAA Football Rankings 2020: Top Reaction to Week 8 College Polls and Standings

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 19, 2020

Georgia running back Zamir White (3) catches a pass during warm ups before an NCAA college football game against Tennessee Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

Two teams ranked in the top five of the AP Top 25 lost in Week 7, but only one of them fell multiple positions in the Week 8 poll.

The Georgia Bulldogs dropped a spot from No. 3 to No. 4 after their loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. While it may seem like an odd ranking, the voters were put in a unique situation, with five teams beneath the Bulldogs not playing in Week 7.

The North Carolina Tar Heels were not as fortunate as Georgia, as they experienced the largest drop of nine spots down to No. 14.

The inactivity of the Big Ten and Pac-12, combined with the losses of a few programs, allowed some Group of Five schools to make a splash at the back end of the Top 25.

The Marshall Thundering Herd and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were rewarded for their undefeated starts with the No. 22 and No. 25 positions in the AP poll, respectively. The 3-1 NC State Wolfpack round out the three new entrants.

                    

Week 8 AP Top 25

1. Clemson (5-0)

2. Alabama (4-0)

3. Notre Dame (4-0)

4. Georgia (3-1)

5. Ohio State

6. Oklahoma State (3-0)

7. Texas A&M (3-1)

8. Penn State

9. Cincinnati (3-0)

10. Florida (2-1)

11. Miami (4-1)

12. BYU (5-0)

13. Oregon

T14. North Carolina (3-1)

T14. Wisconsin

16. SMU (5-0)

17. Iowa State (3-1)

18. Michigan

19. Virginia Tech (3-1)

20. Kansas State (3-1)

21. Minnesota

22. Marshall (4-0)

23. NC State (4-1)

24. USC

25. Coastal Carolina (4-0)

                   

AP Top 25 Reaction

Georgia's short drop is a reflection of the small number of high-quality teams playing on the college gridiron.

The Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with Alabama for a half at Bryant-Denny Stadium and could still be viewed as the favorite to win the SEC East and meet the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game.

Georgia is one of two one-loss teams left in the SEC East. The Florida Gators are the other, and their defeat came to the Texas A&M Aggies, who were blown out by Alabama in their second SEC game.

Voters did not seem to question Georgia's status among the nation's elite. Georgia, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Ohio State Buckeyes received the bulk of the top-four votes behind the Clemson Tigers and Alabama, per Reddit College Football:

RedditCFB @RedditCFB

All AP voters had Clemson and Alabama in their top 4. Most rounded out the top 4 with 2 among Notre Dame, Georgia, and Ohio State. Additional #4 ballots went to: • 4: Oklahoma State, Penn State • 2: BYU • 1: Texas A&M

RedditCFB @RedditCFB

All Week 7 #APTop25 Ballots https://t.co/eiJxpWQfN1

When the Big Ten returns in Week 8, voters will see what Ohio State and the Penn State Nittany Lions have to offer, which could persuade some pollsters to place them above Georgia at some juncture.

The history of losers in No. 2-No. 3 matchups suggests Georgia will not jump as high as Alabama and Clemson. According to The Athletic's Matt Brown, the 15 losers of those clashes had an average finishing position of No. 7.8 in the final poll of the season.

North Carolina fell eight more spots than Georgia because its Week 7 defeat came at the hands of the unranked Florida State Seminoles. The Tar Heels' tumble, combined with NC State's entrance into the AP Top 25, cut the difference between the two down to nine positions.

The gap between the in-state rivals has the potential to drop more in Week 8 since they play each other. According to the News and Observer's Jonas Pope IV, Saturday will mark the first time in 27 years that both teams are ranked at the time of their matchup.

NC State will be at a disadvantage in that contest since starting quarterback Devin Leary underwent surgery for a broken fibula after the Week 7 win over the Duke Blue Devils, per the team's official Twitter account.

The Wolfpack are surrounded by a pair of intriguing Group of Five teams in Marshall and Coastal Carolina.

Marshall's inclusion from Conference USA means all six FBS active conferences are represented in the AP Top 25.

The Big Ten and Mountain West begin play in Week 8. The Big Ten has five programs in the Top 25, while only the Air Force Falcons received votes out of the Mountain West.

Coastal Carolina is the more notable of the two Group of Five entrants since two of their wins were over Iowa State Cyclones and Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. Head coach Jamey Chadwell is overseeing a terrific turnaround, as The Athletic's Bruce Feldman pointed out:

Bruce Feldman @BruceFeldmanCFB

Jamey Chadwell: 1st year as a head coach D2 North Greenville goes 2-8. Two years later, they're 11-3. 1st year at #CoastalCarolina, they're 3-9. Two years later, they're 4-0 with a 15-pt win over a Big 12 team and a win over a team that beat one of the best Big 12 teams. Not bad.

The Chanticleers' debut as a Top 25 team comes Saturday, when they host the Georgia Southern Eagles.

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