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NCAA Football Rankings 2020: Week 10 Standings and Analysis for Latest Polls

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 2, 2020

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) is tackled by a Mississippi defender shortly after catching a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Alabama won 63-48. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

The gap between the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide in the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll is as small as it has been all season.

Alabama came two votes shy of tying Clemson for first place in the AP poll, and it is 24 poll points behind the top-ranked team in the Coaches Poll. The Tigers' first-half struggles at home against the Boston College Eagles and Alabama's dominance over the Mississippi State bulldogs led to the polls being so close.

Since Alabama did not overtake Clemson, the top five in both rankings remained the same. That will change after Week 10 since the Tigers visit the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

In the AP poll, there was some type of movement in every spot from No. 6 to No. 25, starting with the Oklahoma State Cowboys' eight-spot tumble from No. 6 after their first loss of the season.

The Coaches Poll had two teams remain in their previous positions, but it still had a quintet of teams gain five spots or more.

At the bottom of the AP poll, the Liberty Flames made their Top 25 debut after reeling off six wins in a row to the start the season. In total, there were three new entrants in the AP poll and two in the Coaches poll.

                        

Week 10 Polls

AP Top 25

1. Clemson (7-0)

2. Alabama (6-0)

3. Ohio State (2-0)

4. Notre Dame (6-0)

5. Georgia (4-1)

6. Cincinnati (5-0)

7. Texas A&M (4-1)

8. Florida (3-1)

9. BYU (7-0)

10. Wisconsin (1-0)

11. Miami (5-1)

12. Oregon (0-0)

13. Indiana (2-0)

14. Oklahoma State (4-1)

15. Coastal Carolina (6-0)

16. Marshall (5-0)

17. Iowa State (4-2)

18. SMU (6-1)

19. Oklahoma (4-2)

20. USC (0-0)

21. Boise State (2-0)

22. Texas (4-2)

23. Michigan (1-1)

24. Auburn (4-2)

25. Liberty (6-0)

               

Coaches Poll

1. Clemson

2. Alabama

3. Ohio State

4. Notre Dame

5. Georgia

6. Cincinnati

7. Texas A&M

8. Florida

9. BYU

10. Miami

11. Wisconsin

12. Oklahoma State

13. Indiana

14. Oregon

15. Marshall

16. Coastal Carolina

17. Iowa State

18. SMU 

19. Oklahoma

20. USC

21. Auburn 

22. Army (6-1)

23. Boise State 

24. North Carolina (4-2)

25. Michigan

                

Analysis

Clemson edged out Alabama to remain on top of the AP Top 25.

As Reddit College Football noted, one switch would have tied the programs on points:

RedditCFB @RedditCFB

Clemson edged out Alabama for 1st place in this week's #APTop25 by 2 points. A single voter flipping them would have made it a tie. https://t.co/BdOSFU9Xqd

Clemson received 33 first-place votes compared to Alabama's 29 from the AP voters. The coaches leaned more in the Tigers'  direction by giving them 41 first-place votes. Alabama earned 17 top spots, and the Ohio State Buckeyes were No. 1 on two ballots.

Clemson can either reinforce why it has been the top team in the polls all season or make way for Alabama in Week 10.

For the first time since November 10, 2018, Dabo Swinney's side will face a ranked foe on the road in ACC play. It defeated Boston College by 20 points in that matchup. Notre Dame is expected to put up a bigger fight, and its defense may target quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and force him out of a rhythm early.

The Fighting Irish held five of their six opponents to 13 points or fewer. The Florida State Seminoles were the only team to produce more than 20 points. However, Clemson is a much more talented team than any of Notre Dame's foes this season. If the Irish win, they will be viewed as the front-runner in the conference in the buildup to the ACC Championship Game, when the two sides could meet again.

The other top-10 matchup in Week 10 pits the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators against each other.

OnlyGators.com pointed out that this will be the third consecutive year in which the SEC East showdown is a top-10 matchup. The Athletic's Matt Brown noted that Week 10 will be the first Saturday with two top-10 games since September 29, 2018.

The biggest story not involving the nation's top programs is the continued rise of Group of Five programs throughout the rankings.

The Cincinnati Bearcats moved up a position to take Oklahoma State's vacated No. 6 spot, while the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and Marshall Thundering Herd combined to move up eight positions.

Liberty entered the AP poll to put seven non-Power Five teams into the rankings. As Football Scoop's Zach Barnett noted, Liberty would have the nation's longest FBS winning streak if it beats the Virginia Tech Hokies and Clemson falls to Notre Dame:

Zach Barnett @zach_barnett

Liberty is ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time ever. The Flames would have FBS's longest winning streak with a win over Virginia Tech and a Notre Dame loss to Clemson.

The Group of Five surge was aided by the defeats suffered by the North Carolina Tar Heels, Michigan Wolverines, Penn State Nittany Lions and Kansas State Wildcats. Kansas State and Penn State dropped out of both rankings, while North Carolina hung on to No. 24 in the Coaches Poll and exited the AP Top 25.

Michigan is hanging on by a thread in both polls, and it could leave the rankings by mid-November, with the Indiana Hoosiers and Wisconsin Badgers coming up in its next two games.

                   

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.

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