When Alabama loses, the college football world takes notice.
That was true after the top-ranked Crimson Tide lost a stunner to unranked Texas A&M on Saturday, falling 41-38 in College Station to lose their first game since the 2019 regular season. It ended several longstanding Alabama streaks, including 100 straight victories over unranked opponents and 24 Nick Saban victories over former assistants.
More importantly, Alabama’s loss will create a significant shakeup in the latest college football rankings. Although the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll often vote differently on their respective top 25 teams, it’s likely we can pinpoint how Alabama’s loss will affect other teams vying for a College Football Playoff spot.
Chief among those teams are Georgia and Iowa, which benefited greatly from the Aggies upset. But it will also have an impact on other teams such as Oklahoma, Cincinnati, and more.
With that, Sporting News breaks down how each of those teams should be ranked in the latest college football polls:
Rankings reflect AP Top 25/Coaches Poll
Previous rank: 2/2
There’s no more debate: Georgia is the clear No. 1 team in the country after Saturday’s slate of games. The Bulldogs took care of business against No. 18 Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium, beating the Tigers 34-10 and putting on another defensive clinic. That unit forced six Auburn punts, two turnovers on downs and an interception. On offense, the Bulldogs showed no dropoff with Stetson Bennett, who completed 14 of 21 passes for 231 yards and two scores.
Prior to Saturday, it was Alabama, Georgia and everyone else. Now it’s just Georgia at the top.
Previous rank: 3/3
It wasn’t pretty, but Iowa’s top-five victory over No. 4 Penn State on Saturday should guarantee the Hawkeyes move up one spot into the No. 2 position in the latest polls. The defense is among the elite units in college football, limiting Penn State to 287 total yards, 5 of 16 on third-down attempts and 0 of 3 on fourth-down attempts. Also credit to Spencer Petras for leading Iowa back from down 17-3 in the second quarter.
A raucous Kinnick Stadium and an unfortunate injury to starting Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford helped, but that doesn’t take away from an impressive comeback victory.
Previous rank: 5/6
The Bearcats are the only Group of 5 team that can make the Playoff, and they did nothing to hurt their chances with a 52-3 beatdown of Temple on Friday. That could result in the Bearcats jumping up at least one spot into the top four or five teams, depending on the poll. Cincinnati also has a fantastic quarterback in Desmond Ridder, who completed 22 of 30 passes for 259 yards and three scores against the Owls. This team can compete with the Power 5, no doubt.
Unfortunately, the Bearcats’ Group of 5 status and the fact they beat a 3-3 Temple team could not only result in them remaining pat for another week, but also allow another team to jump them in the polls.
Previous rank: 6/5
Oklahoma made history on Saturday, overcoming a 28-7 first-quarter deficit to beat No. 21 Texas 55-48. Coach Lincoln Riley needed to bench starting quarterback Spencer Rattler in favor of Caleb Williams, a move that paid dividends in the Red River Showdown comeback.
The Sooners have yet another single-possession victory on their resume, which could keep voters from bumping them ahead of the Bearcats in Sunday’s polls. Or they could be impressed with Williams’ play, resulting in them taking the No. 4 spot in both polls. The only real threat remaining on the Sooners’ Big 12 slate is undefeated, 5-0 Oklahoma State in Bedlam.
Ohio State (5-1)
Previous rank: 7/7
The Buckeyes have looked a lot more dominant after a sluggish start to the season, taking down Maryland 66-17 in Columbus on Saturday. Considering two top-five teams ahead of the Buckeyes lost on Saturday, it could result in the Buckeyes moving up two spots. But it’s also likely Alabama won’t drop below them in the polls, limiting the number of spots they move up.
At this point, Ohio State needn’t worry about what its ranking is in the AP Top 25 or Coaches Poll; win out, and you’re in the College Football Playoff. Lose, and you’re out. It’s that simple.
Previous rank: 9/8
Michigan is in a similar boat as Ohio State; Alabama will drop, but it’s possible they only fall a few spots, meaning Michigan should only move up one spot in the rankings. The Wolverines got everything they wanted from a suddenly competitive Nebraska team, winning 32-29 in Lincoln to remain undefeated at 6-0.
Michigan should enjoy a slight bump in the rankings, but won’t sniff the top five without some significant help or some wins over top programs. They won’t lack opportunities with Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State looming on the horizon.
Previous rank: 1/1
Where will Alabama rank after its first loss of the season? The Tide didn’t play particularly well, but voters have been pretty lenient with Saban’s team when it has lost in the past. It’s unlikely the Crimson Tide remain in the top four — matching Playoff rankings — but they could still remain in the top five, especially considering Penn State also lost on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide will likely fall to the 5-7 range in Sunday’s polls, jockeying for position with Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Regardless, Saturday’s loss doesn’t do much to change Alabama’s Playoff status. If it wins out, it will make the Playoff yet again. But the Crimson Tide no longer have a mulligan to rely on for the rest of the season.