Scoring on Georgia’s defense is such a rare achievement that Kentucky coach Mark Stoops called a timeout with seconds left in a blowout loss to give his offense another chance at getting into the end zone.
The Wildcats punched it in, becoming the first team to score two touchdowns on the nation’s best defense. Georgia’s 30-13 win was more than convincing enough to maintain the huge gap separating the No. 1 team in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll from the rest of the field.
Where things get interesting in this week’s poll, which is set to be released Sunday, is at No. 2. Held last week by Iowa, the spot is now available to two teams in particular after the Hawkeyes’ shocking loss at home to Purdue.
Now it’s up to the voters: Is it Cincinnati or Oklahoma?
With Georgia an obvious No. 1, the debate over No. 2 is the question of the week. Here’s how the top 10 of the poll may look:
1. Georgia (7-0)
The vote will be unanimous after Iowa drew one first-place vote in last week’s poll. How could it not? Georgia has been dominating opponents even with backup quarterback Stetson Bennett under center, meaning this team could take things to another level when JT Daniels gets healthy and takes back the starting job.
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2. Cincinnati (6-0)
Oklahoma was No. 3 a week ago, so bumping the Sooners up one spot after beating TCU easily is a possibility. But Cincinnati has been so impressive — following up two Power Five wins with back-to-back 50-point games to open conference play — that the Bearcats are much better against the eyeball test, especially with the run of close games OU has played since Week 1.
3. Oklahoma (7-0)
The best news to come out of the 52-31 win against the Horned Frogs was the play of freshman quarterback Caleb Williams, who threw for 295 yards and four scores and ran for another to put an absolute stranglehold on the starting job after wrestling it away from Spencer Rattler. There’s been stretches of good play from the defense and signs that the offense is stirring under Williams, which means OU’s best football may be to come.
4. Alabama (6-1)
Alabama rebounded from a rough loss at Texas A&M to take care of business against Mississippi State. After giving up 41 points to the Aggies, the Crimson Tide held the Bulldogs to just 299 yards of offense on 4.1 yards per play in the 49-9 win. Is this the second-best team in the country? Even if that’s the case, voters won’t be able to slide the Tide ahead of the unbeaten Bearcats and Sooners.
5. Ohio State (5-1)
The Buckeyes are surging into a crucial run of games behind quarterback C.J. Stroud and the nation’s most productive offense. But don’t sleep on the improvement on defense, which has shut down Akron, Rutgers and Maryland after a very poor start. OSU will occupy the top spot in the Big Ten with several conference rivals just behind in the top 10.
6. Michigan (6-0)
After a close call against Nebraska and an off week, Michigan returns on Saturday against Northwestern before getting down to brass tacks: Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State in a 30-day span. Putting the Wolverines ahead of the one-loss Nittany Lions makes sense, but what about the Spartans? MSU has a very good argument for being ranked second among Big Ten teams.
7. Penn State (5-1)
There’s legitimate concern over how long PSU can stay in the top 10 if quarterback Sean Clifford misses any extended time after being injured in the loss to Iowa. While the Nittany Lions can get by against Illinois next week, Clifford needs to be under center to handle the key games that will decide the Big Ten East.
8. Michigan State (7-0)
The work Mel Tucker has done in his second year breaking in a bunch of new faces is a case study for how to manage and quickly rebuild rosters in the era of the transfer portal. How much longer can MSU keep this up? It’s true that the real tests are still to come. But this team has outperformed expectations since Week 1.
9. Oregon (5-1)
It’s obvious from the past few weeks that Oregon is not going to leapfrog back ahead of Ohio State despite the Ducks’ head-to-head win last month in Columbus. But fresh off a close win against California, the Ducks are in position to climb back to the top four once the Big Ten East eats itself alive during a brutal stretch of games in October and November.
10. Iowa (6-1)
A backlash is coming from voters who held their noses in ranking Iowa No. 2 and now have the ammunition to knock the Hawkeyes almost out of the top 10. Even when unbeaten, Iowa’s approach lacked the flash and style of other teams near the top of the Coaches Poll. So with one loss on their record — not to mention it came against the Boilermakers — the Hawkeyes are set for a tumble.