Josh Furlong's AP Top 25: Is there any team that can contend with Georgia?

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) looks for running room in the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Missouri Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Athens, Ga..

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) looks for running room in the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Missouri Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Athens, Ga.. (John Bazemore, Associated Press)

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — It's to the point of the season where I can find fault in every team in the country — some more than others, but certainly not Georgia — which makes ranking teams difficult.

And in a weekend where many of the top teams narrowly edged past their competition, those warts are hard to avoid: Whose problems are part of a bigger trend? Who is just skating by? There's still much intrigue with only three weeks left in the regular season.

With that being said, I've kept my top four in the rankings the same as last week, though Cincinnati, Alabama and Ohio State didn't exactly blow away their competition. But winning late in the season remains a difficult task.

Georgia remains the overwhelming favorite college football. There's a big gulf between the Bulldogs and everyone else this year, and it's hard not to see them winning it all this year. Until proven otherwise, Georgia remains the easy pick at No. 1.

Here's a brief look at some of my rationale for how I ranked teams this week:

  • Cincinnati was far from perfect Saturday but managed to hold onto a win — even if that meant needing to recover a fumble in the end zone to stave off defeat. The Bearcats continue to find new ways to beat teams, especially with the spotlight on them this season. On top of that, there's added pressure to show out in front of the College Football Playoff committee, who despite saying they respect the Bearcats have little respect for them. Maybe the committee's disrespect is merited, but for the time being they remain my No. 2 team in the country.
  • Oregon beat Ohio State at the beginning of the season, and it's arguably the best nonconference win of the season. So why do I have the Ducks one spot behind the team they beat when they share the same record? For starters, I've had Oregon lower than Ohio State for much of the season. Oregon hands down beat Ohio State and deserves its No. 4 ranking in the CFP, but I was admittedly surprised they were there. In totality, I feel like Ohio State has played better football this season. It's negligible and I should probably move Oregon above Ohio State, but there's a nagging feeling that's keeping me from moving the Ducks up. Both teams have difficult schedules to closeout the season, so we'll get a better idea of how these teams match up against better competition.
  • Admittedly, I don't love that I have Oklahoma and Notre Dame at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively, though I don't see anybody above them at this point. The two Michigan schools are in contention here, but I couldn't move them above either school, especially with Michigan State coming off a loss. Oklahoma had a bye week, and there's hope it will help solidify the offense. Notre Dame has played better as of late, but to what extent? For now it continues to work.
  • Purdue is a poll killer — we'll call them a poll assassin. They're good enough to beat two teams ranked in the top 5, with a third lurking in the background this upcoming weekend, but they have three losses on the season. Where do you rank a team like this? I ranked the Boilermakers at No. 23 this week, but maybe their magic is from outside the rankings. Still, credit is given where it's due.
  • Utah is back in my ballot this week after they dismantled Stanford on their home field. The Utes are in full control of the division title race and has a dynamic offense that features running back Tavion Thomas, who has eight rushing touchdowns over a two-game period. Utah's trending in the right direction and may be peaking at the right time — or they'll fall back again like they did against Oregon State, who just lost to Colorado.

Checking in: Purdue, San Diego State, Utah

Dropping out: Coastal Carolina, Fresno State, Minnesota

In consideration: Arkansas, Iowa State, Utah State

If you can't see the ballot below, click here.


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