The value of a loss can be tricky to quantify for AP Top 25 voters.

For the first time this season, the AP college football poll presented by Regions Bank was given a good shake. Seven ranked teams lost, a season-high, including three in Saturday's trio of top-15 matchups.

Three teams fell out of the rankings, including Washington State, which fell from 19 after one of the biggest blown leads in college football history. Against a previously winless UCLA.

Voters were punitive with the Cougars, but were not so tough on No. 19 Utah, No. 20 Michigan, No. 22 UCF and No. 23 Texas A&M. All lost. All dropped at least six spots, but remained ranked.

In the cases of Utah and UCF, the losses were close — very close for the Knights — and on the road. Understandable to keep them around the bottom of the Top 25.

Michigan lingering after it was dominated at Wisconsin was more difficult to comprehend. Though you could make the argument that it's a nod to how well Wisconsin has played.

As for A&M, there is no shame in losing to No. 1 Clemson and No. 7 Auburn, but the Aggies weren't particularly good in those games and their only wins are against Texas State and Lamar.

Then there is Notre Dame, which dropped three spots to No. 10 after losing at No. 3 Georgia. The Irish had a good showing, but also an 11th straight loss against a top-five team. Maybe Notre Dame should not have dropped at all, but voters rewarded Auburn and Wisconsin for winning and that bumped the Irish. Teams are not ranked in a vacuum, as Reality Check often likes to remind fans.

No. 1 Clemson (4-0)

Next: at North Carolina.

Reality check: Instead of potential challengers to Clemson emerging as the season goes along, the Atlantic Coast Conference is looking more hopeless to stop the Tigers juggernaut.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 2 Alabama (4-0)

Next: vs. Mississippi.

Reality check: WR Henry Ruggs III has scored 21 touchdowns on 74 career catches. The great Julio Jones had 15 touchdowns on 179 catches in three years at Alabama. Times have changed in Tuscaloosa.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 3 Georgia (4-0)

Next: at Tennessee, Oct. 5.

Reality check: Kirby Smart leaned into his defense to beat Notre Dame and helped the Irish hang around. You've got an NFL offensive line, an experienced quarterback and maybe the most dynamic running back in the country, coach. Loosen up.

Ranked: Touch too high.

No. 4 LSU (4-0)

Next: vs. Utah State, Oct. 5.

Reality check: LSU has scored 224 points through four games, the most by an SEC team over the last 20 seasons. Times have changed in Baton Rouge.

Ranked: Touch too low.

No. 5 Ohio State (4-0)

Next: at Nebraska.

Reality check: After dropping 76 on poor Miami, Ohio, the Buckeyes took a small step forward in the polls. Now it's time for a step up in competition.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 6 Oklahoma (3-0)

Next: vs. Texas Tech.

Reality check: An idle week cost the Sooners a spot in the rankings. No big deal.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 7 Auburn (4-0)

Next: vs. Mississippi State.

Reality check: The Tigers have two really nice wins away from home, but 5.67 yards per play on offense is a massive red flag.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 8 Wisconsin (3-0)

Next: vs. Northwestern.

Reality check: Quarterbacks have won all but two Heismans since Wisconsin's Ron Dayne won the trophy in 1999. As long as the Badgers stay in the playoff race RB Jonathan Taylor has an outside chance.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 9 Florida (4-0)

Next: vs. Towson.

Reality check: No top-10 team is drawing as much skepticism as the Gators. Seems fair.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 10 Notre Dame (2-1)

Next: vs. No. 18 Virginia.

Reality check: The Irish lack the game-changing skill players to beat the elite.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 11 Texas (3-1)

Next: at West Virginia, Oct. 5.

Reality check: The first step toward becoming a playoff contender is consistently winning the games you're supposed to win. The Longhorns now seem capable of doing that.

Ranked: Too low.

No. 12 Penn State (3-0)

Next: at Maryland, Friday.

Reality check: Some early adversity can be an ominous sign or a learning experience for young team. Which will it be for the Nittany Lions?

Ranked: Too high.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1)

Next: vs. No. 23 California, Oct. 5.

Reality check: The Ducks have not allowed a touchdown since the game-winner in the closing second against Auburn. Yes, the competition has not been great, but the Ducks haven't played that type of defense against anyone in years.

Ranked: Too low.

No. 14 Iowa (3-0)

Next: vs. Middle Tennessee.

Reality check: Iowa is the No. 14 team in the country? Whoa.

Ranked: Seems too high, but somebody has to be No. 14.

No. 15 California (4-0)

Next: vs. Arizona State.

Reality check: The Bears are the only ranked team without a 30-point game. Justin Wilcox's team is playing 1990s football.

Ranked: Seems too high, but somebody has to be No. 15.

No. 16 Boise State (4-0)

Next: at UNLV, Oct. 5.

Reality check: With UCF going down, the Broncos become the highest ranked team from outside the Power Five.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 17 Washington (3-1)

Next: vs. No. 21 Southern California.

Reality check: Washington has beaten up all comers except Cal. We're about to find out if they are paper Huskies.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 18 Virginia (4-0)

Next: at No. 7 Notre Dame.

Reality check: The Cavaliers took a while to get going in a trap-game against Old Dominion. Virginia plays trap games now!

Ranked: About right.

No. 19 Utah (3-1)

Next: vs. Washington State.

Reality check: The Utes played most of the loss to USC without star running back Zack Moss, but it wasn't the running game that let them down. It was pretty much everything else.

Ranked: Touch too high.

No. 20 Michigan (2-1)

Next: vs. Rutgers.

Reality check: Lots of attention on the offense, but the Wolverines' defense hasn't been any good either.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 21 Southern California (3-1)

Next: at No. 17 Washington.

Reality check: The Trojans have a group of receivers, led by Michael Pittman that can make a lot of quarterbacks look good. And USC has had to play a lot of quarterbacks.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 22 UCF (3-1)

Next: vs. UConn.

Reality check: Winning is hard, especially on the road. One loss doesn't invalidate the Knights.

Ranked: Smidge too low.

No. 23 Texas A&M (2-2)

Next: vs. Arkansas at Arlington, Texas.

Reality check: The Aggies still have to play Nos. 2-4 and nothing so far suggests they are ready to take one down.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 24 Kansas State (3-0)

Next: at Oklahoma State.

Reality check: That victory at Mississippi State looks even better a week later.

Ranked: About right.

No. 25 Michigan State (3-1)

Next: vs. Indiana.

Reality check: The performance against Northwestern only makes the debacle a week early against Arizona State look worse.

Ranked: Too high.

Instead of Michigan, Texas A&M and Michigan State how about Appalachian State, SMU and Wake Forest?


The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Sept. 21, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and previous ranking:

1. Clemson (55)4-015431
2. Alabama (6)4-014852
3. Georgia (1)4-014003
4. LSU4-013444
5. Ohio St.4-012886
6. Oklahoma3-012835
7. Auburn4-011698
8. Wisconsin3-0107113
9. Florida4-010229
10. Notre Dame2-19897
11. Texas3-196812
12. Penn St.3-084813
13. Oregon3-183916
14. Iowa3-071418
15. California4-054723
16. Boise St.4-052420
17. Washington3-149822
18. Virginia4-043021
19. Utah3-142610
20. Michigan2-128711
21. Southern Cal3-1257NR
22. UCF3-125215
23. Texas A&M2-223317
24. Kansas St.3-0230NR
25. Michigan St.3-1104NR

Others receiving votes: Wake Forest 73, Oklahoma St. 57, SMU 55, Army 46, Memphis 42, Iowa St. 31, Appalachian St. 24, Washington St. 21, Missouri 14, Mississippi St. 14, Pittsburgh 6, Arizona St. 5, Minnesota 5, Colorado 5, Tulane 1.

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