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Sport How Alabama's loss could shake up the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll

15:05  10 october  2021
15:05  10 october  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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There will be no debate over which team is No. 1 in this week's USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll. The surprise: It won't be Alabama.

The Crimson Tide are no longer unbeaten after losing 41-38 at Texas A&M. Georgia will be the new No. 1, with the only real question whether the Bulldogs will be the unanimous choice — and there's little reason to think otherwise.

Alabama's landing spot after this loss will define the new Top 25, which will be released around noon ET on Sunday.

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Several unbeaten teams will move up. But will the Tide fall out of the top five?

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In addition, as many as five Big Ten teams may rank inside the top 10. That group will be led by Iowa, which is a lock for No. 2 after beating previously unbeaten Penn State 23-20. The Hawkeyes have won 12 straight games and defeated six straight ranked opponents, the program's longest such streak since 1960.

Aggies kicker Seth Small (47) celebrates his 28-yard field goal that was the difference. © Thomas Shea, USA TODAY Sports Aggies kicker Seth Small (47) celebrates his 28-yard field goal that was the difference.

Here's our best guess for how the top 10 will unfold in the new Top 25:

1. Georgia (6-0)

Georgia allowed Auburn to score a touchdown, which was surprising, but ended up winning by 24 points, which was not. The Bulldogs' continued dominance stands out even more when compared to Alabama's road loss and the obvious flaws seen even among the other unbeaten Power Five teams inside the top 10.

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2. Iowa (6-0)

The odds that Iowa runs the table into the Big Ten championship are growing by the Saturday. With Penn State in the books, the Hawkeyes' remaining schedule is not imposing: vs. Purdue, at Wisconsin, at Northwestern, vs. Minnesota, vs. Illinois and at Nebraska.

3. Oklahoma (6-0)

The Sooners' biggest question coming out of a 55-48 win against Texas asks whether Caleb Williams is ready to take over for Spencer Rattler and guide OU to another Big 12 championship. The decision by Lincoln Riley will determine whether this team sticks in the top four and makes the playoff.

4. Alabama (5-1)

The Tide could fall to fifth should Cincinnati's perfect record and two Power Five wins outweigh five wins and a loss at A&M. But keep in mind that before Saturday, Alabama joined Georgia as the two teams seen as heads and shoulders above the rest of the Football Bowl Subdivision.

5. Cincinnati (5-0)

Friday night's 52-3 win against Temple won't do much for voters more likely to reward Oklahoma's shootout victory than the Bearcats' latest domination in conference play. Look for Cincinnati to keep stacking wins against a run of inferior opponents until an intriguing matchup with SMU on Nov. 20.

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6. Ohio State (5-1)

OSU has regained some favor among voters with four straight wins and a dynamic offense that leads the Power Five by a big margin in yards per play. This past month has also brought a reassessment of quarterback C.J. Stroud, who struggled early, missed the Akron win due to injury but has been on point against Big Ten competition. Stroud threw for 433 yards and five scores in Saturday's 66-17 win against Maryland.

7. Michigan (6-0)

Nebraska is pretty easily the best team Michigan has faced this season, so the 32-29 win in Lincoln should be seen as more impressive than last week's win at Wisconsin, for example. Now 6-0 for the first time since 2016, the Wolverines regained some offensive balance after recent struggles on the ground, with 255 passing yards by Cade McNamara joined by 204 rushing yards on 4.9 yards per carry.

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8. Oregon (4-1)

The Ducks' win at Ohio State last month already has been forgotten by many voters, who dumped Oregon behind OSU after last week's loss to Stanford. Beginning next Saturday against California, Oregon's road back into the top four requires a perfect close to the regular season and some help in the Big Ten and Big 12.

9. Penn State (5-1)

There's a strong argument for bumping unbeaten Michigan State ahead of the Nittany Lions after the Spartans took care of Rutgers. It's still difficult to see the Nittany Lions fall lower than No. 9 after losing by only a field goal at the No. 3 team in the country, especially with quarterback Sean Clifford sidelined for much of the game.

10. Michigan State (6-0)

Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III (9) runs through a hole for a 94-yard touchdown during the third quarter against Rutgers at SHI Stadium. © Vincent Carchietta, USA TODAY Sports Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III (9) runs through a hole for a 94-yard touchdown during the third quarter against Rutgers at SHI Stadium.

The Spartans keep rolling under second-year coach Mel Tucker and are a deserving pick to fill the spot held in last week's poll by Brigham Young, which lost 26-17 to Boise State. MSU has yet to beat a team with a winning record but will have plenty of chances to do so in the second half, with games against Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State still to come.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How Alabama's loss could shake up the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll

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