Thoughts on the AP poll: Duke slides to No. 20, North Carolina and Southern California have big losses

Duke is now No. 20 in the AP poll, but ranked for the eighth consecutive week.
Duke is now No. 20 in the AP poll, but ranked for the eighth consecutive week.

After Duke lost its second game of the season to Florida State, the Blue Devils fell four spots in the AP top 25. The Blue Zone breaks down some key parts of the new poll: 

Duke drops four spots

While a first half witnessed the underdogs thriving under the lights of Doak Campbell Stadium, a re-injury to junior quarterback Riley Leonard’s ankle left the Blue Devils in shambles. After Leonard left the game, Duke failed to put any points on the scoreboard and Florida State ran away with the win. The Blue Devils fell four places in the AP poll this week, coming in at No. 20. This puts Duke just behind two of its ACC competitors in No. 17 UNC and No.
18 Louisville. While the Blue Devils retain their position in the top 25, the state of Leonard’s health will prove crucial to the team’s production the rest of the season. 

In its toughest matchup yet, the Blue Devils' ability to keep up with championship contenders was put in the spotlight. A fatigued defense in the fourth quarter allowed the Seminoles to easily waltz into the endzone. For a team that prides itself in its defensive play, there is much work to be done ahead of next week’s game against the18th-ranked Cardinals. 

Pac-12 contenders barely survive

It seems the reigning Heisman quarterback’s achilles heel is none other than his conference rival. Southern California and Utah battled it out in the first half, giving spectators at LA Memorial Coliseum the thrilling competition between two top 25 teams. In the final two minutes of the game, quarterback Caleb Williams rushed for an 11-yard touchdown and gave the Trojans an opportunity to secure its fate with a two-point conversion. In heartbreaking fashion, Williams failed to convert and the Utes’ Cole Becker took over the spotlight with a game-winning 38-yard field goal as time expired. As a result, Southern California barely clings on to the top 25, coming in at No. 24, and any chance of Williams adding a college football championship to his resume is all but lost. 

In a much less anticipated matchup, a weak Arizona State team proved to be a challenge for No. 5 Washington. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils had hopes of pulling off the miraculous upset. However, the underdogs couldn’t handle the pressure as Mishael Powell recorded an 89-yard interception return, securing the win for the Huskies. While Washington pulled off the win and retained its No. 5 ranking, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. may have injured his Heisman chances with an off-night, recording two interceptions. The Huskies will turn to their next game against Stanford to get back in the groove of things before a tough road matchup against USC. 

Tar Heels drop after upset

Then-No.10 UNC drops to 17 after a depleting home loss against a Virginia team that was 1-5. The Cavaliers put an end to the Tar Heels’ undefeated streak, injuring hopes of an ACC championship game. Running back Mike Hollins was the star of the show with three rushing touchdowns for Virginia. On the other side of the ball, the Cavaliers secured their victory with an interception off quarterback Drake Maye in the final minute of the game. 

Although Virginia opened the season with a crushing defeat at Tennessee, three of the team’s losses have been by three points or less. The Cavaliers have proved they can keep up with their competitors, it's the wins where they consistently fail to execute. 

Full rankings: 

  1. Georgia 
  2. Michigan 
  3. Ohio State
  4. Florida State
  5. Washington 
  6. Oklahoma 
  7. Texas 
  8. Oregon 
  9. Alabama  
  10. Penn State 
  11. Oregon State 
  12. Ole Miss 
  13. Utah 
  14. Notre Dame 
  15. LSU 
  16. Missouri 
  17. UNC
  18. Louisville 
  19. Air Force  
  20. Duke 
  21. Tennessee 
  22. Tulane 
  23. UCLA 
  24. USC
  25. James Madison 


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