The AP Top 25 voters need to start getting more creative when filling out the final spots on their ballots.

The top of The Associated Press college football poll is not all that tricky to figure out after a month of the season. Orders may differ, but there seems to be consensus on the top 10 or so teams. As it should be, the rankings get harder to figure down ballot. Those last few spots have been especially volatile the past couple weeks, with teams turning over like graduate assistants on a coaching staff.

For just the second time since the AP poll expanded to Top 25 in 1989, at least five teams dropped out of the poll in consecutive weeks. The last time it happened was September 1999.

This week the five teams to jump into the rankings were comprised of two making their season debut (Colorado and North Carolina State) and three teams re-entering (Florida, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State). They took the places of California, Mississippi State, Texas Tech, Duke and BYU.

Nothing against the Gators, Hokies and Cowboys, but that could just as easily have been Texas A&M, Iowa and Washington State. Pretty good Power Five teams are not particularly interesting. It is getting near the point of the season where voters should consider some teams from outside the Power Five, like maybe Appalachian State or Hawaii.

Eventually some of these upstarts will breakthrough. Heat check considers the possibility of sooner rather than later while assessing this week's AP Top 25.

1. Alabama (5-0)

Next: at Arkansas.

The Crimson Tide has scored at least 45 points and gained at least 500 yards in each of its first five games, a first in the history of the program.

Heat check: Just right.

2. Georgia (5-0)

Next: vs. Vanderbilt.

The Bulldogs have only five sacks, last in the SEC; if you're looking for a potential issue against tougher opponents — like LSU in two weeks.

Heat check: Too hot.

3. Ohio State (5-0)

Next: vs. Indiana.

Ohio State is the only team in the country to allow three plays from scrimmage of at least 80 yards and one of two teams that has given up four 70-plus plays, including two 93-yard touchdowns. Remove those four plays, and the Buckeyes are allowing 4.4 yards on the other 330 plays they have faced — which would rank 12th in the nation.

Heat check: Too cold. Should be No. 2 after two good wins away from Columbus.

4. Clemson (5-0)

Next: at Wake Forest.

The last three games, RB Travis Etienne has 487 yards on 54 carries (9.01 per carry) and six touchdowns. The sophomore is blossoming into the star Clemson fans have been waiting for.

Heat check: Too hot.

5. LSU (5-0)

Next: at No. 22 Florida.

A big dose of Ole Miss defense helped the Tigers find their offense with a season-high 573 yards. Let's see if it plays in The Swamp.

Heat check: Touch too cold. Flip-flop with Clemson.

6. Notre Dame (5-0)

Next: at No. 24 Virginia Tech.

The Fighting Irish offense is rounding into form, but it took a hit with the loss of OG Alex Bars, a second-team preseason All-American.

Heat check: Just right.

7. Oklahoma (5-0)

Next: vs. No. 19 Texas in Dallas.

After averaging 8.29 yards per play last season and threatening the FBS record held by 2006 Hawaii (8.58), the Sooners are averaging 8.9 this season, best in the country.

Heat check: Just right.

8. Auburn (4-1)

Next: at Mississippi State.

The Tigers' offense seems to be regressing. They have run for a total of 187 yards in the last two games against Arkansas and Southern Miss.

Heat check: Too hot.

9. West Virginia (4-0)

Next: vs. Kansas.

October is all about avoiding the upset for the Mountaineers so they can face this challenging November: at Texas, TCU, at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma.

Heat check: Too hot.

10. Washington (4-1)

Next: at UCLA.

How long before the Huskies shake that head-to-head loss to Auburn and jump the Tigers?

Heat check: Just right.

11. Penn State (4-1)

Next: vs. No. 20 Michigan State, Oct. 13.

The Nittany Lions last four losses, dating to the 2017 Rose Bowl, have been by a combine eight points.

Heat check: Too cold.

12. UCF (4-0)

Next: vs. SMU.

The Knights have trailed for 1 minute, 3 seconds this season.

Heat check: A touch too hot.

13. Kentucky (5-0)

Next: at Texas A&M.

RB Benny Snell and Kentucky football might just overshadow the start of basketball practice in Lexington if they keep this up. Maybe.

Heat check: Too cold.

14. Stanford (4-1)

Next: vs. Utah.

Heisman runner-up Bryce Love is tied for 47th in the country in rushing (81.75 yards per game) and averaging 4.30 per carry, close to half what he did last season.

Heat check: Too hot.

15. Michigan (4-1)

Next: vs. Maryland.

DE Chase Winovich has been the best player on the nation's best defense, with 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Heat check: Too cold.

16. Wisconsin (3-1)

Next: vs. Nebraska.

During a week off, RB Jonathan Taylor moved into the national lead with 157 yards rushing per game as the previous leader, Darrell Henderson of Memphis, had a poor game.

Heat check: Too hot.

17. Miami (4-1)

Next: vs. Florida State

It is QB N'Kosi Perry's team now. At least that's what coach Mark Richt is hoping.

Heat check: Too hot.

18. Oregon (4-1)

Next: vs. Washington, Oct. 13.

The Ducks rest up before getting another chance for a signature victory.

Heat check: Too cold.

19. Texas (4-1)

Next: No. 7 Oklahoma in Dallas.

Heat check is trying to temper its enthusiasm for the Longhorns' first four-game winning streak since 2013. But hasn't Texas done more than Miami and Wisconsin to this point?

Heat check: Too cold.

20. Michigan State (3-1)

Next: vs. Northwestern.

Behind DE Kenny Willekes and LB Joe Bachie, the Spartans are smothering the running game, allowing 1.49 per rush.

Heat check: Too hot.

21. Colorado (4-0)

Next: vs Arizona State.

The Buffaloes schedule has been cottony soft, but WR Laviska Shenault Jr. is one of the most exciting players in the country and that's good enough for Heat Check to welcome CU to the rankings.

Heat check: But the Buffs are a little too hot.

22. Florida (4-1)

Next: vs. No. 5 LSU.

Upon further review, losing to Kentucky is not embarrassing. Heat check, regrets the error.

Heat check: Too cold.

23. NC State (4-0)

Next: vs. Boston College.

Quietly, Wolfpack QB Ryan Finley is sixth in the country, averaging 328 yards passing per game.

Heat check: Too cold.

24. Virginia Tech (3-1)

Next: vs. No. 6 Notre Dame.

Was the ODU loss some kind of dream sequence?

Heat check: Too hot.

25. Oklahoma State (4-1)

Next: vs. Iowa State.

Cowboys fans were calling for more touches for TB Justice Hill so coach Mike Gundy obliged. Hill carried 31 times against Kansas for 189 yards after just 46 rushes in the first four games.

Heat check: Too cold.

Should be out: Virginia Tech. Should be in: Appalachian State.


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