Welcome, back ‘Clones; Who’s next?

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For the first time in this regular season, there were no teams making their debut this season in The Associated college football poll.

Iowa State and BYU rejoined the AP Top 25 presented by the Regions Bank, but the number of teams that have been ranked for at least a week this season is still 44.

Iowa State is back after four weeks out. The cyclones were preseason No. 7, but two September losses sent them tumbling.

There are currently 13 unranked teams that started the season ranked.

Most notable is Clemson, who was No. 3 in the preseason poll and now sits at 4-3. It looks more and more like the Tigers will have a hard time saving this season as injuries increase and the attack remains a mess.

The schedule is set up so Clemson can run toward a remaining schedule with three losing teams, plus Louisville and No. 13 Wake Forest.

Who else?

North Carolina (preseason # 10), Wisconsin (preseason # 12), Florida (preseason # 13), Texas (preseason 21) and Utah (preseason 24) are all 4-3 with what appear to be reasonable chances for to work their hero back on the rankings. Or further flames out. Could go both ways.

Safe to say that Miami (pre-season 14), Southern California (pre-season 15), LSU (pre-season 16), Washington (pre-season 20), all with four losses, will not return. At 2-5, Indiana (preseason 17) is going to have a hard time just getting the bowl justified.

Among the unlucky 13, Louisiana-Lafayette (preseason 23, 6-1) and Arizona State (preseason 25, 5-2) look like the best games to get back to where they started.

Reality Check may even claim that Ragin ‘Cajuns should be ranked now.

No.1 Georgia (7-0)

Next: Vs. Florida, Saturday.

Reality Check: The insanely good defensive stats the Bulldogs have compiled are likely to blow up in the next few weeks of some competent offenses (Florida, Missouri, Tennessee). How much equal? We will see.

Rated: All right.

Nr. 2 Cincinnati (7-0)

Next: in Tulane, Saturday.

Reality check: Close play should not count as a loss for the Bearcats.

Rated: Still fine, but keeping the teams behind them will be tough with no fault of their own.

No.3 Alabama (7-1)

Next: Vs. LSU, Saturday.

Reality Check: Alabama was a little sloppy against Vols. But as Texas A&M makes it look, Alabama’s lone loss does not look bad at all. Be careful about calling Alabama vulnerable to any opponent except Georgia.

Rated: All right.

No.4 Oklahoma (8-0)

Next: Vs. Texas Tech, Saturday.

Reality check: Sooners have been hammered by skeptics for some close wins, but this is the first time Oklahoma has been 8-0 since 2004. Just win, honey!

Rated: Roughly to the right.

No.5 Ohio State (6-1)

Next: Vs. No. 20 Penn State, Saturday.

Reality check: The Buckeyes’ offense has been silly good lately (16 touchdowns and two field goals on the last 18 first-half drives, not including those where the clock ran out). It is reasonable to press the brakes a bit given the rise in Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana.

Rated: Still too high, but it’s getting harder to make that case.

Nr. 6 Michigan (7-0)

Next: in No. 8 Michigan State, Saturday.

Reality check: Among ranked teams, only Coastal Carolina (163) has attempted fewer passes than Michigan’s 166. Incidentally, Georgia has thrown 167.

Rated: Slightly high.

Nr. 7 Oregon (6-1)

Next: against Colorado, Saturday.

Reality check: It’s going to be hard to stand on the ducks, but having Oregon behind the Buckeyes still seems unfair.

Rated: Too low.

Nr. 8 Michigan State (7-0)

Next: Vs. No. 6 Michigan, Saturday.

Reality check: Spartans DE Jacub Panasiuk is overshadowed by Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, but has also played as an American.

Rated: All right.

Nr. Iowa (6-1)

Next: in Wisconsin, Saturday.

Reality check: Do not let Iowa’s offensive games distract you from center Tyler Linderbaum’s dominance up front.

Rated: Slightly high.

Nr. 10 Mississippi (6-1)

Next: at No. 18 Auburn, Saturday.

Reality check: Only four quarterbacks have more hasty attempts than Matt Corral’s 100. Yes, 30 came in a game against Tennessee, but he has been in double digits all but once.

Rated: Slightly low.

Nr. 11 Notre Dame (6-1)

Next: Vs. North Carolina, Saturday.

Reality check: The flashy stats have not been there for RB Kyren Williams (4.20 yards per carry), but there is no doubt he is Ireland’s most valuable offensive player.

Rated: Slightly high.

Nr. 12 Kentucky (6-1)

Next: in Mississippi State, Saturday.

Reality check: Wildcats are starting to pursue a New Year’s six bowl against remaining opponents combined 18-23.

Rated: Slightly low.

Nr. 13 Wake Forest (7-0)

Next: Vs. Duke, Saturday.

Reality Check: Hartman for Heisman? It’s catchy, and QB Sam Hartman’s figures (9.7 yards per attempt and an efficiency of 173.63) match well with the other challengers.

Rated: Too low.

Nr. 14 Texas A&M (6-2)

Next: Vs. No. 18 Auburn, November 6th.

Reality check: Round-robin between Aggies, Ole Miss and Auburn over the next three weeks should be a lot of fun. Can A&M rely on the run-heavy offensive approach against the rebels and the tigers?

Rated: All right.

Nr. 15 Oklahoma State (6-1)

Next: Vs. Kansas, Saturday.

Reality check: The Cowboys have most of the toughest part of the Big 12 behind them. Except for Bedlam against Oklahoma. It rarely goes well, but if they can get there without another loss, the conference title game could be an option, no matter how it goes.

Rated: All right.

16 Baylor (6-1)

Next: Vs. Texas, Saturday.

Reality check: Home games with Texas and Oklahoma over the next three weeks will determine how high the ceiling is for the surprising Bears.

Rated: Roughly to the right.

Nr. 17 Pittsburgh (6-1)

Next: vs, Miami, Saturday.

Reality check: The Panthers are the only team to rank in the top five of the ACC in both offense (third at 6.64 yards per game) and defense (fourth at 4.98). They are not random.

Rated: Roughly to the right.

18 Auburn (5-2)

Next: Vs. No. 10 Ole Miss, Saturday.

Reality check: QB Bo Nix has taken a step forward this season, but has not received much help from a receiving group that lacks a true No. 1.

Rated: Too high.

Nr. 19 SMU (7-0)

Next: Vs. Houston, Saturday.

Reality Check: WR Reggie Roberson Jr. has a strong comeback season after a knee injury, with 30 catches for 406 yards and five touchdowns.

Rated: Slightly high.

Nr. 20 Penn State (5-2)

Next: in No. 5 Ohio State, Saturday.

Reality check: Running the ball and stopping the race has been a problem all season and they finally conspired to derail a promising season.

Rated: Should probably still be ahead of Auburn. At least for another week.

Nr. 21 San Diego State (7-0)

Next: Vs. Fresno State, Saturday.

Reality check: Puncture winner: Matt Araiza, a mid-season all-American, has an 80 plus yard point in each of the last two games.

Rated: Slightly high.

22 Iowa State (5-2)

Next: in West Virginia, Saturday.

Reality check: DE Will McDonald IV is the cyclone’s Kayvon Thibodeaux with 7 1/2 bags that always seems to come in big spots.

Rated: Slightly low.

None. 23 UTSA (8-0)

Next: at UTEP, 6 November.

Reality check: Roadrunners pick up speed and beat their last two opponents by a total of 90-16.

Rated: Roughly to the right.

Nr. 24 Coastal Carolina (6-1)

Next: Vs. Troy, Thursday.

Reality Check: The offense is still a lot of fun and probably good enough to roll through the rest of the normal season with no losses.

Rated: Maybe the wrong Sun Belt team is ranked. Hi Louisiana-Lafayette.

No.25 BYU (6-2)

Next: Vs. Virginia, Saturday.

Reality check: Cougars’ bend-but-not-break defense will be tested next week by the potent Cavaliers and QB Brennan Armstrong.

Rated: Tad low.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen to http://www.appodcasts.com

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