Over the next four weeks there will be much debate about whether Alabama is one of the four best teams in college football.

AP Top 25 voters weighed Sunday, a day after the Crimson Tide lost a 46-41 thriller to LSU, and the consensus was yes. Alabama was No. 4 in The Associated Press college football poll presented by Regions Banks.

LSU remained No. 1, but for the first time since taking the top spot three weeks ago, the vote was a landslide. The Tigers received 54 first-place votes. No. 2 Ohio State received five first-place votes and No. 3 Clemson got three.

Alabama was a distant fourth behind the top three with 1,312 points, but also comfortably ahead of No. 5 Georgia (1,267 points).

The College Football Playoff committee has its say Tuesday and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Tide lands in the top four of those rankings, too.

Ostensibly the committee and the voters have the same job: Rank teams in order of which are best. In reality, though, there is a big difference. The selection committee is eventually seeding a tournament. They are rewarding four teams with a chance to play for a national championship. There is no difference between No. 1 and No. 4, but the team that’s fifth might as well be last.

The AP voters face no such consequences. All you get for being No. 4 is bragging rights on No. 5.

Voters, like the committee, blend a combination of performance and accomplishment, but there is no protocol instructing them to emphasize conference championships in cases where two teams are close.

Reality Check is curious to see if voters start weighing their choices as if they have the same consequences as the committee — even though they do not.

No. 1 LSU (9-0)

Next: at Mississippi.

Reality check: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire reminds Reality Check of Darren Sproles.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 2 Ohio State (9-0)

Next: at Rutgers.

Reality check: All the intrigue for the Buckeyes over the next week is off the field and as the status of DE Chase Young gets sorted out.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 3 Clemson (10-0)

Next: vs. Wake Forest.

Reality check: The Tigers are now in full buzz-saw mode, having outscored their last four ACC opponents by 163 points.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 4 Alabama (8-1)

Next: at Mississippi State.

Reality check: Alabama can beat any team in the country. But the Crimson Tide lost one of only two games on their schedule against a team with a realistic chance of beating them.

Ranked: Just right for now.

No. 5 Georgia (8-1)

Next: at No. 13 Auburn.

Reality check: In a world where LSU and Alabama combined to score 87 points in a game, the Bulldogs are trying to win a national championship with defense. Good luck with that.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 6 Oregon (8-1)

Next: vs. Arizona.

Reality check: The Ducks are probably going to need to not only to win out, but do so impressively.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 7 Minnesota (9-0)

Next: at No. 23 Iowa.

Reality check: The five highest rated passers in major college football: Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma, Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama; Joe Burrow, LSU; Tanner Morgan, Minnesota; Justin Fields, Ohio State.

Ranked: Too low.

No. 8 Utah (8-1)

Next: vs. UCLA.

Reality check: See Oregon.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 9 Penn State (8-1)

Next: vs. No. 24 Indiana.

Reality check: The Nittany Lions had not allowed more than 5.21 yards per play in any game before Minnesota hit them for 7.67.

Ranked: About right.

No. 10 Oklahoma (8-1)

Next: at No. 12 Baylor.

Reality check: That new and improved Oklahoma defense has had a same old, same old look the last two games.

Ranked: About right. Could flip-flop with Penn State.

No. 11 Florida (8-2)

Next: at Missouri.

Reality check: As the Gators roll toward a 10-2 season, feel free to ding them just a bit for playing two FCS teams.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 12 Baylor (9-0)

Next: vs. No. 10 Oklahoma.

Reality check: Two-point win against Iowa State; three-point overtime win against Texas Tech; three-point win against West Virginia; six-point overtime win against TCU. It might not be sustainable, but it sure has been entertaining.

Ranked: Too low.

No. 13 Auburn (7-2)

Next: vs. No. 5 Georgia.

Reality check: November on The Plains, aka Gus Malzahn rumor season.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 14 Michigan (7-2)

Next: vs. Michigan State.

Reality check: The Wolverines have run for three touchdowns in each of their last four games.

Ranked: Little high.

No. 15 Wisconsin (7-2)

Next: at Nebraska.

Reality check: The Badgers lead the nation in time of possession at nearly 37 minutes per game. Very on brand.

Ranked: Little low.

No. 16 Notre Dame (7-2)

Next: vs. No. 21 Navy.

Reality check: Irish lost DE Julian Okwara, their best edge rusher, for the season after he broke his left leg against Duke.

Ranked: Just right.

No. 17 Cincinnati (8-1)

Next: at South Florida.

Reality check: Bearcats could use to clean up the penalties; they are last in the ACC at 9.3 per game for almost 80 yards.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 18 Memphis (8-1)

Next: at Houston.

Reality check: Brady White has at times frustrated Tigers fans during his two years as starter, but he leads the American in passer rating (182.23) and would have a good case to be the all-conference quarterback.

Ranked: Too low.

No. 19 Boise State (8-1)

Next: vs. New Mexico.

Reality check: LB Curtis Weaver leads the Mountain West in sacks with 12 and seems like the front-runner for conference defensive player of the year,

Ranked: Too high.

No. 20 SMU (9-1)

Next: at No. 21 Navy, Saturday, Nov. 23.

Reality check: The Mustangs play all-or-nothing defense, leading the American in sacks (42) while allowing 301 yards passing per game (last in the conference).

Ranked: Too low.

No. 21 Navy (7-1)

Next: at No. 16 Notre Dame.

Reality check: QB Malcolm Perry has five straight 100-yard rushing games and he joined the great Keenan Reynolds as the only Navy players with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 22 Texas (6-3)

Next: at Iowa State.

Reality check: The Longhorns have shown some toughness when facing adversity.

Ranked: Too low.

No. 23 Iowa (6-3)

Next: vs. No. 7 Minnesota.

Reality check: How to sum up the Hawkeyes’ offense? K Keith Duncan has more made field goals (22) than attempted PATs (19).

Ranked: Too high.

No. 24 Indiana (7-2)

Next: at No. 9 Penn State.

Reality check: The Hoosiers are ranked for the first time in 25 years, breaking the longest drought among Power Five schools. They also have not beaten an FBS team with a winning record.

Ranked: Too high.

No. 25 Oklahoma State (6-3)

Next: vs. Kansas.

Reality check: The churn of Big 12 teams at the bottom of the Top 25 continues.

Ranked: Too high.

Instead of Oklahoma State how about Appalachian State?


Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/


More AP college football: https://apnews.com/APTop25CollegeFootballPoll and https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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