If a No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup can be a Game of the Century, this might be it.
No. 2 Alabama hosts No. 3 Georgia on Saturday after the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs held their spots behind No. 1 Clemson in the latest AP Top 25.
The Tigers received 59 first-place votes, but don't be surprised if that changes dramatically after Georgia and Alabama square off.
In college football history, the No. 1 vs. 2 regular-season matchups usually get the Game of the Century moniker.
There have been 24 of those in the history of the AP poll, dating to 1936, including LSU-Alabama last year.
The 2-3 game has been even more rare. This will be the 17th in the regular season, not including conference championship games, and the first since Ohio State and Michigan played one in 2016. You might remember it for an overtime spot on a critical fourth down that went the Buckeyes way.
Some of the other notable 2-3 games include: 1992 Miami-Florida State, aka Wide Right II; Colorado's breakthrough victory against Nebraska in 1989; and Minnesota beating Michigan 7-6 on the way to the 1940 national championship in the first 2-3 game.
As for this 2 vs. 3, Alabama has the No. 1 offense in the country at 8.66 yards per play. Georgia has the No. 1 defense (3.7 yards per play) among teams that have played more than one game.
The game not only has Southeastern Conference championship and College Football Playoff ramifications, but the winner could very well grab the No. 1 ranking away from Clemson for the first time this season.
Reality check rolls through the Top 25 after a weekend that set the stage for a Game of the Century and bounced last year's national champion, LSU, out of the rankings.
No. 1 Clemson (4-0)
Next: at Georgia Tech, Saturday.
Reality check: For the second straight year the Tigers are primed to relinquish the No. 1 spot in the polls without losing. Dabo Swinney should clear some space on that billboard.
No. 2 Alabama (3-0)
Next: vs. No. 3 Georgia, Saturday.
Reality check: Tide defense should be ecstatic about leaving Mississippi's dynamic offense behind for the Bulldogs' sledge-hammer approach.
No. 3 Georgia (3-0)
Next: at No. 2 Alabama, Saturday.
Reality check: If this Bulldogs' defense can't slow down Alabama, then defense is truly dead.
No. 4 Notre Dame (3-0)
Next: vs. Louisville, Saturday.
Reality check: The Irish have been mauling overmatched opponents with a talented offensive line. Look for more of the same this week.
No. 5 North Carolina (3-0)
Next: at Florida State, Saturday.
Reality check: Under normal circumstances the Tar Heels are probably not a top-five team, but as a group their top two running backs, top two receivers and quarterback is about as good as it gets in college football.
No. 6 Ohio State
Next: vs. Nebraska, Oct. 24.
Reality check: Officially have run out of ways to say the Buckeyes are excellent as we await the start to their season.
No. 7 Oklahoma State (3-0)
Next: vs. No. 20 Iowa State, Oct. 24.
Reality check: The Cowboys are this season's inertia team, having climbed all the way to No. 7 mostly by not screwing up early in the season. Oklahoma State got an extra week off when Baylor needed to postpone Saturday's game.
No. 8 Cincinnati (3-0)
Next: at Tulsa, Saturday.
Reality check: See, above. Same applies to the Bearcats, who take to the road for the first time this season.
No. 9 Penn State
Next: at Indiana, Oct. 24.
Reality check: With Micah Parsons opted out, does Penn State have another potential breakout linebacker? Maybe Jesse Luketa, Parson's old roommate.
No. 10 Florida (2-1)
Next: vs. LSU, Saturday.
Reality check: Gators defense had held up OK against the run before being steamrolled by the Aggies. Now the whole defense looks lost.
No. 11 Texas A&M
Next: at Mississippi State, Saturday.
Reality check: RB Isiah Spiller was most responsible for steamrolling the Gators. The sophomore leads the SEC in yards per carry (6.87) and could become just what the Aggies need to take the pressure of QB Kellen Mond
No. 12 Oregon
Next: vs. Stanford, Nov. 7.
Reality check: How much will the Ducks' defense get from much-hyped freshman linebackers Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell?
No. 13 Miami (3-1)
Next: vs. Pittsburgh, Saturday
Reality check: No surprise the Hurricanes were not up to the task at Clemson. But an opportunity is still there for an excellent season against a schedule that includes maybe one team (North Carolina) that they won't be favored against.
No. 14 BYU (4-0)
Next: at Houston, Friday.
Reality check: A close game against UTSA might have been a good thing for QB Zach Wilson and the Cougars, who are about to face a serious challenge for the first time this season.
No. 15 Auburn (2-1)
Next: at South Carolina, Saturday.
Reality check: The voters were kind to the Tigers, who needed some serious help from the officials to squeeze past Arkansas.
No. 16 Wisconsin
Next: vs. Illinois, Oct. 24.
Reality check: The Badgers have been pumping out pro linebackers lately, Next up: Jack Sanborn, who had 5.5 sacks last season.
No. 17 SMU (4-0)
Next: at Tulane, Friday.
Reality check: Redshirt freshman RB Ulysses Bentley IV is averaging 8.41 yards per carry with seven touchdowns.
No. 18 Tennessee (2-1)
Next: vs, Kentucky, Saturday.
Reality check: Much like Miami, the Vols aren't ready to step into the ring with the heavyweights. That doesn't mean they can't have a big season.
No. 19 Michigan
Next: at No. 24 Minnesota, Oct. 24.
Reality check: Another season of trying to determine whether Jim Harbaugh was so overrated that he has now become underappreciated is almost upon us.
No. 20 Iowa State (3-1)
Next: at Oklahoma State, Oct. 24.
Reality check: To put the Cyclones' success under Matt Campbell in perspective, this from Iowa State sports information: Campbell is the third coach ever at Iowa State to win 20 or more conference games. Dan McCarney was 27-68; Clay Stapleton was 22-43; Campbell is 21-18.
No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette (3-0)
Next: vs. Coastal Carolina, Wednesday.
Reality check: The Ragin' Cajuns are allowing only 6.5 yards per pass, second-best in the Sun Belt. That pass defense will be tested by Coastal Carolina.
No. 22 Kansas State (3-1)
Next: vs. Kansas, Oct. 24.
Reality check: The Wildcats have ridden a plus-seven turnover margin (second in the nation) to a three-game winning streak and Big 12 title contention.
No. 23 Virginia Tech (2-1)
Next: vs. Boston College, Saturday.
Reality check: The Hokies' offense needs QB Hendon Hooker healthy and available to be more than one dimensional.
No. 24 Minnesota
Next: vs. No. 19 Michigan, Oct. 24.
Reality check: The Gophers have never started and finished a season ranked.
No. 25 Southern California
Next: vs. Arizona State, Nov. 7.
Reality check: The Trojans got good opt-back-in news recently with the return of offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/
How UW fills holes key for Wisconsin Badgers' 2020 offense
Key returners: Jack Coan (sr.), Chase Wolf (redshirt soph.), Graham Mertz (redshirt fr.), Danny Vanden Boom (redshirt jr.)
Key departures: None
Recruits in 2020 class: None
Projected starter: Coan or Mertz
The big question for the quarterback room will be the same one that dominated the offseason a year ago — who will start? Will Jack Coan (above) hold onto his starting role after a solid season in which he completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 2,727 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions? Or will Graham Mertz earn the right to take the reins?
After Coan won the competition during fall camp last season, Mertz only saw action in nonconference blowouts against Central Michigan and Kent State. But with Coan nursing injuries in the week leading up to a pivotal Big Ten Conference matchup against Iowa, Mertz took the first-team reps and was ready to play, according to offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph.
The QB battle won’t be decided until fall camp, but it will be one to watch.
Key returners: Garrett Groshek (sr.), Nakia Watson (redshirt soph.), Isaac Guerendo (redshirt soph.), Julius Davis (soph.)
Key departures: Jonathan Taylor (NFL)
Recruits in the 2020 class: Jalen Berger (four-star)
Projected starter: Platoon
While it was expected after a stellar three-year career at UW, Jonathan Taylor’s declaration for the NFL draft leaves the Badgers without an obvious answer in the backfield.
Garrett Groshek (above) is the most experienced and will play a variety of roles, especially on passing downs, but Nakia Watson’s development this offseason will be key. He’s shown flashes of being an explosive back, but was inconsistent in his ability to read the offensive line’s blocking.
Without a star like Taylor, the Badgers will likely use a bevy of backs to try to replicate Taylor’s production. If Jalen Berger — a New Jersey recruit who has skills as a receiver as well — can make an impact early, UW should be deep at an important position.
Key returners: Mason Stokke (redshirt sr.), John Chenal (jr.), Quan Easterling (soph.)
Key departures: None
Recruits in the 2020 class: None
Projected starter: Stokke
Mason Stokke (above) really made his mark for the Badgers over the last month of the season, helping open holes for Taylor and even as a receiving target. After recovering from a midseason concussion, Stokke played the most of any of the fullbacks. Stokke tallied 51 yards and two scores, including one in the Rose Bowl, while John Chenal had 65 yards and a TD on 18 carries.
How often the Badgers use a fullback next season will be something to watch. If the running backs don’t show better feel for reading lead blocks, they might not be as keen on using two-back sets.
Key returners: Jack Dunn (redshirt sr.), Adam Krumholz (redshirt sr.), Kendric Pryor (redshirt sr.), Danny Davis (sr.)
Key departures: A.J. Taylor (graduation), Quintez Cephus (NFL), Aron Cruickshank (transfer)
Recruits in the 2020 class: Chimere Dike (three-star athlete), Isaac Smith (three-star), Devin Chandler (three-star)
Projected starters: Davis, Pryor
When Quintez Cephus declared for the NFL draft and Aron Cruickshank entered the NCAA transfer portal, one of UW’s deepest positions quickly became one of its thinnest.
Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor (above) are the most experienced returners and have proven playmaking ability, but beyond that, the Badgers are going to be looking for underclassmen to step up and earn roles. One name on the roster to look for is A.J. Abbott, a three-star recruit who hasn’t played much yet but could seize an opportunity. Three incoming freshman will also have quicker paths to the field if they prove themselves.
The Badgers are rarely active in the transfer market, but this situation may necessitate taking a look.
Key returners: Jake Ferguson (redshirt jr.), Cormac Sampson (redshirt soph.) Clay Cundiff (soph.), Hayden Rucci (soph.)
Key departures: None
Recruits in the 2020 class: Cam Large (three-star), Cole Dakovich (three-star)
Projected starter: Ferguson
A season filled with injuries left the Badgers with two tight ends — Jake Ferguson (above) and Cormac Sampson — coaches felt comfortable playing. Ferguson was UW’s second-leading receiver last season with 33 catches, 407 yards and two touchdowns, and he was the only tight end on the roster to catch a pass.
He’s a reliable option at the position, but the No. 2 spot is an intriguing one. Sampson made the switch from offensive lineman back to tight end, the position he was recruited at, due to UW’s injuries and he did well in his blocking role. But Clay Cundiff, Hayden Rucci and incoming freshmen Cam Large and Cole Dakovich are better receiving options.
If Sampson were to move back to offensive line, those players could slide in and play early. If Sampson stays at tight end, UW will have one of its deepest tight end rooms in years.
Key returners: Cole Van Lanen (redshirt sr.), Tyler Beach (redshirt jr.), Kayden Lyles (redshirt jr.), Logan Bruss (redshirt jr.), Josh Seltzner (redshirt jr.), Logan Brown (soph.)
Key departures: Tyler Biadasz (NFL), David Moorman (graduation), Jason Erdmann (graduation)
Recruits in the 2020 class: Jack Nelson (four-star), Trey Wedig (four-star), Dylan Barrett (three-star), Ben Barten (three-star), Tanor Bortollini (three-star)
Projected starters (left to right): Van Lanen, Lyles, unknown, Beach/Bruss, Beach/Bruss
The offensive line will be somewhat of a question mark for the second season in a row, but the Badgers have more experienced options for a number of positions than they did heading into 2019.
Cole Van Lanen returning at left tackle will help anchor the line, with Kayden Lyles, Tyler Beach and Logan Bruss (above) all having a good amount of snaps under their belts to fill roles. Center is the biggest vacancy after Tyler Biadasz left a year early for the NFL.
Some center options include Cormac Sampson, who was working at center during training camp before the need at tight end became too great, and Josh Seltzner. Seltzner played guard the first half of the season but could make the transition.
A talented class is coming in to help restock the shelves, and if five-star 2019 recruit Logan Brown can get healthy after battling injuries throughout the year, the Badgers will have a bright future up front.