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AP Top 25 Takeaways: Should Georgia still be No. 1? Leaving Prime behind; Hard to take USC seriously

Time to talk about who should be No. 1.

Georgia has held the top spot in 15 straight AP Top 25s, dating to the middle of last season when the Bulldogs won a second straight national title.

Georgia (5-0) extended its school-record winning streak to 22 games at Auburn on Saturday, but yet again the Bulldogs didn’t look much like the clear best team in the country.

For the second time in two Southeastern Conference games, Georgia trailed at halftime. This time against an Auburn team that simply does not have a functional passing game. Credit coach Hugh Freeze for working the quarterback run to keep the Bulldogs off balance, but again it took coach Kirby Smart’s team a while to find its offense.

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“I just think there’s a lot more parity in college football. I don’t think there’s a great separation between anybody,” Smart said. “The pro scouts that come to our place — I always trust their opinion — and they’re like, ’Well, we’ve been to this place, that place, that place. And everybody’s pretty similar. There’s not this great margin.’”

The solution, not surprisingly, turned out to be getting the ball in the hands of the one of the best players in the country.

If a tight end can make a run at a Heisman Trophy, it is Brock Bowers. The third-year star finished with eight catches for 157 yards and the winning touchdown.

Georgia has been an overwhelming No. 1 since the preseason and the Bulldogs received 55 first-place votes last week. The other eight were sprinkled between five other teams.

The door is open for another team to jump up and take to the top spot, but there is no obvious team to replace Georgia on Sunday when the poll is released.

No. 2 Michigan hammered Nebraska, and have yet to be tested but the best opponent the Wolverines have faced is Rutgers (4-1).

No. 3 Texas? Maybe. The Longhorns beat Alabama and other than a sluggish start against Wyoming the next week, have been rolling ever since. Kansas hung around on the scoreboard for a little while, but it really wasn’t close Saturday in Austin. Texas outgained the Jayhawks 661-260 and set up a battle of unbeatens next week against No. 14 in the final Big 12 edition of the Red River Rivalry.

The Longhorns and Sooners will meet with both undefeated for the first time since 2011.

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No. 4 Ohio State won’t jump to No. 1 during an off week.

No. 5 Florida State was also off Saturday and that impressive victory against LSU to start the season doesn’t look quite as good after the Tigers’ allowed 711 yards in a loss to No. 20 Mississippi.

LSU, which started the season ranked fifth, has two losses before the calendar flipped to October.

No. 6 Penn State slogged around against Northwestern. Drew Allar and the Nittany Lions need to find some explosive plays before going to Ohio State in three weeks.

No. 7 Washington, which got a first-place vote last week, was at Arizona in Pac-12 after dark.

Right now the difference between No. 1 Georgia and No. 11 Notre Dame, which got a clutch 95-yard touchdown drive from Sam Hartman to beat No. 17 Duke, seems relatively small.

The Bulldogs are probably safe for now and they’ll have a chance next week against unbeaten Kentucky to re-assert themselves.

But a month into the season, this Georgia doesn’t look nearly as dominant as the last two, which could make for a far more interesting last two months.

PAST TIME

The Colorado-centric portion of the college football season has now concluded.

For the second straight week, Deion Sanders’ team could not handle one of the Pac-12’s big boys, though the Buffaloes acquitted themselves far better against No. 8 Southern California.

Caleb Williams and the Trojans practically picked up where Oregon left off last week, going up 34-7 in the second quarter. Notably, though, Shedeur Sanders and the Buffs turned a blowout into a one-score game in the fourth quarter.

“It was a pleasure for me to play against them and their head coach. I mean that was fun for me, it really was,” Deion Sanders told reporters. “Probably didn’t look like it but that was fun.”

There will be no more pregame shows flocking to Boulder and the embrace-debate talking heads on cable will have far fewer segments dedicated to Coach Prime and his team over the next few weeks.

The Buffaloes are 3-2 after five games, which is still pretty good for a team oddsmakers pegged to win three or four before the season.

In many ways, Colorado has been about what it was expected to be, with the exception of that huge upset against TCU.

Sanders’ program will now recede into the background. The Buffs have a couple more manageable opponents the next two weeks in Stanford and Arizona State. That puts 5-2 in reach.

Getting to a bowl game would be a big deal for the Buffs a year after finishing 1-11. There is also no guarantee in a tough Pac-12 the Buffs will get six wins.

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As for USC, this was the second straight week the Trojans played with their food on the road after letting Arizona State hang around. Compare and contrast what Oregon — which smothered Stanford on Saturday — did to Colorado with how USC failed to put the Buffs away.

Colorado had 564 yards, the most in 18 games under coach Lincoln Riley, who insists things have gotten better on that side of the ball.

“When something doesn’t go our way, it doesn’t look like last year,” Riley told reporters. “Not to the trained eye.”

As great as Williams is, it’s hard to take the Trojans seriously as a playoff contender with their sloppy defense and lack of attention to detail.

AROUND THE COUNTRY: Making Duke’s night even worse, quarterback Riley Leonard injured his ankle on the Blue Devils’ final play from scrimmage. Leonard left the field on crutches after being treated in the injury tent, and Hartman waited after the game for him to emerge from the tent to wish his counterpart well. … Kentucky should be ranked on Sunday. Ray Davis and the Wildcats made a statement by pounding No. 22 Florida, which probably shouldn’t have been ranked. Davis went off for 280 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Kentucky has a three-game winning streak against Florida for the first time since 1951 when Bear Bryant was the Wildcats’ coach. … Texas A&M, you have our attention. The Aggies handled Arkansas with relative ease and now head into a home game with No. 12 Alabama on a three-game winning streak. A&M is one of the few teams in college football with a solid and experienced backup QB in Max Johnson, who isn’t that much of a fall off from injured Conner Weigman. The SEC West is very much up for grabs, and the Aggies host No. 12 Alabama next week. … The four new Big 12 teams are 1-7 in conference play after UCF blew a huge lead at home against Baylor and Houston was blown out by Texas Tech. The only victory came Friday night when BYU beat fellow newby Cincinnati. … One of the best teams outside the Power Five is not even eligible to play in a bowl. James Madison (5-0) stayed unbeaten against South Alabama, but the Dukes are still transitioning to FBS and are not eligible for the Sun Belt championship.

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AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Auburn, Alabama, contributed to this report.

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

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll