AP Top 25 ballot breakdown: Jeff Hafley, Boston College surging; Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State shuffle at top

Rutgers’ main recruiting adversary in the 10 months since Greg Schiano’s return has been Michigan State, but an old foe led by a familiar face may be positioning itself to claim the mantle.

Boston College is 3-1 now in its first season under Jeff Hafley, a Montvale native and former Scarlet Knights assistant who was briefly a Rutgers backup plan last fall, after Saturday’s stirring 31-30 overtime win at Pitt.

The Eagles have been a little lucky, winning on a missed extra point by the Panthers this weekend and getting a last-second field goal to escape lowly Texas State a few weeks back. But they’ve also proven their mettle with a 26-22 loss to a top-10 North Carolina team that has won its other league games by two or more scores.

Boston College may not be a serious contender to reach the ACC Championship Game, but it will likely have a big say in who does make it with games against Clemson, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech still to come. Hafley, who has increased the Eagles’ national profile, is also getting it done on the recruiting trail as well.

Boston College has quietly moved to No. 36 in 247 Sports’ composite 2021 class rankings, one spot behind Penn State and three ahead of Rutgers. The Eagles flipped four-star Baltimore cornerback Clinton Burton from Florida and have three South Jersey commits – Winslow’s Jalen Cheek, Lenape’s Xavier Coleman and Williamstown’s Donovan Ezeiruaku.

There have not been many (any?) head-to-head matchups between Hafley and Schiano yet, but it feels like a matter of time. The 2022 matchup in Chestnut Hill can’t get here fast enough.

Shuffle at the top: I moved Clemson to No. 1 after it hammered Miami and Georgia to No. 2 after it rolled over Tennessee, dropping Ohio State to No. 3 and Alabama to No. 4. I still think Ohio State is the nation’s best team on paper, but the Tigers and Bulldogs deserve to be Nos. 1 and 2 given what they have accomplished on the field so far. The Alabama-Georgia winner could move ahead of Clemson for No. 1 next week.


  1. Clemson (4-0)
  2. Georgia (3-0)
  3. Ohio State (0-0)
  4. Alabama (3-0)
  5. Notre Dame (3-0)
  6. Cincinnati (3-0)
  7. North Carolina (3-0)
  8. Oregon (0-0)
  9. Penn State (0-0)
  10. Miami (3-1)
  11. Texas A&M (2-1)
  12. Florida (2-1)
  13. Oklahoma State (3-0)
  14. Wisconsin (0-0)
  15. BYU (4-0)
  16. Auburn (2-1)
  17. Tennessee (2-1)
  18. Louisiana (3-0)
  19. SMU (4-0)
  20. Iowa State (3-1)
  21. Kansas State (3-1)
  22. Minnesota (0-0)
  23. Michigan (0-0)
  24. Boston College (3-1)
  25. Virginia Tech (2-1)

In: Boston College, Kansas State, Texas A&M.

Out: Coastal Carolina, LSU, Mississippi State.

Also considered: Coastal Carolina, Marshall, N.C. State, Oklahoma.

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