(First Five Out)
- USF (Bye)
- Virginia Tech (L at Georgia Tech 28-22)
- South Carolina (W vs Florida 28-20)
- Arizona (W vs Oregon State 49-28)
- Iowa State (L vs #15 Oklahoma State 49-42)
An amazing slate of games this past weekend will surely result in a shakeup of this week’s rankings. For starters, Alabama will assume their rightful place as the number one ranked team in the country, after eking out a win in Starkville. Miami should leapfrog Clemson and Oklahoma on their way to the number 2 spot, after pummeling #3 Notre Dame to maintain their undefeated record. 3 and 4 should be some variation of Oklahoma and Clemson, but I am giving Oklahoma the edge after a dominant victory over #6 TCU. With their win against Florida state, Clemson’s place in the top 4 should be solid even if Oklahoma jumps them.
Coming in at number 5 is the last power 5 undefeated team, Wisconsin. At this point in the season the committee has to reward the Badger’s undefeated record with a spot in the top 6, after they soundly beat #20 Iowa this past weekend. The Hawkeyes are no slouch as evidenced by their battering of Ohio State last week. But they really do seem to be a different team at home. The fact of the matter is that Wisconsin’s best win this season is over an Iowa team that will be unranked after this week. Sure the Badgers are 10-0 and thus have an argument to make the top 4, but they simply do not have the quality wins all teams in front of them (and behind them) possess. They have the opportunity to prove themselves to the committee this weekend against Michigan. `
I have Kirby Smart’s Georgia team at number 6. The argument can be made that Georgia belongs anywhere from the 3-7 range, but a blowout loss to Auburn is a severe detriment to their playoff hopes. Going by what I have seen, I would take Georgia over Oklahoma, Clemson, and Wisconsin. However, with all three of the previously mentioned teams notching convincing victories, I cannot imagine the committee will agree with me. Georgia’s offense is predicated on their ability to run the ball. Something they were not able to do against a stout Auburn defense. Things weren’t much better on the other side of the ball as they were hit for 41 points by RB Kerryon Johnson and QB Jarret Stidham. Tiger fans may have an issue with the dawgs being ranked of Auburn after such a convincing victory, and rightfully so. Nevertheless, head to head competition is generally used as more of a tiebreaker only when evaluating teams with the same record. Thus Auburn’s extra loss will likely have them seated at number 7.
The number 8 spot will likely be occupied by Ohio State after their decimation of #12Michigan State. The Buckeyes seem to go as JT Barrett does, which has lead them to an up and down season. At times Urban Meyer’s team has looked like the powerhouse that Ohio State teams typically are. This past week was an example of the that as a #12 Michigan State team that just beat Penn State, didn’t even belong on the same field as the Buckeyes. Watching that game, it was mind-boggling to think that this was same Ohio State team that lost by 31 to Iowa a week prior. On any given Saturday this team seems to be just as capable of beating anyone in the country as they are of going out and completely laying an egg. If Urban Meyer can get this mercurial team together for a Big Ten Championship run, all hope of a CFP birth is not lost for the Buckeyes. But at this point things are still looking bleak in Columbus.
I promise I am not crying as I write his blog, but I expected far more out of the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame drops to number 9 in this week’s rankings after getting absolutely embarrassed in Miami. Miami’s defense is for real, and I will have nightmares about the turnover chain for weeks to come. The Hurricane’s defensive line was simply too fast and too strong for Josh Adams and the vaunted Notre Dame offensive offensive. The passing game struggled even more as Brandon Wimbush was picked off twice and eventually chased from the game by the Miami secondary. Without a conference championship game to pad their resume, Notre Dame has virtually no chance of making their way back into the playoff picture. Now I am crying.
Rounding out the top ten will likely be TCU, even after a loss to Oklahoma in which they were dominated offensively. Heisman favorite, Baker Mayfield cut up TCU’s defense for 333 passing yards, 3 TDS, and 50 more rushing yards. But it was Sooner’s running back Rodney Anderson who really hurt the Horned Frogs. Anderson ran for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns against a TCU defense that was praised as the best in the Big 12. Anderson also added 139 receiving yards and 2 more receiving TDS to cap off a career night for the sophomore. TCU can still hope for a rematch in the Big 12 championship, but any hopes of CFP spot are probably finished. Even the number 10 spot may not necessarily be TCU’s as Penn State, USC, and Oklahoma State, all have argument to be higher. But given that TCU has beaten Oklahoma State, and none of the aforementioned teams have a victory over a top 20 opponent, they should get the nod.
Number 11 will likely be USC, but frankly I do not understand why the committee is so high on them. The Trojans have no wins over a currently ranked team. Their best performance came early in the season against a Stanford team that should return to the rankings this week. However, it is hard for me to rationalize them sitting ahead of teams with marquee wins, including the Washington State Cougars who beat the Trojans head to head, and hold the same record. On paper, USC is a top 10 team, but they have done nothing to prove that thus far. That being said, the committee will only elevate them after their convincing win at Colorado.
A combination of Penn State, Oklahoma State, will surely follow USC, at numbers 12 and 13. Penn State cruised to victory over Rutgers, while Oklahoma State won a shootout at #21 Iowa State. The committee had Penn State ahead of the Cowboys last week, but a ranked win on the road should give Oklahoma State the edge over a Penn State team with no ranked victories. Albeit, the distinction is rather trivial with their similar resumes as Penn State holds a win over Iowa and Michigan, while Oklahoma boasts victories against West Virginia and Iowa State.
UCF will likely stay where they are at number 14 as this committee is still reluctant to give them credit for their weak schedule. A decisive win this past week against UConn is not the kind of win that vaults you up the rankings. But if UCF continues their winning ways, beats South Florida and wins their conference championship in the upcoming weeks, could they possibly be in play for a top 4 spot. I don’t think anybody believes UCF holds a candle next teams like Alabama and Clemson, so probably not. But UCF still may be a better team than the committee is giving them credit for.
The last place in the top 15 should go to Mike Leach’s men. Washington State won at Utah this weekend in a tightly contested game, and only move up because of losses in front of them. My 16th team is one of those teams that lost. I do not think the committee will ding the Bulldogs very much for nearly beating Alabama. If anything there is an argument to move up with this loss. At 17, I have Washington. I believed in this team as the best in the Pac 12 and they made me look stupid with a loss at Stanford. Bryce Love was too much to handle for the supposed best defense in the conference. The Huskies have no top 25 wins and a weak schedule. The only light at the end of tunnel for Washington is the hope that they can beat Washington State, sneak back in to the conference championship and defend their title as Pac 12 Champions.
In my estimation, the 18th spot will go to Memphis who was on bye this past weekend. They are 8-1 and have a high powered offense with quarterback, Riley Ferguson, and wide receiver, Anthony Miller. Despite their offense, I don’t believe they are in the same class as any of teams behind them after losing big against UCF.
Number 19, I gave to NC State because they were ahead in last week’s rankings and won at Boston College, but my heart is with Coach O and the Tigers. LSU’s roster is top to bottom one of the most talented in the country, outside of their quarterback, Danny Etling. With players like Arden Key (DE), Derrius Guice (RB), and DJ Chark (WR), I would take the Tigers against half of the teams in the top 20. Losses against Troy and Mississippi State have have hampered what could have been a great season for the Tigers. So number 20 is where they live. The Wolfpack, on the other hand, are not bad but have lost to pretty much every upper tier team they have faced (South Carolina, Notre Dame, Clemson). Their best win was against Louisville who has struggled this season with a 6-4 record. I am not nearly as high on NC State as the committee, but playing Clemson close seems to have translated to a high ranking for the Wolfpack.
Stanford should find their way back into the rankings at #21 with a win over #9 Washington, as Bryce Love ran all over the Huskies. Though he missed a game against Oregon State, Love is leading the nation in rushing yards. He hasn’t gotten as much Heisman buzz since he’s out west, in an offense that has seen a number of running backs put up big numbers in recent years. But when love gets going, the cardinals are a dangerous team.
Number 22 is Northwestern. They are frauds. That’s about all I have to say about them. Clayton Thorson is an NFL prospect at quarterback, and Justin Jackson is a quality running back, but do not fall for this team. They are painfully average by my calculations, and only make the rankings because an overtime win against Michigan State. A Michigan State who I have at number 23 after getting annihilated by Ohio State. Mark Dantinio’s team is a ranked team for sure with wins over Penn State and Michigan. But they are not in the same class as the top 13 teams.
The 24 spot is West Virginia’s after beating Kansas State on the road. Will Grier is an upper echelon quarterback leading a great offense with Justin Crawford (RB), David Sills (WR), and Gary Jennings (WR). Unfortunately, their defense has let up more than 30 points 6 times this season.
I believe this is finally the week that the committee lets Michigan in the top 25. At 8-2 it is impossible to deny that they should be included. They struggled mid-season with losses to Michigan State and Penn State. Many forget that those losses came with backup quarterback, John O’Korn, at the helm. Replacement quarterback, and former highly touted recruit, Brandon Peters has not looked particularly bad or good in relief of O’Korn. Nevertheless, Michigan has cruised to double digit victories in each of his first three games. With that defense and an 8-2 record as a Big Ten team it is unthinkable to me that the committee would leave Michigan out for a third straight week.
USF also has a shout for top 25 spot at 8-1. The Bulls were on bye this past week and have no wins against a quality opponent. Therefore, despite quarterback Quinton Flower’s brilliance, it makes sense for the bulls to be left out again this week. Another team on the outside looking in are the Hokies. Virginia Tech has lost 2 straight to Miami and Virginia Tech to drop to 7-3. They’ll likely creep back into the rankings in the coming weeks as Josh Jackson will lead to Hokies to wins against Pitt and Virginia to close the season. A team not getting as much respect as they deserve is South Carolina. A 7-3 team with a win over a currently ranked NC State team should be getting more of a look. But they too can prove themselves in a rivalry matchup against Clemson to close their season.
Number 29 in my rankings, Arizona has been a different team since Khalil Tate has taken over at quarterback. They have been 5-1 during his tenure with a win over ranked Washington State, and their only loss coming against USC. They are 7-3 and can finish strong with wins at Oregon and Arizona State. Lastly, at number 30 Iowa State holds wins over Oklahoma and TCU. Yet a fourth loss against Oklahoma State should drop them out of the top 25 for now. One could definitely make the argument they would beat some team who are ahead of them, but there simply is not enough room for a four loss team in the top 25.