1. Alabama (8-0; 5-0 SEC)
Alabama predictably rolled over Tennessee and pushed Butch Jones out of his misery. The Tide won’t be remotely challenged until they travel to Auburn in late November, but the way Alabama’s resume is stacking up, the Tide cannot afford a loss. Alabama is clearly the best team in the country, but their resume and schedule does not quite stack up.
2. Georgia (7-0; 4-0 SEC)
Georgia had a bye this week, but no reason to drop the Bulldogs.
3. TCU (7-0; 4-0 Big XII)
The Horned Frogs dominated Kansas at home in what was one of the most embarrassing box scores you’ll ever see. TCU outgained the Jayhawks 475-21.
4. Miami (6-0; 4-0 ACC)
Miami beat Syracuse is an ugly fashion, but the Hurricanes continue to find ways to win. Mark Richt said it best after the game when he said that the ‘Canes are great when the game is on the line and not do great when it isn’t. After this week’s bye, Miami hosts Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks – we’ll know more about the Hurricanes after those tilts.
5. Penn State (7-0; 4-0 BIG TEN)
Great Penn State beat a decimated Michigan team that needed overtime to beat Indiana a week ago. Get back to be next week.
6. Oklahoma (6-1; 3-1 BIG XII)
Oklahoma escaped The Little Apple with a 45-38 win at Kansas State Saturday. The Sooner defense is a point of concern moving forward as OU faces some high-powered offenses, but Baker Mayfield continues to impress and can win a shootout with anybody.
7. Clemson (7-1; 4-0 ACC)
The Tigers had a bye this week and have a tough slate in front of them. Clemson faces the always dangerous triple option this week before traveling to a dangerous N.C. State team the week after.
8. Notre Dame (6-1)
The Irish put forth the most dominant performance of the week. Notre Dame manhandled USC for four quarters en route to a 49-14 victory and officially kicked off the Josh Adams Heisman campaign as the junior rushed for 191 yards on 19 carries and tallied three touchdowns. Saturday’s game was the first contest of a brutal closing stretch for the Irish. Next up for ND – another top-15 clash as N.C. State comes to South Bend.
9. Oklahoma State (6-1; 3-1 BIG XII)
Oklahoma State did something rarely seen in the Big XII – they won with their defense. The Cowboys survived a scare from Texas with a 13-10 overtime win.
10. Wisconsin (7-0; 4-0 BIG TEN)
Another week, another cupcake opponent for the Badgers. Wisconsin took care of business vs. Maryland at home Saturday and will have to wait until at least mid-November until they face a team that can give them a scare. Wisconsin finishes with Iowa, Michigan, and at Minnesota before they presumably play in the Big Ten Championship Game. That’s hardly murder’s row, but a far greater test than they have faced thus far.
11. Ohio State (6-1; 4-0 BIG TEN)
The Buckeyes were off this week, so the same holds true. Ohio State is in the midst of their annual fall ritual – lose to a big name team early, disappear for a few weeks and play cupcakes, and then reemerge as the media shamelessly sings your praises conveniently forgetting how bad OSU looked in their one legitimate game. Ohio State’s wins since the Oklahoma game are Army, UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska. You know why J.T. Barrett looks better? Because their toughest opponent since the OU game was Army.
12. Washington (6-1; 3-1 PAC 12)
The Huskies were another team who had an off week. With USC losing, Washington is the PAC 12’s lone hope for a representative in the playoff.
13. N.C. State (6-1; 4-0 BIG TEN)
The Wolfpack were off this week before a brutal two-game gauntlet. N.C. State travels to Notre Dame before hosting Clemson in two weeks. If the Wolfpack manage to win both of those games, they will be in the driver’s seat for an ACC Championship and playoff appearance.
14. Washington State (7-1; 4-1 PAC 12)
Washington State bounced back from their “pathetic” loss to Cal last week with a 28-0 home win vs. Colorado. The Cougs have a tough closing stretch – they travel to Tucson to take on the suddenly hot Arizona Wildcats and Khalil Tate before hosting Stanford the next week. Wazzu will travel to Seattle for the Apple Cup in the last week of the season in a game that could decide the PAC 12 North.
15. Virginia Tech (6-1; 2-1 ACC)
The Hokies demolished North Carolina 59-7 at home. The Tar Heels may be the worst power five team in the country.
16. UCF (6-0; 4-0 AAC)
UCF traveled to Navy and escaped Annapolis with a 31-21 win. The Golden Knights were able to solve the Middies’ triple option attack en route to their best win of the season.
17. Auburn (6-2; 4-1 SEC)
Auburn bounced back from their loss to LSU with a convincing road victory over Arkansas. Brett Bielema’s days in Fayetteville are numbered and this loss pushed him closer to the door. The Tigers’ offense is streaky, but when they are firing on all cylinders, they can beat any team in the country.
18. Michigan State (6-1; 4-0 BIG TEN)
Michigan State avoided a disastrous home loss as the Spartans used a fourth quarter rally to get by Indiana 17-9. The Spartans win over Michigan looks less and less impressive and the only good team they have faced thus far was ND who destroyed MSU at home. The Spartans could be headed back to reality with matchups with Ohio State and Penn State looming.
19. South Florida (7-0; 4-0 AAC)
The Bulls had their closest game of the season as they beat Tulane 34-28 in New Orleans Saturday. They game was never in doubt, but the Bulls showed their defense is vulnerable. With the win, USF will be a considerable favorite in every game until the matchup with UCF on Thanksgiving weekend.
20. Stanford (5-2; 4-1 PAC 12)
The Cardinal bye week came at a perfect time as Bryce Love suffered an ankle injury last Saturday. With Washington State, Washington, Notre Dame, and presumptively USC in the PAC 12 title game, Stanford has the potential to be the first two-loss team to the make the playoff if the breaks fall their way.
21. Memphis (6-1; 3-1 AAC)
Memphis won a thriller Thursday night on the road vs. Houston. The Tigers are the third best team in the AAC, but that conference continues to impress.
22. LSU (6-2; 3-1 SEC)
LSU throughly beat Ole Miss 40-24 in Oxford. The Tigers are starting to show life on the offensive side and it seems like ages ago when people were asking for Coach O’s head.
23. Iowa State (5-2; 3-1 BIG XII)
Does the Big XII go through Ames? Well with TCU and Oklahoma State coming to town in the coming weeks, that answer is yes. The Cyclones beat a good Texas Tech team Saturday and can really make a statement if they are able to knock off TCU at home this week.
24. Texas A&M (5-2; 3-1 SEC)
The Aggies had a bye this week, but they are one of the most under-valued teams in the country. Everyone remembers their fluke loss to UCLA – a team they were clearly better than – and their only other loss was an eight-point defeat to Alabama.
25. Georgia Tech (4-2; 3-1 ACC)
The Yellow Jackets are a few plays from being undefeated. GT failed on a two-point conversion against Tennessee on the Labor Day night and Miami completed a lucky catch on fourth down last week en route to the game-winning field goal to nip the Yellow Jackets by one. TaQuon Marshall may be the best triple option QB Paul Johnson has had in Atlanta and expect the triple option to give Clemson headaches when they travel to Death Valley this week.
Just Missed: South Carolina, USC, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Fresno State