There's a new number one in town as Mississippi State rides an impressive win over Auburn to the top spot in the poll. Clemson returns to the AP rankings for the first time since losing at Florida State, but can they continue to win without the services of Deshaun Watson? Everybody knows about the SEC, but the Big 12 quietly has just as many top-15 teams (albeit with four of the five ranked in the teens). Crazy fluctuations are quickly becoming the norm in these rankings.
1. Mississippi State (Last Week: 3)
Hard to argue here. I don't necessarily think the Bulldogs are the best team in the country, but they have earned this distinction with the caliber of wins they have piled up. Dak Prescott is the no-doubt Heisman frontrunner at this juncture.
2. Florida State (Last Week: 1)
The reign at No. 1 is over for the Seminoles despite remaining undefeated. Let's be honest though, they don't have a single win that can be objectively viewed as impressive. I personally don't see them making it through the season undefeated, so whether they are ranked 1 or 2 is irrelevant at this point.
3. Ole Miss (Last Week: 3)
The Rebels went to College Station and put it on Texas A&M, and it's starting to look like these Mississippi teams may be for real. There is still attrition to go down in the SEC West. Can these teams somehow keep winning and set up the Egg Bowl of the century at season's end? Is Robert Nkemdiche too stoned to care?
4. Baylor (Last Week: 5)
Baylor was dead in the water in the fourth quarter at home against TCU, but somehow the Bears stole a huge win to save their season. We know the offense is dynamic, but you have to wonder if that defense is playoff-worthy.
5. Notre Dame (Last Week: 6)
Has there ever been a less impressive top-5 team? The Irish trailed the dumpster fire that is North Carolina at home after three quarters, and it appears a defense that was supposed to be great was just capitalizing against terrible offenses. Top-5 showdowns should always elicit excitement, but this game between Notre Dame and Florida State this week just feels blah.
6. Auburn (Last Week: 2)
Blowing out LSU turned out to mean a whole lot of nothing as Mississippi State jumped Auburn in Starkville to hand the Tigers their first loss. Turning the ball over early on the road will get you every time. This could still be a playoff team, but as we've discussed, the schedule is daunting.
7. Alabama (Last Week: 7)
Alabama has quickly gone from looking great to unimpressive and nearly lost to Arkansas this week. Side note: Arkansas is going to knock somebody off in the SEC this season, I just don't know who. The good news for the Tide is that four of their last six are at home, and the two road games are very winnable.
8. Michigan State (Last Week: 8)
I've still got Michigan State making the playoff, but good lord they have to stop screwing around with the inferior teams of the Big Ten. The Spartans let Pur-freaking-due get within a touchdown in the final quarter after trying to give the game away against Nebraska a week earlier. Do better, Sparty.
9. Oregon (Last Week: 12)
Oregon handled UCLA as we expected, because UCLA sucks. UCLA is also unranked now, which is hilarious. We talked about how overrated they were from the beginning of the season. Oregon is actually still in pretty good shape to make the playoff because its schedule is very manageable.
10. Georgia (Last Week: 13)
Well, well, well. Look who quietly put together one of the weekend's more dominant wins. And without Mr. Gurley, at that. Although it's nice to have Nick Chubb to hand the ball to 38 times. The Bulldogs control their own destiny in the SEC East.
11. Oklahoma (Last Week: 11)
I don't disagree with this positioning for Oklahoma, but I'm not sure how you justify ranking the Sooners ahead of TCU, which beat them just a week ago.
12. TCU (Last Week: 9)
The Horned Frogs are left wondering what might have been after watching a 21-point fourth-quarter lead unravel into a heartbreaking loss at Baylor. I think they at least confirmed their status as a legitimate top-15 team, however.
13. Ohio State (Last Week: 15)
I'm still trying to figure out what exactly Ohio State has done to earn this ranking, other than beat up on terrible teams and lose at home to Virginia Tech. The Buckeyes won't drop until they lose at Michigan State though.
14. Kansas State (Last Week: 17)
The Wildcats get a great chance to prove they are the real deal when they travel to Oklahoma this weekend, and I definitely think they have a shot against the Sooners.
15. Oklahoma State (Last Week: 16)
The Cowboys didn't do much this week to earn this ranking as they almost lost to godforsaken Kansas. Their brutal schedule will almost certainly do them in if they can't even take care of the Jayhawks easily.
16. Arizona (Last Week: 10)
We told you last week that Arizona was a fraud in the top 10, and it didn't take long for that to be validated. Too bad you don't get points in football for acting, because the Wildcats' kicker might have actually won them the game against USC.
17. Arizona State (Last Week: 20)
It's hard to look past the beatdown that now-unranked UCLA put on the Sun Devils in Tempe. This team is overrated to me.
18. East Carolina (Last Week: 19)
I loved ECU a couple weeks ago, but the Pirates are not playing like a top-20 team right now, as evidenced by them needing a comeback in the fourth quarter to beat South Florida, which is an awful, awful team.
19. Nebraska (Last Week: 21)
I'm looking down the line trying to find some opportunities for Nebraska to lose, and I'm struggling. The Huskers may be around for longer than I am comfortable with.
20. Utah (Last Week: 24)
All this team has is a win over a UCLA team that has been exposed. Utah should not be ranked. Again, they lost to Washington State at home. I can't stress this enough.
21. Texas A&M (Last Week: 14)
Similarly, all Texas A&M really has is a win over South Carolina that carries absolutely no weight now. The have no business being ranked, but they are because SEC.
22. USC (Last Week: NR)
I would love to give the Trojans credit for beating Arizona, but I just really don't see it as that great of a win.
23. Stanford (Last Week: 25)
I actually have less of a problem with Stanford than the three two-loss teams directly ahead of them, but there's not really a leg to stand on there because they lost to USC at home.
24. Clemson (Last Week: NR)
The Tigers are back, and I absolutely believe they are a top-25 team with Watson at the helm. The problem is they don't have him at the helm at the moment. If they get a win at Boston College this weekend, they can earn this ranking, with or without their star quarterback.
25. Marshall (Last Week: NR)
The best bet to go undefeated in all of college football finally debuts in the rankings. The Herd has rolled up every opponent thus far, and they could easily creep up to the periphery of the top 10 by season's end.