Clemson moves up to No. 21 in this week's AP poll after squeaking out a win at Boston College. The SEC West has four teams in the top 5, and unfortunately we might have to get used to that. Teams 4 through 16 all have one loss, and that will be an interesting story line to watch in the coming weeks as these teams battle to earn a spot in the playoff.
1. Mississippi State (Last Week: 1)
The Bulldogs have an excellent chance to hold onto this spot and head into a Nov. 15 showdown with Alabama undefeated.
2. Florida State (Last Week: 2)
We'll be hearing about that pass interference until the end of time, but it seems like it was the right call, and the Seminoles remain undefeated as a result. They have a week off before they travel to Louisville for a critical ACC Atlantic matchup on Thursday night.
3. Ole Miss (Last Week: 3)
The Rebels took care of Tennessee as expected, and now they head to LSU, which suddenly looks like a tougher challenge than it once did.
4. Alabama (Last Week: 7)
The Tide demolished Texas A&M, whose season is beginning to spiral out of control. This means Alabama would beat South Carolina by 83 points if they played, correct?
5. Auburn (Last Week: 6)
Speaking of the Gamecocks, they get to serve as Auburn's sacrificial lamb of the week when they travel to Jordan Hare this weekend.
6. Oregon (Last Week: 9)
The Ducks broke out some spiffy throwbacks and drug Washington up and down the field. I think they have a great chance to make the playoff, as normal thorn-in-the-side Stanford is struggling and they miss USC and Arizona State on the regular-season schedule. They may face one of those teams in the Pac 12 championship, however.
7. Notre Dame (Last Week: 5)
Notre Dame drops just two spots in the rankings after a heartbreaking loss to Florida State and is still overvalued to me. I shudder to think where they would be ranked had they actually won. The Irish put themselves in position to win, but an offensive pass interference call sealed their fate in the waning moments. Lou Holtz, your thoughts?
8. Michigan State (Last Week: 8)
There we go, Sparty. Michigan State finally posted a dominant win over a conference foe in its shellacking of Indiana. I can't wait to see what the Spartans do to Michigan this week.
9. Georgia (Last Week: 10)
The Bulldogs notched another impressive road win and simply need to win out to make the SEC Championship. I don't think there is any question Georgia is the best team in the East, but the weakness of Missouri's remaining schedule is cause for concern, as the Bulldogs still have to face Auburn.
10. TCU (Last Week: 11)
TCU drilled top-15 Oklahoma State, whose schedule we knew would knock them from the top 25 sooner rather than later. It was a nice recovery after choking away a win at Baylor, and I would venture to say the Frogs are actually a bit underrated right now.
11. Kansas State (Last Week: 14)
A big win at Oklahoma puts the Wildcats squarely in the playoff discussion, and they will have a chance to earn a spot with three road games against ranked teams remaining on the schedule.
12. Baylor (Last Week: 4)
Similarly, the Bears can play their way back in, but a loss to West Virginia was not ideal. Baylor has just one road game left on the schedule, but that one comes at Oklahoma. The offense will have to get back to scoring 40+ points per game, though, because we have seen what happens when this team has to rely on its defense.
13. Ohio State (Last Week: 13)
I still haven't forgotten the Virginia Tech incident, but it's starting to look like that may have been a fluke rather than an indication of the Buckeyes' true ability. They have won their four games since by an average of 38 points, and it's harder to argue with this type of ranking now.
14. Arizona State (Last Week: 17)
The Sun Devils are the latest team to take advantage of Stanford's abysmal offense and actually have a decent resume now, the what-on-earth performance against UCLA notwithstanding. If you want to check this team out, you're welcome to stay up for the 10:45 p.m. Eastern kick this weekend against Washington.
15. Arizona (Last Week: 16)
It's a shame this team stumbled into a win against Oregon. They really don't belong in the top 15, but voters obviously feel compelled to rank them as such. Somebody will trip them up along the way.
16. Nebraska (Last Week: 19)
Nebraska continues to exploit a weak Big Ten schedule, and the first possible loss I see for the Huskers is Nov. 15 at Wisconsin (maybe?).
17. Oklahoma (Last Week: 11)
We told you from the get-go that Oklahoma was not a playoff team, and that was validated even sooner than I expected. A home loss to K-State has ended the Sooners' fleeting national championship hopes.
18. East Carolina (Last Week: 18)
If you're in the mood for a Thursday night blowout, be sure to tune in to the Pirates game against lowly Connecticut this week.
19. Utah (Last Week: 20)
The Utes snuck by Oregon State in double overtime this past Thursday, and I don't expect them to remain here long with the brutal schedule they have coming up.
20. USC (Last Week: 22)
USC handled Colorado this weekend, but not many people actually witnessed it (on homecoming weekend, no less).
21. Clemson (Last Week: 24)
It wasn't pretty, but the Tigers picked up their first road win of the season. The defense continues to play at an elite level, but the offense looks shaky as injuries are starting to pile up. After they face Syracuse this Saturday, the Tigers get a bye week to heal up some before heading to Wake Forest on a Thursday night. Despite a weak remaining schedule, Clemson has the potential to keep moving up as long as the wins continue.
22. West Virginia (Last Week: NR)
The Mountaineers deserve a spot in the poll (actually higher, in my opinion) after beating Baylor by two touchdowns. As we all know, they celebrate wins a little differently in Morgantown.
23. Marshall (Last Week: 25)
Still no loss in sight for the Thundering Herd, who trail only Baylor in the points-per-game category nationally. It seems like a spot in a "New Year's Six" bowl will come down to undefeated Marshall and one-loss ECU. Who gets rewarded, the undefeated team or the team with the tougher schedule?
24. LSU (Last Week: NR)
LSU looks relatively formidable again, and the Tigers should have quite the atmosphere waiting for Ole Miss on Saturday night. This could be where the Bo Wallace implosion happens, but that defense may still be good enough to overcome it.
25. UCLA (Last Week: NR)
The Bruins sneak back into the poll after a super awesome win over Cal. I'm fine with them in this range, but if they creep much higher, I'll have to start bashing again.