Clemson drops a spot this week to No. 22, which is hard to argue with, all things considered. The defense is fantastic. The offense is the opposite. You would hope the Tigers can take care of Wake Forest next Thursday, but they will need Deshaun Watson back after that, as only he can make up for the shortcomings this offense has against better caliber opponents. The playoff committee comes out with its first poll this Tuesday, and the AP rankings will soon be rendered meaningless. I think beginning to analyze the CFB Playoff poll would be more relevant, but I will leave it to a vote at the end of the article.
1. Mississippi State (Last Week: 1)
Dak Prescott continues his Heisman frontrunnership (frontrunnerdom? frontrunnerhood?), and the Bulldogs have a titanic matchup with Alabama on the horizon, assuming they get by Arkansas and its fat guy touchdowns this week.
2. Florida State (Last Week: 2)
Upset pick of the week is Florida State going down at Louisville on Thursday night. At some point, the Seminoles' lack of a running game is going to catch up with them, and I think that happens against a Louisville defense that can capitalize when they put you in obvious passing situations.
3. Alabama (Last Week: 4)
It wasn't as pretty as the drubbing of Texas A&M (although that's a tough standard to live up to), but the Tide took care of Tennessee on the road. They get a week off before they head to Baton Rouge, where we have already seen one top-3 team fall.
4. Auburn (Last Week: 5)
You have to wonder about the Auburn defense after they allowed Dylan Thompson to dice them up for 400 yards and five touchdowns. The Tigers should probably get that figured out by the time they arrive at Ole Miss on Saturday, because they won't have 42 offensive points to lean on in that game.
5. Oregon (Last Week: 6)
Speaking of all-O-no-D teams, Oregon slapped 59 on the scoreboard at Cal this week but still gave up 41. Old nemesis Stanford comes to town this week; can they ruin ANOTHER Ducks season?
6. Notre Dame (Last Week: 7)
I hate to break it to everyone, but Notre Dame actually has a decent shot at winning out. If they do, there's no way the Irish aren't making the playoff. Who's ready for three SEC teams and Notre Dame? ... Guys?
7. Ole Miss (Last Week: 3)
Again, in the wonderful world of the SEC West, there is no punishment for losing, only affirmation that you will always remain part of the top 10 and in the thick of the playoff discussion. We said that Bad Bo might show up against LSU, but nobody could have imagined just how badly he would blow the game. Hide your milk cartons!
8. Michigan State (Last Week: 8)
The Spartans just keeps rolling along, but it may take a win over Ohio State for them to get any respect. It will be interesting to see how the committee views a one-loss Big Ten team. My guess? The Spartans would squeak into the Final Four.
9. Georgia (Last Week: 9)
If Georgia could pull out a win in the SEC Championship, I think the Bulldogs would make the playoff even with two losses (provided the second loss is against Auburn). I'll continue to say it until Missouri loses though, they may need to beat Auburn to get there.
10. TCU (Last Week: 10)
What do the Frogs have to do to get a little respect? They drop 82 points on Texas Tech (I know, it's just Texas Tech, but still) and don't move a muscle in the polls. Wins over West Virginia and Kansas State the next two weeks would have to push them toward the top 5, but that may be easier said then done.
11. Kansas State (Last Week: 11)
We may not learn much about Kansas State this week against Oklahoma State, but their road gauntlet begins next week against TCU, which looks like a tougher game with each passing week.
12. Baylor (Last Week: 12)
The top of the Big 12 race is essentially this three-team cluster of one-loss squads, and separation should begin to occur as the season winds down. Or perhaps it will just become more confusing. It's college football, so probably the latter.
13. Ohio State (Last Week: 13)
A double-OT win against Penn State should mean a drop in the polls. If other teams are being punished for less-than-impressive wins, the same should hold true even for name-brand schools like Ohio State. It won't be until Michigan State sets them straight that they actually take a hit in the polls, but will voters even drop them that much?
14. Arizona (Last Week: 15)
You'll have trouble selling me that a win at Washington State is better than a win at Washington, but apparently it is as Arizona and Arizona State flip-flopped in the rankings. You can earn this spot (somewhat) with a road win against UCLA on Saturday night.
15. Arizona State (Last Week: 14)
The Pac 12 South is a mess right now (Quick, name the six teams in the Pac 12 South), but Arizona State can take a step in the right direction by beating Utah this weekend.
16. LSU (Last Week: 24)
This is a pretty hefty reward for an ugly win over Ole Miss, which I think everyone can agree was not the third best team in the country. Poll Problems hasn't forgotten the 41-7 loss to Auburn or the buzzer-beating win against Florida. Sorry.
17. Nebraska (Last Week: 16)
It's becoming more and more possible that Nebraska could finish 11-1, which is a bit unsettling. Maybe I'm just paying too much attention to the 7-point win over McNeese State earlier this season.
18. Utah (Last Week: 19)
The Utes continue to live on the edge, but a win over Southern Cal is a decent addition to the resume. I would at least rank them ahead of Nebraska.
19. Oklahoma (Last Week: 17)
It's funny how the preseason favorite is now all but an afterthought in the conference race.
20. West Virginia (Last Week: 22)
The Mountaineers have a BIG opportunity this weekend with TCU paying them a visit, and a win would put them right in the thick of the Big 12 race. That said, I think the Horned Frogs get out of Morgantown with a win.
21. East Carolina (Last Week: 18)
Nice of voters to finally put ECU on notice that it will pay for unconvincing wins over terrible teams. The Pirates certainly aren't playing like a top-25 team right now.
22. Clemson (Last Week: 21)
Ugh. It wouldn't have surprised me if Clemson dropped more than just one spot this week, just based on its anemic offense. The defense is playoff caliber though, so I guess a spot in the 20s is a happy medium.
23. Marshall (Last Week: 23)
Marshall's potential to move up in the poll is based solely on how many teams ahead of it lose. The Thundering Herd will continue win, but none of those victories will warrant anything more than a de facto rise in the rankings.
24. Duke (Last Week: NR)
Why not? The Blue Devils are the only team with less than two conference losses in the ACC Coastal, and with just one loss, they are as good of a candidate for the top 25 as anybody lurking just outside.
25. UCLA (Last Week: 25)
If you need overtime to beat Colorado, you drop out if I'm in charge of the poll. Oh, but we only wish I were.