There was carnage throughout the top 10, as Nos. 3, 6, 7, and 8 all lost. Clemson jumped from 12 to 6 and is starting to get some national attention, but it can ill afford to overlook the always pesky Georgia Tech this week. We believe the Big 12's top two is better than the Big Ten's, and while there is no SEC team in the top 6, we tell you why the Pac 12 might be the conference that should be worried about being left out of the playoff.
1. Ohio State (Last Week: 1)
The clear-cut No. 1 team entering 2015 continues to squeak by inferior competition. This week it had to bat down a pass in the end zone to secure a victory against an Indiana team that lost its starting quarterback and running back. We have said our piece on this; You can't justify this ranking with anything other than perceived talent and past accomplishments - which, by the way, don't mean a thing.
2. TCU (Last Week: 4)
Texas may be a complete train wreck at this point, but the thrashing it took from TCU this weekend showed us the Frogs' team that we expected this season. If that defense plays well, this team is as good as any. Trevone Boykin is putting up stupid numbers right now.
3. Baylor (Last Week: 5)
They may not be able to stop anybody, but that Baylor offense is downright scary. The Bears should have smooth sailing until Oklahoma comes to town in November, and even then, TCU may be the only team that has a real chance to beat them. They play Kansas this week. Is 100 points out of the question?
4. Michigan State (Last Week: 2)
Sparty is finally punished (although not enough) for failing to put away bad teams. We're talking about a three-point home win over a miserable Purdue team. That win over Oregon seems like eons ago and is also not the caliber of win we thought it might be at the time. Michigan State is living on borrowed time right now, and I think they will suffer at least one loss before the matchup with Ohio State rolls around.
5. Utah (Last Week: 10)
Talk about a great bye week. The Utes took advantage of the carnage in the top 10 to jump five spots and into the early-season playoff discussion. I would be a bit worried, however, if I were a proponent of the Pac 12, as the conference is looking at Utah as its sole playoff contender at the moment. Sure a one-loss Stanford, Southern Cal, or UCLA could get back into the mix, but the parity out west makes that seem like anything but a certainty. So what you have is a Utah team that was probably considered the seventh best Pac 12 team entering the season as the conference's best chance at a playoff participant. That would make me anything but warm and fuzzy inside.
6. Clemson (Last Week: 12)
The fourth quarter was about as ugly as the weather from a Clemson perspective, but the Tigers got the statement win they needed to jump from the periphery of playoff consideration into the thick of things. You can excuse away some of the fizzling offense to the rainy conditions, but those struggles, along with defensive depth concerns, are keeping Clemson from looking like a true playoff team. But winning is the name of the game, and the Tigers have done that so far.
7. LSU (Last Week: 9)
It's becoming more and more apparent that LSU is a one-trick pony. That trick (Leonard Fournette) is about as good as you will find, but can this team really keep rolling merrily along averaging less than 100 passing yards per game? We probably won't find out this week as the Tigers face a less-than-threatening South Carolina defense.
8. Alabama (Last Week: 13)
We told you Bama was far from done, but boy were they emphatic about letting us know. The Tide heard the whispers about the dynasty coming to an end and playoff lives being on the line and responded with a bully beat-down of Georgia between the hedges. They finally decided to give the reigns to Jake Coker full-time, and the result was a dominant road win over a "top-10" opponent.
9. Texas A&M (Last Week: 14)
The Aggies took care of Mississippi State as we expected, and they now get a week off before hosting Alabama in a likely top-10 showdown.
10. Oklahoma (Last Week: 15)
The Sooners are playing like a top-10 team, and they should continue to rack up wins before back-to-back contests against Baylor and TCU in November, when their mettle will really be tested.
11. Florida (Last Week: 25)
For every precipitous drop one SEC team suffers in the rankings, there must be an astronomical rise by another. You have to hand it to Jim McElwain, though, who has this Florida team playing better and faster than anyone could have expected. The 14-spot rise may seem like an overreaction for a team that beat ECU, Kentucky and Tennessee by a combined 13 points, but I'm not sure how many of the teams below the Gators could make a case to be ranked above them, considering that Florida is undefeated (I would probably argue in Northwestern's favor).
12. Florida State (Last Week: 11)
Far be it from me to question the mighty Seminoles, but if you can tell me something positive about Florida State besides Dalvin Cook running the ball, I'm all ears. They have played a pathetic schedule, but have still been the furthest thing from impressive. Can you even justify the Noles in the top 20, let alone at No. 12?
13. Northwestern (Last Week: 16)
I've spent a lot of time short-selling Northwestern. While I still can't commit to the Wildcats resembling a playoff threat, I have to admit they have played quite well on the whole. Minnesota is no world-beater, but holding any decent team to 173 total yards in a shutout is impressive. We may look back on their 16-6 win over Stanford as the most impressive performance of the season when it's all said and done, given how the Cardinal has performed of late. I wouldn't have a problem with this team being ranked higher, and a win over Michigan this weekend could help them achieve that.
14. Ole Miss (Last Week: 3)
Swag was swagless as Ole Miss got slaughtered in the Swamp, and it may be deja vu all over again with the Rebels. They came back down to earth last season after being heavily rewarded for a win over Alabama, and we just relived the first step of that process.
15. Notre Dame (Last Week: 6)
I'm surprised Notre Dame got punished with a nine-spot drop. This is a really good football team. There's no question in my mind this is one of the best teams in the country, and I think the Irish work their way back up the poll sooner rather than later.
16. Stanford (Last Week: 18)
On a similar note, there may not be a team in the country playing better football right now than the Cardinal. This could easily be the best one-loss team in the nation, and if they can get by UCLA next Thursday, Stanford could really go on a run.
17. USC (Last Week: 17)
The Trojans have a likely playoff elimination game against Notre Dame on the horizon, but they have to take care of Washington on Thursday night first.
18. Michigan (Last Week: 22)
It wasn't exactly a banner day on offense for the Wolverines, but the defense nearly held Maryland to under 100 total yards. I'm still not buying this as a powerhouse, but it looks like open season in the Big Ten with the way the supposed top two are playing - so it's not insane to think Michigan could blaze a trail to the conference championship, starting this week in a top-20 matchup with surprising Northwestern.
19. Georgia (Last Week: 8)
We told you the Bulldogs and Greyson Lambert would falter when they faced a real team, and man did they ever. Alabama put Georgia in its place, and I don't see the Bulldogs bouncing back from such a demoralizing defeat in a game they put so much stock into.
20. UCLA (Last Week: 7)
Ha! I knew my reverse psychology would work like a charm; all I had to do was give UCLA a little false praise. The Bruins proved my doubts about them to be warranted as they were dominated at home by previously underachieving Arizona State (At least they tackled well). Feel free to offer your predictions for how the Pac 12 South will turn out, because I have no idea.
21. Oklahoma State (Last Week: 20)
The Cowboys won by the skin of their teeth again, this time with a 37-yard FG in the final minute to end Kansas State's upset bid 36-34. Oklahoma State may just be a decent team skating by, but until they lose they're going to hover around this part of the poll.
22. Iowa (Last Week: NR)
Our upset pick of the week came through as the Hawkeyes upended Wisconsin 10-6 in a game that just had to be an absolute treat to watch.
23. California (Last Week: 24)
We have said that, regardless of opponent, all games in which Cal is a participant will be shootouts. This week's was a squeaker against Washington State. The Bears get a chance for a statement win against national darling Utah this week, and we will boldly predict another shootout.
24. Toledo (Last Week: NR)
Why not? By the way, it may only be a matter of time before we see an influx of Group of Five teams in the rankings, as Houston, Temple, and Memphis are all lurking just outside the top 25.
25. Boise State (Last Week: NR)
I would probably rather see one of the three teams just listed in this spot, but the Broncos have put together two straight dominant performances.