Clemson held onto its No. 1 in the College Football Playoff Poll and claimed a spot in the ACC title game with its win over Florida State. Unexpected losses by Michigan State and TCU — coupled with Alabama's win over LSU — paved the way for a top-10 shakeup.
1. Clemson (Last Week: 1)
Clemson could have been more convincing in its win over Florida State, but the only chance it had to drop with a win was if LSU had beaten Alabama.
2. Alabama (Last Week: 4)
The committee pretty much set itself up for Bama's jump to No. 2 by inexplicably ranking the Tide in the Top 4 last week. I think there is now at least a case for Alabama in the four-team field, but this is just too high for a team that has a loss at this point. By the way, that loss is looking worse by the week, but nobody cares because EYE TEST.
3. Ohio State (Last Week: 3)
The committee likely chose not to punish Ohio State for its struggles with Cardale Jones because J.T. Barrett is returning after his brutal punishment of a one-game suspension and three-day alcohol class.
4. Notre Dame (Last Week: 5)
Possibly getting bit of the Bama's treatment here, but Notre Dame's loss is far more forgivable. Notre Dame's collection of pretty good wins is obviously an adequate substitute for a true resume-making win in the eyes of the committee. It's still hard for me to rank the Irish ahead of this many major-conference undefeateds at the moment though.
5. Iowa (Last Week: 8)
It's hard to figure how you can look at this team's resume and rank it on the cusp of the four-team playoff. But, heck, I wouldn't mind seeing Iowa in the playoff, would you?
6. Baylor (Last Week: 6)
Baylor didn't receive any credit for its close road win over struggling Kansas State, but the Bears at least managed to show they have a capable replacement for Seth Russell. The gauntlet begins this weekend, when a red-hot Oklahoma team comes to town looking to prove it deserves a seat at the playoff table.
7. Stanford (Last Week: 11)
The Cardinal got back on track after its close call at Washington State by destroying Colorado in Boulder. Stanford finishes with three straight home games — with the last being a potential playoff elimination game against Notre Dame. Stanford's ranking is yet another good example of the bias toward Alabama — their resumes are very similar, they both pass the eye test, both have an early loss (Stanford's is to a top-20 team on the road, while Alabama's is to an unranked team at home), and yet we see Alabama five spots higher and just one spot away from being the No. 1 team. I get that LSU is a better win than Stanford's best win (UCLA), but the disparity in ranking doesn't add up.
8. Oklahoma State (Last Week: 14)
Should be higher after throttling TCU. I wasn't sold on the Cowboys, but that performance is impossible to ignore and significantly better than anything Iowa (for example) has accomplished.
9. LSU (Last Week: 2)
It wasn't surprising to see the Tigers fall to Alabama (News flash: If you play like Alabama, you will lose to Alabama). LSU is in a precarious position considering it's still ranked within shouting distance of the playoff, but is the only P5 one-loss team (besides TCU) that doesn't control its own destiny for a conference championship. An Alabama loss seems like the Tigers' only ticket to a shot at the playoff now.
10. Utah (Last Week: 12)
It was easy to write off the Utes after they were demolished by USC, but they are quietly hanging around and are far from out of it. There are losses to be had by the teams ahead of them, and if they can win out, including wins against UCLA and Stanford, they would present a compelling case as a one-loss Pac 12 champion.
11. Florida (Last Week: 10)
The Gators nearly blew any chance at a playoff berth as they needed a late field goal to hold off lowly Vanderbilt at home. With the win, they remain the SEC East equivalent of Alabama — win out, and you will be hard to leave out of the playoff.
12. Oklahoma (Last Week: 15)
Oklahoma gets its shot to surge back into the thick of things when it travels to Baylor this weekend, and I think the Sooners get the job done.
13. Michigan State (Last Week: 7)
Michigan State suffered a deflating loss on a controversial late touchdown by Nebraska. It's a tough pill to swallow, but the best way to avoid it would probably have been not surrendering 500 yards to a terrible team. Sparty still controls its own destiny in the Big Ten, and with games against potentially undefeated opponents in Ohio State and Iowa they could certainly creep back into the playoff picture. But can they bounce back from such a demoralizing loss?
14. Michigan (Last Week: 17)
The Wolverines are basically living for the opportunity to spoil Ohio State's season in their final regular-season game.
15. TCU (Last Week: 8)
Ouch. The road back to the playoff for TCU after its blowout loss to Oklahoma State is arduous and paved with strategically placed losses by other teams. It's not impossible, but it's unlikely.
16. Florida State (Last Week: 16)
Florida State put forth perhaps its best effort of the season against Clemson but fell short. Interestingly, they stay put in the poll, which may speak to how favorably the committee views the Tigers.
17. Mississippi State (Last Week: 20)
The Bulldogs don't really have a feasible route to the playoff, but they can play the role of saboteur this week when they host Alabama.
18. Northwestern (Last Week: 21)
The Wildcats are overrated and still riding the season-opening win over Stanford. They are technically Iowa's best win, so the Hawkeyes will continue to pull for them and Wisconsin.
19. UCLA (Last Week: 23)
The Bruins are out of playoff contention but control their own destiny in the Pac 12 South.
20. Navy (Last Week: NR)
Navy blasted Memphis on the road and deservedly vaults into the rankings.
21. Memphis (Last Week: 13)
Remember when people were hyping Memphis as a threat to crash the playoff party?
22. Temple (Last Week: 22)
Not really sure why Temple is slotted behind Memphis when you compare the teams' losses, but maybe I'm nitpicking.
23. North Carolina (Last Week: NR)
The Tar Heels finally crack the top 25 after boatracing Duke, and while I can understand the committee questioning their schedule to a degree, at what point do we reward teams for winning games (especially in convincing fashion)? In fact, stack up UNC's resume against FSU's, and you could argue the teams should be flip-flopped in these rankings. Additionally, if you don't think this team presents a challenge for Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, you are kidding yourself.
24. Houston (Last Week: 25)
The Cougars finally get a chance to show they are for real this week against Memphis.
25. Wisconsin (Last Week: NR)
The committee's feelings about the Badgers were clear even before they entered the poll, as they were pretty obviously used as a booster for Alabama and Iowa, which both beat Wisconsin. It's worth noting that Barry Alvarez is on the playoff committee. Hmmm...