While Ohio State and Clemson both needed overtime to stave off upsets, Alabama cemented its status as the No. 1 team in the country with a 49-10 road thrashing of Tennessee. The Tide’s date with No. 6 Texas A&M is the clear game of the week, as Ole Miss-LSU (23 vs. 25) is the only other matchup pitting ranked teams against one another.
If there was still any doubt as to who the best team in the nation was, Alabama put it to bed by destroying previous top-10 inhabitant Tennessee in Knoxville. We still wonder if putting your faith in a true freshman quarterback won’t be problematic at some point, but until we see any sign of that becoming a detriment, we expect the Tide to keep rolling merrily along.
2. Ohio State
The Buckeyes got all they wanted from Wisconsin, having to climb out of a 10-point halftime hole and hold off the Badgers in overtime. It’s a quality road win that boosts Ohio State’s resume at the end of the day, but it was one they certainly had to earn.
The Wolverines capitalized on Clemson’s lackluster performance and jumped to No. 3 in the poll, and we’re not really arguing.
As you’re probably well aware, Clemson was extremely fortunate to beat NC State on Saturday. A win is a win is a win, but that was a game the Tigers put themselves in position to lose with ill-timed turnovers and miscues. Clemson will take the victory and move on, but let’s just say a bye week has never been so necessary. A similarly sloppy performance would make for a long night in Tallahassee in two weeks.
Washington still has a ways to go to stake a realistic claim at a Playoff spot, largely because of its remaining schedule. While there’s no game that necessarily presents itself as a likely loss, there are several still on the docket that look like possible losses. Enough of those makes the Huskies’ road ahead a daunting one, although we do remain high on them on the whole.
6. Texas A&M
Texas A&M has put together a surprisingly stout first half of the season, but I’m just going to come out and say it: Alabama is going to blast the Aggies in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
The Cardinals’ performance against Duke was a puzzling one - and certainly detrimental to a team that is out to tally as many style points as it can possibly obtain. Louisville is still clearly the best one-loss team in the country but, as we have previously mentioned, really needs to stack up a bunch of blowouts down the stretch to look as good as possible should enough chaos go down to put them in position to contend for a Playoff spot.
We very nearly hit on our upset pick as Indiana came within a touchdown of knocking off the Huskers. Lowly Purdue won’t offer much resistance this week, but with road trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State looming, the Huskers’ run of wins is all but guaranteed to come to a screeching halt.
The Bears made quick work of Kansas and now have another bye week before getting into the meat of their Big XII schedule. We won’t really know what to make of this team until then.
So close again for the Badgers, but they squandered a 10-point halftime lead and lost to Ohio State in overtime. We might have Wisconsin ranked a bit lower, but the closeness of their losses to two top-three teams isn’t a bad justification for their continued inclusion in the top-10.
The Cougs needed a fumble return touchdown in the final minutes to get by Tulsa this past weekend. It’s becoming clear that while Houston’s offense is among the nation’s best, its defense is vulnerable against quality offensive teams - which doesn’t bode well for the Nov. 17 date with Louisville.
12. West Virginia
While we were certainly proven wrong in our prediction that the Mountaineers would go down at Texas Tech, we aren’t changing our tune on Dana Holgorsen’s squad quite yet. Sure, holding the Red Raider offense at bay is always a stellar accomplishment, but West Virginia still has all of its quality Big XII foes left on the schedule. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove they belong, but they aren’t a top-15 team yet.
13. Florida State
The Noles suffered their own bout of Clemson syndrome this week, turning the ball over four times and having more trouble putting away Wake Forest than they probably should have. Florida State needs plenty of help to have any chance to claim the ACC Atlantic crown, but they will likely have no problem getting up for rival Clemson after a bye week.
14. Boise State
Boise looked well on its way to an easy home win over Colorado State - up 28-3 with just five minutes of game time remaining. But the Rams scored three touchdowns in the next minute and a half and the Broncos had to hold on for dear life to stay undefeated. That near-collapse may have cost them a spot or two in the rankings, to boot.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce your SEC East leader. Not much was expected from the Gators this season (and we still don’t expect too much), but they now control their own destiny for a conference championship berth. The remaining games in their own division are all winnable, but trips to West foes Arkansas and LSU should provide much stiffer tests.
Oklahoma looked more like the team many expected it to be this season against Kansas State, and despite two undefeated Big XII teams ahead of them in the rankings, the Sooners are still the odds-on favorite to win the conference - which would almost certainly exclude the Big XII from the Playoff.
The Hogs nabbed a nice win over Ole Miss, but the SEC West grind marches on as they trek to Auburn this weekend.
We knew the Vols were living on borrowed time, even as media types continued to laud them despite their close loss to Texas A&M. Alabama fully exposed Rocky Top, and now Tennessee doesn’t even control its own destiny in the SEC East.
The Pac 12 South co-leader is still not getting a ton of love, and we get it to a degree, as high-quality wins are lacking. Still wouldn’t mind seeing them ahead of the prior trio of two-loss teams that aren’t exactly boasting great wins themselves.
20. Western Michigan
It’s hard to see the Broncos losing a game the rest of the way, and they actually have a pretty realistic shot at making a New Year’s Six bowl game. I hope Western enjoys P.J. Fleck while they have him, because odds are somebody will scoop up one of the hottest young coaching prospects in college football after this season.
Auburn comes off a bye week with a big home tilt with Arkansas and a chance to move into the SEC West’s upper tier.
22. North Carolina
The Tar Heels bounced back from an embarrassing home loss Virginia Tech and notched a road win at Miami. That game continued the Canes’ inevitable decline and actually put the Tar Heels back in good position to make another ACC Championship appearance.
23. Ole Miss
Really a joke to have this team ranked at 3-3. Maybe if SWAG spent more time practicing and less time sliding into the DMs of adult film stars, the Rebels could start winning some games.
The Midshipmen can legitimize their ranking this weekend when 5-1 Memphis comes to town.
No problem with this ... I love Coach O.