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Clemson Media College Football Poll: Week 9

Michigan State v Michigan
Blake Corum scores a touchdown against Michigan State
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

What a brutal week for the ACC. NC State struggled against lowly Virginia Tech, Syracuse lost handily to Notre Dame, and Wake Forest lost to Louisville while committing 8 turnovers. That’s not a typo. 8. Turnovers. Yikes, Demon Deacons. This is not the bye week Clemson was hoping for.

Elsewhere, Ohio State let Penn State hang around for a while before sitting up in their chairs. Georgia teased Florida by letting them think they could come back before shutting the door. Michigan got into a fight against Michigan State after beating them soundly. Tennessee looked like the number one team in the country (and did so rocking some pretty slick uniforms, I personally loved the all-black).

The PAC-12 quietly has three teams in the AP Top 10. With all this chaos, it was nice to see one thing remain constant: South Carolina losing the second they start to feel like they are “back” (can a team be back with only one conference championship in their entire history, and only a division championship in their current conference?). I’m actually kind of sad the ‘Cocks lost because I firmly believe that everyone reading this article would have loved to see my analysis of that program. Alas, that is not meant to be. Buckle up folks, November is here and things are about to get weird.

Let’s see how our voters saw things. The STS poll has grown and now has 25 voters across Clemson media platforms including William Qualkinbush from 105.5 The Roar, JP Priester from Clemson SI, David Hood from TigerNet, and more.

1. Tennessee

Last Week STS Poll: 3
Current CFP Ranking: 1
Avg. Rank: 1.65 (% of First Place Votes: 52%)
Last Week: W vs. #19 Kentucky, 44-6

Domination. Tennessee had a spot where they could’ve gotten caught looking ahead to their matchup with Georgia next week. The Vols resoundingly put any thought of a let-down to bed. Kentucky scored after driving down the field late in the first quarter, and if it weren’t for a missed extra point, the Wildcats would’ve tied it. They didn’t score another point for the rest of the game. Hendon Hooker threw 3 touchdowns, and Jaylin Hyatt had 138 receiving yards to go along with 2 scores. The Volunteer defense allowed only 205 yards (98 passing, 107 rushing) and intercepted Will Levis three times. This was a complete and all-around beatdown.

After this week, and looking at the resumes, I am ready to give Tennessee the number one ranking. I think they have been the best team in the country this season. I write this as they head to their matchup with Georgia in Athens. All eyes will be glued to that game.

Next Up: @ #3 Georgia, 3:30 PM, CBS

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: Every person polled had the Vols between 1 and 3

2. Georgia

Last Week STS Poll: 2
Current CFP Ranking: 3
Avg. Rank: 2.13 (% of First Place Votes: 22%)
Last Week: W vs. Florida (game in Jacksonville), 42-20

A 17-point third quarter brought Florida within 8 after being down by as many as 25 points. Georgia fans who are Falcons fans began sawing 28-3 happening again. Spoiler alert: Georgia said enough was enough and ended up winning by 22. Georgia played sloppy at times, coughing the ball up 3 times, but they simply had more talent and were the better team against their bitter rivals. Winning this game is always important, as the hatred between these two schools is very real. However, the true importance of this game is keeping pace with Tennessee, as the game in Athens has now turned into the de facto SEC East championship game. College Gameday will be there, and the atmosphere will be electric. As a fan with no connection to either team, I have one thing to say: spot the damn ball.

Next Up: vs. #1 Tennessee, 3:30 PM, CBS

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: Same as Tennesee, as everybody polled had the Bulldogs in the 1-3 range

3. Ohio State

Last Week STS Poll: 1
Current CFP Ranking: 2
Avg. Rank: 2.35 (% of First Place Votes: 26%)
Last Week: W @ #13 Penn State, 44-31

This was Ohio State’s first true test. Last week, I was open with how I felt about Penn State - I thought they were overrated and that this game would not be close. For the first three quarters, it looked like they were going to prove me wrong. Alas, Ohio State realized what was going to happen if they lost this game, woke up, and scored 28 points in the 4th quarter to beat the Nittany Lions by 13. It really felt like Penn State was going to do it, even leading until around the 9-minute mark in the fourth. But Ohio State showed the difference between the two programs, with TreVeyon Henderson running for two scores, C.J. Stroud throwing for another, and J.T. Tuimoloau securing a pick-six to effectively put this one away. Ohio State has a favorable schedule leading up to the mounting slugfest with Michigan in Columbus: @ Northwestern, home against Indiana, and @ Maryland.

Next Up: @ Northwestern, 12:00 PM, ABC

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: 3 people from Shaking the Southland (Matt, Will, and Jonathan) had the Buckeyes slotted at #4

4. Clemson

Last Week STS Poll: 4
Current CFP Ranking: 4
Avg. Rank: 4.43
Last Week: IDLE

If a team could lose a bye week, Clemson did. The worst part is it was nothing they could have controlled. NC State struggled at home, Syracuse got blown out at home, and Wake got blown out against an unranked team. Luckily, all three teams remained in the top 25, but it was definitely a hit toward Clemson’s resume. The Tigers realistically just need to keep winning to avoid being left out of the playoff. Control your own destiny is the very real situation here.

Next Up: @ Notre Dame, 7:30 PM, NBC

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: Matt from Shaking the Southland had Clemson at #3, the highest ranking among people polled

5. Michigan

Last Week STS Poll: 5
Current CFP Ranking: 5
Avg. Rank: 4.61
Last Week: W vs. Michigan State, 29-7

Michigan State was actually winning this game after the first quarter, but *checks notes* JAKE MOODY was too much for the Spartans. Yes, the Wolverines leaned on their kicker, who went 5/5 with a long of 54 to go along with 2 extra points. The blueprint for Michigan seems simple: run the ball a lot, and rely on their stout defense to make stops. J.J. McCarthy did what he needed to do to help his team win. Unfortunately, a post-game skirmish ensued in the tunnels, and 4 Michigan State players were suspended for their roles in the disturbance. Jim Harbaugh and Michigan were rightfully upset, and out of respect for the situation, I do not want to speculate on what happened until an investigation has been performed. Michigan has a couple of weeks before a tough last two weeks: home against Illinois and @ Ohio State.

Next Up: @ Rutgers, 7:30 PM, BTN

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: Will and Jonathan from STS had the Wolverines at #3, while Nick from The Clemson Pawcast had them at #7

6. TCU

Last Week STS Poll: 7
Current CFP Ranking: 7
Avg. Rank: 6.22
Last Week: W @ West Virginia, 41-31

TCU continues to keep winning. In what was one of the most interesting and fun games of the week, TCU outlasted West Virginia 41-31 in Morgantown. Max Duggan finished 16/28 for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns, Kendre Miller had 12 rushes for 120 yards and a touchdown, and three different receivers caught touchdown passes and had more than 75 yards in an all-around good offensive showing. If TCU can continue this play on the offensive side of the ball, they can seriously compete for that final playoff ranking. It will be interesting to see how they do against Texas in a couple of weeks, with the Longhorns already being listed as a 6-point favorite. I say this, but TCU can’t overlook their date with Texas Tech this weekend. The Red Raiders are 4-4, but they have impressive wins over Houston and Texas. Unfortunately for Tech, they are on the road, and they have yet to win a road game this year.

Next Up: vs. Texas Tech, 12:00 PM, FOX

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: Jarrett from The Clemson Pawcast was the lowest on the Horned Frogs, ranking them #8

7. Alabama

Last Week STS Poll: 6
Current CFP Ranking: 6
Avg. Rank: 6.78
Last Week: IDLE

The Tide were off this past week ahead of their intriguing matchup @ LSU this week. Slated for 7:00 in the faux Death Valley (hey at least there’s an X like they like it), this will not be an easy matchup whatsoever. A Brian Kelly-led team in a big game is usually a recipe for disaster, but after beating Ole Miss, there might be some hope in the Bayou. Vegas is very high on Alabama, currently having the Tide listed as a 13-point favorite. If LSU can pull this one off, the two teams from the SEC in the playoff train will take a hit, making the conference reliant upon the loser of Georgia-Tennessee to go the rest of the season undefeated. As a fan of an ACC school that does not want to see too much SEC in the playoff, (In my best Ed Orgeron voice) GEUAX TIGAHS!

Next Up: @ #10 LSU, 7:00 PM, ESPN

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: Nick from The Clemson Pawcast was the highest on Alabama this week, ranking them 5th

8. Oregon

Last Week STS Poll: 9
Current CFP Ranking: 8
Avg. Rank: 8.26
Last Week: W @ California, 42-24

Oregon comfortably beat California this week behind a 21-point second quarter. Bo Nix threw for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns in the win. Cal was winning this game 3-0 at the end of the first quarter and again 10-7 with 13 minutes remaining in that second quarter. Then the wheels fell off the wagon. Oregon scored 28 unanswered and never looked back. The Ducks continue to confuse the country, as this team looks completely different from the team that got demolished by UGA in the opener. Can Bo Nix just not play against the Bulldogs? Or is Oregon the same old team that looks great in PAC-12 play until the end of the year? The schedule gets hard for the Ducks. After Colorado this week, they play Washington and Utah at home before going on the road to Corvallis to play against a 6-2 Oregon State. I will be keeping my eye on Oregon for the remainder of the season, but I’ll be honest, I will never ever trust Bo Nix in a big game. Do with that what you will.

Next Up: @ Colorado, 3:30 PM, ESPN

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: Nick from The Clemson Pawcast and Brandon from TigerNet slotted Oregon in the number 10 spot, the lowest of everyone polled

9. USC

Last Week STS Poll: NR
Current CFP Ranking: 9
Avg. Rank: 9.78
Last Week: W @ Arizona, 45-37

Arizona kept this one close, but USC never trailed in their win over the Wildcats in Tucson. Caleb Williams had an amazing game, going 31/45 for 411 yards and 5 touchdowns. Travis Dye, the Oregon transfer, ran 20 times for 113 yards and a touchdown, and Tahj Washington contributed 7 receptions for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. Shoutout to Arizona for playing well in this game, the days of being embarrassed and only having one win all season are not that far away. It is a testament to the coaching staff fixing the culture and getting their systems in place. USC will look to continue to keep pace with Oregon at the top of the PAC-12 with a return to the Coliseum this week.

Next Up: vs. California, 10:30 PM, ESPN

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: Clearly a man of his own thinking, Nick from The Clemson Pawcast was the lowest on the Trojans, ranking them #14

10. UCLA

Last Week STS Poll: NR
Current CFP Ranking: 12
Avg. Rank: 10.70
Last Week: W vs. Stanford, 38-13

UCLA needed a nice bounce back from their game against Oregon, and they found it when they returned to the friendly confines of the Rose Bowl. I honestly can’t get a read on this Stanford team. Either they show up and beat a team they really shouldn’t beat (looking at you, Notre Dame), or they come in and look anemic on offense against a conference opponent. UCLA was 17 yards away from doubling up Stanford, and it was no secret how they planned on doing it. The mantra was the same as it’s been all year: run the ball. Zach Chabonnet ran 21 times for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns as two other Bruins chipped in over 50 yards themselves. All told, UCLA ran the ball 45 times for 324 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. With only one conference loss to Oregon, UCLA still controls its own destiny within the conference. If they can beat USC at the end of the season, they should be able to secure the rematch they are no doubt wishing for.

Next Up: @ Arizona State, 9:30 PM, FS1

Most Unique Writer’s Opinion: Brian (STS) had the Bruins at #8, while Matt (STS), Brandon (TigerNet), and Mark (Sturgis Sports) had them at #14

What do you think of our rankings? Let us know in the comments!