There was some debate in the college football heading into this week about how we had lacked the “big” upsets this year, and that it looks like the College Football Playoff could just be four undefeated conference champions.
Well, not any more.
Three of those undefeated teams lost on Saturday, and now the quest for the Playoff spot just got a lot more interesting. So many more teams are in play now, and the resulting upsets mean that our Top 25 looks a LOT different than it did a week ago. Let’s take a look, shall we?
1. Alabama — SEC, 10-0
LW: 1 — Result: W, 51-3
So no more cute little questions about how maybe Clemson, Michigan, or even Washington should really be the No. 1 team in the land. Alabama literally has a one-game cushion on everyone at this point; they’ve already clinched the SEC West, and if they really wanted to just sit guys against Auburn, they could do it without repercussions.
I mean, they won’t do that, but the fact that they could is stunning.
2. Ohio State — Big Ten, 9-1
LW: 5 — Result: W, 62-3 vs. Maryland
Maryland has lost a combined 121-6 in the past two weeks. Poor Terrapins.
Ohio State takes over the No. 2 spot, as that loss to Penn State is aging well. The only problem for the Buckeyes at this point is that they don’t control their own destiny; if Ohio State and Penn State both win out, then Penn State goes to the Big Ten title game, not the Buckeyes.
That said, I still think Ohio State is the 2nd-best team in the country as of this very moment.
3. Michigan — Big Ten, 9-1
LW: 2 — Result: L, 14-13 vs. Iowa
While it might have been an epic finish that allowed Iowa to get the upset, I’m still feeling good about Michigan. They still control their own destiny in the Big Ten, and I think this game was more of a hiccup than indicative of any long-term problems for the program.
4. Louisville — ACC, 9-1
LW: 6 — Result: W, 44-12 vs. Wake
The Cardinals were actually losing to Wake after three quarter, but they pulled away in epic fashion in the fourth. Putting them over Clemson right now is probably going to get me some flak, and maybe deservedly so, but I have some thoughts about Clemson’s loss has me putting them lower in the power rankings for now.
5. Clemson — ACC, 9-1
LW: 4 — Result: L, 42-42 vs. Pitt
This loss has been a long time coming for Clemson. The struggled with Troy earlier in the season, they needed a missed kick and overtime to beat N.C. State, and now this. Yes, the wins over Auburn, Louisville, and Florida State are still good, but Clemson has been playing to the level of the competition way too much lately.
I still think Clemson makes the Playoff if they win out, but right now on this day, if I had to pick between Louisville and Clemson on a neutral field? I’m taking the Cardinals.
6. Penn State — Big Ten, 8-2
LW: 9 — Result: W, 45-31 vs. Indiana
Penn State had their own close call with Indiana on the road, but a scoring splurge late in the fourth quarter got them a comfortable win.
Why is Penn State at sixth right now? Because they are playing as well as anyone in the country and they have a legitimate shot at getting into the Big Ten title game now. While even James Franklin tweeted out that his team was focused on their next game (Rutgers), this is something that will loom large in the Big Ten race. Ohio State could go 11-1 with a win over Michigan, but they wouldn’t even win their division in that scenario if Penn State wins out.
Isn’t college football crazy?
7. Washington — Pac-12, 9-1
LW: 3 — Result: L, 13-26 vs. USC
Among the top teams that lost on Saturday, this one was easily the worst. While USC is very good now, Washington just looked like the much lesser team while at home. The Trojans dominated both sides of the ball, and Washington’s Heisman candidate in Jake Browning looked completely lost while trying to lead his team to what became a failed comeback attempt.
The big knock on Washington going into this game was that they hadn’t played anyone. Well now they have, and they lost big time.
8. Wisconsin — Big Ten, 8-2
LW: 7 — Result: W, 48-3 vs. Illinois
They drop a spot here just because I’m feeling high on Penn State right. Now that is something I wouldn’t have believed before the season… or three weeks ago, even.
After a bunch of semi-close calls recently, the Badgers got a much needed blowout over Illinois here. I expect them to do the same when they take on Purdue next week.
9. West Virginia — Big 12, 8-1
LW: 11 — Result: W, 24-20 vs. Texas
It’s not the sexiest win on paper, but Texas has been surging recently thanks to running back D’Onta Foreman, and the Mountaineers were able to do enough to keep Foreman out of the end zone.
Now comes the big test: West Virginia takes on Oklahoma next week, which is a game that will have a big role in determining the conference champion for the Big 12.
10. Oklahoma — Big 12, 8-2
LW: 13 — Result: W, 45-24 vs. Baylor
So after weeks of putting down Oklahoma, I can finally say that I was impressed with what they did against Baylor. I have been extremely critical of the Sooners’ defense, but they delivered a good performance against Baylor, and it’s a notch on their resume to see them play good defense against a good team.
11. LSU — SEC, 6-3
LW: 12 — Result: W, 38-10 vs. Arkansas
The fact that the Tigers dropped to 24 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings after a 10-0 loss to Alabama was just disrespectful. They are still a very good team, and a performance like this one on the road at Arkansas was proof of that.
Thanks to the emergence of Derrius Guice in the backfield to complement Leonard Fournette, is there anyone outside of the Tide that can stop this rushing attack? I guess we will see against Florida.
12. Western Michigan — MAC, 10-0
LW: 14 — Result: W, 37-21 vs. Ball State
I’ve had Western Michigan higher than almost everyone, but I’ve been saying that I would drop them if they had an unconvincing win. Here it is… sorta.
They did finally pull away from Ball State at the end of their game on Tuesday, but the fact that it took so long to get there wasn’t a good showing for the Row the Boat crowd. With all the teams ahead of them struggling with legitimate foes in-conference, this just looked awful, even if they did get the victory.
13. Utah — Pac-12, 8-2
LW: 14 — Result: W, 49-26 vs Arizona State
Utah has 22 tackles for loss and 11 sacks against Arizona State on Thursday. TWENTY-TWO TACKLES FOR LOSS! Doesn’t that sound great?
Well it is, but they did need the fourth quarter to run up the score here. Arizona State is good, but they shouldn’t have been good enough to make this 28-26 after the third quarter, especially with how much push Utah was getting on the line.
14. Auburn — SEC , 7-3
LW: 8 — Result: L, 13-7 vs. Georgia
They would probably be lower on this list if star running back Kam Pettway had played and they still lost to Georgia, so I’m cutting them some slack. However, the part where they still lost to Georgia isn’t good. Yes, the Bulldogs rose to the challenge in this game and played fantastic defense, but the Auburn offense was just atrocious looking without Pettway to punch forward with his six yards per carry.
While Auburn has Alabama A&M to contend with next week, their biggest opponent is getting Pettway healthy for that Irown Bowl game.
15. Colorado — Pac-12, 8-2
LW: 17 — Result: W, 49-24 vs. Arizona
Colorado is still just hanging in there, getting decent win after decent win. The only problem I have with them that keeps the Buffaloes from going higher, though, is that they don’t really have a quality win. Maybe the 10-5 win over Stanford counts, but losses to the two best teams they’ve played (Michigan and USC) hurts them more than that quality win — or any of these “decent wins” — is going to help.
16. Washington State — Pac-12, 8-2
LW: 20 — Result: W, 56-21 vs. Cal
A Mike Leach team playing defense against a quality offensive opponent? Yeah, I’m dumbfounded by this development, too.
The Cougs have played well in recent weeks, and guess what? They are now the leader of the Pac-12 North division after Washington’s loss to USC. Their two losses on the year are bad, but they have a very good shot at making it to the Rose Bowl this season.
17. Florida State — ACC, 7-3
LW: 19 — Result: W, 45-7 vs. Boston College
Florida State beat Boston College so bad that BC’s old coach went on Twitter to publicly laugh at the Eagles. That’s hilarious… and awful.
The Noles are keeping it together despite all of the losses they have suffered on defense this year, and that’s good enough for some recognition. Sure, it won’t get them into the Playoff at this point, but if they get to 10 wins again? That’s pretty damn good for a “down” year.
18. Oklahoma State — Big 12, 8-2
LW: 21 — Result: W, 45-44 vs. Texas Tech
They almost fell into the old “oh my god, it’s Texas Tech” trap game, but they were able to hold with some defensive stops in the end. The fact that their offense couldn’t score in the fourth quarter back TT’s defense is bad, but they got the win nonetheless.
Oklahoma State is almost in the same spot as Washington State. Despite a really bad out-of-conference loss, the Cowboys still control their own destiny to win their conference. After a bad start to the season, that would be a helluva way to finish.
19. Florida — SEC, 7-2
LW: 23– Result: W, 20-7 vs. South Carolina
20 points might not look inspiring in the offensive column, but quarterback Austin Appleby played really well in the spots where the Gators needed him to perform. He managed the game well, and the Florida defense responded in kind by giving him a lead to work with. That’s a big improvement after the 31-10 loss to Arkansas last week.
20. USC — Pac-12, 7-3
LW: NR — Result: W, 26-13
Talk about a massive turnaround for USC… remember that 52-3 loss to Alabama? They are not even close to that team any more. Clay Helton has done a fantastic job at keeping his team together, and they were able to completely dominate Washington on Saturday.
Heck, if this team had been around all season, they would probably only have one loss and they would be in the Playoff hunt.
21. Boise State — MW, 9-1
LW: NR — Result: W, 52-16 vs. Hawaii
I haven’t been very impressed with Boise this season at all, but they did get another big win on Saturday to move to 9-1 on the season. While Hawaii isn’t great, it’s a win that Boise really needed, because the Broncos had been playing way too close with lesser opponents recently.
22. Nebraska — Big Ten, 8-2
LW: 25 — Result: W, 24-17 vs. Minnesota
It was good to see quarterback Tommy Armstrong back in action after he had to be carted off the field against Ohio State last week. Minnesota had been college football’s quietest 7-2 team heading into this game, but Nebraska was consistent enough throughout this one get the win.
23. Navy — AAC, 7-2
LW: NR — Result: W, 42-40 vs. Tulsa
Tulsa is a very good team, and for Navy to go in and get a win against a major conference opponent is a big victory. Navy still might have a shot at the Group of 5/New Year’s 6 bowl bid, as they control their own destiny over Houston to get to the AAC title game. Don’t sleep on Navy, folks!
24. Texas A&M — SEC, 7-3
LW: 18 — Result: L, 28-29 vs. Ole Miss
Maybe I over penalized them last week after the lost to Mississippi State, but the Aggies are on the verge of a major spiral without Trevor Knight at quarterback. Maybe a game against UT-San Antonio next will get them on track, and they are going to need it: their final game of the regular season is against LSU.
25. San Diego State — MW, 9-1
LW: NR — Result: W, 41-16 vs. Nevada
San Diego State has really been on a roll since their upset loss at South Alabama earlier in the year. They won six straight, and Donnell Pumphrey keeps moving up the NCAA’s all-time rushing list at the same time. Pumphrey currently sits fourth on the list, and he only needs 347 yards to reach the No. 1 spot. Barring injury, he’s going to get them, and he’s going to keep carrying the Aztecs up the rankings if they keep winning.
DROPPED FROM THE RANKINGS: North Carolina (15), Virginia Tech (16), Arkansas (22), Minnesota (24)