College Football Power Rankings for Week Nine

1. Mississippi State (7-0, Last Week: 1st)
Mississippi State faced a road test on Saturday that was closer than many expected, in a game that the Bulldogs only led by seven before returning an onside kick for a touchdown (that’s not a misprint) to seal the 45-31 win.  CBS’s Gary Danielson pointed out that every team the Bulldogs had defeated up to Kentucky had been undefeated, and the Wildcats were undefeated at home.  This week that trend ends, as the Bulldogs host Arkansas, a team that has been competitive but is still looking for their first SEC win under Bret Bielema.  The Bulldogs are ranked first in the AP Poll, and more importantly in the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings that were released Tuesday Night.

2. Florida State (7-0, 3rd)
The Seminoles, fresh off their win over Notre Dame last week, had a bye in order to prepare for a short week this week when they head to Louisville for a Thursday night game.  The Seminoles will be favored against the Cardinals, but crazy things often seem to happen on Thursday nights.  The Seminoles pass Ole Miss in these rankings, and remain second in the AP Poll, also ranking second in the CFP rankings.

3. Alabama (7-1, 4th)
The Crimson Tide went to Tennessee in offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s first trip back to Knoxville since his one-year stint as head coach there, and defeated the Volunteers by a 34-20 score.  The Tide have been markedly better at home, where they will host Mississippi State and Auburn in the month of November, but first they have to travel to LSU on November 8 after a bye this weekend.  Surprisingly, the Tide are sixth in the CFP rankings, although they can certainly play their way into a playoff spot.

4. Notre Dame (6-1, 5th)
The Irish had a bye Saturday after their tough loss to Florida State in Tallahassee.  This week, they head to the Washington D.C. area to play Navy at FedEx Field.  While some have complained of Notre Dame’s relatively light schedule, with their only win over a good team coming against Stanford, they do have games remaining with Arizona State, USC, and Louisville.  Apparently the CFP Committee doesn’t like the Irish schedule, as they ranked Notre Dame all the way down at 10th.

5. Auburn (6-1, 5th)
The Tigers struggled at times on defense in a 42-35 win over South Carolina, but the offense seemingly ran the ball at will all over the Gamecocks.  The Tigers take their one-loss record to Oxford on Saturday, where they face Ole Miss.  Despite their position in these rankings, both the Tigers and Rebels are in the top 4 in the CFP rankings, with the Tigers ranking third.

6. Oregon (7-1, 7th)
Oregon’s offense fired on all cylinders in a 59-41 win at Cal, led by Heisman-contending QB Marcus Mariota who threw for 326 yards and five touchdowns.  The CFP committee ranked the Ducks fifth, as they host Stanford in a game that always seems to help determine the winner in the Pac-12 North, although this year the Cardinal are struggling just a bit.

7. Ole Miss (7-1, 2nd)
The Rebels lost their first game of the season Saturday, losing to LSU in a 10-7 defensive slugfest on the road.  However, despite the loss, the CFP committee ranked the Rebels in fourth, so if the playoff started today the Rebels would be in it.  While that rating will likely be considered the most controversial, at least of the top four, it can be solidified this week, as they host third-ranked Auburn in a primetime showdown.

8. Georgia (6-1, 8th)
The Bulldogs enjoyed a bye Saturday, a week after their win over Arkansas, in preparation for “The World’s Biggest Outdoor Cocktail Party” when they face Florida in Jacksonville.  The CFP rankings don’t necessarily agree with these, as the Bulldogs are ranked 11th, showing the price they paid for their early season loss to South Carolina.  They received good news Wednesday when it was announced RB Todd Gurley will be eligible to return against Auburn on November 15.

9. Michigan State (7-1, 9th)
The Spartans continued their strong Big Ten play with a 35-11 win over rival Michigan on Saturday, allowing the Wolverines to hang around for a while but putting them away in the second half.  The Spartans have a bye week Saturday to prepare for a big showdown next week against Ohio State, in what will likely be a de facto Big Ten East Division title game.  The CFP rankings rewarded Michigan State’s only loss being on the road to top five team Oregon, and ranked them eighth.

10. TCU (6-1, 10th)
TCU showed Saturday they have one of the strongest offensive units in the country, with an 82-27 win over Texas Tech.  The offensive explosion gives them the lead in points per game, as they now average 50.4 per contest.  This week, they head to a hostile environment as they face 20th-ranked West Virginia in Morgantown, The CFP committee appears to be impressed with the Horned Frogs, with their lone loss to Baylor, ranking them seventh.

11. Kansas State (6-1, 11th), 12. Arizona State (6-1, 12th), 13. Ohio State (6-1, 13th), 14. Baylor (6-1, 14th), 15. LSU (7-2, 25th)
16. Oklahoma (5-2, 16th) , 17. Clemson (6-2, 17th), 18. East Carolina (6-1, 18th), 19. Arizona (6-1, 19th), 20. West Virginia (6-2, 21st)
21. Utah (6-1, unranked), 22. UCLA (6-2, 20th) 23. Marshall (8-0, 22nd), 24. Nebraska (7-1, 23rd), 25. Stanford (5-3, 24th)

Fell from Rankings: USC (5-3, 15th)

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