College Football Power Rankings for Week 13

After a weekend lacking many upsets and including many of the top teams playing easier tests or not playing at all in preparation for all the rivalry games this Thanksgiving weekend.  Therefore, the field remains split between the seven most realistic playoff contenders and the rest of the field (although there is a change in the 8th spot).

The Seven Contenders

1. Alabama (10-1, Last Week: 1st, CFP Ranking: 1st)
The Crimson Tide defeated FCS foe Western Carolina 48-14 on Saturday, in their final test before the Iron Bowl against Auburn.  The biggest rivalry in college football takes place Saturday in Tuscaloosa, a year after Auburn’s stunning last-second win on the “Kick Six” in (arguably) the greatest football game of this generation.  Nick Saban is very good in “payback” games, and the Tide are favored by 9.5 as they try to clinch the SEC West, which this year may be the best division title they’ve ever won.

2. Florida State (11-0, 2nd, 3rd)
Once again, the Seminoles found a way to survive an upset bid, beating Boston College 20-17 on a last second field goal, to stay undefeated.  I almost said “to stay perfect,” but this team has been far from perfection, but has played just well enough to squeak out a win each week.  This week they will face rival Florida at home in Tallahassee, as the Gators play their final regular season game with coach Will Muschamp.  The SEC over ACC upset is a possibility, and is even a trendy upset pick for rivalry weekend.

3. Oregon (10-1, 3rd, 2nd)
The Ducks easily dispatched Pac-12 bottom-feeder Colorado, 44-10, having already clinched the Pac-12 North title.  This week they play the “Civil War” against Oregon State, a team that is 5-6 but has a top 10 win over Arizona State.  Oregon can win out to reach the College Football Playoff, but it may not be easy, as they have to beat their rivals, then likely UCLA in the Pac-12 title game.

4. TCU (9-1, 4th, 5th)
A week after struggling against Kansas before squeaking by with the win, the Horned Frogs had a bye ahead of a Thanksgiving night game against Texas.  TCU currently sits as the first team out of the College Football Playoff, but isn’t even in control of their destiny to win their own conference, as their head-to-head loss to Baylor has the Bears sitting two wins away from a Big 12 title.

5. Mississippi State (10-1, 5th, 4th)
The Bulldogs were lights out against Vanderbilt, beating the Commodores 51-0, as they move into perhaps the biggest ever Egg Bowl game against Ole Miss.  The game lost some of its luster with Ole Miss’s loss to Arkansas, but will still have huge implications, as the Bulldogs will be (if Alabama beats Auburn) making their final case to the committee to be in the College Football Playoff (they are as of right now, ranked in 4th)

6. Baylor (9-1, 6th, 7th)
The Bears were very convincing in a 49-28 over Oklahoma State, as they prepare to play Texas Tech at a neutral site.  With no title game in the Big 12, instead they will host Kansas State next week in a game with huge playoff and Big 12 title implications for the Bears, whose only blemish came at West Virginia.

7. Ohio State (10-1, 7th, 6th)
A 42-27 win over Indiana came in a game that was too close for comfort for a while for the Buckeye faithful.  Additionally, their only loss was to Virginia Tech, so the Hokies’ loss to Wake Forest on Saturday can’t help the Buckeyes playoff case.  What will help is if the Buckeyes keep winning, as they face rival Michigan and then either Wisconsin or Minnesota in the Big Ten title game.  Even if the Buckeyes win out, they will need some help.

The Best of the Rest

8. Michigan State (9-2, 9th, 10th)
The Spartans defeated Rutgers, 45-3, but were eliminated from Big Ten title contention with Ohio State’s win.  This week they travel to Penn State, still in the running for a big bowl bid.

9. Georgia (9-2, 10th, 9th)
The Bulldogs dismantled FCS opponent Charleston Southern, 55-9, ahead of their meeting with rival Georgia Tech.  The Dawgs will be big Arkansas fans this week, as a Missouri loss wins Georgia the SEC East.

10. UCLA (9-2, 11th, 8th)
After beating rival USC 38-20, a win over 6-5 Stanford on Friday is all that stands between the Bruins and the Pac-12 title game.

11. Wisconsin (9-2, 12th, 14th)
12. Kansas State (8-2, 13th, 12th)
13. Arizona State (9-2, 14th, 13th)
14. Auburn (8-3, 15th, 15th)
15. Arizona (9-2, 19th, 11th)
16. Marshall (11-0, 16th, 24th)
17. Georgia Tech (9-2, 17th, 16th)
18. Missouri (9-2, 17th, 17th)
19. Ole Miss (8-3, 8th, 19th)
20. Oklahoma (8-3, 20th, 20th)
21. Colorado State (10-1, 24th, unranked)
22. Clemson (8-3, 25th, 21st)
23. Minnesota (8-3, unranked, 18th)
24. Louisville (8-3, unranked, 22nd)
25. Arkansas (6-5, unranked, unranked)*

Fell from rankings: Nebraska (8-3, 21st, unranked), Utah (7-4, 22nd, 25th), USC (7-4, 23rd, unranked)

*Editor’s note: I never thought I’d put a 6-5 team in the top 25 under any circumstances.  But with the way Arkansas has played the last two weeks in shutouts of LSU and Ole Miss, and with all five of their losses coming to teams that were in the top 10 at the time, why not rank them?  And I don’t see anyone else who has earned that last spot.

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College Football Power Rankings for Week 12

With two weeks left in the regular season for most teams, and conference championships lurking on the first Saturday in December, it’s getting down to crunch time in the race to make the first College Football Playoff.  After Saturday’s action, which saw a couple of upsets, the field of teams with a realistic shot to make the playoff without having a lot of help from the teams above them is down to seven teams.  The seven could be ordered in just about any combination you could derive, but here’s how I have ordered them…

The Seven Contenders

1. Alabama (9-1, Last Week: 3rd, CFP Ranking: 1st)
The Crimson Tide beat previously undefeated Mississippi State, 25-20, although the win was more convincing than the score.  The Tide defense intercepted Bulldogs QB Dak Prescott three times in the win, leading 19-0 before holding on for the 5-point win.  This week the nation’s 2nd-ranking scoring defense plays Western Carolina, a week ahead of the Iron Bowl against Auburn, which this year will be in Tuscaloosa.  Nick Saban is very good in “payback” games.

2. Florida State (10-0, 2nd, 3rd)
The Seminoles once again (somehow) avoided a loss, this time coming back to beat Miami, 30-26.  The last time the ‘Noles beat rival Miami five straight years (1995-99), the streak ended with a national title, as they try to repeat history this year.  The nation’s longest winning streak now stands at 26 games, with four of their 10 wins this year coming in the form of fourth quarter comebacks.  Boston College, who already has one big upset this year, comes to Tallahassee on Saturday, before the Seminoles host rival Florida and head to the ACC title game (they clinched the Atlantic on Saturday).

3. Oregon (9-1. 4th, 2nd)
The Ducks enjoyed a bye week after their 51-27 win at Utah a week ago, and held their ground despite some movement around them in the CFP rankings (they actually moved up in these rankings).  QB Marcus Mariota finds himself in the thick of the Heisman chase, having thrown for 2,780 yards and 29 touchdowns on the season, with only a pair of interceptions.  This week Oregon hosts Colorado, before heading to Oregon State (who just upset Arizona State) for their regular season finale.

4. TCU (9-1, 5th, 5th)
The Horned Frogs avoided Kansas’s upset bid Saturday, coming from behind to beat the Jayhawks 34-30 to stay in the CFP race.  TCU continues to have one of the nation’s best offenses, ranking fourth in the nation in points per game, with Trevone Boykin now having thrown for over 3,000 yards on the season.  This week the Horned Frogs get a bye, before a Thanksgiving night game at Texas before a home game with Iowa State on December 6, as they try to make enough of an impression on the CFP committee to work their way back into the top four.

5. Mississippi State (9-1, 1st, 4th)
The Bulldogs lost their first game on Saturday at Alabama, although they came back from down 19 to within five points.  Dak Prescott’s three interceptions likely ended his Heisman chances, but this team’s playoff chances are far from over, as the committee kept them in the top four (at least for now).  That means that, even though the Bulldogs need some help to even win their division, they should be in control of their own destiny to make the playoff, as they host Vanderbilt before heading to Oxford for the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss.

6. Baylor (8-1, 7th, 7th)
The Bears had a bye, fresh off of their 48-14 win over Oklahoma, and heading into a three-game stretch of Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Kansas State.  Earlier in the season the Bears beat TCU, 61-58, coming back from a late 21-point deficit for the win, but Baylor still finds themselves behind the Horned Frogs, both here and in the CFP rankings.  Therefore, while it is the Bears who can win out for a Big 12 title, they find themselves stuck behind TCU as the Horned Frogs appear to have the better résumé.  This has been a big point of contention on ESPN the last couple of weeks.

7. Ohio State (9-1, 8th, 6th)
The Buckeyes picked up a quality road win Saturday, beating Minnesota, 31-24.  The season has to be considered a success for the Buckeyes, who are in the race, even without their QB Braxton Miller, who they lost before the season to injury.  They have an undefeated Big Ten record, although they are last (in my rankings) in the group of seven at the top because they have the worst loss of any of the seven teams, losing on September 6 at home to Virginia Tech, who is 5-5 out of the ACC.

The Best of the Rest

8. Ole Miss (8-2, 10th, 8th)
After a bye this week, the Rebels head to Arkansas, with the Hogs fresh off their upset of LSU.  The Egg Bowl against Mississippi State is looming on the horizon.

9. Michigan State (8-2, 11th, 11th)
The Spartans took care of Maryland, 37-15, ahead of a home bout with Rutgers and a trip to Penn State.  They need help to win the Big Ten East.

10. Georgia (8-2, 17th, 10th)
After last year’s heartbreaking loss to Auburn, the Bulldogs surprisingly blew out Auburn, 34-7, although they lost RB Todd Gurley for the year with an ACL injury.  Charleston Southern comes to Athens before next week’s battle with Georgia Tech.

11. UCLA (8-2, 16th, 9th)
12. Wisconsin (8-2, 22nd, 16th)
13. Kansas State (8-2, 15th, 12th)
14. Arizona State (8-2, 6th, 13th)
15. Auburn (7-3, 9th, 14th)
16. Marshall (10-0, 19th, unranked)
17. Georgia Tech (9-2, 24th, 18th)
18. Missouri (8-2, 25th, 20th)
19. Arizona (8-2, 21st, 15th)
20. Oklahoma (7-3, 23rd, 21st)
21. Nebraska (8-2, 12th, 23rd)
22. Utah (7-3, unranked, 17th)
23. USC (7-3, unranked, 19th)
24. Colorado State (9-1, unranked, unranked)
25. Clemson (7-3, 18th, 22nd)

Also ranked in CFP Rankings: Louisville (7-3, unranked, 24th), Minnesota (7-3, unranked, 25th)

Fell from Rankings: LSU (6-4, 13th, unranked), Notre Dame (7-3, 14th, unranked), Duke (8-2, 20th, unranked)

ACC Basketball Preseason Power Rankings

College basketball season is here.  Games began on Friday, including in (arguably) the best basketball conference in America, the ACC, which has solidified that distinction with the addition of Louisville.  Here are how the 15 teams should wind up this season.

1. Duke (Projected: 28-3, 16-2 ACC, Final Four; Last Year: 26-9, 13-5 ACC, Round of 64)
No Jabari Parker and no Rodney Hood for Mike Krzyzewski?  No problem, with Quinn Cook Amile Jefferson, and Rasheed Sulaimon returning, and an insanely good recruiting class (ranked #1 by most recruiting services) including 7-footer Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, and Justise Winslow.  This team has a very nice blend of extremely talented youth and steady, experienced veterans, and could be extremely dangerous in March.

2. Louisville (Projected: 15-3, 27-4 ACC, Sweet 16; Last Year: 31-6, 15-3 American, Sweet 16)
Rick Pitino’s Cardinals team joins the ACC after a year in the American (after the breakup of the old Big East), and although the Cardinals lose Russ Smith and Luke Hancock, two big pieces from their national title team in 2013, Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear are prepared to lead the Cardinals into a new era in the ACC, as is a large recruiting class.

3. Virginia (Projected: 25-5, 14-4 ACC, Sweet 16; Last Year: 30-7, 16-2 ACC, Sweet 16)
For the first time in 45 years, the Cavaliers have an ACC title to defend, and although they lose leaders Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell from last year’s team, Tony Bennett will have his team ready, led by Malcolm Brogdon, Justin Anderson, and Anthony Gill.  Expect Virginia to once again be a defensive force, after allowing the least points in the nation last year.

4. North Carolina (Projected: 23-8, 12-6 ACC, Sweet 16; Last Year: 24-10, 13-5 ACC, Round of 32)
Shooting, both from outside and from the free throw line, was an issue for the Tar Heels a year ago, particularly when done by players other than Marcus Paige.  The recruiting pickup of guard Justin Jackson will help, Inside, expect Brice Johnson to have a breakout year as he is no longer behind James Michael McAdoo on the depth chart.  The Heels are, as usual, very talented, and deep, but there’s just enough missing to keep them behind the top three on this list.

5. Syracuse (Projected: 21-10, 11-7 ACC, Round of 32; Last Year: 28-6, 14-4 ACC, Round of 32)
After an excellent regular season that resulted in the Orange peaking too early (perhaps), only 37% of their scoring is back, as they lose Tyler Ennis, CJ Fair, and Jerami Grant.  Trevor Cooney and Rakeem Christmas are back, and are joined by a couple of talented freshmen, Kaleb Joseph and Chris McCullough, who are expected to start.  This team is not a national title contender, but will still be very competitive in the ACC.

6. Florida State (Projected: 21-10, 10-8 ACC, Round of 64; Last Year: 22-14, 9-9 ACC, NIT Semifinals)
Only Duke and North Carolina have more ACC wins in the last nine seasons than the Seminoles, and even with Leonard Hamilton’s team losing Ian Miller and Okaro White, they should still be able to earn a winning record in the ACC this season.  The team lacks superstars, but Aaron Thomas is a very solid player, particularly defensively, and is joined outside by Devon Bookert and inside by 7’3” center Boris Bojanovsky.  This team should be good enough to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons.

7. NC State (Projected: 22-9, 10-8 ACC, Round of 64; Last Year: 22-14, 9-9 ACC, Round of 64)
At the end of last season, with ACC Player of the Year TJ Warren leaving for the NBA and Tyler Lewis transferring to Butler, many began writing the Wolfpack off for this season.  But Mark Gottfried’s team has been written off before (people didn’t expect an NCAA bid last year), and with Trevor Lacey transferring from Alabama, and a big sophomore class now on their second trip through the ACC, as well as a good recruiting class, this team should find themselves back in the dance in March, a place Mark Gottfried finds a way to reach annually.

8. Pittsburgh (Projected: 22-11, 9-9 ACC, Round of 64; Last Year: 26-10, 11-7 ACC, Round of 32)
Pittsburgh has been the NCAA Tournament in 10 of the last 11 seasons, and will try to return this year.  It will be a challenge after losing their top two scorers, Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna.  While leading returners James Robinson, Michael Young, and Cameron Wright didn’t have overwhelming numbers a year ago, all should see more responsibility and answer with more production, making Pitt a team that should reach the tournament again this season.

9. Notre Dame (Projected: 20-11, 8-10 ACC, NIT; Last Year: 15-17, 6-12 ACC)
While the Irish lost leading scorer Eric Atkins and big man Garrick Sherman to graduation, the talk on campus is who they get back for this season.  Jerian Grant averaged 19.0 ppg in the first 12 games of last season before he was ineligible due to an academic issue, and now as he returns to join Pat Connaughton and the rest of his teammates, he is expected to have a big impact, as he was voted to the preseason All-ACC team.  Still, it will be an uphill battle in this tough league if Mike Brey wants to take his team the NCAA Tournament, although the Irish should find themselves in the NIT.

10. Miami (Projected: 19-13, 8-10 ACC, NIT; Last Year: 17-16, 7-11 ACC)
The Hurricanes lost a combined 39.4 ppg as four of their top six scorers graduated, leaving only one player remaining from the 2013 ACC Champions.  Jim Larranaga hit the recruiting trail in multiple ways, signing four high school players, a junior college transfer, and three transfers, including Sheldon McClellan (from Texas) and Angel Rodriguez (from Kansas State).  Team chemistry, not talent, could be their biggest hindrance, as Larranaga faces a stiff test in the ACC, but this team should make the NIT field of 32.

11. Wake Forest (Projected: 17-14, 7-11 ACC; Last Year: 17-16, 6-12 ACC)
Coach Jeff Bzdelik resigned from Wake after a less than stellar four-year stint with only one winning record and no postseason trips, and was replaced by the hero of the 1988 Final Four, Danny Manning, who comes to Winston-Salem from Tulsa.  He inherits a strong one-two punch of Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas, along with a bevy of other role-playing veterans, and a decent recruiting class.  They’re projected to fall short of the postseason, but with a couple more wins could find themselves in the NIT in March.

12. Boston College (Projected: 13-17, 6-12 ACC; Last Year: 8-24, 4-14 ACC)
After a horrid 8-24 season where they were expected to be much more competitive, Steve Donahue was fired, leading to the questionable hire of Jim Christian.  Donahue’s loss led to the transfer of Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon, but those are the only personnel losses facing the Eagles.  The returning players in Chestnut Hill are very experienced, in addition to a pair of transfers, and the team will be led by Olivier Hanlan, the ACC’s leading returning scorer.  This team is hard to predict, with a new coach and a veteran team, but my best guess is that there will be struggles.

13. Clemson (Projected: 14-16, 4-14 ACC; Last Year: 23-13, 10-8 ACC, NIT Semifinals)
I’ve actually already seen the Tigers live, as they played an exhibition against Anderson (my school), winning 64-36.  Defensively, Brad Brownell will have his team ready as always, even without KJ McDaniels, who left for the NBA.  Offensively, the loss of McDaniels will hurt, with no double-digit scorers returning.  Rod Hall, Sidy Djitte, and Jaron Blossongame will have to step up to avoid a disappointing year after last season’s 23 wins.  (Note: I picked Clemson similarly last year, and they proved me very wrong.)

14. Georgia Tech (Projected: 11-19, 3-15 ACC; Last Year: 16-17, 6-12 ACC)
The Yellow Jackets have lost three of their four double figure scorers from last year, as they are looking for their first winning conference record in 11 years.  Brian Gregory’s leading returners are Marcus Georges-Hunt and Chris Bolden, and the team does have four transfers from mid- to high-level Division I conferences, but it will be an uphill battle for Tech in the stacked ACC.  If the team performs as poorly as expected, by year’s end Gregory’s seat could be very warm.

15. Virginia Tech (Projected: 11-20, 2-16 ACC; Last Year: 9-22, 2-16 ACC)
The good news for the Hokies is they made the biggest splash of the coaching carousel after last season, firing James Johnson and hiring Buzz Williams away from Marquette.  The bad news is that Williams has very little talent to work with.  Five players transferred and Jarrell Eddie graduated, leaving the Hokies without three of the best five players on an already bad team.  Devin Wilson and Adam Smith should be solid, but with no depth behind them it’s going to be a long maiden voyage for Williams.

Preseason First Team All-ACC:
My Ballot: Marcus Paige (Jr., G, North Carolina), Malcolm Brogdon (Jr., G, Virginia), Jerian Grant (Sr., G, Notre Dame), Olivier Hanlan (Jr., G, Boston College), Montrezl Harrell (Jr., F, Louisville)
Actual:  Paige, Brogdon, Grant, Harrell, Jahlil Okafor (Fr., C, Duke)

College Football Power Rankings for Week 11

1. Mississippi State (9-0, Last Week: 1st, CFP Playoff Ranking: 1st)
The Bulldogs took care of business in a 45-16 win over UT-Martin on Saturday.  Now they prepare for their biggest game in school history–a trip to Alabama for a matchup that is (according to these rankings) between two of the top three teams in the nation.

2. Florida State (9-0, 2nd, 3rd)
It wasn’t a blowout, but the Seminoles remained unbeaten with a 34-20 win over Virginia.  This week, they travel to rival Miami for a primetime game which may be their best chance to lose before a potential ACC title game.

3. Alabama (8-1, 3rd, 5th)
The Crimson Tide somehow survived a trip to Baton Rouge, despite nearly giving the game away late, in a 20-13 overtime win over LSU.  After beating the Tigers, it gets even tougher, as the Tide host Mississippi State, with the Iron Bowl also looming in just a few weeks.

4. Oregon (9-1, 6th, 2nd)
Despite Utah’s all-time record of 4-1 at home against ranked opponents coming into Saturday, Oregon came out of Salt Lake City with a 51-27 win, helped in part by a crazy fumble recovery for a touchdown.  Now the Ducks should be able to coast into the Pac-12 title game if they take care of business in their two easiest games since September.

5. TCU (8-1, 8th, 4th)
In what was billed as a pretty even matchup of #6 and #7 in the nation, TCU doubled up Kansas State in a 41-20 win, and now control their own destiny in the Big 12, with their only blemish coming at the hands of a huge Baylor 4th quarter comeback.  With remaining games at Kansas and Texas and at home against Iowa State, controlling that destiny should be fairly easy.

6. Arizona State (8-1, 10th, 6th)
The Sun Devils proved they are for real with a 55-31 win over Notre Dame, in a game which they led 38-10 at half.  Now in the thick of the playoff race, they get a couple of lighter tests starting with Oregon State this week, before heading to Arizona the day after Thanksgiving, as well as a potential Pac-12 Championship Game.

7. Baylor (8-1, 12th, 7th)
Baylor overwhelmed Oklahoma with a 48-14 win on the road in Norman, making a statement that they are, in fact, a playoff-contending team.  The Bears only blemish was a road loss at West Virginia, and they are at home the rest of the way, hosting Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Kansas State.

8. Ohio State (8-1, 11th, 8th)
The Buckeyes picked up a convincing primetime win on the road, beating Michigan State, 49-37, in East Lansing.  They are, very quietly, ranked fourth in the nation in scoring offense, and this week take that show to Minnesota in their final road game of the season.

9. Auburn (7-2, 4th, 9th)
The Tigers were stunned by Texas A&M, 41-38, fumbling twice in the closing minutes to seal the Aggies’ upset.  Now, while the Tigers need a lot of help to reach the inaugural playoff, they can still affect the SEC race as spoiler, with games at Georgia and Alabama sandwiching a light non-conference game with Samford.

10. Ole Miss (8-2, 14th, 10th)
After tough back-to-back SEC West losses, Ole Miss rebounded with a 48-0 win over FCS opponent Presbyterian.  This week the Rebels get a bye before heading to Arkansas and hosting Mississippi State in possibly the biggest Egg Bowl ever.

11. Michigan State (7-2, 7th, 12th)
12. Nebraska (8-1, 18th, 16th)
13. LSU (6-3, 13th, 17th)
14. Notre Dame (7-2, 5th, 18th)
15. Kansas State (7-2, 9th, 13th)
16. UCLA (8-2, 17th, 11th)
17. Georgia (7-2, 19th, 15th)
18. Clemson (7-2, 16th, 19th)
19. Marshall (9-0, 20th, unranked)
20. Duke (8-1, 21st, 21st)
21. Arizona (7-2, 22nd, 14th)
22. Wisconsin (7-2, 25th, 20th)
23. Oklahoma (6-3, 15th, unranked)
24. Georgia Tech (8-2, unranked, 22nd)
25. Missouri (7-2, unranked, unranked)

Also ranked in CFP Rankings: Texas A&M (7-3, 24th), Minnesota (7-2, 25th)

Fell from rankings: West Virginia (6-3, 23rd, unranked), Utah (6-3, 24th, 23rd)

College Football Power Rankings for Week Ten

1. Mississippi State (8-0, Last Week: 1st, CFP Ranking: 1st)
Arkansas once again came close to upsetting a ranked opponent, and the Bulldogs once again survived a close game with their opponent, winning 17-10. They’ll get a breather this week against UT-Martin.

2. Florida State (8-0, 2nd, 2nd)
The Seminoles survived a tough road test in a 42-31 win last Thursday at Louisville. This week should be an easier test for the ‘Noles as Virginia comes to Tallahassee, but this team isn’t as dominant as they were last year.

3. Alabama (7-1, 3rd, 5th)
The Crimson Tide enjoyed a bye last week, after their 14-point win over Tennessee. The bye gave them time to prepare for a tough two-week stretch, at LSU and at home against Mississippi State.

4. Auburn (7-1, 5th, 3rd)
The Tigers went on the road and beat Ole Miss, 35-31, in a de factor playoff elimination game, dodging a couple bullets to earn the win. Texas A&M visits Auburn this week as the Tigers host their last home conference game of the season.

5. Notre Dame (7-1, 4th, 10th)
The Irish struggled a bit in a 49-39 win over Navy, and fell a spot in these rankings. They can re-solidify themselves among the elite, however, with a win Saturday when they take on Arizona State in the desert.

6. Oregon (8-1, 6th, 4th)
The Ducks dispatched of Stanford on Saturday, beating the Cardinal 45-16 to avenge losses to them the last two seasons. Next is a tough road test, facing a Utah team that is 4-1 all-time at home against ranked opponents.

7. Michigan State (7-1, 9th, 8th)
Sparty enjoyed a bye week in between their win over Michigan and their big game with Ohio State, a de facto elimination game in both the Big Ten and the playoff race. A program normally known for its defense has been most efficient offensively this season.

8. TCU (7-1, 10th, 6th)
Speaking of offense, the Horned Frogs are 2nd in the nation with 48.0 points per game. That offense led them to a 31-30 comeback win over West Virginia last week, setting up a huge matchup Saturday against Kansas State.

9. Kansas State (7-1, 11th, 7th)
Although their toughest stretch is still to come in November, the Wildcats are undefeated in Big 12 play, with their only loss coming in a close game against Auburn. They now face TCU after beating Oklahoma State 48-14 to enter the top ten of these rankings for the first time.

10. Arizona State (7-1, 12th, 9th)
Also in these rankings for the first time are the Sun Devils of Arizona State, who have won three close games over ranked opponents, including an overtime win over Utah on Saturday. This week, as they enter the top ten, they face their toughest test yet, as they host Notre Dame in a virtual elimination game for both teams’ playoff hopes.

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