1. Alabama (8-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 1st)
The Tide dominated Tennessee as expected on Saturday, winning 45-7, outgaining the Volunteers 604-108, and remain the unanimous number-one team in the AP and Coaches Polls. The Tide will be idle this weekend ahead of hosting LSU next week, with their two toughest games still remaining (LSU, at Auburn).
2. Penn State (8-0, LW: 2nd, AP: 2nd)
For Penn State, it’s one down and two to go after a 42-13 win over Michigan to start a very difficult three-week stretch of games. The Nittany Lions finished Saturday’s game with 28 unanswered points, led by the dynamic duo of quarterback Trace McSorley (17-26 passing, 282 yards, one passing touchdown, 11 carries, 76 yards, three rushing touchdowns) and running back Saquon Barkley (15 carries, 108 yards, two touchdowns). The toughest of this three-game gauntlet comes this week, as the Nittany Lions travel to Columbus to face Ohio State in a game that will go a long way towards deciding the Big Ten East, and will have sizable College Football Playoff ramifications as well.
3. Georgia (7-0, LW: 3rd, AP: 3rd)
The Bulldogs had a bye on Saturday, and will play Florida in Jacksonville on Saturday in the rivalry game known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
4. TCU (7-0, LW: 4th, AP: 4th)
Consensus is that Kansas is the worst Power Five football program, but TCU’s showing against the Jayhawks was still impressive, especially defensively. The Jayhawks gained just 21 yards–and lost 25 yards rushing–as the Horned Frogs held them to four first downs in a 43-0 drubbing. Quarterback Kenny Hill also threw for five touchdowns, matching a career high. This week’s game against Iowa State didn’t look particularly big in August, but the Cyclones are an upstart team having a solid year, have already shown their big-game meddle, and will have the crowd behind them in arguably their biggest home game in years.
5. Wisconsin (7-0, LW: 5th, AP: 5th)
The Badgers defeated Maryland comfortably on Saturday, 38-13, to stay perfect. Running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown, topping the 1,000-yard mark for the season, as the Badgers executed a very balanced offensive attack with 225 passing yards and 215 rushing yards. The Badgers begin a two-game Big Ten road trip at Illinois on Saturday.
6. Clemson (6-1, LW: 6th, AP: 7th)
The Tigers had a much-needed bye, coming off their stunning loss to Syracuse. Georgia Tech visits Death Valley on Saturday night, a week ahead of a potential division-determiner at NC State.
7. Ohio State (6-1, LW: 7th, AP: 6th)
The Buckeyes also enjoyed a bye week ahead of this week’s showdown with Penn State. That scheduling could be an advantage, as the Buckeyes should be rested while the Nittany Lions are coming off a physical game with Michigan.
8. Miami (6-0, LW: 8th, AP: 8th)
The Hurricanes were able to do something their ACC counterparts at Clemson were unable to do the week before: they put away Syracuse in the fourth quarter. The Orange had another upset chance at Miami, but the Hurricanes scored on a 33-yard Travis Horner run with 2:48 to go to extend the lead to the eventual final score of 27-19. The Hurricanes did allow 264 Syracuse rushing yards, but also forced four Orange turnovers. In a scheduling quirk, the Hurricanes will head to North Carolina this week for their final road game until after Thanksgiving.
9. Oklahoma (6-1, LW: 9th, AP: 10th)
The Sooners survived a trip to Kansas State, a tough place to win on the road, by scoring a go-ahead touchdown with seven seconds left. Rodney Anderson, who totaled 147 rushing yards in the game, ran it in from 22 yards to give the Sooners a 42-35 victory, as quarterback Baker Mayfield had another strong game, completing 32 of his 41 passes for 410 yards and two touchdowns. Texas Tech visits the Sooners on Saturday, ahead of a September in which they will play the three other four ranked teams in the Big 12 (at Oklahoma State, TCU, West Virginia).
10. Notre Dame (6-1, LW: 22nd, AP: 9th)
All season, I’ve thought the Irish were only ranked because of the name on the front of their jersey, and I didn’t bye the hype around their rebound from last year’s 4-8 record. But after Saturday’s 49-14 win over USC, I have much more faith in the Irish and their abilities. The team rushed for 377 yards, led by 191 from running back Josh Adams and 106 from quarterback Brandon Wimbush, while holding the Trojans to 76 rushing yards and forcing three Trojan turnovers. The Irish have only lost once all season, by a single point to #3 Georgia. This week, the Irish will be tested again as NC State comes to South Bend, in a rematch of last year’s 10-3 slobber-knocker in Raleigh in the rain from Hurricane Matthew.
Worth a Mention: Bye Weeks
An unusually high number of programs were idle on Saturday, as six of the current top 25 had their bye week for the season, along with several other notable unranked teams. This was part of the reason for a fairly bland Saturday of college football, with the only ranked teams to lose doing so against other ranked teams and the two big games being played in prime time, and made it the rare Saturday in the fall that was actually perfect for catching up on yardwork or homework, or attending a wedding like I did (congrats, Jackson and Natalie). This week, four ranked teams including Alabama have byes, but we’ll make up for it with a slew of ranked matchups.
11. Virginia Tech (6-1, LW: 14th, AP: 13th)
12. Oklahoma State (6-1, LW: 11th, AP: 11th)
13. Washington (6-1, LW: 12th, AP: 12th)
14. Washington State (7-1, LW: 15th, AP: 15th)
15. Auburn (6-2, LW: 16th, AP: 19th)
16. South Florida (8-0, LW: 17th, AP: 17th)
17. NC State (6-1, LW: 18th, AP: 14th)
18. UCF (6-0, LW: 19th, AP: 18th)
19. USC (6-2, LW: 10th, AP: 21st)
20. Stanford (5-2, LW: 20th, AP: 20th)
21. Michigan State (6-1, LW: 21st, AP: 16th)
22. Michigan (5-2, LW: 13th, AP: unranked)
23. West Virginia (5-2, LW: 23rd, AP: 22nd)
24. LSU (6-2, LW: 24th, AP: 23rd)
25. Memphis (6-1, LW: 25th, AP: 24th)
Also ranked in AP Poll: Iowa State (5-2, 25th)