After a week of mild movement, a much clearer playoff picture looks likely after this coming Saturday. Alabama-TAMU, UCLA-Stanford, Michigan-Michigan State, and Florida-LSU are just a few games that will see a team improve playoff positioning or, perhaps, get knocked out of the picture entirely.
25. Oklahoma (5-1)—The Sooners stay in the top 25- barely. Losing to the Longhorns is nothing short of embarrassing.
24. Toldeo (5-0)—Perhaps the biggest concern in Northwest Ohio is keeping their coach in blue and gold next season. The Rockets are on the rise.
23. Boise State (5-1)—The Broncos once again prove significant staying power.
22. Northwestern (5-1)—Wins over other smart schools (Duke and Stanford) keep the Wildcats in the top 25 despite a humiliating defeat. Beating the Hawkeyes would be significant.
21. Houston (5-0)—The Cougars are undefeated and poised to make a run under their first year coach.
20. Temple (5-0)—I still think the Owls head into the Notre Dame game undefeated, setting up possibly the biggest game in school history.
19. Cal (5-1)—The Bears are wounded, but they have time to lick those wounds before a big game against UCLA.
18. Iowa (6-0)—Does Iowa tread the easiest path to an undefeated regular season? If the Hawkeyes get by wounded Northwestern, they will be favored in every other game on their schedule.
17. UCLA (4-1)—As for the Cardinal, Thursday’s PAC-12 matchup can vault the Bruins back into the conversation.
16. Oklahoma State (6-0)—Being undefeated means everything and nothing for the Cowboys, who face TCU and Baylor on the schedule.
15. Stanford (4-1)—Could the Cardinal overcome a tough opening loss against Northwestern to get back in the playoff discussion? A win against UCLA likely raises notice that football in Palo Alto remains worth watching.
14. Notre Dame (5-1)—A two-point loss at Clemson hurt the Irish. However, they remain a dark horse contender for a playoff spot. However, South Bend would sure love for that upcoming likely win against USC to look better to bolster their case.
13. Ole Miss (5-1)—Don’t sleep on the Rebels. They should easily get by Memphis this week before heading into a huge game against the Aggies. A win there puts Hugh Freeze’s team very much back in the picture.
12. FSU (5-0)—The Seminoles often look like they are sleepwalking. The good news? A schedule that gets them 10 wins even at half speed. The bad? Clemson and Florida play full speed.
11. LSU (5-0)—No injury would be more devastating for a team than LSU losing Fournette. Their dependence on the big all-world back could cost them against better competition, and that day could come sooner rather than later.
10. Michigan (5-1)—Nothing could be more forgivable than a first-game loss with a new coach against a team now romping their way through conference play. Jim Harbaugh’s team has been dominant since and is very much in the playoff picture.
9. Alabama (5-1)—Not pretty. Alabama let a poor Arkansas team keep it close. A significant letdown after a dominant performance against the Dawgs.
8. Utah (5-0)—The Utes beat a very solid Cal team and intercepted arguably the nation’s top QB five times. With perhaps the toughest teams (the Bears, Oregon, and Michigan) on the schedule now in the rearview mirror, Utah could be on the rise.
7. Florida (6-0)—Another strong outing with a 21-3 victory over the two-time defending SEC East champs puts the Gators in the driver’s seat for the division.
6. Texas A&M (5-0)—Myles Garrett and company give this team a disruptive D to go along with the traditionally potent O. Game against the Tide intrigues.
5. Michigan State (6-0)—Let’s be real. The Spartans are winning, but they don’t look very good.
4. Clemson (5-0)—The Tigers blew out a Yellow Jackets team that looked strong to start the season. Dabo has this team poised for a run.
3. TCU (6-0)—Trevone Boykin put in a stellar performance against Kansas State. However, this is a team that has now been on the verge of upset three times this year.
2. Ohio State (6-0)—After another slow start, did we finally see the Buckeyes put it together against the Terps?
1. Baylor (6-0)—The Bears continue to dominate and take the top spot this week.