Four Power 5 undefeated programs remain, and the playoff spots—as of today—are clear.
After the top four, however, the pecking order remains very much in flux as teams position themselves to cause or take advantage of a stumble from Alabama, Michigan, Washington, or Clemson.
Receiving Consideration: Boise State, USC, Tennessee, Tulsa, Navy, Houston, Minnesota, San Diego State, Pittsburgh, and South Florida.
25. Washington State 6-2 [Defeated Oregon State, Last Week NR]—The Cougars are worth watching for more than just Mike Leach’s fun offense. With three of their final four at home, including a shot at Washington, Wazzu could be a big factor late.
24. Troy 7-1 [Bye, Last Week NR]—One loss against Clemson is the only blemish on the Trojans’ record. Neal Brown has Troy playing good football once again.
23. Colorado 6-2 [Bye, Last Week NR]—For the first time in a long time, the Buffs are relevant. UCLA, Arizona, Washington State, and Utah all remain on the schedule so going .500 in the final four could be a major accomplishment for this team.
22. Oklahoma State 6-2 [Defeated West Virginia, Last Week NR]—The Cowboys face the Big 12 version of a tough remaining schedule so I am not confident they will remain here. Still, college football owes them a favor for taking out West Virginia.
21. Penn State 6-2 [Defeated Purdue, Last Week #25]—James Franklin enjoys some real program momentum for the Nittany Lions. With Iowa this week arguably their toughest remaining game, this team could find itself in an excellent bowl game.
20. Virginia Tech 6-2 [Defeated Pittsburgh, Last Week NR]—Justin Fuente’s Hokies are hitting a stride, and they are now the favorites to win the Coastal division.
19. Western Michigan 8-0 [Bye, Last Week #20]—The best Group of Five team left, Western Michigan needs to take it week by week and not get caught eyeing the end-of-season contest against Toledo.
18. Florida State 5-3 [Lost to Clemson, Last Week #14]—In arguably the Seminoles’ best game, they could not overcome Clemson.
17. UNC 6-2 [Bye, Last Week #21]—Larry Fedora has to love where his team sits right now, and the Tar Heels will be favored in every game moving forward.
16. West Virginia 6-1 [Lost to Oklahoma State, Last Week #7]—Outclassed by the Sooners, the Mountaineers and the Big 12 said goodbye to any playoff hopes.
15. LSU 5-2 [Bye, Last Week #23]—A tough schedule lies ahead for LSU, but Ed O has this team fighting with renewed vigor heading into a home contest against Alabama.
14. Utah 7-2 [Lost to Washington, Last Week #18]—The Utes are another team that moves up despite a loss. They were very competitive against Washington.
13. Baylor 6-1 [Lost to Texas, Last Week #8]—I hate to put the Bears here as they have not really beaten anyone. However, we will see how the season plays out.
12. Florida 6-1 [Defeated UGA, Last Week #17]—In the driver’s seat in the SEC [L]East, the Gators boast an elite defense with an offense capable of scoring just enough to win.
11. Oklahoma 6-2 [Defeated Kansas, Last Week #13]—After a rough start, the Sooners are in control in the pathetic Big 12.
10. Nebraska 7-1 [Lost to Wisconsin, Last Week #11]—Already proving themselves against top competition, the Cornhuskers move up despite a loss.
9. Auburn 6-2 [Defeated Ole Miss, Last Week #12]—The Tigers are gaining momentum at the right time. If they continue to perform, it could set up a big-time Iron Bowl.
8. Wisconsin 6-2 [Defeated Nebraska, Last Week #10]—If the Badgers can win out and avenge a loss to either OSU or Michigan in the Big 10 title game, what will the committee do?
7. Texas A&M 7-1 [Defeated New Mexico State, Last Week #9]—LSU and Ole Miss are still on the docket for this Aggie team that is an Alabama loss from having a shot at the SEC West.
6. Ohio State 6-1 [Defeated Northwestern, Last Week #6]—That game should not have been this close, and the Buckeyes will need to find their mojo before they face Michigan.
5. Louisville 6-1 [Defeated Virginia, Last Week #5]—Some will argue for the Cardinals’ inclusion, but I firmly believe they will need some help.
4. Clemson [Defeated Florida State, Last Week #4]—The Tigers narrowly escaped a tough test against FSU. Only three of their contests have been decided by more than a touchdown, but the committee has no choice but to include an undefeated Clemson.
3. Washington 8-0 [Defeated Utah, Last Week #3]—While other unbeatens fell to lesser tests, the Huskies managed to survive the Utes. A visit to Cal appears like no easy task this week.
2. Michigan 8-0 [Defeated Michigan State, Last Week #2]—The Wolverines are a complete team that looks like it will be 11-0 heading into the Ohio State game.
1. Alabama 8-0 [Bye, Last Week: #1]—A trip to Baton Rouge this week provides a significant test for the Tide. Still, I expect them to continue to roll.