Last week, selecting the top four was easy. After only one of those teams managed to win, however, the picture is very muddled. Upset Saturday was unexpected, and there is much left to be decided in the closing weeks of the college football season.
Receiving Consideration: North Carolina, Tennessee, Navy, Houston, San Diego State, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Iowa, Georgia, and Western Kentucky.
25. Virginia Tech 7-3 [Lost to Georgia Tech, Last Week #16]—The Hokies’ loss to Georgia Tech was not enough to remove them from the top spot in the Coastal division. Much like the SEC and Big 10, these divisions are completely lopsided and have been for years.
24. Florida 7-2 [Defeated South Carolina, Last Week #25]—Jake Bentley should be a high school quarterback, and Florida’s defense made him wish he was back there on Saturday.
23. Boise State 9-1 [Defeated Hawaii, Last Week #24]—Some may argue that Boise State deserves to be the highest ranked group of five team outside of Western Michigan. However, I’ll give Troy, who lost to Clemson narrowly, the benefit of the doubt over the Broncos, who lost to Wyoming.
22. USC 7-3 [Defeated Washington, Last Week NR]—At the beginning of the season, I wrote that USC was the most talented team in the PAC 12. At this point in the season, Clay Helton- who looked like he’d lose his job early in the season, has his team playing like it.
21. Troy 8-1 [Defeated Appalachian State, Last Week #22]—He’s not the hottest name in college football, but Neal Brown could end up on the short list for some Power 5 coaching jobs this offseason.
20. Washington State 8-2 [Defeated Cal, Last Week #23]—Early losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State are tough to forgive, but the Cougars have the longest winning streak outside of Alabama and Western Michigan. They control their own destiny in the PAC 12 and could merit playoff discussion if they win out and get several other bounces their way.
19. Nebraska 8-2 [Defeated Minnesota, Last Week #21]—Rebounding from an abysmal performance against Ohio State, the Cornhuskers managed to get past a solid Gophers crew. Early into his tenure, Mike Riley is doing better than expected in Lincoln.
18. LSU 6-3 [Defeated Arkansas, Last Week #19]—Ed O may really have a shot to keep this job. Winning against Florida and at Texas A&M would make him tough to get rid of.
17. Texas A&M 7-3 [Lost to Ole Miss, Last Week #9]—It’s November, and that means the Aggies are losing. The team will get UTSA at home this week, but Kevin Sumlin could be fighting for his job when his team closes out the season against LSU.
16. Colorado 8-2 [Defeated Arizona, Last Week #20]—Believe it or not, but Colorado has a shot at a Pac 12 title. First, they must get through Leach’s pirates and a tough Utah team, but they get them both at home.
15. Auburn 7-3 [Lost to Georgia, Last Week #8]—Auburn’s offense has gone from one that couldn’t score touchdowns, to one that couldn’t be stopped, to one that now cannot score. Gus Malzahn likely won’t be fired this year, but, unless he does the impossible against Alabama, he will spend his second straight offseason on the hot seat.
14. Oklahoma State 8-2 [Defeated Texas Tech, Last Week #18]—The lowest ranked team with even the remotest shot at the playoff (and it is a LONG shot), the Cowboys have visits to TCU and Oklahoma ahead.
13. Florida State 7-3 [Defeated Boston College, Last Week #15]—Too talented to be ranked so low, the Seminoles will take a long look in the mirror this offseason.
12. Western Michigan 10-0 [Defeated Kent State, Last Week #14]—Probably not the 12th best team in the country, the virtue of being unbeaten puts the Broncos here.
11. West Virginia 8-1 [Defeated Texas, Last Week #12]—The Mountaineers managed to squeak by Texas, but they will need to demolish Oklahoma to get any serious playoff buzz.
10. Penn State 8-2 [Defeated Indiana, Last Week #17]—I have had the Nittany Lions too low for a couple of weeks now, but they finally crack my top ten. In fact, I gave consideration to push them higher as an OSU win over Michigan, and PSU winning out may put them in the playoff.
9. Utah 8-2 [Defeated Arizona State, Last Week #11]—No conferences have taken a bigger hit than the Pac 12 and Big 12 this season, and, even if the Utes can gain a conference title, they will need a lot of bounces to make the top four.
8. Oklahoma 8-2 [Defeated Baylor, Last Week #10]—Don’t be fooled by this ranking. Yes, the Sooners easily dispatched with Baylor and are poised to win the Big 12, but this team will need major help to get playoff consideration.
7. Washington 9-1 [Lost to USC, Last Week #3]—The Huskies’ loss was the hardest of the weekend because it will be the toughest to regain their spot. Not only does Washington have to win out to make the playoff, but they will need help.
6. Wisconsin 8-2 [Defeated Illinois, Last Week #7]—Not many pegged the Big 10 as the nation’s top conference before the season, but the Badgers are in a spot to control their own destiny with a conference title.
5. Louisville 9-1 [Defeated Wake Forest, Last Week #5]—If you are a fan of the Fighting Petrinos, you do not like this spot. However, the Cardinals are likely in control of their own destiny. If they win out, the OSU-Michigan matchup will create a spot for them. The Committee will look for a way to get Lamar Jackson into the playoff.
4. Clemson 9-1 [Lost to Pitt, Last Week #4]—I gave some serious thought to putting Louisville here (and, honestly, thought about the Cardinals in spots 2 and 3 as well), but Clemson gets my nod because of the head to head.
3. Michigan 9-1 [Lost to Iowa, Last Week #2]—There’s just not enough evidence that this team is NOT in the top four to bump down the Wolverines. A loss to OSU would end their chances, but, if the season ended today, this team would be in.
2. Ohio State 9-1 [Defeated Maryland, Last Week #6]—Over the last two weeks, the Buckeyes have proven that they are “back.” With no margin for error, Urban Meyer must keep this team playing on the edge as they must win out and look good doing it.
1. Alabama 10-0 [Defeated Miss State, Last Week: #1]—The undisputed #1 team in college football secured the SEC West title with Auburn’s loss against Georgia.