Very little movement in the Top 25 this week, but that changes today. Notably, Alabama and LSU battle for a spot in the playoff. FSU-Clemson and TCU-Oklahoma State are likely elimination games as well.
25. USC (5-3)—Despite the talent level of the Trojans and starting the season with Steve Sarkisian at the helm, USC boasts a winning record.
24. Texas A&M (6-2)—The Aggies should have no problem getting to 9-2 for a final game faceoff at LSU.
23. Mississippi State (7-2)—A tough home stretch against Alabama, at Arkansas, and against Ole Miss could leave the Bulldogs reeling or thriving. Either way, as Dak Prescott’s career winds down, Dan Mullen may look to rebuild and could look for a way out.
22. UCLA (6-2)—The Bruins could be great. But they are not. Those two statements make UCLA a fit at #22.
21. Temple (7-1)—On the national stage, the Owls did not disappoint. Despite the loss, the Temple program impresses
20. North Carolina (7-1)—Gene Chizik has experienced a career revival with the Tar Heels, and the win against Pitt has the program poised for big things this season.
19. Ole Miss (7-2)—Auburn stinks. But a road win in the SEC West is tough. The Rebels have bounced back after their two rough losses. Is there a team with a better trio than Nkemdiche, Tunsil, and Treadwell in the country?
18. Houston (8-0)—Results apparently don’t matter in college football. At least that is the message the committee sent when they ranked undefeated Houston at #25. Yes, several spots behind two-loss Northwestern. The Cougars are playing good football right now, and that ranking is a joke.
17. Florida State (7-1)—I doubt FSU can get back to the playoff, but, if they win out, they will have made a strong case after beating Clemson and Florida. Will that happen? I doubt it.
16. Michigan (6-2)—If the Wolverines win out and ruin the Buckeyes’ playoff bid, would there be a happier fan base in the nation? A great coach that outperformed big expectations in Year 1 would make for some huge 2016 projections. Want to add a cherry on top? It looks like the Wolverines are poised to land the nation’s top RB, Kareem Walker. As of last week, Walker was committed to Ohio State.
15. Oklahoma (7-1)—I have not been easy on the Sooners, but they are playing really good football right now and have big potential to climb… or fall.
14. Memphis (8-0)—In order to get to the playoff, the Tigers must beat a very good SEC West team, a likely 9-0 team, and a likely 9-1 team that lost to Notre Dame by just four points. Oh, and they just might have CFB’s best quarterback. You tell me they don’t have a case if they go undefeated.
13. Utah (7-1)—Away games at Washington and Arizona should not be taken for granted. UCLA also looms on the schedule for the Utes.
12. Florida (7-1)—With Florida State and either Alabama or LSU back on the schedule, it is hard to imagine Florida missing the playoff if they win out.
11. Oklahoma State (8-0)—The Cowboys are the lowest rated undefeated Power 5 team. That will change if they win this week. Oklahoma State should be in control of its own destiny unless the Committee continues to fall short of its job.
10. Notre Dame (7-1)—The Fighting Irish are rightfully celebrating their narrow win over Temple. However, failing to give a dominating performance could make the difference between missing and making the playoffs. Each of the nine teams ahead of Notre Dame likely controls its own destiny. The same cannot be said for the Irish.
9. Iowa (8-0)—The Hawkeyes may have had the most improbable ride of any team in playoff contention, but they may also be the most likely team to win the remainder of its regular season games. Note to the Committee: Yes, you have to include Iowa if they go undefeated and win the Big Ten title.
8. Stanford (7-1)—It’s possible that the Cardinal could trip up first, but the storyline of Stanford playing Notre Dame in a de facto quarterfinal game would be fun. Another interesting scenario: the Cardinal becoming the second straight champion to lose Week 1 against a lackluster opponent.
7. Alabama (7-1)—Yes, it’s Alabama. But the team that lost to the team that lost to Memphis does not belong in the playoff. Yet, not without a significant quality win and with so many qualified teams remaining, a win against LSU on Saturday would give the Tide the boost they need. Until then, the committee made a huge blunder in this writer’s opinion.
6. Michigan State (8-0)—Outside of the game against the Buckeyes, the toughest games are behind the Spartans. Michigan State controls its own destiny.
5. LSU (7-0)—I don’t know who, but somebody will get knocked out of my top four should LSU get a victory against Alabama. For now, regardless of what the Committee says, LSU sits on the outside.
4. TCU (8-0)—No, TCU does not have a quality win on its resume. That could change with a victory in Stillwater.
3. Clemson (8-0)—Maybe it is a stretch to say the Tigers’ bid for the playoff all comes down to Saturday’s matchup against FSU. Maybe a stretch, but not much of one.
2. Baylor (7-0)—Oklahoma at home and then away games at Oklahoma State and TCU with a true freshman quarterback is not how the Bears want to wind down their season. Still, if they emerge, there is no doubt they belong in playoffs.
1. Ohio State (8-0)—To say it’s unlikely that Illinois or Minnesota cause the Buckeyes to stumble would be an understatement. Michigan State, Michigan, and, likely, Iowa are another story. Could the final three games cause the defending champs to miss the playoffs?