Bizarre. That’s how I viewed the Committee’s decision to place Texas A&M over Washington in the Playoff. That decision was rectified by Mississippi State’s victory over the Aggies. Meanwhile, Louisville and Ohio State put together strong resumes to fill the void should one of the top four stumble.
Receiving Consideration: Baylor, USC, Arkansas, Tennessee, Tulsa, Navy, Houston, Minnesota, San Diego State, and South Florida.
25. Florida 6-2 [Lost to Arkansas, Last Week #12]—I am hesitant to put the Gators here. Lacking in quality wins and benefitting from playing in the SEC Least, Florida was humbled by Arkansas.
24. Boise State 8-1 [Defeated San Jose State, Last Week NR]—A one week hiatus from the top 25 is all the punishment the Broncos receive for the loss to Wyoming. The end of season game against Air Force should be interesting.
23. Washington State 7-2 [Defeated Arizona, Last Week #25]—There are few teams in college football hotter than Leach’s Cougars. If they get by Cal, they have two huge games at Colorado and against Washington.
22. Troy 7-1 [Defeated UMASS, Last Week #24]—The Trojans are a lost story this season. Arguably one of the biggest surprises, this team is doing big things in the Sun Belt.
21. Nebraska 7-2 [Lost to Ohio State, Last Week #10]—Wow, that was a beat down. Nebraska gets points for hanging with Wisconsin a week earlier.
20. Colorado 7-2 [Defeated UCLA, Last Week #23]—An ugly win over UCLA continues Colorado’s enhanced relevance. The Buffs have work to do to get through Washington State and Utah at the end of the season, though.
19. LSU 5-3 [Lost to Alabama, Last Week #15]—If the expectation was for Ed O to be able to unleash a potent offense, then fans of the Bayou Bengals should be disappointed. Still, this team is better than they were early.
18. Oklahoma State 7-2 [Defeated Kansas State, Last Week #22]—It has taken a while to get over the Cowboys’ loss to Central Michigan, but this team is very much in the Big 12 mix. Now, what does that mean? Frankly, not all that much.
17. Penn State 7-2 [Defeated Iowa, Last Week #21]—The Nittany Lions are back in a big way, and this team has followed up its shocking OSU win by routing Purdue and Iowa. James Franklin’s program probably should be ranked higher, but they walk a less clear path to postseason relevance.
16. Virginia Tech 7-2 [Defeated Duke. Last Week #20]—Justin Fuente’s team would be in an even better spot if not for an inexplicable loss to Syracuse and a late collapse against Tennessee. This is a good football team, led by Jerod Evans, which shows this year’s depth in the ACC.
15. Florida State 6-3 [Defeated North Carolina State, Last Week #18]—The next two weeks for the Seminoles feature two teams utterly routed by Clemson and Louisville before FSU gets a chance against the rival Gators.
14. Western Michigan 9-0 [Defeated Ball State, Last Week #19]—Give credit where it is due. PJ Fleck has this team poised to run the table. Watch out for Toledo at the end of the season, though.
13. North Carolina 7-2 [Defeated Georgia Tech, Last Week #17]—The Tar Heels still have a shot at the Coastal title, but they have to win their state championship first. Duke and North Carolina State lie ahead.
12. West Virginia 7-1 [Defeated Kansas, Last Week #16]—I doubt West Virginia remains here after visits to Texas and a game against Oklahoma, but this is where they fall for now.
11. Utah 7-2 [Bye, Last Week #14]—The Utes still may get another shot at Washington if they can win out, and that could put them in the playoff hunt.
10. Oklahoma 7-2 [Defeated Iowa State, Last Week #11]—Wow, the Sooners have really rebounded. Of course, it’s easy to rebound when you play in the Big 12.
9. Texas A&M 7-2 [Lost to Mississippi State, Last Week #7]—I hate to drop the Aggies below Auburn—a team they beat—but that’s what happens when you lose to the lowly Bulldogs.
8. Auburn 7-2 [Defeated Vanderbilt, Last Week #9]—It was an ugly win for the Tigers who saw their momentum take a hit. This heavily injured team may struggle against Georgia.
7. Wisconsin 7-2 [Defeated Northwestern, Last Week #8]—With three likely wins on the schedule and either Michigan or OSU in the conference title game, the Badgers arguably control their own destiny.
6. Ohio State 8-1 [Defeated Nebraska Last Week #6]—Clearly out of their funk, the Buckeyes beat Nebraska in a manner completely unexpected. There is very little separating OSU, which has more opportunities to jump ahead, and Louisville.
5. Louisville 8-1 [Defeated Boston College, Last Week #5]—When Bobby Petrino and Lamar Jackson put the foot on the gas, there is no stopping the Cardinals. Jackson is a superstar.
4. Clemson 9-0 [Defeated Syracuse, Last Week #4]—The Tigers’ season has been characterized more by narrow escapes than dominant performances. However, this team began to look like a playoff team against the Orange.
3. Washington 9-0 [Defeated Cal, Last Week #3]—Speculation that a Washington team unused to success would fail to rise to the challenge proved unfounded against Cal. The Huskies still have three “losable” games on the schedule, but this team should no longer be underestimated.
2. Michigan 9-0 [Defeated Maryland, Last Week #2]—Road trips to Iowa and to Ohio State loom for the Wolverines, a program that looks more invincible than any in the country.
1. Alabama 9-0 [Defeated LSU, Last Week: #1]—Not to take Mississippi State for granted (see A&M, Texas), but Alabama just got past its toughest test until the Iron Bowl.