Well, the Big 10 sure took a tumble when it comes to playoff hopes, but it still leads the way with 7 teams in this week’s top 25.
Washington-Stanford, Michigan State-Ohio State, Oklahoma State-Iowa State, Georgia-Auburn, Iowa-Wisconsin, Alabama-Mississippi State, Notre Dame-Miami, and TCU-Oklahoma form a great week of matchups.
Receiving Consideration: Boise State (7-2), South Florida (8-1), West Virginia (6-3), Toledo (8-1), Stanford (6-3), NC State (6-3), Arizona (6-3), South Carolina (6-3), Troy (7-2), SMU (6-3)
25. Northwestern 6-3 [Last Week: NR, Defeated Nebraska 31-24]—4 straight wins (the last 3 in OT) has the Wildcats as one of the hot teams in the country, and they deserve respect.
24. Michigan 7-2 [Last Week: NR, Defeated Minnesota 33-10]—It was a key win for the Wolverines in regaining some momentum. Harbaugh’s stock has taken a hit, and he needs a strong close to 2017.
23. Iowa State 6-3 [Last Week: NR, Lost to West Virginia 20-16]—The Cyclones lost its major momentum through the loss to the Mountaineers. Matt Campbell’s work still must be considered remarkable, though.
22. Mississippi State 7-2 [Last Week: #22, Defeated UMASS 34-23] — Some wins can be embarrassing, and the struggles of the Bulldogs against the Minutemen is a bad look.
21. Iowa 6-3 [Last Week: NR, Defeated Ohio State 55-24]—What a shocking and dominating performance! Iowa is the state that shakes up the college football landscape in 2017.
20. Washington State 7-2 [Last Week: NR, Defeated Stanford 24-21]—Stunningly inconsistent, the Cougars still have a real chance to make some noise in the PAC 12 after a nice win against the Cardinal.
19. LSU 6-3 [Last Week: #16, Lost to Alabama 24-10]—LSU is always a tough matchup for Alabama, but the Tide once again ruined the feel good story built by Ed O and his crew. The Bayou Bengals should easily defeat Arkansas this week.
18. Oklahoma State 7-2 [Last Week #13, Lost to Oklahoma 62-52] —Oklahoma State just can’t quite seem to reach that next level. Almost always good but never great under Gundy, as we saw this week in the offensive slug-fest.
17. Virginia Tech 7-2 [Last Week: #12, Lost to Miami 28-10]—Justin Fuente has the Hokies competing at a high level, but they are still a full notch below elite.
16. USC 8-2 [Last Week: #20, Defeated Arizona 49-35]—The Trojans placed themselves firmly in the driver’s seat in the PAC 12 South. A route at the hands of Notre Dame will keep USC from the playoff picture, even if they win out.
15. Penn State 7-2 [Last Week: #6, Lost to Michigan State 27-24]— James Franklin will be targeted by several SEC schools this offseason, but he has built a strong program in a short time in Happy Valley. Nevertheless, the Nittany Lions are now out of the playoff picture after two losses in the intensely competitive Big 10 East.
14. Michigan State 7-2 [Last Week #25, Defeated Penn State 27-24] —The Spartans delivered Penn State’s second straight loss and are now in control of their own Big 10 destiny. A major visit to Columbus makes for an intriguing matchup this week.
13. Ohio State 7-2 [Last Week: #4, Lost to Iowa 55-24]—One of the most bizarre games I can remember saw Ohio State drop from playoff contention. It would take a miracle for enough teams to lose AND for the Committee to overlook a route at the hand of the solid but unspectacular Hawkeyes.
12. Auburn 7-2 [Last Week: #19, Defeated 42-27]— There are times where the Tigers look very strong, but Malzahn’s offensive have been anemic against top flight defenses. IF the Tigers move the ball against UGA and win, they will become a trendy “dark horse” playoff pick.
11. Memphis 8-1 [Last Week: #17, Defeated Tulsa 41-14]— Mike Norvell will be a hot name in the coaching carousel as his Memphis Tigers have not missed a beat after losing Justin Fuente.
10. UCF 8-0 [Last Week: #14, Defeated SMU 31-24]—With a host of SEC jobs opening up, Scott Frost will not be patrolling the sidelines for the Knights next year. In the meantime, he is on the verge of something special with UCF.
9. Washington 8-1 [Last Week: #11, Defeated Oregon 38-3]—The Huskies have an outside shot at a playoff berth, and this was the kind of statement game they needed to make a run.
8. TCU 8-1 [Last Week: #10, Defeated Texas 24-7]—A win in Norman could set the Horned Frogs up for a playoff run, but, that will be a significant uphill battle.
7. Miami 8-0 [Last Week: #9, Defeated Virginia Tech 28-10]—It’s rare to see a coaching change work out so well for both team. Mark Richt departed Georgia only to see that program prosper. Now, he has his Hurricanes back in the national picture.
6. Clemson 8-1 [Last Week: #8, Defeated NC State 38-31]—The Tigers failed to dominate the Wolfpack like the Irish did the weak prior. Still, if Dabo’s crew wins out, they will be in the Playoff.
5. Notre Dame 8-1 [Last Week: #7, Defeated Wake Forest 48-37]—A less impressive win for the Fighting Irish still has them on a path to the playoff. This week’s faceoff against Miami has major implications.
4. Wisconsin 9-0 [Last Week: #5, Defeated Indiana 45-17]—For a conference that had four teams in the top ten not too long ago, the Badgers are the last real hope for a title contender. A matchup against Iowa this week cannot be taken for granted, but the Hawkeyes’ emergence could help the Badgers case by giving the team a rare quality win.
3. Oklahoma 8-1 [Last Week: #3, Defeated Oklahoma State 62-52]—No defense necessary! A shootout in Oklahoma saw the Sooners emerge victorious, paving the way for a playoff berth.
2. Georgia 9-0 [Last Week: #2, Defeated South Carolina 24-10]— Kirby Smart’s program and the one he left are the consensus top two in the SEC and the nation. To me, however, the Dawgs are still a step behind. A trip to Auburn this week gives them a chance to further their claim.
1. Alabama 9-0 [Last Week: #1, Defeated 24-10]—The Committee may not have put Alabama #1, but, to me, Saban’s team is the best in the land. A trip to Starkville, Mercer at home, and then a trip to Auburn are ahead.