20. Texas Longhorns 6-3 (17)
The Oklahoma win will be the savior. Losing at Oklahoma State is a problem now – the Cowboys just lost to Baylor – but there won’t be too much hammering for the one-point loss to West Virginia.
– West Virginia 42, Texas 41
19. Florida Gators 6-3 (11)
This will be the most interesting call for the committee. Losing two blowouts in a row – Georgia two weeks ago, and Missouri last week – will be lousy, but the resume is still strong with wins over LSU and Mississippi State. The respect was there in the first ranking, and it’ll still be there now after the clunker to Mizzou – to a point.
– Missouri 38, Florida 17
18. Penn State Nittany Lions 6-3 (14)
The eye test is awful now with the way the Nittany Lions looked against Michigan. However, the defeats to Ohio State, Michigan State, and now the Wolverines don’t seem too bad. There isn’t a great win – Iowa and Pitt have to be it – if the CFP liked them enough to be 14th last week, there won’t be too much of a punishment for the performance in Ann Arbor.
– Michigan 42, Penn State 7
17. Michigan State Spartans 6-3 (NR)
Watch out for the committee to wake up and put the Spartans in a great spot after not ranking them last week. The win over Utah State is going to seem massive – it’s the Aggies’ only loss – and beating Penn State on the road and dropping Purdue helps the resume. The committee can’t put MSU behind the Nittany Lions now.
– Michigan State 24, Maryland 3
16. Boston College Eagles 7-2 (22)
There actually isn’t a good win on the slate. Beating Miami? You could do that. Winning at Virginia Tech? Whatever. However, this is the hot team at the right time with a shot at Clemson this week. For now, it’ll settle in around here, because it lost to …
– Boston College 31, Virginia Tech 21
15. NC State Wolfpack 6-2 (21)
The committee will fall in love with the strength of schedule. The Wolfpack are third in the nation in the category behind Stanford and LSU, and they’ll move up big thanks to a slew of key losses in the rankings and with the 28-23 win over Boston College looking stronger.
– NC State 47, Florida State 28
14. Syracuse Orange 7-2 (19)
There’s a great chance the Orange move up a bit higher than this for one big reason – Clemson 27, Syracuse 23. There isn’t a great win on the slate – NC State will have to do – but Clemson has gone on a tear over the last month after squeaking by Syracuse.
– Syracuse 41, Wake Forest 24
13. Mississippi State Bulldogs 6-3 (18)
This is where strength of schedule kicks in, ranking 28th. The Bulldogs are ripping it up over the last few weeks, winning three of the past four games, with the loss coming at LSU. Ranked 18th last week, everyone ranked 14-through-17 lost.
– Mississippi State 45, Louisiana Tech 3
12. Kentucky Wildcats 7-2 (9)
There’s a chance Kentucky falls to 11 – and it certainly deserves to be there over UCF – but the committee didn’t love the team last week and it’s not going to give it any more credit after a blowout loss to Georgia. There’s an eye test factor involved here.
– Georgia 34, Kentucky 17
11. UCF Knights 8-0 (12)
Yeah, the Knights are still unbeaten, but they’re 101st in the nation in strength of schedule, and now, when you’re in a hunt for the College Football Playoff, you don’t give up close to 700 yards to Temple on national TV. Even so, the committee liked them enough to put them at 12, and now the Pitt win is looking stronger.