10. West Virginia Mountaineers 7-1 (13)
This will be the big mover of the week. The Mountaineer win over Texas on the road will be loved by the committee, but there’s not a whole lot else on the slate to get into.
The Iowa State 30-14 loss still hurts, but with Baylor looking better in a 58-14 win a few weeks ago, and now the victory over the Longhorns, they’ll keep on moving up.
– West Virginia 42, Texas 41
9. Ohio State Buckeyes 7-1 (10)
For now, just keep winning. The eye test isn’t there among the elite teams – it took too much of a struggle to get past Nebraska – and the 49-20 loss to Purdue is an anchor – but the Buckeyes will keep moving up. With at Michigan State, at Maryland and Michigan coming up, the ranking right now doesn’t matter. However, it’s not going to push past a two-loss LSU.
– Ohio State 36, Nebraska 31
8. LSU Tigers 7-2 (3)
There’s a shot Ohio State could be pushed into this slot, and the loss at Florida doesn’t look quite as okay now, but the committee liked the Tigers enough to be No. 3 last week, and this is about as far as they’ll fall.
There’s still the blowout win over Georgia and the dominant victory over Mississippi State to love. Throw in the win over Auburn – and blowout a loss to Alabama, because it’s Alabama – and they’re not falling out of the top eight.
– Alabama 29, LSU 0
7. Washington State Cougars 8-1 (8)
The committee liked the Cougars enough to put them at No. 8 last week, and nothing that happened will make it drop, or even stand pat. The 19-13 win over Cal might not have been that great, and there isn’t a special win to like, but on a five-game winning streak, and with the lone loss a tight 39-36 battle at USC, Wazzu will keep moving up.
6. Oklahoma Sooners 8-1 (7)
There will be a little bit of a debate about putting the Sooners No. 5, but the defense is too shaky and there isn’t a big win over a Kentucky on the road like Georgia has. Even so, with an O that’s put up 51 points or more in four of the last five games, along with the last three, moving up a spot to six is easy.
– Oklahoma 51, Texas Tech 46
5. Georgia Bulldogs 8-1 (6)
The Bulldogs beat last week’s No. 9 Kentucky handily in Lexington, and now they’re in a position to get into the final four by winning out. Go 12-1, beat Bama, and get into the College Football Playoff.
For right now, though – considering Michigan destroyed Penn State, and the Georgia blowout loss to LSU is still on the books – No. 5 will be the slot.
– Georgia 34, Kentucky 17
4. Michigan Wolverines 8-1 (5)
There’s a hard ceiling Michigan is going to run into as long as Notre Dame is unbeaten. However, it’s playing far better than the Irish right now – it doesn’t matter. With dominant performances over Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State over the last three weeks, they’re hitting their stride at the right time.
There’s a long-term concern if Georgia goes 12-1 with an SEC title – and Alabama is 12-1, and Notre Dame and Clemson are unbeaten. But for now, they’re in the top four.
– Michigan 42, Penn State 7
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 9-0 (4)
The committee will love the Michigan win more and more and more as the Wolverines keep on crushing and killing everything in their path. Making things even better in terms of optics, Pitt is improving, and next week, Northwestern is going to play – potentially – for the Big Ten West title. There’s no pushing for a top two spot for now, but No. 3 is fantastic.
– Notre Dame 31, Northwestern 21
2. Clemson Tigers 9-0 (2)
Clemson actually deserved to be No. 1 last week. The schedule is still great – it’s 18th in the nation in strength of schedule – and in terms of total dominance, no one has been better over the last month. But in this race, being No. 2 is more than fine.
– Clemson 77, Louisville 16
1. Alabama Crimson Tide 9-0 (1)
Yeah, there’s still a great case to be made for Clemson to be No. 1. Bama’s LSU game is the only win over a team that’s going to be ranked in the next round of College Football Playoff rankings.
The strength of schedule just isn’t that great, only three teams on the slate so far have come against almost-certain bowl teams, and … 29-0. At LSU. The committee liked Alabama last week, and that’s not stopping now.
– Alabama 29, LSU 0