With a good number of marquee teams off, there weren’t that many changes to this week’s Top 25, and the top 15 remained the same, with one switch in order. Here’s a look at my rankings this week, including four teams that didn’t make either of the AP or USA Today Top 25s, nor the BCS rankings.
1. Alabama (8-0, last week: 1): Crimson Tide have the least statistically-impressive profile of the top four teams, but that says more about the dominance of the other teams so far than it does about Alabama.
2. Florida State (8-0, 2): Seminoles’ dominance of Miami earns them a spot ahead of Oregon this week, but there’s not much difference between the two.
3. Oregon (8-0, 2): Ducks’ fall was through no fault of their own, and a win over Stanford may well get that No. 2 spot back.
4. Baylor (7-0, 4): Bears were off last week, but it’s hard to move anyone else ahead of a team that’s out-scoring opponents 48 per game and out-gaining them by 402, on average.
5. Stanford (7-1, 5): Cardinal fit the profile of something more like a 5-3 or 6-2 team, but when you keep on beating excellent teams the way Stanford does, it’s hard to fall down the rankings.
6. Ohio State (8-0, 6): I really wish the Buckeyes played someone of significance — the season-ending rivalry with Michigan barely counts now, the way the Wolverines are playing — because they seem to be getting better each week. Here’s hoping we’ll see OSU and Michigan State in the Big 10 title game.
7. Missouri (8-1, 7): Tigers were able to handle Tennessee easily, even without James Franklin, because that defense just keeps getting better each week. If not for a pesky upright, Mizzou might still be unbeaten.
8. LSU (7-2, 8): If the right LSU team shows up, the Tigers have the potential to put a scare into Alabama this weekend. The key will be LSU getting a better defensive effort than it’s gotten all season.
9. Clemson (8-1, 9): How to Beat a Hangover: thrash Virginia by 49 points. Tigers have great opportunities with Georgia Tech and South Carolina in the final weekends to pad their resume´.
10. Auburn (8-1, 10): I still don’t buy Auburn as an elite team, but there aren’t five college football teams that are more consistent from week to week than Auburn, which adds clout to Gus Malzahn’s Coach of the Year credentials.
11. Wisconsin (6-2, 11): See comment on Ohio State. Ending the season with Indiana, Penn State and Minnesota will tell us little about how good the Badgers really are, but I think it’s closer to here than to the 20-something where the UW is pegged in the major polls.
12. Oklahoma (7-1, 12): Sooners were off
13. South Carolina (7-2, 13): Gamecocks didn’t play great last weekend, but played well enough to spank a decent Mississippi State team by 18 points, anyway.
14. Texas A&M (7-2, 14): Finally, there are some signs of a defense coming together in College Station. If that happens, Aggies are likely a top-10 club.
15. Oklahoma State (7-1, 15): A win over a ranked Texas Tech squad would normally move OSU up, but I already had them higher than most, anyway.
16. Arizona State (5-2, 16): The Sun Devils were off last week, but have quietly steamrolled through the PAC-12 with the exception of a defeat to Stanford.
17. Michigan State (8-1, 22): Beating a pedestrian Michigan team isn’t that impressive, but doing it the way the Spartans did — a 23-point victory at the Big House in which they more than doubled-up the Wolverines in yardage — was.
18. UCLA (6-2, 18): A 22-point win got the Bruins, who’d lost to Stanford and Oregon the previous two weeks, back on track a bit.
19. Central Florida (6-1, 19): Playing in a weak conference won’t allow the Golden Knights to move up much from here, but what’s impressive about UCF is that it’s played well against the good teams on its schedule. The last decent test on the regular-season schedule comes this weekend vs. Houston.
20. Louisville (7-1, 21): Cards continue to kill it against what’s easily the softest schedule among teams in my rankings.
21. Ole Miss (5-3, 23): Look for the Rebels to be in everyone else’s rankings in two weeks, after they’ve thrashed Arkansas and Troy. It shouldn’t take that, but it probably will.
22. Washington (5-3): A similar statement may be applicable to the Huskies soon as the end of the schedule gets easier than the middle, which included Arizona, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State.
23. Georgia (5-3, 25): ‘Dawgs get star runner Todd Gurley back, and guess what? A win at Florida followed.
24. Miami (7-1, 16): Overrated Hurricanes got exposed at Florida State, though just about everyone gets exposed against the Seminoles. Now, it gets tougher with running back Duke Johnson done for the season.
25. BYU (6-2, NR): Cougars have quietly won five in a row against some respectable teams.
Also considered: Texas Tech, Notre Dame, Southern Cal
In their rankings, but not in mine: Texas Tech, Notre Dame, Fresno State, Northern Illinois. The Red Raiders and Fighting Irish were really close; as for Northern Illinois and Fresno, I’ve got them 32nd and 37th, respectively. Neither team has beaten anyone in my top 35 and if you’re going to play nobody, you’d better at least be dominant, which isn’t the case.