Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Baylor remain the same in this week’s Top 25, but losses by Missouri, Texas Tech and UCLA (to South Carolina, Oklahoma and Oregon, respectively) caused some big shake-ups in the rankings from there down. Also, I did some re-thinking on some teams I probably ranked too low last week (LSU, Clemson, Oklahoma State) and one I ranked too high (Miami).
Anyway, after several hours of exhaustive tabulation — I look at each game a team played, whether it won or lost and by how many, overall scoring, yardage and turnover margins, overall strength of schedule, and just about anything else you could reasonably factor in — here are this week’s rankings.
1. Alabama (8-0): Crimson Tide just keep rolling after a 35-point drilling of Tennessee. Two teams in my top 10, LSU and Auburn, await ‘Bama in November.
2. Oregon (8-0): Oregon’s 42-14 smashing of UCLA came with the Bruins missing some key players, but it was still one of the more impressive wins in college football this year.
3. Florida State (7-0): Boston College, which lost by 14, remains the team that’s come closest to beating the Seminoles.
4. Baylor (7-0): Just another day in the park for the Bears, who are winning each game by an average of 48 points and out-gaining opponents by 402 yards. November, which features Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and TCU on the Bears’ schedule, will tell us how good Baylor really is.
5. Stanford (7-1): The Cardinal aren’t a statistically-dominant squad, but I’m not sure any team has four better wins than Stanford’s best four, which are Arizona State, Washington, UCLA and Oregon State.
6. Ohio State (8-0): The Buckeyes’ problem is that schedule — they’ve played just one Top 25 team (Wisconsin) and beat the Badgers by seven. Of course, you can say the same about Baylor, but the Buckeyes haven’t been nearly that dominant.
7. Missouri (7-1): A missed chip-shot field goal against South Carolina that could have tied the game in overtime will haunt the Tigers all season.
8. LSU (7-2): I had the Tigers 13th last week, and no, a 32-point win over Furman wasn’t what convinced me I was wrong. Instead, it was the realization that I shouldn’t penalize a team that much for three-point road losses to Georgia (when Georgia was healthy) and Ole Miss. A little reversal of fortune, and the Tigers would still be in the national title talk.
9. Clemson (7-1): Now that the shock of the Florida State beat-down has worn off, let’s not forget that the Tigers were good enough to beat a Georgia team at full-strength this year.
10. Auburn (7-1): Tigers continue to bring it every week with their running game, and wins over A&M and Ole Miss look great on that resume.
11. Wisconsin (5-2): Badgers have a schedule problem in that they narrowly lost their only two tough games (at Arizona State, at Ohio State) but have been statistically dominant on both sides of the ball.
12. Oklahoma (7-1): People bailed on OU too soon after the Texas loss, but Sooners still have a good defense, and now, maybe a good offense thanks to quarterback Blake Bell, as Texas Tech just learned.
13. South Carolina (6-2): The moment I become convinced I’ve overrated the Gamecocks, they go and knock off a top-5 team on the road. I haven’t a clue what’s ahead, but the No. 13 spot seems appropriate given how unlucky I’ve been with them. Carolina now has a pair of road wins over ranked teams, and not many can say that.
14. Texas A&M (6-2): Two encouraging things for the Aggies over the weekend: QB Johnny Manziel’s health appears to be just fine, and the A&M defense gave up just 24 points to Vanderbilt.
15. Oklahoma State (6-1): Cowboys lack a marquee win, but have been solid week to week against a schedule of mediocre opponents.
16. Miami, Fla. (7-0): I had the Hurricanes in my top 10 after a 15-point win over Georgia Tech, but top 10 teams don’t beat North Carolina and Wake Forest by a combined seven points as the ‘Canes have the last two weekends.
17. UCLA (5-2): Injuries, brutal back-to-back games against Stanford and Oregon, and a drop-off in play from quarterback Brett Hundley have combined to knock the Bruins down 11 spots in two weeks.
18. Arizona State (5-2): Sun Devils have two losses and probably should have a third, but they also have wins over Wisconsin and Washington and out-scored Jeff Sagarin’s 12th-toughest schedule by nearly 19 points per game.
19. Texas Tech (7-1): Kliff Kingsbury has done a nice job in his first year, and done it in, but any accomplishments should be weighed against the fact that 5-3 Texas State’s the only team with a winning record that Tech has beaten.
20. Central Florida (6-1): A three-point loss to South Carolina is all that’s standing between the Golden Knights and an unbeaten season. The Houston game on Nov. 9 is probably the only time UCF will be challenged between now and the postseason.
21. Louisville (7-1): Meanwhile, a three-point loss to UCF is the only thing keeping Louisville from being undefeated. Cards’ 28.8-point and 250-yard margins per week are impressive, but you don’t have much in the way of bragging rights when Ohio and Rutgers are your best wins.
22. Michigan State (7-1): Spartans are in the same boat as Louisville, with a 12-point road win at Iowa as the best bullet point on the resume. But Sparty’s no pushover with a defense allowing 216 yards per game and an improving offense.
23. Ole Miss (5-3): People will have problems with Ole Miss being in the rankings given the Rebels’ three losses, but three of the four teams in front of Ole Miss don’t have two wins put together as impressive as the Rebels’ road conquest of Texas and their home win over LSU.
24. Washington (5-3): After three-straight losses to ranked teams, Huskies finally got what they needed, which was an easy win over a bad Cal team.
25. Georgia (4-3): As the Bulldogs start to get healthy, I remind you that they’ve got victories over LSU and South Carolina and are still over .500 against the nation’s toughest slate, according to Sagarin.
Also considered: BYU, Oregon State, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Notre Dame