Sports, Thrill of Victory

The Weekly 128

The college football season took more exciting twists and turns as we inch closer to the four-team College Football Playoff… speaking of which, you’ll see a definite agreement between how I size up the playoff field at the moment and how the playoff committee did on Tuesday. Unlike the committee, however, I’m ranking each of the 128 FBS teams again this week; here’s how they stack up.

Some people think Oregon's a playoff-worthy team, but will the Ducks' defense be good enough to get it there?

Some people think Oregon’s a playoff-worthy team, but will the Ducks’ defense be good enough to get it there?

  1. Mississippi St. (7-0): The Bulldogs, behind potential Heisman-winning quarterback Dak Prescott, have amassed an impressive résumé of seven wins, six of which have come by 13 points or more.
  2. Auburn (6-1): I don’t know that the Tigers can stay afloat against a murderous schedule that still features road trips to Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama, but I certainly think they deserve to be in the playoff mix if the season ends now.
  3. Florida State (7-0): I’m a bit underwhelmed by parts of the Seminoles’ resume–FSU has played Jeff Sagarin’s 41st-toughest schedule and yet out-gains opponents by just 69 yards a game–but I suppose that being undefeated coming off an undefeated 2013 has to count for something.
  4. Ole Miss (7-1): One thing I really appreciate about the job the committee is doing is that, unlike the pollsters, it doesn’t unduly penalize teams for later losses, which is generally a silly penalty for playing tougher games later in the schedule. Remember, the Rebels did beat Alabama a few weeks back.
  5. Alabama (7-1): I’ll predict that the Crimson Tide wind up in the playoff, but I don’t think they’re deserving if the field were picked today.
  6. Baylor (6-1): The Bears were the biggest litmus test for the selection committee, which penalized Baylor’s relatively-week out of conference schedule by putting it 13th in its ranking. But shouldn’t the Bears’ win over TCU count for more than that?
  7. TCU (6-1): The Horned Frogs haven’t been so “Christian” to opponents with a 28.8-point average margin of victory that ranks second in America.
  8. Oregon (7-1): The Ducks are a lot of people’s pick to make the playoff, but can a defense yielding 448 yards and 27.3 points a game be up to the task?
  9. Georgia (6-1): UGA is tied with Ole Miss (plus-13) for the No. 1 ranking in turnover margin.
  10. Notre Dame (6-1): That last-minute pick play that got called in Tallahassee changed everything for the Fighting Irish.
  11. Michigan State (7-1): Spartans have fourth-best scoring margin in the country (26.3 ppg), as well they should with Sagarin’s 63rd-best schedule.
  12. Kansas State (6-1): At first blush, the Wildcats seem to be a playoff dark horse… until you consider they have road trips remaining at TCU, West Virginia and Baylor. If K-State somehow won all, it would be a shoe-in.
  13. Utah (6-1): According to Phil Steele, the Utes have the nation’s top special teams units.
  14. Oklahoma (5-2)
  15. Ohio State (6-1): Buckeyes needed double-OT to escape what would have been a playoff-eliminating loss at Penn State. A suspect schedule is going to make that tough, anyway.
  16. LSU (7-2)
  17. West Virginia (6-2)
  18. Nebraska (7-1)
  19. Arizona (6-1)
  20. UCLA (6-2)
  21. Arizona State (6-1)
  22. Clemson (6-2)
  23. East Carolina (6-1)
  24. Marshall (8-0): The Thundering Herd lead the country in scoring margin (29.4 ppg)
  25. USC (5-3)
  26. Louisville (6-2): The Cardinals have a legitimate shot to spoil Florida State’s season tonight.
  27. Stanford (5-3)
  28. Duke (6-1)
  29. Wisconsin (5-2)
  30. Texas A&M (5-3)
  31. Missouri (6-2)
  32. South Carolina (4-4)
  33. Arkansas (4-4)
  34. Georgia Tech (6-2)
  35. Miami (5-3): Don’t look now, but coach Al Golden’s club’s been playing some good football.
  36. Boise State (6-2)
  37. Colorado State (7-1): It’s impressive what coach Jim McIlwain has done in Fort Collins, but the Top 25 talk–CSU’s best victories are at Boston College and Nevada, and not by much–is premature.
  38. Oklahoma State (5-3)
  39. UCF (5-2): After a rocky start that included a quarterback shuffle, the Golden Knights are hitting their stride.
  40. Virginia (4-4): I thought the Cavs might be headed towards a Top 25 season after beating Louisville earlier, but have missed a bundle of good opportunities since.
  41. Washington (5-3)
  42. Florida (3-3): I have real reservations about putting the Gators this high; this ranking is 100 percent because the Gators managed narrow wins over Kentucky and Tennessee and it didn’t seem right to put those teams ahead of UF, or put the other two much lower.
  43. Tennessee (3-5): If UT did indeed find a QB in Josh Dobbs, then a bowl game remains a possibility.
  44. Boston College (5-3)
  45. Kentucky (5-3)
  46. Memphis (4-3): I’m calling it now: the Tigers will run the table in the rest of the regular season and finish 9-3 going into bowl season.
  47. Maryland (5-3)
  48. Iowa (5-2): The Hawkeyes are easily one of America’s five most disappointing teams.
  49. Virginia Tech (4-4)
  50. Minnesota (6-2)
  51. California (4-4)
  52. Texas (3-5)
  53. Northwestern (3-4)
  54. Penn State (4-3)
  55. North Carolina (4-4)
  56. Oregon State (4-4)
  57. Nevada (5-3)
  58. Georgia Southern (6-2)
  59. BYU (4-4)
  60. Houston (4-3)
  61. Pitt (4-4)
  62. Utah State (4-3)
  63. Syracuse (3-5)
  64. North Carolina State (4-4)
  65. Rutgers (5-3)
  66. Washington State (2-6)
  67. Iowa State (2-5)
  68. Arkansas State (4-3)
  69. Indiana (3-4)
  70. Temple (4-2)
  71. Northern Illinois (6-2)
  72. Louisiana Tech (4-3)
  73. MTSU (5-3)
  74. Colorado (2-6)
  75. Air Force (5-2)
  76. Toledo (5-3)
  77. Purdue (3-5)
  78. Western Michigan (5-3)
  79. Illinois (4-4)
  80. Navy (4-4)
  81. Michigan (3-5): The Wolverines’ minus-14 turnover margin is dead-last in the country.
  82. Texas Tech (3-5)
  83. Cincinnati 94-3)
  84. Louisiana-Lafayette (4-3)
  85. San Diego State (4-3)
  86. South Alabama (5-2)
  87. UAB (4-4)
  88. Western Kentucky (3-4)
  89. Rice (4-3)
  90. Kansas (2-5)
  91. Central Michigan (5-4)
  92. Bowling Green (5-3)
  93. Akron (4-4)
  94. Hawaii (2-6)
  95. San Jose State (3-4)
  96. UTEP (4-3)
  97. Ball State (2-5)
  98. Fresno State (3-5)
  99. Texas State (4-3)
  100. UTSA (2-6)
  101. Vanderbilt (2-6): Only nine teams have a worse turnover margin that VU’s minus seven; only six are worse in scoring margin (minus-15.7) and only three worse in yardage margin (minus-146).
  102. FIU (3-5)
  103. Louisiana-Monroe (3-4)
  104. Wake Forest (2-6)
  105. South Florida (3-5)
  106. Wyoming (3-5)
  107. Ohio (4-5)
  108. Tulane (2-5)
  109. Old Dominion (3-5)
  110. Appalachian State (2-5)
  111. New Mexico (2-5)
  112. Buffalo (3-5)
  113. FAU (3-5)
  114. Southern Miss (3-5)
  115. North Texas (2-6)
  116. Miami of Ohio (2-7)
  117. Massachusetts (2-7)
  118. Connecticut (1-6)
  119. Army (2-5)
  120. Idaho (1-6)
  121. Tulsa (1-6)
  122. UNLV (2-6)
  123. New Mexico State (2-6)
  124. Troy (1-7)
  125. Kent State (1-7)
  126. Georgia State (1-7)
  127. Eastern Michigan (2-6)
  128. SMU (0-7): Not only are the Mustangs the FCS’s only winless team, they rank last (by a long shot) in scoring (minus-41) and yardage (minus-305) margins, and next-to-last in turnover margin (minus-13).