Sports, Thrill of Victory

The Weekly 128

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and his team are one of just three undefeated squads after this weekend.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and his team are one of just three undefeated squads after this weekend. 

We’re 10 weeks into the college football season, and many of season’s best regular-season games are still to come, several of which come this weekend. Heading into Thursday night’s games, here’s my stab at ranking all the nation’s 128 FBS teams.

  1. Mississippi State (8-0): It seems likely that if MSU can just beat either Alabama or Ole Miss, it’ll secure a spot in the College Football Playoff. Of course, both contests are on that road and so that won’t be easy.
  2. Auburn (7-1): Meanwhile, one of the burning questions of the playoff is this: Can Auburn, which will probably have played the nation’s toughest schedule at season’s end, make the playoff it it takes another loss?
  3. Florida State (8-0): It’s hard to leave the defending national champs out of the playoff picture since they’re one of just three undefeated teams, but the overall profile (20th in scoring margin, 39th in yardage margin, tied for 77th in turnover margin against Jeff Sagarin’s 40th-toughest schedule among FBS teams) reveals that the Seminoles aren’t nearly as dominant as last year’s team.
  4. Oregon (8-1): There are also some legitimate questions about the Ducks, too; though they rank 10th in scoring margin (20.6), they’re just 39th in the country when it comes to out-gaining opponents.
  5. TCU (7-1): The Horned Frogs are the nation’s only team to rank in the top 10 of scoring margin (fifth, 25.4), yardage margin (eighth, 180) and turnover margin (first, 15).
  6. Alabama (7-1): Then, there’s the Crimson Tide, the only team to rank in the top 10 in scoring margin (eighth, 22.5), yardage margin (third, 232) with a top-10 strength of schedule (sixth).
  7. Ole Miss (7-2): Is it really fair to drop a team out of the top 10 when its only losses are to Auburn and at LSU by a combined seven points?
  8. Baylor (7-1): The Bears rank second in scoring margin (28.5) and first in yardage (plus-267 per game), but Baylor┬áhas really played just two tough opponents, and split in those games. With Oklahoma and Kansas State ahead, we’ll know a lot more about what Baylor really is once those game are done.
  9. Kansas State (7-1): Nobody has a tougher schedule ahead than K-State, which has road trips to TCU, West Virginia and Baylor.
  10. Arizona State (7-1): Sun Devils’ only blemish came in that waxing by UCLA, which came without quarterback Taylor Kelly, who’s now back.
  11. Michigan State (7-1): The Spartans’ game vs. Ohio State on Saturday is essentially an elimination game for the playoff.
  12. Notre Dame (7-1): Would a one-loss Notre Dame team have a shot at the playoff? My opinion is that a schedule that turned out not to be as tough as anticipated might do the Fighting Irish in, though wins at Arizona State and Southern Cal in games to come might change that.
  13. Oklahoma (6-2)
  14. LSU (7-2)
  15. Ohio State (7-1): The way J.T. Barrett is playing at quarterbacks, the Buckeyes have a shot at MSU on Saturday.
  16. Georgia (6-2)
  17. Nebraska (8-1): The Cornhuskers rank ninth in scoring (20.7) and yardage (175) margins, though it’s been against the 72nd-toughest schedule. The best news, though, is that star runner Ameer Abdullah is healthy.
  18. UCLA (7-2)
  19. West Virginia (6-3)
  20. Utah (6-2)
  21. USC (6-3)
  22. Arizona (6-2)
  23. Marshall (8-0): The Thundering Herd leads the FBS in scoring margin (29.4)
  24. Clemson (6-2)
  25. Duke (7-1)
  26. Wisconsin (6-2): Badgers rank seventh in scoring margin (23) and fifth in yardage (223), but when your best win is over Maryland, what’s that really worth?
  27. Georgia Tech (7-2)
  28. Missouri (7-2)
  29. Miami (6-3): Hurricanes slowly getting better; could that game with FSU in Miami could be a bit of a trap for the defending national champs?
  30. Florida (4-3)
  31. Boise State (6-2)
  32. Colorado State (6-1)
  33. Stanford (5-4)
  34. Louisville (6-3)
  35. Texas A&M (6-3)
  36. Iowa (6-2)
  37. Arkansas (4-5)
  38. Tennessee (4-5): The Vols have faced the toughest schedule in the country to date.
  39. Boston College (6-3)
  40. Maryland (6-3)
  41. Washington (6-3)
  42. Kentucky (5-4)
  43. South Carolina (4-5)
  44. Memphis (5-3)
  45. Oklahoma State (5-4)
  46. East Carolina (5-2)
  47. Texas (4-5)
  48. Minnesota (6-2)
  49. California (5-4)
  50. Virginia (4-5)
  51. Pitt (4-5)
  52. Virginia Tech (4-5)
  53. Utah State (6-3)
  54. BYU (5-4)
  55. North Carolina (4-5)
  56. North Carolina State (5-4)
  57. Georgia Southern (7-2): The Eagles have the country’s sixth-highest scoring margin (23.5), but also have played the second-easiest schedule according to Sagarin.
  58. Penn State (4-4)
  59. Temple (5-3)
  60. UCF (5-3)
  61. Oregon State (4-4)
  62. Nevada (6-3)
  63. Northwestern (3-5)
  64. Houston (5-3)
  65. Louisiana Tech (6-3)
  66. Arkansas State (5-3)
  67. Rutgers (5-5)
  68. Toledo (6-3)
  69. Michigan (4-5)
  70. Washington State (2-7): Record-setting QB Connor Halladay is done due to injury, and for all intents and purposes, the Cougars probably are, too.
  71. Iowa State (2-6)
  72. Western Michigan (6-3)
  73. Air Force (6-2)
  74. Northern Illinois (6-2)
  75. Navy (4-5)
  76. Cincinnati (5-3)
  77. Syracuse (3-6)
  78. Indiana (3-5)
  79. Colorado (2-7)
  80. Purdue (3-6)
  81. Louisiana-Lafayette (5-3)
  82. MTSU (5-4)
  83. Illinois (4-5)
  84. South Alabama (5-3)
  85. San Diego State (4-4)
  86. Texas Tech (3-6): A turnover margin of minus-12 and a points deficit of 13.2 per game (the first is the fourth-worst in America; the second ranks eighth-worst) help explain just how poor a year it’s been in Lubbock.
  87. UAB (5-4)
  88. Vanderbilt (3-6):┬áVandy’s found an offense, and his name is Johnny McCrary.
  89. Rice (5-3)
  90. Kansas (2-6)
  91. Central Michigan (6-4)
  92. Akron (93)
  93. Texas State (5-3)
  94. Western Kentucky (3-5)
  95. UTEP (5-3)
  96. Bowling Green (5-3)
  97. San Jose State (3-5)
  98. Ball State (3-5)
  99. Hawaii (2-7)
  100. UTSA (2-6)
  101. Wyoming (4-5)
  102. Louisiana-Monroe (3-5)
  103. Wake Forest (2-6)
  104. South Florida (3-6)
  105. Ohio (4-5)
  106. Tulane (2-6)
  107. Connecticut (2-6)
  108. Appalachian State (3-5)
  109. FIU (3-6)
  110. Fresno State (3-6): Does a team miss a player more than FSU misses last year’s quarterback, Derek Carr?
  111. FAU (3-6)
  112. New Mexico (3-5)
  113. Old Dominion (3-6): Quarterback Taylor Heinicke has been terrific, but that defense has been awful.
  114. Buffalo (3-5): The Bulls have played the country’s easiest schedule.
  115. Miami (Ohio) (2-8)
  116. Massachusetts (2-7)
  117. Southern Miss (3-6)
  118. North Texas (2-6)
  119. Army (2-6)
  120. Idaho (1-7)
  121. Tulsa (1-7)
  122. UNLV (2-7)
  123. New Mexico State (2-7)
  124. Kent State (1-8)
  125. Troy (1-8)
  126. Georgia State (1-8): Panthers have the worst turnover margin (minus-15) in the country.
  127. Eastern Michigan (2-7)
  128. SMU (0-7): Just two more turnovers and the Mustangs would have the unholy trifecta of being last in scoring, yardage and turnover margins.