1. Alabama (7-0, previously #1)
There’s Alabama and then there’s everyone else. That’s not to say Alabama is unbeatable and another team couldn’t and wouldn’t beat them head-to-head, but the Crimson Tide seem like they have a whole other level they can go to when they choose to.
2. Ohio State (6-0, previously #4)
Two very good road wins in Norman and Camp Randall boost the Buckeyes to the 2 spot this week. J.T. Barrett is making himself a very worthy Heisman candidate.
3. Clemson (7-0, previously #2)
Tough (and lucky) win at home against N.C. State this weekend. First game in weeks that Clemson didn’t look like a national championship-caliber team. That happens though. When they’re on, the Tigers can play with any team in the land — the Louisville win proved as much.
4. Louisville (5-1, previously #3)
Like Clemson, Louisville was unimpressive in their win this past week. But there’s no need to worry or kill them for it — this team shows up for the big games.
5. Texas A&M (6-0, previously #5)
If A&M wants to remain in the discussion for the playoff, they have one job and they know what it is, all too well — beat Alabama. After the trip to Tuscaloosa, the schedule becomes very manageable for the Aggies. This Saturday’s game could be Texas A&M’s season.
6. Michigan (6-0, previously #7)
The Colorado win and the Wisconsin win are gifts that keep on giving — both the Buffs and the Badgers appear to be legit. That only helps the U-M resume. But in all honesty, forget the resume — beat OSU in November and the Wolverines will be in the playoff. Not much else on the schedule should hold them back.
7. Washington (6-0, previously #6)
Washington’s lone resume-building win, Stanford, doesn’t really do much now that the Cardinal sits at 4-2 after getting taken apart by Washington State and squeaking past the Irish Saturday night. But the Huskies have utterly dominated every team they’ve played, aside from an OT thriller in the desert against the Wildcats. If they keep winning like they’ve been, it’s, soon, going to be hard to keep them out of the top-4.
8. Nebraska (6-0, previously unranked)
Nebraska doesn’t have that scary, light-you-up offense that every team in college football seems to need in order to be a top-tier team. They should enjoy another week in the top-10, as the Cornhuskers prepare for Purdue — who just canned their head coach. After that, however, back-to-back trips to Camp Randall and the Horseshoe will give us a really good idea of how good this Nebraska team is.
9. Wisconsin (4-2, previously #10)
Losses to two top-4 teams by a combined 14 points stings for Badger fans, but they can take solace in knowing they’ve got a solid top-10 team in the country.
10. West Virginia (5-0, previously unranked)
The Mountaineers haven’t really been tested, but their schedule gets real busy in the season’s last month — at Texas and home against Oklahoma and Baylor. If they manage to navigate through that stretch, the Mountaineers will have, certainly, earned playoff consideration.