1. Alabama (10-0, previously #1)
Freshman quarterback Jaylen Hurts gives head coach Nick Saban another indefensible dynamic that he doesn’t need — and the fact he has Hurts seems quite unfair to the rest of college football. Not even a loss in the Iron Bowl should drop the Tide from the top-4.
2.Ohio State (9-1, previously #6)
After back-to-back 62-3 blowout wins over Big Ten foes Nebraska and Maryland, the Buckeyes have that look to them again. But all that means little when November 26 rolls around. If the Bucks take care of business (no matter the scores), they’ll find their way in the playoff on New Year’s Eve.
3. Clemson (9-1, previously #2)
It had the makings once it got going of a nip-and-tuck, tit-for-tat scoring onslaught from both Pittsburgh and the Tigers. DeShaun Watson threw for nearly 600 yards — and despite the 3 interceptions, it appeared with 3 minutes or so remaining that Clemson was going to be able to run out the clock with one more first down and hold on to win the nail biter. Not the case, however. But Clemson’s loss didn’t sting for but a few hours — losses from Washington and Michigan help to keep the Tigers in playoff position.
4. Louisville (9-1, previously #3)
This was about as unimpressive as a 44-12 win can be, especially in the first half — and when people start comparing a handful of 1-loss teams to see who’s most worthy of a spot in the top-4, this win will not do the Cardinals any favors.
5. Michigan (9-1, previously #4)
The first true road test of the season did not go the way Jim Harbaugh would have liked. But in the end, it still comes down to the game at Columbus in 2 weeks. But this was not a good look for Michigan on national television in primetime. They have to fix their run game before heading into the November 26; and they better figure out how to shut down offensive playmakers or else it might turn out to be another forgettable game against their rival.
6. Washington (9-1, previously #5)
Tough loss for the Huskies to a fast-improving USC club. Washington isn’t totally out of it just yet — thanks to some losses and subpar play from other top teams this past weekend. But their road just became a lot bumpier.
7. Wisconsin (8-2, previously #7)
Wisconsin is the best of any team in the land who is considered third in their conference. It would require some very unusual circumstances for the Badgers to navigate their way into the playoff. But stranger things have happened. Wisconsin just needs to hang around until the Big Ten Championship game.
8. Penn State (8-2, previously not ranked)
After a slow start to the season and injuries that had the Nitany Lions looking more like a lower tier MAC team, Penn State is playing very well and is right in the thick of the Big Ten race — in fact they are in a prime position to win the Big Ten east division. Amazingly enough, all Penn State needs to do is take care of Rutgers and Michigan State and hope for a Buckeyes win over U-M — and they’re going to Indy. Who would have thought?
9. Oklahoma (8-2, previously not ranked)
The Sooners don’t have any big, memorable wins on their resume this year — instead, most people are only able to remember the rough opening weekend loss to Houston and then the primetime drubbing at home against Ohio State. But those two losses aren’t that bad, and Oklahoma is still unbeaten in conference play.
10. LSU (6-3, previously #10)
A week after their defense held Alabama to just 10 points, LSU ran roughshod over Arkansas. The Tigers are not getting the respect in the polls or the playoff rankings. LSU’s 3 loss all have come against top-ranked ‘Bama, weekly top-10 Wisconsin, and Auburn, who’s loss this weekend will barely bump them from the top-10.
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