Yes, we all love rankings. The allure of getting to controversially anoint our favorite teams as being superior based on a fairly useless numerical system that attempts to quantify a respective team’s competitive nature (or lack thereof) is undeniable. With that being said, subjective rankings (like this one) give credence to the under the radar programs that perhaps would not get their deserved recognition without a numerical stamp of approval. While every ranking system is fallible, the purpose of these pieces should accomplish one essential thing: inspire thought-provoking discussions about this emotionally riveting sport. With that in mind, here are COED’s top 25 rankings for week 10.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Similar to Georgia, Alabama has overcome a fairly weak schedule by blowing out the majority of their opponents. However, unlike Georgia, the Crimson Tide no longer have a reputable win on their schedule considering how far Florida State has fallen in recent weeks. Still, it’s hard to argue with the elite defense and fearless rushing attack of the Crimson Tide. The consummate juggernaut will have a chance to garner a legitimate win against an LSU program that is on the rise.
2. Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are scary good. Aside from a close win early in the season against Notre Dame, the Bulldogs have crushed their opponents on both offense and defense. While the schedule as a whole is not very impressive, the way they have manhandled the opposition every week suggests that the Bulldogs are a hungry team that is mercilessly competitive. A convincing win over Auburn in two weeks could push them past Alabama for the top spot in the rankings.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
J.T. freaking Barrett. 16 straight completions to win a nail-biter against a Goliath in Penn State. Say what you will about Barrett’s struggles against top competition, but the veteran quarterback did what he needed to do to lead his team to an insanely impressive win. As a result, the Buckeyes have vaulted themselves into the playoffs and can further bolster their already impressive resume by running the table.
4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
After winning in dominant fashion against two ranked opponents over the last two weeks, the Fighting Irish are showing no signs of slowing down. With just the one loss against a dominant Georgia program, Notre Dame has the right blend of a competitive schedule along with the impressive victories to make them a serious playoff contender. While the schedule does not let up with two out of their next four matchups against ranked opponents, the Fighting Irish are a team that has proven to be unintimidated by elite competition.
5. Wisconsin Badgers
You can get away with a lot when you’re undefeated. Such is the case with a Badgers team that has one of the weakest schedules of a playoff contender. Yes, going undefeated is difficult, but when you consider that the Badgers barely beat Purdue and won unconvincingly against Illinois, you have to wonder how they would have fared against the likes of Ohio State or Penn State. Still, the Badgers record is without a blemish and will keep them in the playoff conversation until the Big 10 championship game.
6. Penn State Nittany Lions
Wow. Just when it looked like the Nittany Lions were going to walk out of the Horseshoe with an impressive win over Ohio State, the Buckeyes pulled a fast one and put together two legendary touchdown drives down the stretch. While the loss in itself is devastating, it does not necessarily knock the Nittany Lions out of the playoffs. They still have one of the most dynamic passers in Trace McSorley and perhaps the best overall player in Saquon Barkley. They’ll need some help to get there, but if the Nittany Lions run the table they could certainly help their cause.
7. Miami Hurricanes
The Hurricanes last four wins have not been pretty. Nevertheless, a win is a win and if nothing it else it showed that the Hurricanes have a playoff caliber defense. Yet, while Malik Rosier has been up and down statistically, this is due in part to the Hurricanes being wildly unbalanced in their running game as running back Travis Romer’s yards per rush number has gone from 8.5 versus Georgia Tech to 2.5 against an abysmal Tar Heels team. If the Hurricanes can establish more continuity offensively, their definitely a fierce opponent that no one will want to face come the postseason.
8. Clemson Tigers
Yes, the Tigers pulled off a solid win against Georgia Tech on Saturday night. However, at 24-10, it was not quite convincing enough for me to put them in the College Football Playoff. Sure the defense is great, but I need to see an emphatic win by the Tigers offense for them to be worthy of being a top-four team. If the Tigers can beatdown the Wolfpack in their next game, I would feel more than comfortable at possibly placing them in the playoff limelight.
9. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Similar to their arch-rivals in the Sooners, the Cowboys have had their issues defensively. Nevertheless, the Cowboys are privileged to have one of the best offenses in the country led quarterback Mason Rudolph. With Oklahoma and Iowa State coming up next, the Cowboys could quickly vault themselves into playoff consideration especially if they win both contests convincingly.
10. Oklahoma Sooners
All of the sudden, the Sooners lone loss to Iowa State looks pretty good when you consider what the Cyclones have accomplished this season. Yet when you consider the fact that the Sooners had trouble dispatching Texas, Kansas State and Texas Tech recently, you have to wonder if Oklahoma is for real. While their certainly gifted offensively, their defense has struggled at times and is clearly their Achilles heel going forward.
11. TCU Horned Frogs
Without question, the Horned Frogs loss to the Cyclones was brutal. After scoring at least 28 points in all of their previous contests, the once prolific offense of TCU was held in check. While it was a close loss at the hands of a scorching hot Cyclones program, it definitely was disconcerting to see quarterback Kenny Hill struggle so mightly under pressure. If TCU wants to bolster any chances of making the playoffs, they’ll need to run the table and beat a veteran Oklahoma team on the road.
12. Virginia Tech
Although Virginia Tech did not look great against a formidable Clemson defense, the Hokies have looked like the real deal in all of their other matchups. Quarterback Josh Jackson is one of the most exciting college football athletes that will be seriously considered as a Heisman candidate going next year if he can continue to make big plays for his team. With Miami on the schedule next, the Hokies will have a great opportunity to take the lead in a wide-open ACC Coastal division.
13. Washington Huskies
Aside from a loss to the Sun Devils two weeks ago, the Huskies have looked fantastic albeit against vastly inferior competition. Still, the Huskies have emphatically won all but one of the games they were expected to win and have a brutal schedule coming up with two out of their four next opponents being ranked. If the Huskies can win those next four contests, they could feasibly sneak back into the playoff conversation.
14. Iowa State Cyclones
When you consider the dubious legacy of the Cyclones against both Big 12 and ranked opponents, it’s almost unfathomable to comprehend how Iowa State has dispatched two top four teams. Yes, the nearly unthinkable has happened as the Cyclones have become the bullies of the Big 12 and dashed the hopes of both Oklahoma and TCU to make the College Football Playoff. With contests against West Virginia and Oklahoma State coming up next, the Cyclones could become the kings of their conference and force themselves into the College Football Playoff conversation.
15. UCF Knights
While a quick look at the Knights schedule would seem to suggest that they are vastly overrated, a more in-depth look at their individual matchups shows us one of the most well-balanced teams in college football. When you consider that they held offensive juggernauts in Memphis and Navy to a combined score of 34 points while their offense combined to score 71 points in those contests, it’s pretty clear that the Knights are for real. If the Knights can run the table, they could feasibly garner a New Years Six Bowl berth.
16. Auburn Tigers
If any team has two “good” losses on their resume it has to be the Auburn Tigers. Their two losses have both been by single-digit point spreads against two of the best defenses in college football in Clemson and LSU. Even in those losses, the Tigers stout defense looked great for the most part and quarterback Jarrett Stidham has allowed this team to have a viable offense this season. With Texas A&M and Georgia coming up on the schedule, the Tigers need to live up to the hype and prove they can put it all together against legitimate competition.
17. NC State Wolfpack
You have to give the Wolfpack a lot of credit for what they have accomplished this year. Considering the Wolfpack held their own in the first half against a relentless Notre Dame offense, it’s hard to downgrade this program too much. Still, the loss to the Fighting Irish ended up being a blowout and the Wolfpack were exposed as having a fairly weak defensive secondary. Sadly, this may not be the end of the devastation for the beloved Wolfpack as they take on Clemson this week.
18. LSU Tigers
Out of any fans in college football this season, those of the LSU Tigers have suffered from the most heart palpitations. Since losing to Troy in week 5, the Tigers won their next two games by a combined score of five points and won their most recent contest against Ole Miss convincingly. However, the Tigers and their devoted fan base will be in for another anxiety fueled affair as they go on the road to face an elite program in Alabama.
19. USC Trojans
Just when it looked like the Trojans were on the verge of being knocked out of the rankings as they took on Arizona State in the Saturday nightcap, Sam Darnold and the Trojans put together their best offensive performance of the year in a rout over a red-hot Sun Devils program. Aside from their next game against Arizona, the Trojans have a favorable schedule and should be able to finish strong.
20. Stanford Cardinal
Stanford’s win over Oregon State was not pretty. Granted they were without their superstar running back in Bryce Love, but given the fact that the Beavers have just one win this season, the Cardinal should have won more convincingly. Still, the Cardinal have performed well on defense in their last four games and will get a chance to redeem themselves as they face Washington State on the road this week.
21. Washington State Cougars
When the Cougars have lost, they have been absolutely crushed in embarrassing fashion. After relinquishing 58 points to a highly-talented albeit one-dimensional Arizona offense, the Cougars have continued to fall precipitously in the rankings. Considering their last three games are against Stanford, Utah, and Washington respectively, it’s hard to imagine the now-woeful Cougars staying afloat in the rankings in the coming weeks.
22. Memphis Tigers
One of these days, the Tiger’s dreadful defense is going to start costing them games. Until then, college football fans get to be treated to one of the most exciting offenses to watch this season thanks largely in part to the connection between quarterback Riley Fergurson and wide receiver Anthony Miller. Aside from an intriguing home game against SMU, the Tigers have an easy schedule the rest of the way and could very well finish out the season with just one loss on the season.
23. Arizona Wildcats
After getting off to a wildly inconsistent 2-2 start, the Wildcats have looked nearly unstoppable on offense. While the Wildcats have struggled to throw the ball, quarterback Khalil Tate has been able to run the football effectively while making big plays with his arm only when he has to do so. The biggest concern for the Wildcats going forward is a poor defense that has allowed 30.3 PPG this season (88th in college football).
24. South Florida Bulls
For a one-loss team, the Bulls do not have a ton of room for error. Although their heartbreaking loss to the Houston Cougars may seem like a ranking death sentence, consider that both Quinton Flowers (two rushing touchdowns, a season-high completion percentage of 60.5%) and the Bulls defense (lost on a late touchdown run) played fairly well. While the Bulls certainly have their issues, they played well enough in this loss to stay in the rankings…for now.
25. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Admittedly, the Bulldogs have not looked great against ranked teams. Aside from a blowout win against LSU earlier in the season, the Bulldogs lost back to back games against Georgia and Auburn by a combined score of 80-13. Still, the Bulldogs have looked great on both sides of the ball during the last three weeks, especially against the likes of Kentucky and Texas A&M. Can the Bulldogs continue to remain consistently competitive down the stretch?