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Ranking Every College Football Team, With a Big Leap From Oregon

SportRanking Every College Football Team, With a Big Leap From Oregon

Sign up for the Until Saturday newsletter | Jayna Bardahl and The Athletic’s college football staff deliver expert analysis on the biggest CFB stories five days per week. Get it sent to your inbox.


We’ve reached the first week of in-season College Football Playoff rankings, so how should the top four look?

The AP and Coaches Polls have placed Georgia at No. 1 and Michigan at No. 2 for several weeks. That hasn’t been the case in The Athletic 133, and I suspect it won’t be the case with the CFP selection committee on Tuesday night.

The committee, like me, tries to place heavy weight on what you’ve actually accomplished. As a result, the top three here remain the same as last week: Ohio State, Georgia and Florida State.

I have finally moved Michigan into the top four, almost solely because of what Washington has done the last two weeks, struggling to get past Arizona State and Stanford, both 2-6 on the year. I could excuse one off game, but not two. Michigan’s wins against Nebraska and Minnesota have also begun to look better in recent weeks. (For comparison, Georgia’s wins against Kentucky and Florida are better than what Michigan has done.)

My prediction for the CFP top four in order on Tuesday will be Ohio State, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington get in there at No. 4.

This is always an interesting week, because once the CFP releases its rankings, which are often different from the polls, many voters shift their priorities as well. But not here, where we try to be consistent all year and emphasize the accomplishments.

Here is this week’s Athletic 133.

1-10

Oregon jumps to No. 6 after demolishing Utah on the road. The Ducks look like a real national championship contender. They were two yards away from putting Washington away and being undefeated. Now there’s no margin for error.

Oklahoma falls back to No. 7 after losing to Kansas but stays ahead of Texas for now because of the head-to-head result, and Ole Miss slides into No. 10 thanks to losses by Oregon State and Utah. Alabama falls to No. 9 because of Oregon, but I am not ruling out the Tide from getting back to the CFP. The LSU game this week is obviously the big one.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Auerbach’s Top 10: Could Oregon jump Washington despite head-to-head result?

11-25

Louisville shut out Duke 23-0 and moves up to No. 11; Notre Dame destroyed Pitt 58-7 and moves up to No. 12. Penn State drops to No. 13 after escaping Indiana thanks to a late touchdown and safety, but the Hoosiers had the ball with a chance to take the lead.

Oklahoma State, Kansas, Tennessee and Kansas State all jump into the top 25. The Cowboys have won four in a row and sit ahead of both Kansas teams (unlike in both polls) because they, you know, beat both of them. Oklahoma State has clearly become a different team in its last four games with the emergence of Ollie Gordon II.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Behind the AP Top 25 ballot: CFP vs. poll, Kansas’ historic win and who can still win title

26-50

Rank Team Record Prev

26

7-2

24

27

5-3

33

28

7-1

35

29

6-2

18

30

5-3

25

31

6-2

31

32

5-3

19

33

6-2

27

34

5-3

26

35

8-0

38

36

5-3

41

37

6-2

45

38

6-2

46

39

5-3

54

40

5-3

51

41

4-4

37

42

5-3

34

43

5-3

36

44

4-4

39

45

5-3

40

46

6-2

47

47

5-3

52

48

4-4

42

49

4-4

43

50

5-3

44

USC falls out of the top 25 down to No. 26 after needing a comeback and two-point stop to beat Cal. Arizona’s win against Oregon State moves the Wildcats up to No. 27 but behind USC because of the head-to-head result. Fresno State’s win against one-loss UNLV sees the Bulldogs jump up to No. 28. Iowa only “falls” to No. 33 because the Hawkeyes got jumped by teams that won.

Liberty is 8-0 and may very well finish the regular season 12-0. Would it be enough to get the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bid? The strength of schedule holds the Flames back so far. Troy has more than righted the ship and is up to No. 37 with its fifth consecutive win, the most recent coming at Texas State. SMU put up 52 first-half points on Tulsa and rises to No. 38, with a path to the AAC championship game.

NC State’s win against Clemson sees the Wolfpack jump from No. 54 to No. 39. Iowa State has won three consecutive games and has a win against Oklahoma State to move up to No. 40. Colorado’s continued tailspin drops both the Buffs and idle TCU.

51-75

Note: This is the time of year where I have to say the teams ranked from around 40 through 70 are all very close and splitting them up is very tough. College football has a big middle.

Toledo and Miami (Ohio) have emerged as the top of the MAC, and Miami’s 30-16 win at Ohio puts the RedHawks at No. 54 and in control of the MAC East. Georgia Southern beat Georgia State, and the Eagles get up to No. 52.

Georgia Tech is by far the toughest team to place. In the past four games, the Yellow Jackets have defeated Miami (Fla.) and North Carolina and lost to Bowling Green and Boston College. Your guess is as good as mine. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, has figured things out with three consecutive wins. Now up to No. 63, the Hokies will play Louisville for second place in the ACC this week.

Minnesota handled Michigan State and rises up to No. 66, and its Nebraska and Louisiana wins look a lot better now. The Ragin’ Cajuns are up to 5-3 and just beat South Alabama, which beat Oklahoma State. The Huskers whipped Purdue to jump up to No. 70, and a bowl game looks extremely possible now.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Saturday Superlatives: Who spooked and who did the spooking on a So Scary’ Saturday?

76-100

It’s time to talk about the job David Braun has done at Northwestern. He took over a 1-11 program that had just fired Pat Fitzgerald, and the Wildcats are 4-4 with wins against Minnesota and Maryland, jumping to No. 81. That equals the total number of Big Ten wins this program produced over the previous two years.

Arizona State entered this season without the possibility of playing for a bowl, but the Sun Devils keep playing hard for Kenny Dillingham. They nearly beat Washington last week and then did beat Washington State this week to move up to No. 84. Another team that continues to get better and play hard, Stanford has defeated Colorado and battled Washington in the span of three weeks, moving up to No. 88. Virginia followed up last week’s upset of North Carolina by taking Miami to overtime, so the Cavaliers move up to No. 90, even in a loss.

101-133

Rank Team Record Prev

101

2-6

103

102

2-6

100

103

3-6

120

104

4-5

101

105

3-5

104

106

3-5

105

107

2-7

106

108

2-6

107

109

3-4

109

110

3-5

110

111

4-5

111

112

4-4

114

113

3-5

112

114

2-6

113

115

4-5

115

116

2-6

117

117

3-6

118

118

3-6

119

119

3-5

121

120

2-6

130

121

3-5

116

122

2-7

128

123

2-6

102

124

2-6

122

125

2-7

123

126

2-6

124

127

2-6

125

128

1-7

126

129

1-7

127

130

1-7

129

131

1-7

131

132

1-7

132

133

0-8

133

Poor Sam Houston, continually getting so close to its first win. The Bearkats could easily have four wins but keep faltering late, this week blowing a 27-13 lead and losing to UTEP on a last-second field goal to remain winless and No. 133.

How about Nevada? The former No. 133 has won consecutive games against San Diego State and New Mexico. Army’s fall continues to be surprising, the latest chapter a 21-14 loss to UMass. Arkansas State continues to show improvement, getting to 4-4 after beating ULM. Getting to a bowl game will be tough, but a path is there.

(Photo: John Fisher / Getty Images)


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