Sunday afternoon the Associated Press released the College Football Top 25 Rankings for Week 9.
The SEC leads all Power-5 conferences with five teams in the Top 25, while the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 have four teams each in the rankings, including four out of the top five teams in the country.
Along with yesterday’s Heisman watch, Now On Deck is diving further into NCAA Football with the Now On Deck College Football Rankings.
- Baylor Bears (7-0)
Baylor comes in at No. 1 in my rankings. The Bears have the best receiver in College Football in Corey Coleman, one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Seth Russell, and those two combine to create the best offense in the NCAA.
The Bears lowest point total this season is the 45 points they scored Saturday against Iowa St. Prior to that they had put up at least 50 points in each of their first six games, and topped 60 points five weeks in a row.
Not only has Baylor been scoring a lot of points on the offensive side of the ball, but the Bears defense has done equally as good of a job keeping opposing offenses off the score board. The 38 points West Virginia scored in Waco is the biggest point total Baylor has allowed so far.
Critics knock Baylor for its weak non-conference schedule. However, the players don’t make the schedule, they just play the game. And so far, the Baylor players have been playing it amazingly.
- Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0)
Normally I agree that the defending champion should be atop the rankings until a team beats them.
But there’s an exception to every rule.
While the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes have remained undefeated through the first eight weeks of the college football season, the way they’ve done it hasn’t been great.
Ohio State played tight games against Northern Illinois, Indiana, and trailed at the half against Virginia Tech in the Buckeyes’ season opener. To be fair, Urban Meyer’s group has played better of late, with 20+ point victories over the last three weeks.
- LSU Tigers (7-0)
LSU may be the most battle-tested team in the Top 25. The Tigers have already played and beaten three ranked teams, and at least two more ranked opponents remain on the schedule.
Leading Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette has established his team as one of the leading rushing attacks in the nation, gaining just over 300 yards per game on the ground.
With Fournette and the offense putting up a decent number of points, it has taken a lot of weight off of the defense, which has given up just over 22 points per game.
Thus far LSU has been the most consistent team in the SEC, and the Tigers of Death Valley are one of the best teams in the country.
- Michigan State Spartans (8-0)
Michigan State escaped defeat two weeks ago on a muffed punt in the Big House at Michigan. Possibly feeling a bit disrespected by the AP Poll, which had them drop a few spots in spite of the win over their state rival, the Spartans promptly responded by scoring 52 points against Indiana on Saturday.
Sparty, as it always has been under head coach Mark Dantonio, is square in the center of both the Big Ten and National Championship picture.
Michigan St. has taken care of business against a lackluster schedule to this point, and is on a collision course to play the Buckeyes on Nov. 21 with a good chance that both teams will be undefeated. The winner of that game will almost certainly go on to the Big Ten title game, and has a very good chance at making it into the College Football Playoff.
With Connor Cook leading the way, the Spartans have as good a chance as any to be the team to knock off Ohio State.
- Clemson Tigers (7-0)
To the folks in southern Florida who had been flying the “Fire Al Golden” banner throughout the season, you can send all thank you cards to Dabo Sweeny and the Clemson Tigers. Clemson’s 58-0 thrashing of the Hurricane’s on Saturday was the straw that broke the camels back, or in this case, the loss, which happened to be the worst in Miami program history, that cost Golden his job.
Clemson (the home of the original Death Valley) jumped up to No. 3 in the AP poll. Not to take anything away from the Tigers, but I think that’s a slight over reaction to the big win.
Clemson’s schedule has been relatively soft, and it stays that way for the remainder of the season, aside for a game in two weeks against Florida St. But, the Tigers have been putting the bad teams away and have beaten everyone they’ve played.
A balanced offensive attack, and a defense that is only giving up two touchdowns a game on average, currently has Clemson on the outside looking in on the College Football Playoff.
If the Tigers can stay undefeated throughout the regular season, and win the ACC Championship game, they will certainly be in the heart of the conversation for the four most-coveted spots in college football.
- TCU Horned Frogs (7-0)
After TCU felt like it was slapped in the face for being left out of the Playoffs last year, everything coming from the Horned Frogs prior to the start of the season said they were out to leave no doubt that they should be in this year.
So far they haven’t done that. I have doubt.
Minnesota kept Trevone Boykin and the offense in check for much of the game, Kansas St. led the Horned Frogs by nine points in the fourth quarter, and TCU needed a miracle to take get a win over Texas Tech. Multiple comebacks and close games against lesser-talented teams doesn’t bode well for TCU.
A majority of the problems for TCU do come on the defensive side, which isn’t the best side of the ball to have problems on in the high-scoring Big 12. Boykin is a Heisman candidate, but he can’t do everything for this team.
- Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1)
Alabama has had an up and down season, which is weird to say since the Tide have seven wins against one loss.
However, a heart-breaking loss to Ole Miss sandwiched in between wins over ranked Wisconsin and Georgia, followed by a narrow victory against Tennessee that was preceded by a win over Texas A&M gives the Tide’s season that roller coaster feel.
Each of Alabama’s next two game’s are against currently-ranked teams – LSU and Mississippi St. –, and those games will either make or break Alabama’s hopes of playing for a national title.
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1)
A close loss to Clemson is the only true knock against Notre Dame this season.
A couple of key injuries haven’t derailed the Fighting Irish, who have scored 41 points in each of their last two games.
After already playing in two games against ranked teams, Notre Dame plays a ranked opponent in three out of its last games.
- Stanford Cardinal (6-1)
A Week 1 loss to Northwestern looked, at the time, like it could put an end to Stanford‘s season before it began. Since then, though, the Cardinal have rattled off six consecutive wins, all in convincing fashion.
Running back Christian McCaffrey is averaging 259 all-purpose yards per game, and is on pace to break Barry Sanders’ single-season all-purpose yardage record.
A lot of the teams above Stanford play each other over the last few weeks of the season. Stanford’s only game against a ranked opponent is at home against Notre Dame. If Stanford takes care of business on its end, the Cardinal may be in prime position when the committee gets together.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-0)
Oklahoma State has quietly been one of the best teams in the Big 12 thus far. Wins over Texas, Kansas St., and West Virginia put the Cowboys on the radar, and a 58-10 thumping of the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday should’ve gotten everyone’s attention.
OSU has one of the best pass rushes in the Big 12, and a passing attack that will keep the Cowboys in games no matter the opponent.
The Cowboys will certainly in contention for the Big 12 title.
- Florida Gators (6-1)
- Iowa Hawkeyes (7-0)
- Oklahoma Sooners (6-1)
- Utah Utes (6-1)
- Michigan Wolverines (5-2)
- Florida State Seminoles (6-1)
- Memphis Tigers (7-0)
- Ole Miss Rebels (6-2)
- Houston Cougars (7-0)
- Toledo Rockets (7-0)
- Temple Owls (7-0)
- Duke Blue Devils (6-1)
- UCLA Bruins (5-2)
- Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-2)
- Texas A&M Aggies (5-2)