Clemson seizes No. 1 spot in college football Power Rankings after Week 8

1:09 | College Football
Power rankings: Clemson No. 1 after Week 8
Tuesday October 27th, 2015

Utah took over No. 1 in the Power Rankings after Week 4 and has held on to the spot since then—until now. The Utes’ 42–24 loss to USC makes way for a new top team, the Clemson Tigers.

One week before the College Football Playoff selection committee releases its first rankings, Clemson looks most worthy of a playoff spot. And with only one regular season game left against a ranked opponent, the Tigers may have the best shot of earning a semifinal berth of any team in the country. Clemson has dodged debilitating injuries, scored a key victory over Notre Dame on Oct. 3 and has blown out the teams it should blow out.

Three other teams have earned the top spot in the Power Rankings this season. The pressure is now on the Tigers to make their reign last.

•​ NADKARNI: Three thoughts on AP poll after Week 8 | Complete AP Top 25

College Football Power Rankings
  • 1
    1Clemson Tigers
    last week: 2
    record: 7–0
    Jimbo Fisher forgot to tell Dabo Swinney he was supposed to let Miami hang around to try to entice the school to keep Al Golden. Instead Clemson added another dominant performance to its résumé. The Tigers have a quality win over Notre Dame and very few flaws for detractors to point to.
    Last week: Beat Miami 58–0
    Next week: Saturday at North Carolina State

  • 2
    2LSU Tigers
    last week: 4
    record: 7–0
    A win over Western Kentucky won’t really improve LSU’s playoff résumé, but a loss to the Hilltoppers could have broken it. Facing a good Conference USA opponent before a bye week in advance of a matchup with Alabama had trap game written all over it. The Tigers passed the test.
    Last week: Beat Western Kentucky 48–20
    Next week: Bye week

  • 3
    3Baylor Bears
    last week: 3
    record: 7–0
    I was going to discuss how quarterback Seth Russell had his worst performance of the season Saturday against Iowa State and would need to correct that before the Bears finally hit the challenging portion of their schedule in November. Now it’s Russell’s absence that is the biggest red flag for Baylor. As with all injuries though, I’ll wait to see how new starter Jarrett Stidham fares before docking the Bears.
    Last week: Beat Iowa State 45–27
    Next week: Bye week

  • 4
    4Alabama Crimson Tide
    last week: 5
    record: 7–1
    After losing to Ole Miss, Alabama had to make it through the past four weeks unblemished to maintain a shot at the playoff. The Crimson Tide came through, winning at Georgia and Texas A&M as well as over Arkansas and Tennessee at home. The Volunteers didn’t make it easy, getting to Jake Coker five times Saturday. But Alabama’s defense stepped up to limit Tennessee to 4.3 yards per play.
    Last week: Beat Tennessee 19–14
    Next week: Bye week

  • 5
    5Ohio State Buckeyes
    last week: 7
    record: 8–0
    The Buckeyes are finally starting to resemble last year’s championship team now that J.T. Barrett is the starting quarterback. Granted Saturday’s win was Barrett’s first game as the starter and it was against Rutgers, but the past two and a half games have offered the best proof of the season that Ohio State can go undefeated.
    Last week: Beat Rutgers 49–7
    Next week: Bye week

  • 6
    6TCU Horned Frogs
    last week: 6
    record: 7–0
    Let’s hope the Horned Frogs were able to use their bye week to recover from some of their many injuries, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Thursday’s matchup with West Virginia kicks off a month-long stretch against the meat of the Big 12, when TCU’s high-powered offense might not be enough to get by.
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Thursday vs. West Virginia

  • 7
    7Michigan State Spartans
    last week: 8
    record: 8–0
    No team could use a bye week more than Michigan State. Just about every position group is currently dealing with injuries, and yet the Spartans remain unbeaten. Saturday’s 52–26 victory over Indiana was much closer than the final score implies—Michigan State led by five until scoring three touchdowns in the final five minutes—but it earned the Spartans the right to rest up during the bye week with their playoff hopes firmly alive.
    Last week: Beat Indiana 52–26
    Next week: Bye week

  • 8
    8Florida Gators
    last week: 9
    record: 6–1
    The Gators know well that just because a team is expected to win in their rivalry game with Georgia doesn’t mean that favorite will prevail. In last year’s meeting, then-3–3 Florida stunned a one-loss Bulldogs team, a loss that ultimately cost Georgia the SEC East title. Mark Richt’s squad would love to return the favor.
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Saturday vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville, Fla.)

  • 9
    9Iowa Hawkeyes
    last week: 10
    record: 7–0
    Iowa gets plenty of criticism about its schedule, but while it’s true that by the end of the season the Hawkeyes will have played a fairly light slate, they have some decent wins in their first seven games. Pittsburgh has proven to be a contender in the ACC Coastal Division, Northwestern rejoins the top 25 this week and Wisconsin is just outside the rankings. Two of those three wins came on the road.
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Saturday vs. Maryland

  • 10
    10Utah Utes
    last week: 1
    record: 6–1
    Travis Wilson started off Saturday’s game against USC 9 for 9 passing, which, combined with his performance the past two weeks, seemingly put to bed the narrative of “Could Utah win the Pac-12 with inconsistent quarterback play?” Then Wilson tossed four picks, three of them to linebacker Cameron Smith including a pick-six. It looks like that narrative will last a bit longer.
    Last week: Lost to USC 42–24
    Next week: Saturday vs. Oregon State

  • 11
    11Stanford Cardinal
    last week: 13
    record: 6–1
    The Cardinal continue to roll over everyone in their path since their Week 1 loss to Northwestern. All signs suggest they’ll continue to do so until a Nov. 28 matchup with Notre Dame and the Pac-12 title game determine their playoff fate.
    Last week: Beat Washington 31–14
    Next week: Saturday at Washington State

  • 12
    12Memphis Tigers
    last week: 17
    record: 7–0
    Paxton Lynch and the Tigers’ dynamic offense took care of business against Tulsa on Thursday. Then Memphis got a huge boost from Ole Miss’s win over Texas A&M. As long as the Rebels stay relevant in the SEC, Justin Fuente’s squad will remain at the forefront of the Group of Five picture.
    Last week: Beat Tulsa 66–42
    Next week: Saturday vs. Tulane

  • 13
    13Oklahoma State Cowboys
    last week: 11
    record: 7–0
    Playing with heavy hearts, the Cowboys kept their undefeated season alive with a rout of Kansas. Saturday’s trip to Lubbock will be Oklahoma State’s toughest test of the season so far and the start of a brutal closing stretch.
    Last week: Beat Kansas 58-10
    Next week: Saturday at Texas Tech

  • 14
    14Notre Dame Fighting Irish
    last week: 14
    record: 6–1
    Notre Dame’s best line on its résumé is an almost. Losing a tight game on the road to the No. 1 team can only get the Fighting Irish so far when their best win is a fourth quarter comeback against a 4–3 USC in its first game after Steve Sarkisian’s firing.
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Saturday at Temple

  • 15
    15Michigan Wolverines
    last week: 16
    record: 5–2
    Even with the end of Utah’s undefeated record, Michigan’s defeats are still the least damaging of any two-loss team’s. And perhaps Wolverines fans gained some consolation watching Florida State lose in a similar fashion this week to Michigan’s stunning loss to Michigan State a week earlier.
    Last week: Bye week
    Next week: Saturday at Minnesota

  • 16
    16Ole Miss Rebels
    last week: 25
    record: 6–2
    This block from wide receiver Laquon Treadwell sums up Ole Miss’s overpowering win over Texas A&M pretty well:

    Last week: Beat Texas A&M 23-3
    Next week: Saturdy at Auburn

  • 17
    17Oklahoma Sooners
    last week: 18
    record: 6–1
    The Sooners continued to rebound nicely from their defeat to Texas, holding Texas Tech to a season-low 27 points in their 36-point win. Nothing can undo the damage of the loss to the Longhorns, but Oklahoma is back to looking like it can compete with anyone in the Big 12. The emergence of Samaje Perine (201 yards rushing, four touchdowns) from half a season of obscurity was a promising sign.
    Last week: Beat Texas Tech 63-27
    Next week: Saturday at Kansas

  • 18
    18Houston Cougars
    last week: 19
    record: 7–0
    The only team with a higher average margin of victory than Houston is Baylor, but the Cougars are closing quickly, bolstered by their 59–10 beatdown of UCF on Saturday. Tom Herman's squad has a good chance to nab its second win over a Power Five foe this season with Saturday’s visit from Vanderbilt.
    Last week: Beat UCF 59-10
    Next week: Saturday vs. Vanderbilt

  • 19
    19Pittsburgh Panthers
    last week: 21
    record: 6–1
    The Panthers have the résumé of a poor man’s Notre Dame. Picking their best win is quite difficult, but their only defeat is a three-point loss at Iowa on a last-second field goal. We’ll know much more about Pat Narduzzi’s team after it plays fellow ACC Coastal contender North Carolina on Thursday.
    Last week: Beat Syracuse 23-20
    Next week: Thursday vs. North Carolina

  • 20
    20Toledo Rockets
    last week: 22
    record: 7–0
    The Rockets’ run at an undefeated record looked in serious jeopardy when one-win UMass jumped out to a 28–10 halftime lead Saturday. But quarterback Phillip Ely, a transfer from Alabama, kept Toledo unbeaten with four second-half touchdown passes, giving him nine scores in the past two weeks.
    Last week: Beat UMass 51-35
    Next week: Bye week

  • 21
    21Duke Blue Devils
    last week: 23
    record: 6–1
    Needing four overtimes to beat Virginia Tech is hardly a convincing win for Duke. (Who’d have thought that’d ever be the case?) But with only a nonconference loss to Northwestern, the Blue Devils are firmly in the hunt in the ACC Coastal.
    Last week: Beat Virginia Tech 45-43
    Next week: Saturday vs. Miami

  • 22
    22Florida State Seminoles
    last week: 12
    record: 6–1
    It was a flukey way to lose, to be sure, but Florida State left itself in position to lose on a fluke by gaining just 280 yards of offense (5.1 per play) and allowing Georgia Tech to pick up 5.3 yards per rush. The Seminoles have yet to beat anyone of note and now have a loss to a 3–5 squad.
    Last week: Lost to Georgia Tech 22-16
    Next week: Saturday vs. Syracuse

  • 23
    23Temple Owls
    last week: 24
    record: 7–0
    After entering the AP Top 25 for their first national ranking since 1979, the Owls nearly let their ranking slip away when they trailed East Carolina 14–10 late in the fourth quarter. Some timely passing from P.J. Walker and a blocked punt helped Temple escape with a win. The Owls trail the other Group of Five unbeatens because of the quality of their wins, but a victory over Notre Dame on Saturday would certainly change that.
    Last week: Beat East Carolina 24-14
    Next week: Saturday vs. Notre Dame

  • 24
    24Northwestern Wildcats
    last week: NR
    record: 6–2
    The eye test from Northwestern’s losses to Michigan and Iowa—by a combined score of 78–10—say the Wildcats have no business in the top 25. But it’s impossible to ignore that Northwestern also has two wins over currently ranked teams. Only Iowa and Ole Miss can say the same.
    Last week: Beat Nebraska 30-28
    Next week: Bye week

  • 25
    25Texas A&M Aggies
    last week: 15
    record: 5–2
    Back-to-back losses have quickly quelled any talk for an Aggies SEC West title, and Kyle Allen is suddenly a major cause for concern rather than reason for hope. Luckily for Allen and coach Kevin Sumlin, matchups with South Carolina, Auburn, Western Carolina and Vanderbilt in the next four weeks should help restore some confidence.
    Last week: Lost to Ole Miss 23-3
    Next week: Saturday vs. South Carolina

Dropped out: Cal
Next five: North Carolina, Wisconsin, Mississippi State, UCLA, BYU

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