Alabama, Texas A&M set up for marquee clash after Midseason Power Rankings

0:46 | College Football
No. 1 Alabama rolls over No. 9 Tennessee
Monday October 17th, 2016

After a slight dip in excitement in Week 6, Week 7 captivated the college football world with a number of close calls and a pair of top-10 clashes. Six of last week’s top-25 teams lost, with three falling out of the rankings altogether. While the top half-dozen or so remain crowded, teams like Baylor, West Virginia and Western Michigan continue their fascinating ascents. Other programs like Tennessee and Ole Miss could be on their last legs as top-25 units, a product of unfortunate injuries and remarkably difficult schedules.

With half of the college football season concluded, here’s how the top 25 shakes out:

​• STAPLES: When will each undefeated team suffer its first loss?

  • 1
    1Alabama Crimson Tide
    last week: 1
    record: 7–0
    Question Tennessee’s inconsistency all you want. That’s fine. What you can’t do is doubt just how far Alabama is ahead of the rest of college football. The pairing of a dominant defense with the continued development of true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts is terrifying. It’ll be fascinating to see if anyone can crack Alabama’s armor—Texas A&M and an improving LSU have as good a chance as anyone over the next three weeks.

    Last week: Beat Tennessee 49-10
    Next week: Saturday vs. Texas A&M

  • 2
    2Ohio State Buckeyes
    last week: 2
    record: 6–0
    Ohio State survived a vigorous Wisconsin defense and an amped Madison crowd. Now the Buckeyes get two softer opponents (sorry, Penn State and Northwestern) before hosting Nebraska on Nov. 5. If there weren’t so many elite quarterbacks this season, J.T. Barrett’s Heisman hype would be soaring after such an impressive performance (226 passing yards, 92 rushing yards, three total touchdowns).

    Last week: Beat Wisconsin 30-23 in OT
    Next week: Saturday at Penn State

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    J.T. Barrett, Ohio State keep playoff path intact with OT win over Wisconsin

  • 3
    3Clemson Tigers
    last week: 3
    record: 7–0
    Clemson built on its reputation as one of the country’s most battle-tested teams, holding off NC State in overtime at home. That might seem like an underwhelming result, but NC State looks like a team on the rise and the Tigers have to get their turnovers in order eventually … right? They’ll have a chance to smooth things over on offense during a bye week before traveling to Florida State.

    Last week: Beat NC State 24-17 in OT
    Next week: Off

  • 4
    4Washington Huskies
    last week: 4
    record: 6–0
    After getting to enjoy the spoils of its beatdown of Oregon during a bye week, Washington returns to face a slate that could be moderately challenging, starting with an Oregon State team that challenged Utah this weekend and then a visit to the Utes themselves. Still, Chris Petersen’s squad has looked utterly dominant for much of the season (how long ago does that Arizona game feel?), and Jake Browning continues to build on his Heisman candidacy.

    Last week: Off
    Next week: Saturday vs. Oregon State

  • 5
    5Michigan Wolverines
    last week: 5
    record: 6–0
    Michigan also got to take advantage of a mid-season bye after winning its first six games with (relative) ease. The Wolverines’ remaining schedule looks softer than anticipated considering the status of Michigan State and Iowa, paving the way for a titanic clash with Ohio State at the end of the season.

    Last week: Off
    Next week: Saturday vs. Illinois

  • 6
    last week: 7
    record: 6–0
    Coming off its bye, Texas A&M gets to travel to Alabama. What a treat. How well the Aggies fare against the Tide could set the tone for the rest of their season, which includes only one other road game (at Mississippi State on Nov. 5).

    Last week: Off
    Next week: Saturday at Alabama

  • 7
    last week: 6
    record: 5–1
    A 35-point favorite against Duke, Louisville benefitted greatly from a roughing-the-kicker penalty that allowed the Cardinals go from a fourth-and-22 with a three-point lead to a 10-point lead with 1:32 remaining two plays later. After a hardly inspiring showing against the 3–5 Blue Devils, the Cardinals now face an NC State team that pushed Clemson to overtime.

    Last week: Beat Duke 24-14
    Next week: Saturday vs. NC State

  • 8
    last week: 10
    record: 6-0
    Wisconsin’s tough loss to Ohio State along with Nebraska’s win over a sneaky Indiana squad allow the Cornhusker to climb further up the rankings. Still, Nebraska’s résumé lacks a true quality victory, especially since the shine of its mid-September win over Oregon has diminished. Not much will change against Purdue this weekend, but then come consecutive trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State.

    Last week: Beat Indiana 27-22
    Next week: Saturday vs. Purdue

  • 9
    last week: 12
    record: 6-0
    The Big 12 has a team back in the top 10. Baylor doesn’t have the most proven track record—beating up on hapless Kansas this weekend didn’t prove much—and has another bye week coming up. Still, a trip to Texas looms on the other side of the open week, as do visits to Oklahoma and West Virginia later in the season.

    Last week: Beat Kansas 49-7
    Next week: Off

  • 10
    last week: 9
    record: 4-2
    Undoubtedly the class of college football’s two-loss teams, Wisconsin could get one more shot at either Ohio State or Michigan in the Big Ten championship game. The Badgers would most likely have to run the table to make that happen (and get some help from Nebraska), but for a team that’s proven itself ready and willing to battle, that’s not out of the question. The next two weeks should provide some clarity to the Big Ten West picture, as Wisconsin travels to Iowa before hosting the Cornhuskers.

    Last week: Lost to Ohio State 30-23 in OT
    Next week: Saturday at Iowa

  • 11
    last week: 13
    record: 6-1
    Houston struggled to get by Tulsa, committing three turnovers and coming within a yard of allowing the game-tying touchdown (not to mention possibly having 13 players on the field for a goal-line stop a player earlier) before walking away with a 38–31 win. The Cougars are one of those teams that gets the absolute best effort from every opponent it faces, so sharper performances will be needed to reach the Nov. 17 meeting with Louisville in sound shape.

    Last week: Beat Tulsa 38-31
    Next week: Saturday at SMU

  • 12
    last week: 19
    record: 5–0
    West Virginia snapped Texas Tech’s streak of nine consecutive home games with at least 50 points, holding the Red Raiders to 17 on 379 yards. Take from that what you will: The Mountaineers haven’t exactly faced top-flight competition yet, but few thought they’d be undefeated at this point. Hosting TCU and traveling to Oklahoma State over the next two weeks should tell us more about Dana Holgorsen’s team.

    Last week: Beat Texas Tech 48-17
    Next week: Saturday vs. TCU

  • 13
    last week: 14
    record: 5–2
    Florida State has some momentum now after following up its clutch win over Miami with a solid if unspectacular win over Wake Forest. The Seminoles held the Demon Deacons to a pair of field goals, and Travis Rudolph recorded the fourth-best receiving game in school history (13 receptions for 238 yards), but Florida State still hasn’t blown out an opponent since Sept. 24 against USF.

    Last week: Beat Wake Forest 17-6
    Next week: Off

  • 14
    last week: 14
    record: 6-0
    Boise State continues to threaten Houston’s bid for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl spot (if Houston even manages to win the American Athletic Conference to become eligible), but Saturday’s win over Colorado State wasn’t easy. The Broncos didn’t score a point until 27 seconds before halftime and needed 40 carries and a career-high 217 yards from Jeremy McNichols to survive 20 unanswered Rams points to end the game. Next up is BYU on a short week, and the Cougars have won three straight.

    Last week: Beat Colorado State 28-23
    Next week: Thursday vs. BYU

  • 15
    last week: 17
    record: 4–2
    Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook continue to power Oklahoma’s offense, which has carried the Sooners to three straight wins. Against Kansas State, previously the Big 12’s best defense, Mayfield threw for 346 yards and four touchdowns while Westbrook caught nine passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns.

    Last week: Beat Kansas State 38-17
    Next week: Saturday at Texas Tech

  • 16
    last week: 20
    record: 5–1
    Luke Del Rio was rusty in his return for Florida, throwing three interceptions while completing fewer than half of his passes. But back-to-back pick-sixes by the Gators’ defense in the second quarter helped blow Saturday’s game vs. Missouri open. After Tennessee’s consecutive losses, Florida is now in the driver’s seat in the SEC East.

    Last week: Beat Missouri 40-14
    Next week: Off

  • 17
    last week: 21
    record: 5–2
    After getting waxed by Alabama, Arkansas recovered with a satisfying win over Ole Miss, its third straight over the Rebels. Protecting Austin Allen remains an issue for the Razorbacks, but the offense displayed impressive balance (229 passing yards, 200 rushing yards before losing some while running out the clock late). Arkansas is another two-loss team with a solid resume, having lost only to Texas A&M and Alabama.

  • 18
    last week: 23
    record: 6-1
    Utah is bowl-eligible for the third consecutive season, overcoming numerous injuries on offense and rough weather in a 19–14 win at Oregon State. Joe Williams returned from a brief injury-related retirement to rush 34 times for 179 yards with one touchdown, allowing the Utes to keep pace in the Pac-12 South before traveling to UCLA and then hosting Washington.

    Last week: Beat Oregon State 19-14
    Next week: Saturday at UCLA

  • 19
    last week: 8
    record: 5-2
    Tennessee stumbles into its bye week ravaged by injuries following its demolition at the hands of Alabama. The Volunteers have no ranked teams left on their regular-season schedule and remain in O.K. shape in the SEC East if Florida slips up, so all is not lost in Knoxville.
    Last week: Lost to Alabama 49-10
    Next week: Off

  • 20
    last week: 22
    record: 7-0
    Western Michigan is another Group of Five team pushing for the New Year’s Six bowl berth, as the Broncos shut out Akron after being ranked in the AP poll for the first time in program history last week. Western Michigan also became the last FBS team to commit a turnover this season, yet another feather in the cap of P.J. Fleck.

    Last week: Beat Akron 41-0
    Next week: Saturday vs. Eastern Michigan

  • 21
    last week: 11
    record: 3-3
    Ole Miss’s rigorous schedule might finally be catching up with it, as the Rebels managed 150 yards and three touchdowns on the ground vs. Arkansas but struggled through the air. Coach Hugh Freeze’s squad remains ranked despite its three losses, but that could change soon with games against LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M still looming.

  • 22
    last week: 24
    record: 4-2
    Auburn rode into its bye week with three straight wins thanks to an improved Sean White at quarterback and a promising rushing attack. The defense is also coming together, though it will be tested by Arkansas and Ole Miss over the next two weeks.

    Last week: Off
    Next week: Saturday vs. Arkansas

  • 23
    last week: NR
    record: 5–2
    The loss to Virginia Tech still stings considering its ACC Coastal implications, but North Carolina bounced back into decent shape by knocking off Miami on the road while the Hokies fell to Syracuse. The Tar Heels took control early against the Hurricanes, while Mitch Trubisky was an efficient 33 of 46 for 299 yards with two touchdowns.

    Last week: Beat Miami 20-13
    Next week: Saturday at Virginia

  • 24
    last week: NR
    record: 5–2
    A dominant showing vs. Arizona State has Colorado a win away from its first bowl-eligible season under Mike MacIntyre and the program’s first since 2007. The Buffaloes racked up 315 rushing yards, including 219 and three touchdowns from Phillip Lindsay, on the Sun Devils, previously the Pac-12’s statistical leaders in rushing defense. Quarterback Sefo Liufau returned for his first start in a month, going 23 of 31 for 265 yards.

    Last week: Beat Arizona State 40-16
    Next week: Saturday at Stanford

  • 25
    last week: NR
    record: 4-2
    LSU took a half to run away from Southern Miss, scoring 35 unanswered points after halftime thanks to a pair of lengthy runs by Derrius Guice, who continues to impress while filling in for Leonard Fournette. After a ridiculously eventful beginning to their season, the Tigers will finally face their first ranked opponent. And what a matchup it will be: Saturday night under the lights vs. Ole Miss.

    Last week: Beat Southern Miss 45-10
    Next week: Saturday vs. Ole Miss

Dropped out: Miami, Virginia Tech, Arizona State
Next five: Navy, NC State, Washington State, Miami, South Florida

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