Michigan moves into the top three of Power Rankings after Week 9
- Michigan's victory over Michigan State boosts the Wolverines up to No. 3 in SI's Power Rankings after Week 9 while Ohio State drops to No. 7 after its sloppy win over Northwestern.
Week 9 trimmed the number of undefeated teams from nine to five. Nebraska, West Virginia, Baylor and Boise State all went down, paving the way for a considerable amount of movement in the upper half of this week’s Power Rankings.
Key takeaways from the weekend include the elimination of the Big 12’s candidacy for the College Football Playoff (though the conference itself looks up for grabs) and the solidification of Clemson’s and Washington’s paths to the playoff, as well as Western Michigan’s path to the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl spot.
In total, seven teams from last week’s rankings lost in Week 9. All but Tennessee remained in the top 25, as the Volunteers’ loss to South Carolina, one of the SEC’s two worst offenses, dropped them to 5–3 on the season.
Week 10 gets going early with the No. 16 Broncos bringing us some early-week #MACtion on Tuesday night. Alabama-LSU and Nebraska-Ohio State headline Saturday’s matchups, with other intriguing contests including Wisconsin-Northwestern, Florida-Arkansas and Washington-Cal
11Alabama Crimson Tidelast week: 1record: 8–0Alabama was off this week and nearly saw its lead atop the rest of college football expand as Clemson fell behind Florida State late in the fourth quarter. Next up for the Tide is a meeting with red-hot LSU, which brings ESPN’s College GameDay to town.
Last week: Off
Next week: Saturday at LSU
22Clemson Tigerslast week: 2record: 8–0The most battle-tested team in all of college football over much of the past two years survived its latest grueling test, a three-point road win at Florida State. As Andy Staples writes, the Tigers would do well to start dominating, but at least the toughest parts of their regular-season schedule are behind them.
Last week: Beat Florida State 37-34
Next week: Saturday vs. Syracuse
33Michigan Wolverineslast week: 4record: 8–0There was no crushing loss to the Spartans in store for the Wolverines this season, as Michigan scored each time it had the ball in the first half. Last year’s special teams fiasco was on everyone’s mind entering the game, so perhaps that’s why the Wolverines didn’t punt until the fourth quarter this time. Course correction puts Michigan on top of Washington here, as the Wolverines’ résumé (wins against Colorado, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State) just speaks louder.
Last week: Beat Michigan State 32-23
Next week: Saturday vs. Maryland
44Washington Huskieslast week: 3record: 8–0Washington passed its first major test since its overtime win over Arizona on Sept. 24, breaking a late tie with Utah with a 58-yard Dante Pettis punt return for a score. The Huskies’ remaining schedule seems favorable for a Pac-12 championship and playoff berth, though the regular season will end with a trip to Washington State for the Apple Cup.
Last week: Beat Utah 31-24
Next week: Saturday at Cal
55Louisville Cardinalslast week: 5record: 7–1With 1:57 remaining and Louisville trailing by a point, Lamar Jackson kept the Cardinals’ season alive by producing an eight-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Smith. The narrow win is still an alarming result considering Louisville was a 33 ½-point favorite over Virginia, but credit the Cardinals for surviving.
Last week: Beat Virginia 32-25
Next week: Saturday at Boston College
66Texas A&M Aggieslast week: 9record: 7–1Texas A&M rebounded from its loss to Alabama with a tuneup, get-healthy victory over New Mexico State. The Aggies’ remaining schedule looks welcoming, though the season ends with a clash vs. LSU.
Last week: Beat New Mexico State 52-10
Next week: Saturday at Mississippi State
77Ohio State Buckeyeslast week: 6record: 7–1What is happening to Ohio State? Since overcoming Wisconsin in overtime in Madison, the Buckeyes have lost to Penn State and struggled to put away Northwestern at home. Now comes a primetime showdown with Nebraska, which kicks off a remaining schedule that isn’t exactly the easiest Big Ten quartet imaginable (vs. Nebraska, at Maryland, at Michigan State, vs. Michigan). It’d be surprising to see Ohio State lose again before facing Michigan, but few saw the struggles of these last two weeks coming.
Last week: Beat Northwestern 24-20
Next week: Saturday vs. Nebraska
88Wisconsin Badgerslast week: 10record: 6–2The story remains the same for Wisconsin. Despite incessant injuries, the defense continues to perform as perhaps the country’s best, while the offense finds just enough contributors to keep things moving. Defeating Nebraska put Wisconsin in strong shape to win the Big Ten West, but that’s presuming the Cornhuskers lose once more.
Last week: Beat Nebraska 23-17
Next week: Saturday at Northwestern
99Auburn Tigerslast week: 14record: 6–2Auburn is rolling after putting away Ole Miss on the road, riding its rushing attack to another 307 yards on the ground. The Tigers are on track to face Alabama in the season finale at 9–2 and, boy, what a matchup that would be.
Last week: Beat Ole Miss 40-29
Next week: Saturday vs. Vanderbilt
1010Nebraska Cornhuskerslast week: 7record: 7-1Nebraska was about a 10-point underdog to Wisconsin, so its overtime loss in Madison is hardly devastating for the Huskers’ first loss of the season. Now, though, Nebraska must likely win out to keep hold of the Big Ten West lead, a challenging task with Ohio State first up before Minnesota, Maryland and Iowa.
Last week: Lost to Wisconsin 23-17 in overtime
Next week: Saturday at Ohio State
1111Florida Gatorslast week: 16record: 6–1Florida held Georgia to 164 total yards and zero second-half points in an impressive showing in Jacksonville. The Gators remain atop the SEC East (and look more solid there with Tennessee’s latest defeat) but still have to play Arkansas and LSU on the road (and Florida State in a nonconference regular-season finale).
Last week: Beat Georgia 24-10
Next week: Saturday at Arkansas
1212Oklahoma Soonerslast week: 15record: 6–2Oklahoma obliterated Kansas while losses by Baylor and West Virginia put the Sooners in sole possession of the Big 12 lead. Still, who knows what will happen in this conference, as Oklahoma still faces both the Bears and the Mountaineers, plus Oklahoma State, before the season is up?
Last week: Beat Kansas 56-3
Next week: Thursday at Iowa State
1313LSU Tigerslast week: 19record: 5-2LSU’s schedule ended up working out decently for the Tigers, as they were able to win three straight with the Florida game postponed and enjoy a bye week before hosting Alabama. The Tigers are hot, impressing the country once again while resurrecting Ed Orgeron’s head-coaching reputation. How will the storylines read after they face the Tide?
Last week: Beat Ole Miss 38-21
Next week: Saturday vs. Alabama
1414Utah Uteslast week: 17record: 7-2Utah lost its three-game winning streak by falling to Washington, but the Utes hung tough and could get the Huskies again in the Pac-12 championship game. Post-retirement Joe Williams continues to breath life into Utah’s ground game, as he carried the rock 35 times for 172 yards with a touchdown Saturday.
Last week: Lost to Washington 31-24
Next week: Off
1515West Virginia Mountaineerslast week: 8record: 6-1Losing to Oklahoma State ruined West Virginia’s playoff hopes, and now we’ll get to see how the 2016 Mountaineers respond to adversity with a trip to Texas and matchups against Oklahoma and Baylor still looming.
Last week: Lost to Oklahoma State 37-20
Next week: Saturday vs. Kansas
1616Western Michigan Broncoslast week: 20record: 8-0Western Michigan’s joyride of a season continues after a bye with a pair of Tuesday night #MACtion contests. Barring an upset, P.J. Fleck’s Broncos appear set for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl berth—especially with those other Broncos from Boise State falling to Wyoming.
Last week: Off
Next week: Tuesday at Ball State
1717Baylor Bearslast week: 11record: 6–1Baylor set forth its weakest defensive effort of the season against Texas, allowing 7.61 yards per play, and now the Big 12 is without a playoff candidate. Like West Virginia, the Bears’ soft schedule is about to finally heat up over the final month-plus of the season.
Last week: Lost to Texas 35-34
Next week: Saturday vs. TCU
1818North Carolina Tar Heelslast week: 22record: 6–2North Carolina had a bye week to ponder its outlook, which features a soft schedule but still has an ACC championship game appearance dependent on at least another Virginia Tech loss.
Last week: Off
Next week: Saturday vs. Georgia Tech
1919Florida State Seminoleslast week: 12record: 5–3Nobody took Florida State’s loss to Clemson harder than Jimbo Fisher, whose frustration boiled over after the Seminoles’ three-point home defeat. Florida State wasted a brilliant effort by Dalvin Cook (19 carries, 169 yards, four touchdowns) with 13 penalties for 111 yards and six sacks allowed. With four regular-season games remaining (including the finale against Florida), the Seminoles have already equaled last year’s loss total in a season that began with playoff aspirations.
Last week: Lost to Clemson 37-34
Next week: Saturday at NC State
2020Boise State Broncoslast week: 13record: 7-1Boise State appears to have ceded its New Year’s Six bowl berth, although Wyoming’s dramatic improvement under Craig Bohl shouldn’t go overlooked. Things could be much different had Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien not fumbled out of the back of his own end zone with 1:25 remaining.
Last week: Lost to Wyoming 30-28
Next week: Friday vs. San Jose State
2121Penn State Nittany Lionslast week: 24record: 6–2Penn State managed to turn a 17–17 halftime scoreline into a 62–24 win, an impressive turnaround even if it was against Purdue. Credit the Nittany Lions for avoiding a letdown after taking down Ohio State.
Last week: Beat Purdue 62-24
Next week: Saturday vs. Iowa
2222Colorado Buffaloeslast week: 21record: 6–2After a week off, Colorado continues its remarkable run at the Pac-12 South title with a Thursday night meeting with UCLA. The Buffaloes’ four remaining games each present challenges, but only their matchup with Arizona is on the road.
Last week: Off
Next week: Thursday vs. UCLA
2323Oklahoma State Cowboyslast week: NRrecord: 6–2Welcome back, Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy’s 100th win with the Cowboys was impressive, as the Oklahoma State defense stepped up with three turnovers (each put the Cowboys inside the Mountaineers’ 10-yard line) to push Oklahoma State right into the Big 12 race. The Sept. 24 loss to Baylor hurts, but Oklahoma State might have the easiest remaining schedule of the conference’s contenders. Of course, this is all contingent on beating Oklahoma on the road Dec. 3.
Last week: Beat West Virginia 37-20
Next week: Saturday at Kansas State
2424Virginia Tech Hokieslast week: 25record: 6–2After shaking off the Panthers in Pittsburgh, the Hokies now control their destiny in the ACC Coastal with four manageable games remaining.
Last week: Beat Pittsburgh 39-36
Next week: Saturday at Duke
2525Washington State Cougarslast week: 23record: 6–2Washington State appeared in trouble against hapless Oregon State before Luke Falk got the Cougars’ offense going in the second half, tossing four of his five touchdowns over the final 30 minutes. Coach Mike Leach’s squad still has to travel to Colorado and host Washington, but at the very least the Cougars are bowl-eligible for the third time in four seasons.
Last week: Beat Oregon State 35-31
Next week: Saturday vs. Arizona
Dropped out: Tennessee
Next five: Houston, South Florida, USC, San Diego State, Troy