Just when my weekly rankings were starting to get a little boring, three of last week’s top four – Clemson, Michigan and Washington – went out and lost on the same Saturday.
And just when I wrote last week that Ohio State was the team best suited to beat Alabama, the Buckeyes move up to … No. 2, just behind the Crimson Tide.
West Virginia (8-1)
The Mountaineers committed four turnovers at Texas and still won 24-20 thanks to a defense that notched four sacks and three turnovers. Next week is the big one: Oklahoma, 7-0 in conference, comes to Morgantown.
The best turnaround story of 2016 continues. The Buffs control their destiny in the Pac-12 South following a 49-24 rout at Arizona. They play Top 25 foes Washington State and Utah at home the next two weeks.
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Penn State (8-2)
The Nittany Lions played a similar-type trap game at Indiana as Michigan did at Iowa, but James Franklin’s team averted disaster with 17 points in the last four minutes to win 45-31.
The Huskies were mostly an eye test team before, so their home loss to USC hurt more than Clemson’s or Michigan’s upsets. The good news for Washington’s resume is that 7-3 Stanford will likely return to the Top 25.
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The Badgers’ defense and rushing attack were dominant in a 48-3 rout of Illinois. Wisconsin’s resume includes wins over Top 25 foes LSU and Nebraska and at 6-4 Iowa, with close losses to Ohio State and Michigan. They’re just a solid, consistent team.
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QB Deshaun Watson’s three interceptions and a bunch of big plays allowed on defense doomed the Tigers against Pitt. This coming after several other turnover-marred escapes. They still boast three Top 25-caliber wins over Auburn, Louisville and Florida State.
The bad news is the Wolverines’ offense went kaput in a last-second 14-13 loss at 6-4 Iowa. The good news is they’ve beaten three of the other teams in my Top 10 (Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin). That’s still a pretty strong resume.
The Cardinals are my eye test team. They turned a 12-3 halftime deficit at Wake Forest into a 44-12 win. I’m not as fixated on head-to-head results as the committee, so I’m fine moving Louisville ahead of a Clemson team it lost to on the road in a last-minute finish.
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Ohio State (9-1)
The Buckeyes, which on Saturday at Maryland posted their second straight 62-3 win, are now in better shape for the playoff than the Big Ten title. Ohio State needs 8-2 Penn State to lose to either 2-8 Rutgers or 3-7 Michigan State or the Nittany Lions win the Big Ten East.
Nick Saban laughs at all of your upsets. Behind the most dominant performance yet from QB Jalen Hurts (347 yards passing, 100 yards rushing, five total TDs), ‘Bama throttled Mississippi State 51-3.