Mandel’s Top 10: Time to look beyond Baylor & TCU in Big 12
After 11 months of talking and hearing about TCU and Baylor — first because of the playoff snub, then because of their high rankings throughout this season — neither appears in my Top 10 this week. Nor is there a Pac-12 team.
1. Clemson (10-0): Syracuse gave the Tigers a tougher game than expected but Deshaun Watson never flinched. Clemson’s next two should be relatively easy, but a torrid North Carolina team may await in Charlotte.
2. Alabama (9-1): The Tide defensive front just keeps shutting down SEC stars. This week’s victim was Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, whom Jonathan Allen, A’Shawn Robinson and Co. sacked a combined nine times.
3. Ohio State (10-0): Joey Bosa and the Ohio State defense have yet to play a single bad game. They’ll face their toughest test to date Saturday against Connor Cook and a veteran Spartans offense.
4. Notre Dame (9-1): The Irish beat Wake Forest but its resume took quite a hit. Temple lost to USF and will drop out of the Top 25 and future foe Stanford lost to Oregon and will fall out of the Top 10. That hurts a bit.
5. Oklahoma State (10-0): The Cowboys live dangerously on the road, this time rallying from a 17-point deficit at Iowa State and going ahead with just 3:06 left. Their last two games (Baylor and Oklahoma) are at home.
6. Iowa (10-0): Iowa is 10-0 for the first time in school history, and the Hawkeyes’ running game is stout. LeShun Daniels Jr., limited by injuries much of the year, broke out and ran for 195 yards against Minnesota.
7. Oklahoma (9-1): Baylor had won 20 straight home games. Oklahoma held the Bears to 34 points, their lowest output in a home game since 2013. The Sooners’ fifth-ranked defense is legit. So is QB Baker Mayfield.
8. Florida (9-1): The Gators completed their SEC schedule with a 7-1 record. Most impressively, their defense only allowed more than 14 points in two of those eight games, finishing with a 24-14 victory at South Carolina.
9. Michigan State (9-1): Four of my Top 10 teams from last week lost, allowing the Spartans to return just a week after a bad loss at Nebraska. Their stay may be short unless they can win in Columbus.
10. North Carolina (9-1): Give credit where it’s due. The Tar Heels followed up a 66-31 win over Duke with a 59-21 rout of Miami. Coordinator Gene Chizik’s much-improved defense notched three turnovers Saturday.
Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for FOXSports.com. He covered college football and basketball for 15 years at Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @slmandel and Facebook. Send emails and Mailbag questions to Stewart.Mandel@fox.com.