College Football Pick’em
Week 9 Recap
Talking the business of sports
The new college football rankings are going to look different after Week 6 as more than a handful of teams from the AP Top 25 took losses, leaving voters with several interesting debates for their updated ballots. Though No. 1 Alabama was battling all the way to the final seconds against Texas A&M and No. 2 Georgia got off to a slow start against Auburn, there’s unlikely to be a change at the top of the rankings. Where it gets interesting is just outside the top three where Clemson and Tennessee are surging, potentially poised to move up within the top 10.
The Tigers have some room to move up as a result of both their recent wins and Michigan failing to exhibit the same dominance shown at the start fo the season, but there’s more vertical movement possible with Tennessee. The Volunteers traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as three-point favorites and came out with a 40-13 win in the early slate, looking dominant on the road against a ranked team on their way to beefing up an undefeated profile.
Voters are prone to bias and sometimes those biases included more weight given to games that get more attention, and few results from Saturday seemed to resonate more than Tennessee taking what was thought to be a close and competitive game and turning it into a blowout. Another voter bias acknowledged here: The excitement building for next week’s meeting of Alabama and Tennessee, the most-anticipated “Third Saturday in October” in a long time.
Further down the rankings, we’re expecting some fo those ranked teams who lost to remain in the AP Top 25 thanks to not only shake up near the bottom of poll but a lack of teams who have unified support among the voters.
Here’s how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday.
1. Alabama (Last week — 1): The No. 1 status will certainly be tested as Alabama had to make a stand on the final play to secure a 24-20 win against Texas A&M. We think the voters will acknowledge the absence of Bryce Young and not penalize the Crimson Tide too much, but it’s going to be a fascinating debate to see unfold on Sunday.
2. Georgia (2): Stetson Bennett’s 64-yard touchdown run was one of the few highlights on a day where Georgia was able to pour on scores late to give a more respectable final score to a grinder of a game. It was clear throughout the game that Auburn was not going to muster enough offense on its own to win, so once Georgia tightened up down the stretch, a 14-3 game in the third quarter quickly turned into the 42-10 final the voters will use for their ranking.
3. Ohio State (3): C.J. Stroud and the Buckeyes’ wide receivers absolutely torched Michigan State with six passing touchdowns, three of them going to Marvin Harrison Jr., and cruised to a 49-20 win in their first true road game of the 2022 season.
4. Clemson (5): The strength of Clemson’s defense was on full display as Boston College was not able to convert explosive plays into points and the Tigers pulled away in a tricky road spot with a 31-3 win.
5. Michigan (4): After mashing its nonconference opponents, Michigan has found itself tested much more in conference play, and that was case again at Indiana. Tied 10-10 at halftime, the upset alert sirens were on, but the Wolverines took control in the second half and pulled away for a 31-10 win.
6. Tennessee (8): There are more quality wins on the Vols’ profile than what USC or Oklahoma State have so far with three wins against Power Five teams who were all ranked in the top 25 at the time of the game.
7. USC (6): AP voters don’t have a ton to work with given USC’s 16-point win against Washington State, a solid team that provided a test early but ultimately could not finish the job. The Trojans’ next test may be its toughest, carrying this undefeated status on the road to play an angry Utah team off a loss.
8. Oklahoma State (7): Texas Tech led in the third quarter and trailed by just three points for much of the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys continue to end up on the winning end of these close games in Big 12 play. Now the Big 12 title favorites with a chance to compete for a College Football Playoff spot, Oklahoma State enters a tough stretch with TCU, Texas, Kansas State and Kansas in the next four weeks.
9. Ole Miss (9): When the Rebels found themselves down early to Vanderbilt, it drew attention, but Lane Kiffin’s team course corrected and eventually covered the three-score spread in a 52-28 win.
10. Penn State (10): The Nittany Lions were off in Week 6 and will be back in action next week at Michigan.
11. UCLA (18): Now 6-0 with with wins against teams ranked in the top 15 at the time of the game, UCLA has an argument to be a top-10 team. Ultimately, we’ll see on Oct. 22 when the Bruins return from an off week to face Oregon in a huge game for the Pac-12 title race.
12. TCU (17): A notable move up is coming for TCU after winning 38-31 at Kansas in the battle of Big 12 unbeatens.
13. Oregon (12): We are projecting a move down for Oregon, but really, it’s more getting jumped by undefeated teams that came up with big wins in Week 6. The Ducks crushed a feisty Arizona team on the road, and Bo Nix was great, boosting confidence that this is a group ready to make a run at the Pac-12 championship.
14. NC State (14): The Wolfpack stormed back from an early deficit to beat Florida State, doing so while losing Devin Leary to an injury. The status of Leary becomes the biggest storyline moving forward, but for now, NC State holds its poll position thanks to the close win.
15. Wake Forest (15): No major changes after a win against Army West Point.
16. Kansas State (20): The Wildcats had one touchdown, but that 81-yard first quarter score was more points than Iowa State ever got in a single play as Kansas State improved to 3-0 in Big 12 action with a 10-9 win in Ames, Iowa. It’s not always pretty, but the wins all count the same and this group is a one-loss team in the thick of the conference title race.
17. Syracuse (22): The Orange were off in Week 6 and will be back in action next week against NC State.
18. Mississippi State (23): A record-setting day for Will Rogers highlighted a dominant performance against Arkansas that will spark a move up for the Bulldogs.
19. Kansas (19): Losing to TCU shouldn’t result in too much of a penalty in the polls, especially considering the Jayhawks lost starting quarterback Jalon Daniels in the second quarter. But the bigger question is how Daniels’ health impacts Kansas’ chances to stay in the top 25 and remain in the Big 12 title race.
20. Utah (11): There are plenty of arguments for Utah to lose its top 25 status based on its resume as there are few wins against quality opponents on the Utes’ 4-2 profile. But the dominance displayed in the team’s wins suggest this is still a quality team, just one that came up short on the road to a surging and still-undefeated UCLA team.
21. Cincinnati (24): In another week, the Bearcats very may well fall out of the rankings after a narrow home win against a South Florida team with just one win on the season. But their healthy voting points margin over rest of the pack last week and other teams actually taking a second loss should keep Cincinnati inside the top 25.
22. Notre Dame (NR): The Fighting Irish have turned a corner since the upset loss to Marshall, and after beating BYU, we’re projecting a return to the top 25.
23. BYU (16): It’s possible that BYU’s win against Baylor will be a saving grace for the Cougars after a close loss to Notre Dame in Las Vegas.
24. Baylor (NR): The Bears were off in Week 6, but they were the second team on the outside looking in last week, meaning there was already plenty of voter support for their inclusion in the top 25. With so many ranked teams losing, Dave Aranda’s group are poised to back into the rankings.
25. James Madison (NR): The Dukes may be ineligible for a conference title or a bowl game, but there’s nothing preventing them from cracking the top 25 after improving to 5-0 with a 22-point win at Arkansas State. The dramatic comeback win at Appalachian State is the only single-digit margin on the profile as JMU has been one of the most dominant down-to-down teams in the country this year.
Projected to drop out: Kentucky (13), Washington (21), LSU (25)
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