The college football season has kicked into high gear with matches being played that will essentially determine the elite playoff pairings. Ole Miss lost a great shot to solidify their postseason status with the loss to Auburn, while Florida State and Mississippi State stayed unbeaten.
10. Baylor (7–1): The Bears lead the NCAA in scoring at 50.4 points per game, and have done it the respectable way—without intentionally running up the score. Late in their 60–14 win over Kansas, Baylor had a first-and-goal at the Kansas 6-yard line, but actually ended up getting a delay of game in trying to run out the clock. They ran out the clock two plays later, mercifully ending the game.
This week: at Oklahoma. Previous rank: 10
9. Ole Miss (7–2): The Rebels season took a turn for the worse in one crucial play late in the loss to Auburn as leading receiver Laquon Treadwell fumbled just before reaching the goal line, for the go-ahead score, while simultaneously breaking his leg in the process. Now with two straight losses, Ole Miss have little hope to make the four-team playoff.
This week: versus Presbyterian. Previous rank: 2
8. Texas Christian (7–1): The Horned Frogs won at high-powered West Virginia 31–30 despite Trevone Boykin completing just 12 of 30 passes, largely due to a plus-3 in the turnover department. TCU, which picked off a pair of passes in the win, is now tied for fourth in the NCAA in interceptions with 15.
This week: versus Kansas State. Previous rank: 9
7. Michigan State (7–1): The Spartans head into a showdown with the Buckeyes this Saturday, desperately needing a win against a top team to move up in the playoff picture. After Ohio State, they play unranked foes Rutgers, Maryland, and Penn State until a possible Big Ten title game.
This week: versus Ohio State. Previous rank: 8
6. Notre Dame (7–1): Although the Irish dropped Navy 49–39, the 454 total yards they gave up (including 336 on the ground) was a little unsettling for a team that relies so heavily on their defense. Quarterback Everett Golson continued his solid play in passing for three touchdowns and running for another in the win.
This week: at Arizona State. Previous rank: 5
5. Alabama (7–1): In what should be a heated, yet low-scoring affair, the Tide will visit LSU Saturday in a matchup of two of the four best defenses in terms of fewest points allowed. Alabama, which allows just 14.0 points per game, has shut out a pair of opponents so far and no one has scored more than the 23 Ole Miss put up a month ago.
This week: at LSU. Previous rank: 4
4. Oregon (8–1): Oregon’s 45–16 win over defensive-minded Stanford, represented the most points the Cardinal have allowed this year. Heisman-contending quarterback Marcus Mariota accounted for four scores in the win—two rushing and two passing.
This week: at Utah. Previous rank: 7
3. Auburn (7–1): Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall was instrumental in the 35–31 win over Ole Miss, going 15-of-22 passing for 254 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers won on the road, despite getting penalized for nearly 100 more yards than the Rebels. Marshall also ran for 50 yards—well below his average of 83, but enough to pull off the big win.
This week: versus Texas A&M. Previous rank: 6
2. Florida State (8–0): The Seminoles continue to live on the edge. Twelve days after escaping a last-second drive by Notre Dame to hang on and win, Florida State came back and beat the Cardinals after falling down 21–0 in the second quarter—in Louisville. Jameis Winston threw for 401 yards in that Louisville win, but threw three picks and was just 25-of-48 passing.
This week: versus Virginia. Previous rank: 3
1. Mississippi State (8–0): Heisman-candidate Dak Prescott may have thrown a pair of picks in the 17–10 win over Arkansas, but he also threw for 331 yards on 18-of-27 passing and got the all-important win. The Bulldogs still have their two biggest tests yet to be played and both are on the road—Nov. 15 at Alabama and then two weeks later at Ole Miss.