As if the SEC wasn’t powerful enough, a pair of moribund programs, Ole Miss and Mississippi State—neither of which have won the SEC in the last 50 years—have suddenly taken the college football world by storm.
The Bulldogs have given LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn their first losses of the year in consecutive weeks. The Rebels did the same to Alabama two weeks ago, before beating Texas A&M with ease last weekend.
Here’s where we have them all now:
10. Alabama (5–1): The Tide survived a scare at Arkansas, winning 14–13, and didn’t look so great in doing so. They were out-gained 335–227 in total yards, and star wideout Amari Cooper was held to just two catches for 22 yards—well below his season averages of 10 catches and 149 yards.
This week: versus Texas A&M. Previous Ranking: 7
9. Texas Christian (4–1): The Horned Frogs nearly pulled off the upset Saturday at Baylor before falling 61–58 in a game that saw more than 1,200 yards of total offense and another 200-plus yards of penalties. Still, TCU has scored 30 or more points in every game this season and is third nationally at 45.8 points per game.
This week: versus Oklahoma State. Previous Ranking: 10
8. Michigan State (5–1): The Spartans, not normally known as a high-scoring team, put up 45 in the win over Purdue thanks in part to 294 yards on the ground. Currently Mark Dantonio’s squad averages 45.5 points per game—right behind TCU for fourth-best—while averaging 248.3 yards on the ground.
This week: at Indiana. Previous Ranking: 9
7. Oregon (5–1): The Ducks more than rebounded from their first loss of the season by routing UCLA 42–30 in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. (They led by 32 entering the fourth). Marcus Mariota continued his Heisman push with 210 yards passing and 75 rushing. He’s currently tops in the NCAA in quarterback rating at 193.7.
This week: versus Washington. Previous Ranking: 8
6. Auburn (5–1): After losing to undefeated Mississippi State, the Tigers now face a difficult path to repeat as SEC champs. Not only would they need to run the table from here on out—that includes games against South Carolina, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama—they would need the undefeated Bulldogs to lose twice during the same span.
This week: Bye week. Previous Ranking: 3
5. Baylor (6–0): Baylor’s 782-yard offensive performance in their 61–58 win over TCU was enough to overcome 117 penalty yards and a minus-2 in turnover margin as the Bears scored the final 24 points in the come-from-behind win. Without a doubt, the best offense in the nation, Baylor is tops in both points scored (52.7) and total yards (622.5).
This week: at West Virginia. Previous Ranking: 4
4. Notre Dame (6–0): The Irish may have a perfect record heading into Saturday’s showdown against Florida State, but their normally stingy defense was anything but last week. Notre Dame, which had given up a total of just 60 points all season, was burned for 510 yards as North Carolina put up 43 points on them in the 50–43 win. It’ll take a better performance to beat the Jameis Winston-led Seminoles (if he plays) this weekend.
This week: at Florida State. Previous Ranking: 2
3. Florida State (6–0): If Jameis Winston plays this weekend, despite his latest scandal—autographing some 900 items for a company called James Spence Authentication—the Seminoles are clear favorites against the Irish. But most Las Vegas oddsmakers have taken the game off the board because of the uncertainty around his status and the game-breaking talent he brings to the field. After all, Winston is the reigning Heisman winner, and after last week’s 30/36 passing for 317 yards and 3 TDs, he finally looks it.
This week: versus Notre Dame. Previous Ranking: 1
2. Ole Miss (6–0): How did the Rebels get so good so fast? For one thing, third-year coach Hugh Freeze compiled the seventh-best recruiting class in 2013. That impressive haul included the commitment of five-star defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who is currently the best player on a defense that allows the second-fewest points (11.8) in the country.
This week: versus Tennessee. Previous Ranking: 6
1. Mississippi State (6–0): After putting the Bulldogs on the map this season, sixth-year Mississippi State head coach (and former Florida assistant) Dan Mullen, will surely have a lot of job offers at the end of the season should he choose that route. The Florida Gators’ fan base has already made their intentions well known for Mullen, who is 42–28 with the Bulldogs, with a pair of websites (WeWantDan.com and HireDanMullen.com) devoted to his hiring.
This week: Bye week. Previous Ranking: 5