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Ralph D. Russo | The Associated Press | November 7, 2016

Heat Check: Deck shuffled, but top teams locked in

  Alabama rightfully stays up top after a win in LSU's Death Valley.

At this point in the college football season, the favorites have been identified.

For the third consecutive week, the top six teams in The Associated Press college football poll were unchanged. Four unbeaten teams in the top four spots, plus Louisville at No. 5 and Ohio State sixth.

The College Football Playoff selection committee saw it differently last week and had Texas A&M at No. 4. AP voters had the Aggies seventh. Regardless, A&M was upset at Mississippi State on Saturday and took a tumble in the AP Top 25.

Voters rearranged the AP rankings this week but brought no new teams. That does not sound particularly appealing to Heat Check.

No. 1 Alabama (9-0)

Three scoreless quarters is no reason to doubt the Crimson Tide.

Next: Mississippi State.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 2 Michigan (9-0)

With an average margin of victory at 37.3 points per game, no team has faced less fourth-quarter pressure than the Wolverines. Part of that is schedule. Part of that is being good enough to avoid messing around with inferior opponents

Next: at Iowa.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 3 Clemson (9-0)

The Tigers haven't been as consistent as Michigan, but have been tested at a higher level. In this case, Heat Check is with the selection committee, which had Clemson at No. 2.

Next: vs. Pittsburgh.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 4 Washington (9-0)

No receiver with at least 40 receptions has a higher percentage of his catches for touchdowns (31.8) than John Ross, who is at 14 scores in 44 catches.

Next: Southern California.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 5 Louisville (8-1)

The Cardinals' defense gets overlooked, but Louisville ranks sixth in the nation in yards allowed per play at 4.40.

Next: Wake Forest.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 6 Ohio State (8-1)

The Buckeyes might have the best set of cornerbacks in the Big Ten with Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore, which is saying a lot considering Michigan's pair of Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling.

Next: at Maryland.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 7 Wisconsin (7-2)

The Badgers now have control of the Big Ten West.

Next: Illinois.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 8 Auburn (7-2)

What we learned Saturday about the Tigers: QB Sean White has become really important.

Next: at Georgia.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 9 Oklahoma (7-2)

Welcome back to the top 10, Sooners. With that defense, it's tough to justify their return.

Next: No. 25 Baylor.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 10 Texas A&M (7-2)

College Football: Mississippi State upsets Texas A&M
With QB Trevor Knight (shoulder) uncertain, the Aggies are in danger of a late-season freefall.

Next: Mississippi.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 11 West Virginia (7-1)

The Big 12's best shot at reaching the playoff.

Next: at Texas.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 12 Penn State (7-2)

The Nittany Lions justified the selection committee's faith in them and now the AP voters are on board. Still, a touch skeptical.

Next: at Indiana.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 13 Utah (7-2)

The Utes' defense leads the nation in takeaways with 23.

Next: at Arizona State, Thursday.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 14 Western Michigan (9-0)

The Broncos are very good, but at this rate they'll be a top-10 if they keep winning, and that seems like a bit much.

Next: at Kent State, Tuesday

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 15 North Carolina (7-2)

Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky has the lowest interception percentage in the country at 0.6.

Next: at Duke, Thursday.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 16 Colorado (7-2)

The Buffs were all kinds of sloppy against UCLA last week, but with several teams in the middle of the rankings losing, they jumped. Another case where the voters might be taking the selection committee's lead.

Next: at Arizona.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 17 Oklahoma State (7-2)

If not for a blown call and crazy Hail Mary against Central Michigan, the Cowboys would be right around the top 10. It should be noted Central Michigan is currently 5-5, so not too much sympathy for the Cowboys.

Next: vs. Texas Tech.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 18 Virginia Tech (7-2)

The Hokies needed a little Beamer Ball to beat Duke on Saturday.

Next: vs. Georgia Tech.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 19 LSU (5-3)

Working around the quarterback limitations is just too tough for the Tigers against really good teams.

Next: at Arkansas.

Heat check: A touch too hot.

No. 20 Florida State (6-3)

This has been one weird season for the Seminoles. Still, it could be top-10 team talent-wise.

Next: vs. Boston College, Friday.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 21 Nebraska (7-2)

The Huskers got hit with some stone-cold reality in Columbus, Ohio, when it comes to where they stand on the national scene. Minnesota is still more Nebraska's speed.

Next: Minnesota.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 22 Florida (6-2)

Think we all got a good read on what the Gators really are on Saturday, too.

Next: South Carolina.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 23 Washington State (7-2)

College Football: Washington State dominates Arizona
You can't make that loss to an FCS team in the opener go away, but the Cougars are getting little respect for turning around their season.

Next: vs. California.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 24 Boise State (8-1)

The Broncos are No. 1 in the Mountain West in yards per play and No. 2 in yards per play allowed.

Next: at Hawaii.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 25 Baylor (6-2)

Can the Bears keep it together?

Next: at No. 9 Oklahoma.

Heat check: Too hot.

This article was written by Ralph D. Russo from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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