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Joe Boozell | NCAA.com | October 15, 2018

College football rankings: LSU, Michigan rise in new AP Top 25

Another week, another set of college football rankings. Here’s the newest AP Top 25:

RANK SCHOOL RECORD POINTS PREVIOUS RANK
1 Alabama (60) 7-0 1524 1
2 Ohio State (1) 7-0 1457 3
3 Clemson 6-0 1392 4
4 Notre Dame 7-0 1355 5
5 LSU 6-1 1244 13
6 Michigan 6-1 1146 12
7 Texas 6-1 1144 9
8 Georgia 6-1 1085 2
9 Oklahoma 5-1 999 11
10 UCF 6-0 979 10
11 Florida 6-1 931 14
12 Oregon 5-1 917 17
13 West Virginia 5-1 700 6
14 Kentucky 5-1 678 18
15 Washington 5-2 640 7
16 North Carolina State 5-0 592 20
17 Texas A&M 5-2 551 22
18 Penn State 4-2 523 8
19 Iowa 5-1 266 NR
20 Cincinnati 6-0 243 25
21 South Florida 6-0 242 23
22 Mississippi State 4-2 231 24
23 Wisconsin 4-2 226 15
24 Michigan State 4-2 199 NR
25 Washington State 5-1 136 NR

We’ll start with LSU, which demolished then-No. 2 Georgia in Baton Rouge on Saturday. That was a statement win for the Tigers and they rose eight spots to No. 5 because of it.

LSU is just so well-rounded. Joe Burrow isn’t lighting up the box score each week, but you feel good about him under center if you’re a Tigers fan. LSU’s running game is dominant, as usual; it carried 51 times for 275 yards against UGA. The defense has playmakers at every turn.

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LSU’s path to the College Football Playoff is going to be difficult, because it still has Alabama on the schedule. But the game is in Baton Rouge, and as we just saw, that’s a difficult environment for any opposing team. The Tigers now have wins over Georgia, Miami and Auburn — that’s no joke. Ed Orgeron is proving a lot of doubters wrong.

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On the flip side, Georgia fell to No. 8 with the loss. But the Bulldogs are still in the Playoff hunt. A loss at LSU shouldn’t be a cause for panic in itself, but the fact that Georgia wasn’t too competitive is a concern. The Bulldogs can still make the Playoff if they run the table. But a date with surging Florida, which beat LSU in Week 6, looms on Oct. 27.

Right behind LSU is No. 6 Michigan, which defeated Wisconsin 38-13 on Saturday night. LSU and Michigan have a lot in common. They’re extremely balanced, and while Shea Patterson isn’t going to pop up in any Heisman conversations, he brings stability to the most important position on the field. The Wolverines have lacked that in recent years. Michigan ran the ball 48 times for 320 yards on Saturday; Karan Higdon is one of the most underrated running backs in the country.

Michigan-Ohio State is always must-see TV, but that matchup could have direct Playoff implications this year. The Wolverines are ranked ahead of Penn State after Michigan State upset the Nittany Lions on Saturday, and Michigan’s lone loss (Week 1 at Notre Dame) is hardly damaging at this point. Jim Harbaugh’s program is trending in the right direction.

Perhaps No. 7 Texas is proof that it’s better to lose early than late. The Longhorns beat Baylor yesterday, but more importantly, Georgia, West Virginia and Washington lost, so Texas is ranked ahead of all of them. The Big 12 is no lock to send a team to the College Football Playoff, but the Longhorns are the most likely program to make it at this point. College football is more fun when Texas is relevant, and that’s certainly the case in 2018.

Some other teams of note that rose: No. 11 Florida (three spots) and No. 12 Oregon (five spots). The Gators’ win over LSU looks even more impressive now; as mentioned before, a huge game against Georgia at the end of the month will help determine who represents the SEC East in the conference title game. Oregon, meanwhile, outlasted Washington in overtime on Saturday. The Ducks are a complete team. Just imagine where they’d be if they hadn’t fallen to Stanford in spectacular fashion a few weeks ago.

Now, to some programs who dropped besides Georgia: West Virginia fell seven spots to No. 13 after losing to Iowa State. Anyone can beat anyone in the Big 12. The Mountaineers’ Playoff hopes aren’t necessarily doomed, but it will be an uphill climb after a lackluster showing.

Washington fell eight spots to No. 15 after losing to Oregon in Eugene. That feels a bit harsh at first glance, but not all drops are created equally. Look at the teams ahead of the Huskies, and not much separates them. There was a glut of schools in the 7-15 range before this week. It’s tough, because Washington’s two losses are a neutral site game against Auburn and a road game against Oregon. Neither is terrible, but Auburn has slipped since then. And when you’re a Pac-12 team, you won’t have as many opportunities for signature wins as some SEC or Big Ten schools. Regardless, Washington has plenty of talent and could play spoiler later on.

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Penn State dropped 10 spots this week, the most of any school. The Nittany Lions just don’t seem to have the same offensive magic they did a year ago. Turns out, losing Saquon Barkley stings. Who knew? The Big Ten has plenty of depth as a conference; Penn State just took Ohio State down to the wire and lost to Michigan State two weeks later. It’s another league where anything can happen on a given Saturday.

This may have been the most fun week of college football yet. And it feels like we’re only getting started.