Here is the newest batch of college football rankings after Week 8:
|22||North Carolina State||5-1||186||16|
We’ll start with Ohio State, which fell to No. 11 after a shocking loss at Purdue on Saturday night. The Boilermakers deserve a lot of credit. They dominated in all facets of the game; David Blough threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns, D.J. Knox ran for three scores and the defense held down a previously lethal Buckeye attack.
Ohio State’s path to the College Football Playoff is murky at best, now, and No. 5 Michigan is the Big Ten’s best chance to send a team to the festivities. And perhaps the Wolverines can do it. Their defense was nothing short of magnificent on Saturday against Michigan State, and Karan Higdon remains a stud.
The question for the Big Ten: what happens if Ohio State beats Michigan in their late-season matchup? The Big Ten West doesn’t have a Playoff contender. The Wolverines will likely get in if they run the table (there should be some attrition in the top four), but if the Buckeyes continue their dominance in the rivalry, the Big Ten could be in trouble. Outside of Michigan, Ohio State doesn’t have another huge game on the schedule. It will have to win that game to be considered for the Playoff, and win decisively. But that might not even be enough.
Several teams moved up one spot as a result of Ohio State’s loss. The first school we’ll highlight is No. 2 Clemson, which pounded North Carolina State this week.
The Wolfpack offense came in rolling, and the Clemson defense totally put the clamps on them. It’s the type of performance we’d been expecting from that unit all year. Ryan Finley, who had lit up just about every defense he’d faced coming in, averaged less than five yards per pass attempt.
Trevor Lawrence threw for more than 300 yards and looks like the real deal under center. Clemson is a really good team, even if its ceiling isn’t as high as it was during the Deshaun Watson days. The problem? It still feels like there’s a significant gap between Clemson and No. 1 Alabama. Credit the Tigers for a decisive win over a good opponent, but we’ll need to see this type of effort more consistently if they want to be considered a real threat to the Crimson Tide.
Speaking of Alabama, it faces No. 4 LSU on Nov. 3, which looked outstanding once again in a 19-3 win over Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide have to travel to Baton Rouge. They’ll still be expected to win, but this is a massive game. Win, and LSU has a clear path to the Playoff. Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t faced a defense like LSU’s all season, but he’s also been, you know, flawless. No. 7 Georgia is likely rooting for LSU; it would make the Bulldogs’ loss look much better. But if Alabama wins, it will be interesting to see how voters compare LSU (two losses in this scenario) to Georgia (one loss, but came to LSU).
One big riser this week was Washington State, which beat Oregon by a score of 34-20 and kept Justin Herbert under wraps. While it was a great win for the Cougars, it wasn’t an ideal development for the Pac-12; Oregon was likely its best shot to send a team to the College Football Playoff coming in. Washington State is now the highest-ranked Pac-12 team at No. 14. It still gets to play Washington, but a vault into the top four by the end of the season seems unlikely. Oregon fell seven spots to No. 19 with the loss.
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Three new teams entered the fray: No. 23 Utah, No. 24 Stanford and No. 25 Appalachian State. Yes, Appalachian State. What a story. The Mountaineers are 5-1 on the season, with their only loss coming by seven to Penn State in Week 1. They remain one of the most fun teams to watch in the sport.
It was a relatively tame week by college football’s standards, with the exception of Purdue upsetting Ohio State. It was likely the calm before the inevitable storm.