1. Alabama (4-0)
There’s really not much to say about Alabama that people don’t already know. They are an extremely convincing 4-0 who already passed a big test on the road against the Gators. Bryce Young looks like a very strong early Heisman contender, and he is complemented by a dominant run game and suffocating defense. They look like they’re on an entirely different tier from everyone else right now.
2. Georgia (4-0)
To put their most recent blowout into perspective, the Bulldogs only allowed 77 total yards of offense to Vanderbilt with their backups in the game for the majority of the contest. There was never any realistic shot of Georgia losing, but they certainly improved how they looked by a dominant 62-0 win over a weak conference foe.
3. Oregon (4-0)
Oregon surprised a lot of people with a road win at Ohio State and followed that win with comfortable outings against Stony Brook and a putrid Arizona team. They now travel to take on Stanford on the road. Every game is of massive importance for the Ducks now, as if they are able to win out, they are all but a lock for the playoff.
4. Arkansas (4-0)
It seemed as if one of us putting Arkansas this high could be a possibility, but both ranking them in the College Football Playoff at this point in time was a surprise. What is also a surprise is that the Razorbacks have now blown out a solid Texas Longhorns team while dominating the Texas A&M Aggies. Compared to others slightly ranked below them, Arkansas has something the others do not: defeating two highly-respected football programs in their first four games of the season. Accomplishing a feat such as that shoots them up in the rankings.
5. Penn State (4-0)
Penn State has 2 top 25 wins and 2 blowout wins. A very impressive start to their 4-0 season. They still have 4 ranked opponents remaining on their schedule, and to get to the playoff they’re going to need to win at least 3 of those games. These games include Iowa in 2 weeks and Ohio State in 4 weeks. They need to do all they can to avoid looking ahead and handle business against Indiana this week.
6. Florida (3-1)
Emory Jones continues to look like an elite dual-threat quarterback as the Gators continue to build on their impressive resume consisting of a two-point loss to Alabama while dominating in the other three contests. Other than a home game against Georgia later on in October, it should be smooth sailing in Gainesville.
7. Iowa (4-0)
A home game against Colorado State was surprisingly the ugliest win of the Hawkeyes’ season, but they were able to pull it out. They now have a tough 2 game stretch on tap with Maryland and Penn State the next 2 games, the latter of which will likely be a big factor in playoff voting down the stretch.
8. Oklahoma (4-0)
Spencer Rattler’s draft stock is free-falling at this point in time, and with that comes much well-deserved criticism for his current play in college. Look, West Virginia deserves more credit for their almost-upset. They were a competent quarterback away from winning that game, but only hooking sixteen points on a team that lacks a true identity is not the direction the Sooners want to be heading.
9. Notre Dame (4-0)
After scraping by Florida State and Toledo, I was not sold on Notre Dame at all. After those, they comfortably beat Purdue before embarrassing Wisconsin. There is still a big concern in terms of QB health, but this team has shown the ability to adapt to many different situations, both in-game and between games. They have a very important matchup with Cincinnati this week that will vault one of the teams into a much more serious playoff conversation.
10. Ohio State (3-1)
After a disappointing loss to Oregon, it has been dominance, dominance, and you guessed it, dominance for the Buckeyes. Running back Treveyon Henderson has been on a tear the past two weeks, picking up more of the slack so quarterback CJ Stroud is not under as much pressure. They play a strong Rutgers team this Saturday.
11. Ole Miss (3-0)
Ole Miss is led by who I believe to be the best draft-eligible QB in the country in Matt Corral. Currently, 3-0 with 3 blowout wins, Ole Miss travels to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide this week. It goes without saying, but a win in that game would put Ole Miss very strongly in Playoff contention, and even a close loss can still be a positive in terms of rankings.
12. Cincinnati (3-0)
Coming off a bye week, the Bearcats head into South Bend with one clear message: To prove that they are not pretenders and that they belong in the top ten. This is their last attempt to make a case for the playoff, as their schedule is incredibly weak compared to the other groups fighting for similar seeding.
13. BYU (4-0)
After a big win in the Holy War, BYU followed it up with an unexpected win over Arizona State the next week. They avoided the Southern Florida comeback efforts and now sit at 4-0 with 2 very impressive wins. The rest of their schedule is relatively light compared to many other teams ranked this high, so they’re going to need to blow out almost everyone they play to continue moving up the ranks consistently. Based on what we’ve seen, that’s very possible.
14. Michigan State (4-0)
Taking care of business against weaker opponents is an underrated aspect of a contending team’s portfolio. The Spartans certainly do not have the same talent as Ohio State, Iowa, and Penn State, but there is enough proof to show that Michigan State should not be taken lightly. If they continue to win easier games while lucking into a few wins against ranked opponents later in the year, this team could have a chance to make noise.
15. Michigan (4-0)
After 3 dominant wins, Rutgers gave Michigan a fight, but the Wolverines still pulled out the win. They will now have back-to-back road games against Wisconsin and Nebraska, both of which could be sneakily tough road matchups if taken lightly by UM. They have a strong enough schedule to make some serious noise if they continue to pile up the wins.
16. Fresno State (4-1)
Fresno State is not a team very many people expected to be in this spot. Jake Haener is a senior and is skyrocketing his draft stock as this season goes along. When Fresno stuck with Oregon, many people thought that was a sign of a potentially weak Oregon team, but we now know that it’s just a really good Fresno State team. They have a very manageable schedule from here on out and should be in a good position to stay in a good spot in these rankings.
17. Oklahoma State (4-0)
Oklahoma State opened the year with 3 one-possession wins against unranked teams, albeit one being a tough road game at Boise State (bias will be set aside). They then proceeded to solidify themselves as a ranking-worthy team in a dominant win over then 25th ranked Kansas State. With big games coming up against ranked Baylor and at Texas, Oklahoma State has a chance to really move up the rankings with some big wins in the coming weeks.
18. Texas A&M (3-1)
If you go by rankings, Texas A&M’s loss to Arkansas was an upset. If you go by common sense, that was an expected loss. The Aggies offense was exposed against Colorado and done so again by Arkansas. They need to bounce back in a big way this week before they host Alabama the week after in a game that could get very ugly if they don’t get on track.
19. Coastal Carolina (4-0)
While taking care of lesser opponents is important for any good team to do, at a certain point it almost seems redundant. It’s clear the Chanticleers are a good team, but the only way their wins can really be impressive is if they blow out the poor teams they play. Even in some cases that doesn’t do much, such as their 50 point win over UMASS last week. If they go undefeated, which they absolutely should, they could still climb the rankings, but the lack of strength of schedule makes it tough to see them breaking the top 10.
20. Baylor (4-0)
Baylor hosted Iowa State undefeated at 3-0 and managed to pull off the upset win at the end of the game. They enter the Top 25 for the first time this week and immediately have a huge game this week playing at Oklahoma State that will in all likelihood send one team up and one team out.
21. Wake Forest (4-0)
I’m not sure how many people expected this. Wake Forest is 4-0 with 4 blowout wins, including a thrashing of Virginia last week. They currently lead the ACC, are ranked in the AP poll, and have some tough games remaining. They host Louisville this week, who are on a 3 game winning streak.
22. UCLA (3-1)
UCLA has boasted an explosive offense all year, scoring over 35 in every game so far this year. They got a conference win at Stanford to start off conference play strong before a matchup with a good Arizona State team this week, one which could determine which of the 2 teams will be in the rankings next week.
23. Maryland (4-0)
Maryland comes into this week undefeated as well. They have been impressed to this point, but it only gets harder from here. They host Iowa this week before traveling to Ohio State. Then after a couple more games, they have a 3 game stretch that includes Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan. A brutal schedule that is going to test the Terps week in and week out.
24. NC State (3-1)
NC State pulled off the upset win against Clemson this week, and it was enough to push them ahead of Clemson in the rankings. Clemson is their only strong win so far, so they will need to string together some more wins to stay up in these rankings. They host a Louisiana Tech team this week with a very explosive offense who can potentially hang with anyone because of their high-scoring capabilities.
25. Auburn (3-1)
Auburn had a one-possession loss before an upset scare against Georgia State last week. Bo Nix was replaced by TJ Finley late in the game, and Finley outplayed Nix in limited time. Auburn is still non-committal on next week’s starter, but Finley should get the nod. They travel to Death Valley this week before a brutal 4 game stretch of all ranked teams, including Georgia and Arkansas. If they can take even one of the 4 they would exceed expectations.