We are one week away from the first College Football Playoff Rankings of the season, but things have already gotten crazy throughout October. The top five teams are clear at this point, and the top four could arguably be in any order.
1. Clemson Tigers (8-0) | Last week: 1
They’ve been sluggish at some points in the season, but Clemson has been completely dominant in their last seven quarters, and Trevor Lawrence appears to have found his groove. The sophomore phenom was 16/19 for 275 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 59-7 win against Boston College. Clemson should handle Wofford this Saturday before being somewhere in the top four of the initial rankings next Tuesday night.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0) | Last week: 2
Mac Jones did an excellent job of filling in for Tua Tagovailoa, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns as the Crimson Tide demolished Arkansas by a score of 41-0 at halftime. Now Alabama will have a week off as Tagovailoa looks to get healthy enough to play versus LSU in a couple of Saturdays.
3. LSU Tigers (8-0) | Last week: 3
LSU passed another top-ten SEC test with their 23-20 home victory over Auburn, and they arguably own the most impressive resume in the country after a road win at a then-ranked Texas team and home wins over Florida and Auburn. Joe Burrow has made clutch plays all season, and he’s the clear Heisman frontrunner as the Tigers head into a bye before the huge game at Tuscaloosa.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0) | Last week: 4
No team has been a match for Ohio State this season, and the Buckeyes put up 38 points on Wisconsin’s No. 1 ranked defense entering the game. Led by superstar defensive end Chase Young, Ohio State is now the nation’s top scoring defense, giving up just 7.9 points per game after limiting the Badgers to seven points. The talent of Ryan Day’s squad has overwhelmed all eight opponents this season, and that should remain the case this weekend against Maryland.
5. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-0) | Last week: 6 (+1)
Penn State was leaped by Ohio State, but they still have the No. 2 scoring defense (9.6 points allowed per game) after topping Michigan State in East Lansing, 28-3. The Nittany Lions are 8-0 for the first time since 2008 (under Joe Paterno), and now they’ll have the bye to prepare for a potential top-ten matchup at Minnesota on November 9.
6. Georgia Bulldogs (6-1) | Last week: 7 (+1)
Winning the SEC will almost certainly get you into the Playoff regardless, but Georgia is creeping up the rankings after being joined by Oklahoma as a top-five team to lose to an unranked conference opponent this season. Georgia’s home loss was arguably worse, but things will work themselves out this Saturday versus Florida. Quarterback Jake Fromm could give the Bulldogs the edge, but playmakers must step up on the outside.
7. Florida Gators (7-1) | Last week: 8 (+1)
Assuming Clemson and Ohio State take care of business, the winner of the Georgia-Florida matchup will likely be the clear No. 6 team in the first CFP Rankings next week. The Gators defense has had some struggles the last couple of games, but they must keep Georgia in third-and-long situations to make things more difficult on Fromm and company. It’ll be interesting to watch how Kyle Trask, who has done a really nice job filling in for Feleipe Franks, plays at quarterback for Florida.
8. Oregon Ducks (7-1) | Last week: 10 (+2)
C.J. Verdell ran for 257 yards and three touchdowns (on 23 attempts for an 11.2 average) in Oregon’s close victory over Washington State, and the walk-off field goal by Camden Lewis kept the Ducks’ playoff hopes very much alive. With a more impressive loss (against Auburn in a nail-biter to open the season), Oregon should clearly be in position to get into the Playoff over Oklahoma at this point, but it’ll be intriguing to see how the Committee compares the resumes.
9. Baylor Bears (7-0) | Last week: NR
These final two spots were the most difficult to decide, as Auburn, Minnesota, and Utah are all in the mix. Baylor had the week off, but they move up to No. 9 after their 7-0 start. They’ve had some close calls this season, but Matt Rhule’s team gets three of its final five regular season games at home—including a key November 16 matchup against Oklahoma.
10. Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) | Last week: 5 (-5)
The Oklahoma defense has been better than expected for most of this season, but the unit struggled mightily in the team’s stunning loss to Kansas State. It felt inevitable that OU would make it a game in the end when they were down 48-30, but they missed recovering the onside kick by about half-a-yard—the bottom line is you can’t expect to win games when you give up 48 points. There’s still a lot of football to be played, and the Sooners are still in it, but they’d almost certainly have to be behind a one-loss Pac-12 champion Oregon team in the end.