It’s Monday, which means it’s time for me to release this week’s top 25.
As always, here are a couple of things to remember about my poll:
- This poll is a projection of where each team will finish the season.
- I always factor strength of schedule into my rankings. Polls should reward teams that beat quality competition. Otherwise, the non-conference portion of the schedule will turn into “Cupcake City.”
- Unlike some others in the “mainstream” media, I am happy to defend this list. If you disagree (or if you agree and want to tell me how awesome I am), please contact me on Twitter @SectionTPJ.
1. Florida State – The defending national champions will remain in this spot until someone beats them.
2. Alabama – The Crimson Tide looked solid in their 41-0 win over Florida Atlantic. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to wrestle the top spot away from the Seminoles.
3. Oregon –With a 46-27 win over Michigan State, the Ducks move up to third this week.
4. Georgia – According to the Selection Committee, strength of schedule will play a factor in choosing the four best teams for the College Football Playoff. With that in mind, the committee will give the nod to the Dawgs over Baylor, which plays a very soft non-conference schedule.
5. Baylor – Yes, the Bears are still the team to beat in the Big 12, but as I mentioned above, the non-league slate will come back to haunt them at selection time (assuming the committee factors in strength of schedule).
6. UCLA – The Bruins remain at No. 6 after another closer-than-expected victory in non-conference play. Since I still expect them to beat crosstown rival USC, I won’t drop them… this time.
7. USC – The Trojans’ 13-10 victory over Stanford vaults them all the way to No. 7 this week. If the defense continues to make plays as it did against the Cardinal, USC could end up in the Top 4.
8. Michigan State – Since I expected the Spartans to lose to Oregon all along, they only fell one spot. It’ll be interesting to see if the Selection Committee rewards Michigan State for playing a challenging non-conference game.
9. Auburn – The Tigers move up one spot after an impressive 59-13 win over San Jose State.
10. Oklahoma – After thrashing in-state rival Tulsa 52-7, the Sooners move into the Top 10.
11. Ole Miss – The Rebels turned in one of the best defensive efforts of the weekend, limiting Vanderbilt to just 165 yards of total offense.
12. Washington – Many people will be tempted to move the Huskies down this week because they struggled with Eastern Washington. However, it’s worth noting that Eagles upset Oregon State on the road last season.
13. LSU – There’s not much to say here: the Tigers beat up an overmatched FCS opponent.
14. Texas A&M – See LSU.
15. Notre Dame – The Irish move into the top 15 with style, shutting out Michigan for the first time since 1984.
16. South Carolina – It wasn’t pretty, but the Gamecocks avoided an East Carolina upset bid.
17. Clemson – See LSU and Texas A&M.
18. Louisville – See Clemson.
19. Virginia Tech – The Hokies make their debut in this poll after handing Ohio State its first loss in a home opener since 1979. Tech’s solid effort makes it the clear-cut favorite in the Coastal Division race.
20. Wisconsin – I started to put “See Clemson” here, but the Badgers only led Western Illinois, 9-3, at the half. Yet, they’re still the favorite to win the Big Ten West, which is why they remain one spot in front of Nebraska.
21. Stanford – Although they easily could have won Saturday’s contest against USC, the Cardinal drop 13 spots in this week’s poll. With four brutal road games against Washington, Notre Dame, Oregon, and UCLA remaining on the schedule, Stanford will have plenty of opportunities to move back into the Top 5, provided that it takes care of business the rest of the way.
22. Nebraska – The Cornhuskers got all they could handle from McNeese State, needing some late-game heroics from Ameer Abdullah to pull out a “W.” However, this lackluster showing doesn’t change how I think Nebraska will finish the season, so the Huskers remain at No. 22.
23. Penn State – Don’t let the close margin of victory fool you: the Nittany Lions are capable of winning the Big Ten East this season.
24. Oklahoma State – After playing Florida State so close during the opening week of the season, it’s not a stretch to think that the ‘Pokes could win the Big 12 this season. However, closing the season at Baylor and at Oklahoma likely means at least one loss, which is why they’re here.
25. Ohio State – While many have given up on the Buckeyes after Saturday night’s loss, I’m not abandoning them just yet. Urban Meyer is the best coach in college football, and will have Ohio State in contention for the Big Ten East crown this season.
Dropped out: Texas (17), Miami (24)