College Football Power Rankings: Michigan joins the top four, and it may not change again

Get used to it: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Power Rankings going forward is there is a good chance it might not change much at the top. None of the top four play each other the remainder of the regular season. While that's not a rarity, it does suggest a lack of movement -- and a possible bracket set in early November for the College Football Playoff.

Just look at what we saw this past weekend.

  • Alabama made the season's biggest statement in skunking LSU.
  • Good Lord, Clemson has averaged 60 points the last four games.
  • Notre Dame passed what should be its biggest test the rest of the way at Northwestern.
  • Michigan looks like the Big Ten's best team. More than that, it looks better than Ohio State.

But things always change, don't they? Georgia holds the key to two SEC teams getting in (by beating Alabama in a rematch from January that is now assured). The Big 12 and Pac-12 are on the outside looking in for now.

Onward, upward and downward in this week's Power Rankings … 

Biggest Movers
7 Washington
8 LSU
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Alabama Locked up -- the Heisman Trophy for Tua Tagovailoa, Bama in the SEC title game, a CFP berth. Unless Bama loses to The Citadel, they can lose and still finish in the top four. While we're at it, someone (we) have to stand up for Quinnen Williams on Saturday night. The (emerging) All-American had 10 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3.5 TFLs, and he was named the CBS Sports SEC Player of the Week. --11-2
2 Clemson Dabo Swinney couldn't be better. Bobby Petrino couldn't be worse. The Tigers were favored by 15.5 points more than Alabama was in the opener against Louisville. Clemson covered the 39-point spread easily and then some, 77-16. Wake me when the playoff game against Bama starts. 114-1
3 Notre Dame Those annoying Wildcats were ... annoying. In the end, the Irish stayed on point with a 31-21 win. For the third time in five games, the defense limited an opponent to less than 250 yards. 111-2
4 Michigan The Revenge Tour continues with the irrepressible Chase Winovich. After trouncing Penn State, the defensive lineman said, "We're going to be rolling these next three games into Columbus with a battleship full of hungry Wolverines." The Big Ten's best seems destined for a playoff berth. 29-4
5 Georgia The Dawgs sucked the life out of an SEC East showdown with a workmanlike three-score win at Kentucky. D'Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield both ran for 100 yards and combined for three touchdowns. Next stop (after three more regular-season games) Atlanta to meet Alabama. 212-2
6 Oklahoma Are the Sooners even the Big 12's best team? Another shootout, another win for Oklahoma, this time at Texas Tech, 51-46. In games where the winner has scored at least 37 and the loser at least 27, Lincoln Riley is 7-3. He is 13-0 otherwise. 112-2
7 Washington State Here's something new -- a grinder involving the Cougars. Gardner Minshew threw the game-winning touchdown with 32 seconds left to beat Cal, 19-13. The Cougs will need some help for CFP. 36-7
8 West Virginia That video of Dana Holgorsen going for two is priceless: "Hey, you want to win the game? Let's win the game." Will Grier ran in a two-point conversion with 16 seconds left to beat Texas, 42-41. "The best thing we did today was let them score with two minutes left and give Will the ball back," defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. True. Gosh, the Mountaineers are fun to watch. 45-7
9 UCF Even when the Knights win, sometimes they lose. A 52-40 win over Temple opened the doors nationally for criticism after the defense gave up more than 700 yards. A back-loaded schedule includes Cincinnati and South Florida later in the month. 110-3
10 LSU I was on the field at halftime. Tua had just thrown a long touchdown pass to Irv Smith Jr. to make it 16-0. It seemed like the energy had been drained out of Tiger Stadium. What's left is the Tigers being the best two-loss team in the nation. 815-0
11 Ohio State The Buckeyes looked lifeless for long stretches of the Nebraska game. The defense is a definite concern. J.K. Dobbins ran for 163 yards and three touchdowns. Tricky one this week against Michigan State. --13-1
12 Kentucky The Wildcats know exactly who they are: A nice defensive team that can't match elite outfits like Georgia. The Dawgs physically dominated the 'Cats, which still have a chance at a New Year's Six bowl. 38-5
13 Utah State The Aggies have been overlooked for too long. They've won eight in a row. Quarterback Jordan Love was injured in the second quarter at Hawaii but should be OK. Coach Matt Wells will get mentioned for some openings. 47-6
14 Fresno State If it wasn't for a puzzling Week 2 loss to Minnesota, we might be talking about the Bulldogs for that New Year's Six berth. Since then, they've won seven in a row, all by at least 18 points. 54-8
15 Syracuse The Orange won their first game as an AP Top 25 team since 2001, 41-24 over Wake Forest. Eric Dungey threw for 157 yards and ran for 119 more. An easy one against Louisville comes this week before a monumental matchup with Notre Dame on Nov. 17. 75-7
16 Boston College Travis Levy went from back-up to star after AJ Dillon tweaked his ankle against Virginia Tech. Levy ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns to help beat Virginia Tech. Suddenly, the Eagles are hosting a showdown with Clemson. Do they have a chance? 76-7
17 Texas This season is starting to hurt. Things don't get easier after consecutive losses by a combined four points to Oklahoma State and West Virginia. A trip to Texas Tech brings back memories from 10 years ago. 48-5
18 Florida After a depressing loss at home to Missouri, it's hard to count the Gators among the best three-loss teams in the country. Florida has given up at least 36 points in consecutive games against SEC opponents for the first time since ... doing it against Georgia and Missouri last year. 411-2
19 Washington Welcome back Huskies. In an elimination game for Pac-12 North contention, Myles Gaskin returned to rush for 148 yards in a four-point win over reeling Syracuse. NR8-5
20 Mississippi State Nick Fitzgerald went from not being targeted by Devin White (in LSU's eyes) to throwing for four touchdowns against Louisiana Tech. Interesting challenge for Alabama this week. NR6-7
21 Cincinnati Luke Fickell has done wonders. Coming off consecutive 4-8 seasons, the Bearcats are off to their best start (8-1) since some guy named Brian Kelly started 9-0 in 2009. Wow, Cincinnati is starting to look like Ohio State used to look. NR11-3
22 UAB Blazer Love continues. UAB won its school-record seventh in a row, 52-3 over Texas-San Antonio. The Blazers can clinch the CUSA West this week with a win over Southern Miss. 19-5
23 Utah College football owes Herm Edwards an apology. Arizona State was picked last in the Pac-12 South. After blowing out the Utes, the Sun Devils control their own destiny in the division. 811-3
24 Michigan State Sparty becomes bowl eligible for the 11th time in 12 years. How could it not? Maryland has been through hell and fell easily, 24-3. Best win for Michigan State this season? Might be Utah State in the opener. NR7-6
25 Iowa State A win over Kansas was almost a given, but the Cyclones are a game out of first and have the tiebreaker over West Virginia. Coach Matt Campbell got mentioned this week for the Browns job. Matt, buddy, you've got a better job now. NR7-6

Dropped out: Houston, Virginia, Penn State, South Florida, Northwestern

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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