We've got some shakeups at the top of the rankings this week.
That's what happens when Alabama goes on the road to beat Tennessee by 39 points while Ohio State needs overtime to dispatch Wisconsin. So, yeah -- spoiler alert -- our rankings have something major in common with both the AP and Coaches polls.
Alabama is No. 1, with Ohio State at No. 2.
After that, however, the Fornelli 50 is still very much its own poll, with some surprises. We'll get to what they are soon enough, but before we do here's a quick reminder of how the Fornelli 50 poll is put together.
1. My opinion has absolutely nothing to do with the rankings. They are based on a mathematical formula of my creation. So keep this in mind before you call me an idiot, which I know you will.
2. There is true equality to start. The math doesn't play favorites. Before the season begins, defending national champion Alabama is just as good as our defending Bottom 25 champion UCF Knights. The only factor that matters in the rankings is how you've performed on the field in 2016.
3. Wins and losses mean more than anything. I have a lot of different statistics involved, and I factor in strength of schedule (though, remember, everybody begins the season with the same SOS), but at the end of the day whether you won or lost is going to mean more than anything else. Also, just because it's too difficult for me to rank FCS teams as well, my formula doesn't have much respect for FCS schools. If you beat one it won't mean much, and if you lose to one, well, you might show up in The Bottom 25.
4. The formula is in no way predictive. It is based on nothing but what has occurred in the season to this point in time. Just because a team is currently ranked No. 15 does not mean it's better or that it's going to beat a team ranked No. 35. It just means that, to this point, it's been the 15th best team in the country. Think of it as a meritocracy in its purest form. The math plays no favorites.
5. I won't share the formula. I just don't want to. I'm not a mathematician. I know my formula isn't perfect. I don't think a perfect formula can exist, so I don't share it because I don't care what anybody thinks. So don't ask. Just know that, even if you don't agree with it right now, at the end of the season, it's been startlingly accurate.
Now let's assign some numbers to some teams.
1. Alabama 7-0 (Last week: 3): It just all feels so inevitable at this point, doesn't it? Alabama is going to win the SEC, and it's going to end up in the College Football Playoff. And once it gets there, it's probably going to play for another national title.
I know that the Tide have a difficult game this week. Texas A&M is making the trip to Tuscaloosa after taking last week off, and it really feels like it's now or never. If the Aggies don't get Alabama this weekend, who is going to?
Maybe LSU? Auburn?
I'm sorry, I just don't see it. Alabama is not a perfect team, but in a college football landscape where that team just doesn't exist, Alabama doesn't need to be perfect to just be so much better than everybody else. With Jalen Hurts at quarterback, Lane Kiffin and the offense have an entirely new dimension to toy with, and we saw how well that could work against Tennessee on Saturday.
The problem for other teams, though, is that even if you can slow down the Alabama offense, you still have to stop the defense from scoring. This is a team that has 11 non-offensive touchdowns this season in seven games! That's insane.
What's even more insane is that seven of Alabama's 11 defensive starters have scored touchdowns this season. For the sake of comparison, on the other side of the SEC we find South Carolina, which is a team that has nine touchdowns -- period.
So, honestly, how are you supposed to beat Alabama? If A&M can't do it this weekend, I think it's pretty clear that the SEC is just Alabama and 13 other teams.
2. Ohio State 6-0 (1)
3. Michigan 6-0 (2)
4. Washington 6-0 (4)
5. Louisville 5-1 (5)
6. Baylor 6-0 (9)
7. Boise State 6-0 (6)
8. Nebraska 6-0 (7)
9. Clemson 7-0 (8)
10. Western Michigan 7-0 (11)
11. Florida 5-1 (14)
12. Texas A&M 6-0 (10)
13. West Virginia 5-0 (21): When you express as many opinions about college football on an annual basis as I do, you're going to tick some people off along the way. The latest fan base to hate me is West Virginia's.
You see, in last week's Friday Five I ranked five teams that were off to hot starts this year, but that I believed were going to struggle a lot more in the second half. West Virginia was one of those five teams, as I wasn't totally buying in after a 4-0 start with wins against Missouri, Youngstown State, BYU and Kansas State. The defense had been playing well, but again, look at the four teams it had faced. Not exactly a murderer's row of offensive juggernauts.
But then Saturday happened.
The Mountaineers went on the road and not only beat Texas Tech by 31, but held a very potent Texas Tech offense to 17 points in the process. That's what we call "encouraging." This defense just might be the real deal after all, but if you're a West Virginia fan coming here today hoping I'd recant and say I was wrong, I have bad news.
I'm still not jumping on board. Yes, I was wrong when I picked Texas Tech to win, as so many of you pointed out in my Twitter mentions and inbox this week, but I'm not ready to back off my feeling that this is still a team with more than a few losses left on the schedule.
The formula seems to agree with me. Let's remember that wins and losses matter more in my formula than anything else, and the Mountaineers are the lowest-ranked undefeated team here.
With games left against TCU, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor, I'm still approaching with caution. Having said that, this team has still played a lot better than I expected it to up to this point, so it could prove me wrong again.
22. Toledo 5-1 (24): While it's rarely even mentioned in such a light, as a football program, Toledo has been one of the most impressive programs in the country for most of the last decade. This is a Toledo team that plays in the MAC -- one of the most volatile conferences in the country on an annual basis due to a myriad of reasons. Yet, with other teams climbing and falling around it, Toledo just keeps plugging away.
Tim Beckman took the program over in 2009 and, after a rough start, the Rockets went 14-2 in MAC play over Beckman's final two seasons. Beckman turned that into the Illinois job, but his offensive coordinator Matt Campbell remained behind to take over the program. In Campbell's four seasons, the Rockets went 24-8 in conference play, and Campbell turned that into the job at Iowa State.
Now Campbell's offensive coordinator, Jason Candle, is in charge and the Rockets are off to a 2-0 start in conference, and are 5-1 overall.
It's truly impressive that Toledo has been able to go from coach to coach as often as it has this decade, yet it hasn't taken a step back at any point.
I don't know exactly what the secret is in Toledo, but there are plenty of programs around this country that should be trying to find out.
32. Tennessee 5-2 (22): Life isn't always fair. Tennessee is well aware of this right now. The Vols had high expectations coming into the season, and they were living up to them. They beat Virginia Tech in a strong non-conference test, and then finally got the Florida monkey off their back with a comeback victory in Neyland a few weeks later. The Vols then knocked off Georgia and took a commanding lead in the SEC East, but along the way they kept picking up injuries.
Every week Tennessee would perform a miracle, but each one came at a cost.
It's caught up to them the last two weeks with losses to Texas A&M and Alabama, and I can't help but wonder how different things might be for Tennessee if the schedule wasn't so front-loaded.
Now I'm looking at the predicament the Vols are currently in, and even though they've already picked up wins against Florida and Georgia, I don't think they're going to win the SEC East anymore. Yes, the rest of the schedule is a lot easier from here on out, but this team is just so banged up that I can't help but feel like it's going to be upset by somebody down the stretch. That would allow Florida some breathing room in the standings, and allow it a slip-up of its own down the stretch.
It's amazing how quickly things can turn in this sport.
41. Pitt 5-2 (NR): There are a lot of things taking place this college football season that confuse my feeble mind, but I'm not sure one baffles me more than the fact that a team coached by Pat Narduzzi has a horrible defense. Because make no mistake about it, Pitt may be 5-2 on the season, and very much alive in the ACC Coastal race, but its defense is a horror show.
The Panthers are allowing 31.4 points per game, 5.98 yards per play and have given up 17 touchdowns in 22 red zone possessions by their opponents.
It just absolutely blows my mind that a Narduzzi team -- the guy who helped build the Michigan State defense, which is itself struggling this season -- has to outscore opponents in shootouts to win games right now.
Seriously, in its five games against FBS opponents Pitt has yet to score less than 36 points in any game, yet it has lost two of them.
If you'd have told me before the season that Pitt would be averaging 38.4 points per game at this point, I'd have assumed it was 7-0 and just killing everybody. Instead it's 5-2, and those numbers on defense are a very big reason why it's only ranked No. 41 here.
42. Minnesota 4-2 (NR)
43. Navy 4-1 (42)
44. Maryland 4-2 (25)
45. Oklahoma State 4-2 (45)
46. Middle Tennessee 4-2 (34)
47. Texas 3-3 (NR)
48. Central Michigan 5-2 (NR)
49. Wake Forest 5-2 (35)
50. BYU 4-3 (NR)
No Longer Ranked: Arizona State, Indiana, Ole Miss, Tulsa, Ohio, UCLA, Southern Miss, Akron