Grading the remaining college football undefeated teams after an eventful Week 9
Nebraska, Baylor, West Virginia and Boise State all fell from the ranks of the unbeaten on Saturday
There were nine undefeated teams in college football entering Week 9, but only five remain after a Saturday filled with upsets.
Nebraska, Baylor, West Virginia and Boise State all lost on the road on Saturday in conference. While those four lost, Michigan, Clemson and Washington all got big tests on the road, escaping with single-digit margins of victory on Saturday.
Not every win or loss is created equal, so here are our grades for the nine teams that entered Week 9 undefeated:
No. 1 Alabama (8-0), Bye Week: Alabama did not play on Saturday, basking in the glow of their recent wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee. A night game at LSU awaits the Tide, but any Saturday where you don't lose, don't show any weaknesses and get a little rest and relaxation is a good Saturday. Grade: A
No. 2 Michigan (8-0), 32-23 win at Michigan State: Michigan was a 24.5-point favorite against the rival Spartans, but many expected Michigan State to play its best game of the season in what was its most important game of the year. Sparty came out and ran the ball on the Wolverines, holding an early lead. However, Michigan's defense tightened up, Jabrill Peppers did Jabrill Peppers things and the Wolverines ran away to a comfortable win -- that was made into a strange final score by a late Michigan State touchdown and failed two-point conversion that Peppers returned for two points. Michigan looked really good and gets out of a rivalry game with a two-possession road win that was probably better than the final score indicates. Grade: A
No. 3 Clemson (8-0), 37-34 win at No. 12 Florida State: It had been 10 years since Clemson had beaten Florida State in Tallahassee, but the Tigers got a rare win in Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday night in another thrilling ACC primetime game. The Tigers had to overcome a pair of bad interceptions from Deshaun Watson and got gashed on defense by a tremendous Dalvin Cook performance, but still were able to comeback with a late touchdown drive and defensive hold for the win. The Tigers stay undefeated and pass their biggest remaining test on the schedule. That's a pretty good Saturday. Grade: A-
No. 4 Washington (8-0), 31-24 win at No. 17 Utah: Washington finally got a test from a quality opponent and passed with a strong, seven-point win in hostile territory. Utah's tough at home and gave Washington all they could handle, but a late punt return touchdown by the Huskies gave them the victory, kept them undefeated and in the College Football Playoff hunt. Like Clemson and Michigan, Washington didn't put an Alabama-like beatdown on its opponent to make a huge statement, but got a road win over a tough opponent to prove its class. Grade: A-
No. 7 Nebraska (7-1), 23-17 OT loss at No. 11 Wisconsin: Nebraska was a 9-point underdog on the road at Wisconsin -- the only undefeated team that was an underdog this weekend. The Huskers proved on Saturday that they belong in the same class as Wisconsin with an excellent showing on the road, taking the Badgers to overtime before failing to score on their possession. No loss is a "good loss" when you're undefeated, but the Huskers won't feel demoralized by losing to a good Wisconsin team that's played Ohio State and Michigan to one-score games. Also, the Huskers' playoff chances aren't dead if they could find a way to win out and take home the Big Ten title at 12-1. Grade: C-
No. 8 Baylor (7-1), 35-34 loss at Texas: I don't think there were many people that felt Baylor was going to make it through the season undefeated, but to lose to this Texas team is a bad look for the Bears. Texas' offense marched up and down the field on Baylor in a wild Big 12 shootout that ended with the Longhorns improving to 4-0 at home this season. Any chance Baylor had at the College Football Playoff went out the window with the loss to Texas. The Big 12 title is still in play, but without marked improvement, the backloaded end of Baylor's schedule won't go particularly well for the Bears. Grade: D-
No. 10 West Virginia (7-1), 37-20 loss at Oklahoma State: The other undefeated team in the Big 12 also went down on Saturday as the Mountaineers took a big loss at the hands of Oklahoma State. West Virginia's defense struggled with the Cowboys' passing attack and the offense committed three turnovers to assist Oklahoma State's cause. The Mountaineers weren't getting a ton of respect nationally and had just moved into the AP Top 10. The Playoff dreams in Morgantown are done and they will likely fall well down the rankings after such a steady climb the first eight weeks. Grade: F
No. 13 Boise State (7-1), 30-28 loss at Wyoming: Boise State had never lost to Wyoming, and most of the games weren't particularly close. Then on Saturday, the Cowboys showed up to play with some fire in their belly and ended up taking down the Broncos by way of a game-winning safety (!!!). Boise State's hopes of being the Group of Five selection for the New Year's Six bowl bid took a massive hit with this loss, and with a potential matchup against San Diego State in the Mountain West title game still lurking, there's still a ways to go. Grade: F
No. 20 Western Michigan (8-0), Bye Week: The biggest winner of the weekend is a team that didn't play. Western Michigan is now the clear frontrunner for the Group of Five New Year's Six bowl bid, thanks to the Boise State loss. The biggest game remaining for the Broncos is the season finale with Toledo before the MAC title game. Wins in those two games would likely have P.J. Fleck and the Broncos rowing the boat to the Cotton Bowl. Grade: A+
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