Tomorrow's Top 25 Today: West Virginia set to make a big move in the college football rankings
Projecting the new AP Top 25 college football rankings after a fun Week 10
It was a week with conference championship implications across the country, but while those races are starting to become clearer -- and congrats to Alabama and Georgia for clinching their divisions and booking a ticket to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta -- there is still a ton of football left to play to decide the order at the top of the college football rankings.
Alabama will hold on to No. 1 in the new AP Top 25, and Clemson will remain No. 2 after both teams were dominant in victory in Week 10. Notre Dame had to fight a little bit more on the road at Northwestern but after winning should remain in that No. 3 spot on when the new poll is released on Sunday. But after that begins the shake ups, and the shrinking College Football Playoff picture as losses are accumulated across the country.
No team had more to gain from Week 10 than West Virginia. The Mountaineers are set to crash the top 10, potentially even jumping Oklahoma as they have solidified their spot in the Big 12 championship picture. Will Grier's two-point conversion to win at Texas not only provided a key head-to-head in the Big 12 title race, but it also gives the conference a second one-loss team for consideration in the College Football Playoff.
Here's how we think the new AP Top 25 will look on Sunday:
1. Alabama (Last week -- 1): SEC on CBS lead analyst Gary Danielson mentioned it on the broadcast, and I think it's worth repeating: Alabama is playing with the arrogance of old Florida State, Miami and USC teams. It's earned its swagger in spades and thrives off not just winning but dominating every aspect of every game.
2. Clemson (2): Even taking into consideration that Louisville is the worst team in the ACC, the impressive way that Clemson beat the Cardinals could convince at least a couple of voters to move their first-place vote from the Tide to the Tigers. No one seems confident that Clemson has reached Alabama's level yet, but it appears to be moving in that direction at the right time of the year.
3. Notre Dame (3): Survival is the name of the game for Notre Dame, and a 31-21 win at Northwestern counts as a survival win. Ian Book finally settled down after halftime and totaled three second half touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) to help the Irish pull away late.
4. Michigan (5): Don Brown's defenses at Michigan have consistently ranked among the best in the country, but this year's group is playing at a ridiculously high level and could carry the Wolverines to a Big Ten title. It was a day of statement wins among the top six and Michigan had quite the win with a 42-7 win against Penn State that was never in doubt thanks to that lights-out defense.
5. Georgia (6): The Bulldogs clinched the SEC East and gave voters even more of a reason to think this is a national championship-contending team. The Bulldogs aren't quite to Alabama's level yet, but a good showing from their physical ground game has guaranteed they'll get a shot at the Tide in Atlanta.
6. Oklahoma (7): Outlasting Texas Tech in a 51-46 shootout keeps the Sooners in the playoff conversation, and this game probably best exemplifies the good and bad when considering where Oklahoma stacks up against its peers as one of the best teams in the country. If the primary argument against OU being in the playoff is tied to the defense, Saturday night's win didn't do much to silence those critics.
7. West Virginia (13): Dana Holgorsen told reporters he felt good putting "the fate of the game" in Will Grier's hands, and the Mountaineers' star quarterback delivered in the clutch moments of the most impressive win of the week. West Virginia is now on top in the Big 12 standings with Oklahoma visiting on a Friday night at the end of the month. Grier and the West Virginia offense might have gotten pushed around in its loss to Iowa State, but they showed tremendous toughness outlasting Texas on its home turf.
8. LSU (4): The big debate will be whether LSU drops below Oklahoma and West Virginia. The Tigers had a very good argument as the best one-loss team in the country, but the voters aren't going to be able to justify the Georgia win as a reason to keep a two-loss team in the top five.
9. Ohio State (8): Escaping with a close win against Nebraska is not the most encouraging result after an off week that was presumably going to fix some of the issues that plagued the Buckeyes in the loss at Purdue. Ohio State's profile still leans heavily on its early season results, but until there's a second loss it's tough to see any further moves down in the polls.
10. UCF (9): McKenzie Milton's return keeps UCF's ceiling for 2018 high, but the close call against Temple kick starts what's going to be the toughest stretch of the season for the Knights.
11. Washington State (10): Now 8-1 for the first time in 16 years, Washington State could see its stock rise after a last-minute 19-13 win against unranked Cal. The selection committee was higher on the Cougars than the AP voters had been, so if there is any major move up I'd guess it's more a reaction to the committee than a reaction to Saturday night's win.
12. Kentucky (11): It was just a matter of time before the Wildcats found themselves in an early deficit, and once the Bulldogs went on top early, it was going to be an uphill battle for Kentucky to respond. Don't expect the voters to penalize the Wildcats too much, and losses by Florida, Penn State and others will ultimately cap how far they can fall.
13. Syracuse (22): A 41-24 win at Wake Forest has pushed Syracuse from an "upset alert" team to a legitimate top-15 foe worthy of consideration for a top bowl game at the end of the season. The Orange, now 7-2 and only behind Clemson in the ACC standings, will face off against Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium in two weeks.
14. Utah State (18): Many AP voters are going to be catching up on Utah State's Week 10 action on Sunday morning, but the 56-17 late night win at Hawaii is impressive enough to warrant a slight move up amid the shake up in the rankings.
15. Fresno State (20): An early blocked punt set the stage for a totally dominant performance at UNLV for the Bulldogs, now 8-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play.
16. Boston College (24): Steve Addazio recorded his third win against Virginia Tech in six meetings as Boston College's coach, and getting it done in Lane Stadium only adds to the confidence the Eagles will get from this win. Up next: Clemson comes to Chestnut Hill for a primetime game with College Football Playoff implications.
17. Florida (13): A win over LSU keeps Florida in the mix as one of the best three-loss teams in the country, but the way Missouri, 0-4 in conference play before Saturday, ran through the Gators at home is going to give voters second thoughts on where this team stands among the best in the nation.
18. Mississippi State (21): The Bulldogs took care of business against Louisiana Tech, locking in bowl eligibility and building the momentum heading into next week's clash with Alabama.
19. Texas (15): A second straight loss will send the Longhorns even further from the top-10 status it held just two weeks ago. The Longhorns also lost control of their Big 12 title game destiny, now needing help to bounce West Virginia or Oklahoma from the top two spots in the standings.
20. Washington (NR): After a really tough week, Jake Browning had a great response against Stanford in a must-win game for the Huskies. Washington went up early but Stanford, as you might expect, made a charge back and even had a chance to win in the final minute. Even as a three-loss team, Washington still has Pac-12 championship potential after holding off the Cardinal in a 27-23 win.
21. Penn State (14): On one hand, the Nittany Lions probably shouldn't fall too far because their loss came to one of the best teams in the country. On the other, the losses are piling up and Penn State is looking less and less like one of the 20 best teams in the country.
22. Utah (16): An apparent in-road to the Pac-12 title game is now a little bit rockier than ever after giving away a head-to-head advantage to Arizona State with two conference games left to play. Next week's game against Oregon in Salt Lake City has now become a must-win if the Utes are going to represent the division in early December.
23. Michigan State (NR): Just when you are close to writing off this Spartans' team, Mark Dantonio is waiting happily to prove us all wrong. Michigan State showed up in the Others Receiving Votes on the edge of the top 25 a week ago, so I'm guessing they moved up as a result of Virginia and Texas A&M's losses.
24. Purdue (NR): There is not a more deserving four-loss team in the country for a national ranking than Purdue, currently holding wins against Boston College, Ohio State and Iowa. With five wins in the last six games, the Boilermakers have proven to be a much different group than the team that lost to Eastern Michigan earlier this season.
25. Cincinnati (NR): A 42-0 shutout win against Navy is going to raise some eyebrows among voters looking to fill out the bottom of their ballot. It's really hard to distinguish between some of these teams outside of the top 15, and the Bearcats 8-1 record is worthy of getting back into the rankings ahead of some three-loss teams.
Projected to drop out: Houston (17), Iowa (19), Virginia (23), Texas A&M (25)
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