After one of the craziest weekends in college football, there was bound to be some shake-ups in the weekly power rankings. I am a voting member on a panel organized by Athlon Sports. Each week we will submit our top eight teams based on the results on the field to that point in the season. Last week Alabama edged Oklahoma for the top spot in the poll. Oregon finished in third, somewhat comfortably ahead of Florida State. As you know by now, those top three teams stumbled in last weekend’s schedule. They were not alone. Two others in the power ranking’s top ten (Texas A&M and UCLA) also took a loss.
That means we have quite the shake-up in the power ranking coming our way. The final voting results for this week’s Athlon Sports poll are posted, but in the interest of transparency I want to continue sharing my own ballot with you. Here is how I voted in this week’s power ranking.
1. Mississippi State
3. Florida State
4. Ole Miss
6. Notre Dame
I want to make clear that my power rankings and my College Football Playoff projections are not necessarily going to go hand-in-hand on a weekly basis. For me, the power ranking is a judgements and assessment on what teams have done to that particular point in the season. My projections are taking a look forward to guess how things will look at the end of the regular season. Keep this in mind when I update my College Football Playoff projection tomorrow (tentatively).
With that being said, for me Mississippi State is clearly the most deserving of being on top of my ballot this week. No other team in the country has defeated two top-10 teams. Of course, LSU is now unranked and Texas A&M was ready to be exposed on defense. Still, the Bulldogs have sold me on just how good they can potentially be. I am not ready to label them the SEC favorite at this time, but if they can find another win this weekend at home against Auburn then we’ll talk seriously. I am sold on Dak Prescott being a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate though. My fear is now that I am buying into Mississippi State, they will let me down. It always seems to happen.
I had Florida State ranked third on my ballot last week, and I am holding firm there for right now. That is more a reflection on views on the body of work for Mississippi State and Auburn at this point compared to Florida State. I will note this though; the wins against Oklahoma State (rising in the top 25 polls) and Clemson (No. 25 in coaches poll but have been on fire after FSU game) are already looking better. Florida State hosts Notre Dame in Week 8, which looks to be a huge game for each, and the ACC.
Speaking of the Irish, it is time for me to hop cautiously aboard the Notre Dame hype train. I am reluctant to be suckered in as much as I was two years ago. I feel as though I know how this story ends for Notre Dame. However, at this point in the season I have to offer some praise for getting to this point. I can envision Notre Dame going 11-1 and wiggling into the playoff, although I still feel we have a few losses on the way for Notre Dame in the second half of the season, starting with Florida State. But I do feel we are getting ready for a 6-0 Notre Dame heading to Tallahassee to play 6-0 Florida State. Probably a given, but GameDay has to be heading there for that one.
I moved TCU way up in my ranking because the Horned Frogs topped my previous number one team. Oklahoma looked to be the most complete team in the nation, but TCU took them down and caused a stir in the Big 12. Now TCU heads to Baylor with the exact kind of team needed to beat Baylor. If TCU manages to beat Baylor, they could very well crack my top four without hesitation next week. I dropped the Sooners down to seventh in my ballot, making them my top one-loss team.
I went with Alabama in my final spot, but thought really hard about putting Oregon there instead. In fairness, Oregon’s body of work is far superior to Alabama’s to this point thanks to a home win over Michigan State. Alabama has not defeated a top 25 team. Alabama’s loss came on the road against a surging Ole Miss program, while Oregon’s loss came at home to Arizona, who themselves appear to be surging. Heck, if I went strictly by my own experimental McGuire Metric, Oregon (15.5 points) should be a slam dunk over Alabama (3.5 points). If you want to argue Oregon should be in my final spot, I will not argue much, but my ballot is already submitted so there is no changing it now.
Who would you have in your top eight after six weeks of play? Clue me in with your comments.Photo: Joe Murphy/Getty Images North America via Zimbio.com