Top 50 NCAA Football Rankings: Week 9
*Editor's Note: Graphic by @SSN_Troy, author is @BlitzCfb
Week 9 was a statement week for many teams, especially in the Big Ten East. Michigan State picked up a huge win over Michigan in the most important game in the Paul Bunyan Trophy's history, even superceding the tremendous hype entering the contest. Now that October is over though, we now know who's a contender and who's a pretender. November football is upon us folks and with it CFP rankings and speculation. Let's enjoy these last four weeks of the regular season. Here is my latest edition of the top 50 heading into November.
1. Georgia (8-0, 6-0) ↔️
Georgia continues to flex its' muscles on the rest of the country. They have now beaten four top 50 teams by a combined score of 111 to 26. The Dawgs' schedule was frontloaded however, and can cruise through a relatively easy November. Also, they clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game after their win over Florida and Kentucky’s loss.
2. Cincinnati (8-0, 4-0) ↔️
Cincinnati hasn’t played their best football the past two weeks; however, these are 18-22 year olds & more importantly, they are humans. These Bearcats also have one of the best wins out of any top 10 team this season; a win at Notre Dame.
3. Michigan State (8-0, 5-0) ⬆️2
Behind a huge performance from Kenneth Walker, MSU beat hated rival Michigan for the second year in a row under Mel Tucker. I liked what I saw on Saturday, especially after they trailed Michigan 30-14 in the 3rd quarter. The Spartans jump two spots because of this season defining win over a top 10 opponent.
4. Oklahoma (9-0, 6-0) ⬇️1
Caleb Williams has really turned this team around & given them a spark. I hate to drop the Sooners down a spot, but their best win is at Kansas State. That doesn’t compare to Cincinnati’s & Michigan State’s best wins. There's still time to rectify the weak SOS as they play Baylor next, giving the Sooner's potentially their first ranked victory.
5. Alabama (7-1, 4-1) ⬆️1
Alabama is the best one loss team in the country. That one loss was to a much improved Texas A&M team on the road boasting one of the nation's best defenses. The Tide’s matchup against Auburn in the Iron Bowl could very well be for the SEC West title.
6. Oregon (7-1, 4-1) ⬆️1
Oregon’s offense came alive against UCLA thanks to improved play from QB Anthony Brown, a trend that continued in their win over Colorado. The Ducks are 3-0 against top 50 teams. That and their head-to-head win is what keeps them ahead of Ohio State. Oregon does have some tough games upcoming and must dominate to stay ahead of OSU in the eye test.
7. Ohio State (7-1, 5-0) ⬆️1
Ohio State picked up a solid home win against a tough Penn State team. They weren’t as dominant as many people expected especially after PSU's loss to Illinois, but they won the game nevertheless. We will know more about the Buckeyes when they play Michigan State & Michigan in back-to-back weeks to determine B1G East Champ.
8. Wake Forest (8-0, 5-0) ⬆️3
I genuinely don’t know if anyone can stop the Wake Forest offense. They haven’t scored less than 35 points all season, the only team in the nation to do so. The Deacs defense showed up this week in their 45-7 rout of Duke. Wake doesn’t have another easy game on the schedule and will have to run the gauntlet of UNC, NC State, Clemson, BC, and the ACC Championship to have a legitimate shot at the CFP.
9. Oklahoma State (7-1, 4-1) ⬆️4
Oklahoma State bounced back nicely with an easy win over a surging Kansas. The Cowboys have a trap game at West Virginia this week. It is likely that Oklahoma State could only have one loss heading into Bedlam in a CFP eliminator. OSU’s win over Baylor keeps them ahead of Michigan.
10. Michigan (7-1, 4-1) ⬇️6
Michigan played well enough to win on Saturday. Cade McNamara missed a few costly throws, but the passing game, for the most part, was on point. The only thing that would save this season for Michigan would be a win over Ohio State. The Wolverines are still playing for a NY6 berth.
11. Notre Dame (7-1) ⬆️3
Kyren Williams went off against a lackluster UNC defense on Saturday. The Irish have four winnable games remaining on their schedule (Navy, UVA, Georgia Tech, Stanford). Don’t forget about Notre Dame in regards to a New Years Six bowl game & possibly even the playoff discussion. They'll need to win out and pray for chaos.
12. Auburn (6-2, 3-1) ⬆️6
Bryan Harsin has done a great job at Auburn, better than most expected. Not many people thought that they would be contending for a SEC title heading into November. Nor did anyone expect the Bo Nix metamorphosis we've seen. They picked up a big time win at home against a great Ole Miss team. The gauntlet doesn’t stop there as they play at Texas A&M on Saturday.
13. Baylor (7-1, 4-1) ⬆️8
Baylor's win over Texas on Saturday showed poise and grit from this Bears squad. Dave Aranda has this team contending for a Big 12 title alongside OU and OSU. They’ve had a great turnaround from last season to this season and things are only looking up. The Bears have a huge game against Oklahoma in two weeks that will determine the fate of their season.
14. UTSA (8-0, 4-0) ⬆️5
UTSA moves up thanks to the myriad losses in the top 15 above them. The Roadrunners had a bye week as they prepare for a road test at UTEP. Their games against the aforementioned UTEP & UAB will decide the CUSA West division but it's worth noting UTSA is favored in all of its' remaining games. Also, the Roadrunners have outscored their last two opponents 90-16.
15. Ole Miss (6-2, 3-2) ⬇️5
Ole Miss has suffered a lot of injuries as of late with their most detrimental being Heisman frontrunner Matt Corral. They lost a tough game against a red hot Auburn team at Jordan-Hare. The Rebels have another tough game this week against Liberty and former head coach Hugh Freeze at home. Ole Miss' porous defense must keep NFL draft favorite QB Malik Willis in check if they want to win. Ole Miss follows this with Texas A&M in a pivotal SEC West match up.
16. Houston (7-1, 5-0) ⬆️9
Houston is one of the hottest teams in the nation. The Cougs have won 7 straight games after a Week 1 collapse to Texas Tech. Dana Holgorsen has finally lived up to expectation at Houston and may find himself in the AAC Championship now. The win over SMU puts them at the top of the AAC along with Cincinnati.
17. BYU (7-2) ⬆️6
BYU put up a whopping 66 points against Virginia. Tyler Allgeier had a huge day rushing for 266 yards & 5 touchdowns. The Cougars are now 5-1 against top 50 teams. They’ve faced a lot of solid football teams this season and have dominated the Pac 12 with a game against USC still looming.
18. Fresno State (7-2, 4-1) ⬆️12
Fresno State ended San Diego State’s undefeated season early Sunday morning. The Bulldogs are 3-1 against top 50 teams. Jake Haener & the Fresno State offense has been lethal thus far and flashed their talent against P5 opponents. The win over UCLA & close loss to Oregon keep the Bulldogs afloat despite 2 losses.
19. Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2) ⬆️5
Texas A&M moves up in the top 50 after losses by other top 25 teams. The Aggies have a tough two game stretch coming out of their bye week as they play Auburn & at Ole Miss. This team was written off to begin the season but have made an impressive push into SEC West contention.
20. Kentucky (6-2, 4-2) ⬇️10
Kentucky suffered their 2nd straight loss against the air raid attack of Mike Leach. The Cats defense could not stop Will Rogers who went 36 for 39. UK needs to bounce back against a Tennessee offense that has pushed Ole Miss and Alabama to the edge in recent weeks.
21. San Diego State (7-1, 3-1) ⬇️1
San Diego State moved the ball well, but the three turnovers cost them in their lone loss to Fresno State. That was the first high powered offense that SDSU has faced all year. They play Nevada in a few weeks, who also has a great offense. The OT win versus Utah is looking better and better as the season progresses.
22. SMU (7-1, 3-1) ⬇️10
SMU lost their first game of the season at Houston after a 100 yard kickoff return by the Cougs. It was a heartbreaker, but the Mustangs can still win a conference title. They will likely have to win out though, which includes a game at Cincinnati.
23. Pitt (6-2, 3-1) ⬇️8
Pitt lost to a motivated & improved Miami team at home on Saturday. Kenny Pickett threw two picks and sullied what was a surging Heisman campaign. Both of Pitt’s losses were to teams outside of the top 50, but were by a combined 7 points. The Panthers need a bounce back win at Duke in dominant fashion.
24. NC State (6-2, 3-1) ⬆️2
NC State put on a great defensive display against Louisville. The Wolfpack play another disappointing Florida State team this week but must not overlook the Noles in preparation for a hotly anticipated game with rival Wake. Keep an eye out for that game. It will likely be for the ACC Atlantic title.
25. Louisiana (7-1, 5-0) ⬆️7
Louisiana picked up their 7th straight win after a 45-0 shutout over Texas State. That win was impressive enough to jump Coastal Carolina. The Ragin Cajuns have a short turnaround as they play Georgia State on Thursday seeking to reach the SBC Championship for the fourth straight year.
26. Coastal Carolina (7-1, 3-1) ⬆️5
Coastal Carolina had a tough battle against Troy on Thursday. Personally, I think CCU is a tad overrated by the media after their cinderalla 2020 season. The Chants need to win out & hope Appalachian State loses if they want a shot at the Sun Belt title game they were denied last year.
27. Mississippi State (5-3, 3-2) ⬆️24
Mississippi State shoots up the top 50 after their huge win over Kentucky who was in the top 10. The Bulldogs are now 3-1 against top 50 teams. Mike Leach teams win games they have no business winning & lose games they have no business losing. The Bulldogs are a hard team to read but the CFP rankings obviously saw enough to put them in the top 20.
28. Arkansas (5-3, 1-3) ↔️
Arkansas stays at 28 after their bye week. The Hogs have a chance to add a top 50 win to their resume when they face Mississippi State on Saturday. Arkansas has lost three straight SEC games.
29. Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2) ⬆️22
Wisconsin dominated Iowa in the trenches on Saturday. They held them to 0.8 yards per carry. The Badgers have now won four straight games & might have found their groove.
30. Iowa (6-2, 3-2) ⬇️14
Iowa has now lost two straight after starting the year 6-0. The Hawkeyes only had 156 total yards which continues to prove that they are bad on offense. Iowa needs to win out if they want even a shot at the Big Ten title game.
31. Appalachian State (6-2, 3-1) ⬆️5
App State’s offense went off against UL Monroe on Saturday, putting up 59 points. The Neers control their own destiny in the Sun Belt thanks to them already beating Georgia State & Coastal Carolina, who are both tied with App State on top of the Sun Belt East.
32. Minnesota (6-2, 4-1) ⬆️2
People kind of dismissed Minnesota after their embarrassing loss to Bowling Green. Believe it or not, they are in first place in the Big Ten West. However, they still have to play Iowa & Wisconsin.
33. Penn State (5-3, 2-3) ⬇️16
Penn State has fallen apart since Sean Clifford got injured in the Iowa game. With the loss to Ohio State, they are 1-2 against top 50 teams. The James Franklin coaching rumors will continue to swirl. This team needs to focus because they still have Michigan & Michigan State on their schedule.
34. Utah (5-3, 4-1) ⬆️2
Utah had an impressive 20 point win over UCLA, who gave Oregon troubles. The Utes are 3-3 against top 50 teams & they have won four out of their last five games. Utah hosts Oregon in a few weeks.
35. Iowa State (5-3, 3-2) ⬇️13
Iowa State couldn’t back up their win over Oklahoma State. The Cyclones lost in Morgantown on Saturday. I did say in last week's article that it would be a trap game. ISU needs a win against Texas this week.
36. Purdue (5-3, 3-2) ⬆️15
Purdue picked up a nice bounce back win over Nebraska. They’ve had a very tough schedule up to this point. The Boilers are 2-3 against top 50 teams & they play two playoff contenders in Michigan State & Ohio State in their next two games.
37. Clemson (5-3, 4-2) ⬆️1
Clemson narrowly picked up a win over Florida State. Despite the three losses, this team still has a really good defense. That game against Wake Forest on November 20th will be one to watch out for.
38. Virginia (6-3, 4-2) ⬇️9
Virginia lost a shootout against BYU. The Cavaliers offense can put up points against anybody, but the defense has really let them down this season. UVA plays Notre Dame next.
39. Kansas State (5-3, 2-3) ↔️
Kansas State has now won two straight after three straight losses. They have a chance to end the season strong as they have winnable games against Kansas, West Virginia & Texas. Their toughest remaining game is against Baylor.
40. Utah State (6-2, 4-1) ⬆️6
The Aggies keep winning football games. They also have a solid 2-1 record against top 50 teams. Utah State has a good chance of winning out as they don’t have a very tough remaining schedule.
41. Washington State (5-4, 4-2) ⬆️10
Washington State picked up a really good win at Arizona State on Saturday. Jake Dickert deserves a lot of credit for gathering the troops & getting this team to play well. The Cougars have a bye week & then they have to travel to Eugene to take on the Ducks.
42. Nevada (6-2, 3-1) ↔️
Nevada picked up a big win against their rival UNLV. They are 0-2 against top 50 teams, which is why they are a bit farther down in the top 50. The Wolf Pack have future games against San Diego State & Air Force.
43. Arizona State (5-3, 3-2) ⬇️15
Arizona State had five turnovers in their home loss to Washington State. The Sun Devils have lost two straight games. They need to win out if they want a shot at the Pac 12 Championship.
44. Oregon State (5-3, 3-2) ⬇️11
OSU suffered a bad loss against two win Cal over the weekend. The Beavers will likely need to win out to make the Pac 12 Championship Game. That includes a trip to Oregon.
45. Maryland (5-3, 2-3) ⬆️6
Maryland bounced back from three straight losses with a win against Indiana. The Terps have a tough November slate that includes games against Penn State, Michigan State & Michigan.
46. Syracuse (5-4, 2-3) ⬆️5
Sean Tucker continues to go off for Syracuse. He should be in the Heisman conversation. The Orange have three tough games left against Louisville, NC State & Pitt.
47. Liberty (7-2) ↔️
Liberty crushed UMass on Saturday. We will know how good the Flames are in these next three games. They play at Ole Miss, vs Louisiana & vs Army. Malik Willis’ draft stock will either rise or fall in those three games.
48. UCLA (5-4, 3-3) ⬇️8
UCLA has now lost two straight games. The Bruins could finish the season strong as they have three very winnable games remaining against Colorado, USC & Cal.
49. Northern Illinois (6-2, 4-0) ↔️
Northern Illinois had a bye week as they prepare for Kent State on Wednesday. The Huskies have four midweek games to wrap up their season. NIU is the favorite in the very competitive MAC.
50. Air Force (6-2, 3-2) ↔️
Air Force stays at 50 after they also had a bye week. They will take on Army on Saturday morning & if they win, they will take home the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.
On the Horizon