For the first time all year, my top six remain unchanged. Here’s a look at the top teams in America heading into Week 9.
1 (1) Alabama (8-0)
Another week, another beatdown of an SEC cupcake. Tennessee hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown in its last 14 quarters. Why Butch Jones still has a job, I have no idea.
Alabama, which has a bye this week, hosts No. 23 LSU (6-2) Nov. 4. The Tigers, who just hung 40 on Ole Miss, could hang around for the first half if the defense comes to play. If not, look for the Tide to Roll in another runaway.
2 (2) Penn State (7-0)
Penn State has won 16 of its last 17 games, embarrassed Jim Harbaugh and Michigan in prime time, and has, in all likelihood, the best offense in the country, not to mention Heisman Trophy frontrunner Saquon Barkley. And yet, all that matters is beating Ohio State (6-1) in Columbus this Saturday.
James Franklin has turned Penn State into an absolute juggernaut, and for that, he deserves tremendous credit. But you get the sense that a heaping pile of comeuppance is coming his way. Icing Georgia State’s kicker during a 56-0 blowout was bad enough, but having your players hurry to the line to run one more play with one second left in a 42-13 throttling of Michigan? Not cool, bro. Only 45, Franklin is young by head-coach standards, but he’s old enough to know that what goes around comes around.
It could come around this Saturday in Columbus. If not, pen Penn State into the Big Ten Championship – and, in all likelihood, the College Football Playoff.
3 (3) Georgia (7-0)
Outside of Penn State/Ohio State, no game will have greater playoff implications than Georgia/Alabama. That matchup is by no means guaranteed, but when a neutral-site clash with Florida is the second-toughest test remaining on your schedule, you’re sitting pretty.
4 (4) TCU (7-0)
Only a few teams in college football control their own destiny, and TCU is one of them. The Horned Frogs haven’t allowed a touchdown in either of their last two games and shut out the Kansas why-do-you-still-have-a-program Jayhawks 43-0 on Saturday.
A road trip to Ames could be sneaky tough – Iowa State (5-2) has won three straight – but a Nov. 11 trip to Norman could be all that separates TCU from its first undefeated season since its Mountain West days in 2010.
JUST MISSING THE CUT
5 (5) Wisconsin (7-0)
A Nov. 18 showdown against Michigan (5-2) suddenly looks manageable. The toughest matchup outside of that? At home against Iowa (4-3) the week prior.
Believe it: The Badgers could stroll into the Big Ten Championship a perfect 12-0.
6 (6) Clemson (6-1)
Clemson still has one of the best resumes in college football, the loss to Syracuse notwithstanding, but the next two weeks won’t be easy. Georgia Tech (4-2) has a pair of one-point losses, and NC State (6-1) is riding a six-game winning streak. If the Tigers reach the ACC Championship, they’ll have earned it.
Tony Meale is a Chicago-based author, journalist, and content creator who uses words to inform, educate, entertain, and inspire. A Cincinnati native, he has a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Louis University and a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio University. He began his career as a high school sports reporter before writing and publishing 2012’s “The Chosen Ones: The Team That Beat LeBron,” a behind-the-scenes look at the greatest sports story never told. He’s been creating written and spoken content ever since.