Post-Week Eight College Football Playoff Power Rankings
|Jake Browning, Washington|
1 Alabama Crimson Tide 8-0 (5-0 SEC)
Heading into halftime this past weekend, Alabama looked vulnerable against sixth-ranked Texas A&M. The Tide were up heading into half but fell down shortly after, and it looked like the nation's top team were on the ropes at home. In typical 'Bama fashion, they quickly dismantled the Aggies' upset bid and ran to a 33-14 victory, making them 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the conference. The defense continues to be absolutely dominant, holding a very balanced and strong Aggies' attack to just two scores. Now, Alabama gets some rest before perhaps their toughest test of the year: LSU on November 5th. The Tigers struggled earlier in the year but have since found their rhythm under interim head coach Ed Orgeron and will give the Tide quite a battle in their rivalry. If they don't, the Tide should not have many problems rolling to a undefeated regular season.
2 Clemson Tigers 7-0 (4-0 ACC)
Before their bye this week, Clemson got quite the challenge from NC State, who was promptly dominated by Louisville this Saturday. It was the latest in a string of close-call victories for the Tigers, and only continue to add questions on whether this Clemson team really is the best in the ACC. While those may remain, it is hard not to respect Clemson's resume at this point in the season. They own victories over Auburn and Troy, which look a lot better now than they did a few weeks ago. At 5-2, Auburn looks like a legit player in the SEC, and the underrated Troy Trojans are 6-1. Plus, the Tigers own perhaps the most impressive win in college football right now, beating Louisville, who is still firmly in the Playoff picture. Clemson may not be throttling opponents quite like the other teams surrounding them in the polls, but there is no denying they are beating high-quality teams and have the talent to stick with the best in the land.
3 Michigan Wolverines 7-0 (4-0 Big Ten)
Not surprisingly, Michigan had no issues in Week Eight, pounding Illinois 41-8 one week after they manhandled Rutgers 78-0. It was a great weekend not only because of that, but because Ohio State's loss not only hurts a hated rival, but makes the Wolverines the clear favorite in the Big Ten East. People will be quick to point out Michigan's schedule, which on first glance doesn't quite have the proven victories of Alabama or Clemson, but the Wolverines have beaten Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin now and have the type of playmakers needed to beat elite teams like Alabama. Michigan should be favored in every game they play the rest of the season, except maybe OSU, and have emerged as a serious threat to make it to the Playoff.
4 Washington Huskies 7-0 (4-0 Pac-12)
Even the most devoted Washington supporters may not have expected this team's success when the season began. The Huskies are 7-0 and aren't just winning, they are destroying opponents, which continued with a win over Oregon State on Saturday. Sophomore QB Jake Browning has emerged as a legit threat to Heisman frontrunner Lamar Jackson for the award, and the Huskies ball-hawking, physical secondary has been shutdown. Only helping Washington's Playoff chances are the fact the rest of the Pac-12 is struggling. Beyond Utah (who UW gets this week on the road) and perhaps Washington State, who is left that can beat the Huskies?
Four More in the Hunt
5 Louisville Cardinals 6-1 (4-1 ACC)
After a close and deflating loss on the road to Clemson, one had to wonder how Lamar Jackson and Louisville was gonna respond. They have chosen to respond in a big way, by blowing past Duke and NC State in the past two games. While Jackson's numbers continue to impress, the Cardinals have proven they aren't just a team with a great quarterback. The defense has been astounding, being led by two relatively unheard of stars: defensive back Jaire Alexander (three interceptions) and linebacker James Hearns (29 tackles, 4.5 sacks). The Cards are through the tough part of their schedule (particularly with Houston struggling) and very well could run the table, which would give the Playoff selection committee plenty to think about.
6 Baylor Bears 6-0 (3-0 Big 12)
To say Baylor had a rough off-season this past spring/summer is an understatement. The Bears were involved in a sexual assault scandal that rocked the football team and university and led to the firings of head coach Art Briles and other key administration. Interim coach Jim Grobe arrived and has done an admirable job leading a still very talented Bears team, as they are 6-0 and look to be in the forefront in a wide-open Big 12 race. Unsurprisingly, the main recipe for success for the Bears has been their electric offense, which has been led by QB Seth Russell and back Shock Linwood. While Baylor is undefeated, they still have a long way to go. They haven't managed any really impressive victories and their schedule is heavily backloaded. They are in the mix right now simply because they haven't lost a game but they still have a lot to before the season ends to have a shot at the Playoff.
7 Ohio State Buckeyes 6-1 (3-1 Big Ten)
After needing some magic and luck to hang on and beat a very tough Wisconsin team in overtime, the Buckeyes didn't get much help in a stunning loss to unranked Penn State. The loss drops Ohio State from their perch right next to Alabama in National Title contention, but the Buckeyes are far from dead. QB J.T. Barrett still has immense talent to work with, and the defense played very well throughout much of the PSU game. Ohio State has ample opportunities to prove that they still belong in the Playoff with two Top 10 teams left on their schedule in Nebraska and Michigan. Plus, while losing to an unranked team hurts, the Committee may be understanding considering it was on the road in a very hostile environment.
8 West Virginia Mountaineers 6-0 (3-0 Big 12)
While Baylor appears to be the favorite in the Big 12 right now (albeit not a very convincing favorite), West Virginia is still very much in the mix in the conference and even the national picture. The Mountaineers entered the season with expectations of maybe pushing double-digit wins and making a decent bowl, but the expectations have skyrocketed after a 6-0 start. The main reason for that has been a stingy defense, which is quick and athletic. The offense can score in a hurry as well, but WVU's bread and butter is stopping opponents, completely the opposite of many teams inside the conference (see Oklahoma-Texas Tech's box score this weekend). Much like Baylor, WVU's resume is not very impressive although a 34-10 this past Saturday over a solid TCU squad showed they are dangerous. They also have plenty of work to do, but so do many teams on this list, they are definitely in contention for a Playoff spot.
Others in the Mix
Texas A&M Aggies
Boise State Broncos
Florida State Seminoles