College Football Top 25 Rankings: Iowa plummets, Alabama climbs back into Week 8
The college football rankings are the bottom-line determination of a team’s fate. Beginning with the Associated Press and coaches polls, and followed by the College Football Playoff rankings, the college football pecking order becomes clearer as the season goes on.
At Sportsnaut, we’ll continue to spice up your college football rankings leading up to the 2021 campaign. Instead of sticking to the status quo of the AP or Amway polls, or even the CFP rankings, check out our own editorial NCAA gridiron hierarchy, which are liable to feature some bold departures from how the primary polls stack up.
College football rankings: Top-25 teams entering Week 8
25. Clemson Tigers (Last Week: Unranked)
Clemson’s victory over Boston College is far more impressive than what transpired against Syracuse. The Tigers narrowly escaped against the Orange (3-4), thanks to a late field goal being missed that would have tied the game. With Arizona State, Florida, BYU and Arkansas dropping out of our top-25 rankings, Dabo’s team moves ahead. Just keep in mind, there are more than 25 more entertaining college football teams to watch.
24. UTSA Roadrunners (25)
Teams like Clemson, BYU and Texas might still be getting more votes and appearances in top-25 college football polls than UTSA. But the Roadrunners remain undefeated thanks to a blowout victory over Rice in Week 7. The biggest challenge left on the UTSA schedule might be a road trip to UTEP, but even that hurdle can be climbed over to be undefeated in November.
23. SMU Mustangs (24)
The SMU Mustangs rested during their Week 7 bye and retain the No. 24 spot in our weekly college football rankings. Barring an unthinkable upset at home to Tulane in Week 8, quarterback Tanner Mordecai should push this team to 7-0 with an outside shot at cracking the top 20.Also Read:
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22. Pittsburgh Panthers (Unranked)
A shootout loss to Western Michigan is the only thing preventing Pittsburgh from being a lot higher in our college football rankings. Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett finished Saturday with two more touchdown passes, pushing his line to an absurd 21-1 TD-INT ratio with the best QBR in the nation. Pickett is the reason the Panthers should beat Clemson next week.
21. San Diego State Aztecs (21)
San Diego State survived, leaving San Jose State with a 19-13 victory on Friday night. The Aztecs expected a fight and that’s precisely what the Spartans gave them, taking this game to double overtime. But wide receiver Jesse Matthews came through in the clutch, snagging two OT touchdowns to push SDSU to 6-0.
20. North Carolina State (23)
The winner of NC State vs Boston College would cement its status in our college football rankings. Needless to say, the Wolfpack won’t be falling out of the top 25 anytime soon. Quarterback Devin Leary had no trouble chopping up the Eagles’ secondary and a huge third quarter pushed NC State to a statement victory. We’re counting down the days to that Nov. 13 matchup against Wake Forest.
19. Baylor Bears (24)
It remains odd that Baylor entered Week 7 unranked while BYU entered No. 19 in the AP poll. Expect that to change after Saturday, with the Bears sending a message to the entire nation. THis program is for real and they should be favored against Texas in Week 9.
18. Auburn Tigers (Unranked)
Auburn Tigers quarterback Bo Nix certainly hasn’t lived up to the hype, but fans are certainly pleased after he took down a top-25 opponent. The junior set a season-high in passing yards (292) on Saturday, leading the Tigers to a double-digit victory over Arkansas. For Auburn to have any shot against Ole Miss on Oct. 30, Nix will need to do a lot more.
17. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (19)
It’s fair to say no one saw a 6-0 start to the season coming for Wake Forest. But quarterback Sam Hartman (1,615 passing yards, 82.5 QBR) is playing extremely well and the Demon Deacons boast a whopping 17-point advantage in points scored vs allowed per game. There’s no reason to think Wake Forest can’t maintain that differential against Army in Week 9.
16. Texas A&M Aggies (15)
The hurting Texas A&M put on Missouri came as no surprise. Facing the worst run defense in college football, Isaiah Spiller (168 yards, one TD) and Devon Achane (124 yards, two TDs) could do whatever they wanted on Saturday. Entering Week 8 with a 5-2 record, expect the Aggies to walk all over South Carolina.
College football rankings: Teams on the outside of College Football Playoff hunt
15. Coastcal Carolina Chanticleers (13)
Multiple issues are preventing Coastal Carolina from moving up in our latest college football rankings. Among them, a bye week means other programs have a chance to pass them. The Chanticleers should be heavily favored in their remaining games and an undefeated season is probable. But there’s just no way to stack up Coastal Carolina to other top-15 schools.
14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14)
It’s Notre Dame vs USC week. One of the more iconic rivalries in college football pits the Fighting Irish against a Trojans’ program that has no real direction right now. Notre Dame should be an overwhelming favorite at home, but the remaining schedule doesn’t offer anything to put this team back in the CFB Playoff picture.
13. Oregon Ducks (11)
The Oregon Ducks aren’t playing good football right now. It took 14 unanswered points and a late fourth-down stop to beat Cal, a one-win program. While it still ended with a victory, performances like this are how the Ducks lost to Stanford. If this keeps up, UCLA can beat Oregon in Week 8.
12. Kentucky Wildcats (7)
The Kentucky Wildcats are a very good team, capable of beating most of the opponents on their schedule. But the Bulldogs are a different animal and that’s a lesson the Wildcats learned the hard way in Week 7. Expect Kentucky to regroup after the bye before beating Mississippi State on Oct 30.Also Read:
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11. Ole Miss Rebels (16)
Everyone witnessed exactly why Matt Corral is in a neck-and-neck race for the Heisman. Missing his top weapons, the senior quarterback essentially pulled a Thanos, “I’ll do it myself” against the Tennessee Volunteers. When Corral is playing at his level, only the likes of Alabama and Georgia can beat Ole Miss.Also Read:
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10. Penn State Nittany Lions (10)
A bye week can be a tricky thing for college football teams. For the Penn State Nittany Lions, it gave this program c chance to reset after a tough loss to Iowa. The team should rebound nicely against Illinois in Week 8, but that road trip to Columbus could cause major problems and raise more doubts about James Franklin.
9. Iowa Hawkeyes (2)
Dreams of an undefeated regular season and a potential College Football Playoff spot might have ended on Saturday. Coming off a huge win, Iowa seemingly came in way too confident and it proved costly. Blame it on an offense that couldn’t sustain drives nor make the big play. With no ranked opponents left on the schedule, Iowa won’t have a chance to make its case to the playoff committee.
College football rankings: Best college football teams entering Week 8
8. Michigan Wolverines (9)
Seeing the Michigan Wolverines in the top-10 of college football rankings feels strange in mid-October. But solid quarterback play, a dominant rushing attack ( 246.5 yards per game ) and a defense holding opponents to 15.5 points per contest have led Michigan this far. We’d expect them to put a hurting on Northwestern in Week 8. After that a top-10 matchup between the Wolverines and Spartans, must-see television.Also Read:
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7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (12)
A trip to Austin, Texas delivered more reasons for Oklahoma State to celebrate. The Cowboys are now 6-0, following their 32-24 victory over the Texas Longhorns. Senior running back Jaylen Warren (193 rushing yards) put the team on his back and 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter sent the Cowboys climbing in our Week 8 college football rankings.
6. Michigan State Spartans (8)
On a day when Heisman candidate Kenneth Walker III couldn’t get it going, Michigan State’s defense saved the day. We’ve seen letdowns like this before from the Spartans’ offense, but playmakers on the defensive side are winning games. Michigan State snagged two interceptions Saturday and held the Hoosiers to 188 passing yards on 52 attempts. The Spartans get a well-deserved break before the undefeated Michigan and Michigan State clash for one of the best games in this storied rivalry.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes (4)
The Ohio State Buckeyes went into their Week 7 bye on a high note. C.J. Stroud is firmly on the Heisman Watch . In his last two starts, Stroud completed 73% of his passes with 736 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. As long as the Buckeyes don’t completely look past Indiana (Week 8), that Oct. 30 battle can push Ohio State back into the College Football Playoff hunt.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide (8)
Mississippi State is the elixir the Alabama Crimson Tide needed. While it wasn’t always pretty on Saturday, quarterback Bryce Young was extremely efficient, John Metchie III took the top off the Bulldogs’ defense and Nick Saban can feel a little better about his defense. With Iowa losing and Ohio State resting, Alabama rockets up our college football rankings.Also Read:
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3. Oklahoma Sooners (5)
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams is the present and future of this program. The freshman made it look easy against TCU on Saturday, proving the theatrics and secrecy this week of a quarterback competition were ridiculous. Looming on the Oklahoma schedule, a casual stroll in Week 8 against one-win Kansas.
2. Cincinnati Bearcats (3)
Even on a day when Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder wasn’t at his best, this team trounced its competition. Saturday’s Week 7 matchup against UCF was over before halftime, with the Bearcats leading 35-0. Credit to Jerome Ford (189 yards, four TDs) for carrying this team to victory. Up next, a cakewalk against Navy (1-5).Also Read:
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1. Georgia Bulddogs (1)
We’re out of words to describe the Georgia Bulldogs defense. Through seven games, Bulldogs’ opponents are averaging just 5.7 points per contest and under 200 total yards during that stretch. Georgia just obliterated a strong Kentucky program and will have two weeks to prepare for unranked Florida. That’s a recipe for cooked gator. This is easily the best team in college football.