The rankings that matter in terms of the season-ending playoffs were released for the first time last week, and there were some interesting choices made by the voters in differentiating between a condensed group of teams; expect more of the same tonight when version two is revealed.
In the meantime, we once again offer you our own RealSport vote by our college football writers. Here’s how we order the challengers in Week 10.
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0)
Their SEC rivals were the choice at the top for the committee, an understandable choice, given their impressive record, and having handed the third-ranked team in the country their only defeat in the process. However, the eye test can allow for choosing the Tide as the best team in the nation, despite not having faced many strong opponents.
LSU held Alabama to only 147 yards of offense, and yet, you never felt they were in any danger of losing the game. They lost a couple key defensive contributors to injury for the season, most notably senior linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, yet the depth on this roster is incredible.
Ultimately, it’s not too important who is ranked above who right now. The two teams are set to face each other in the SEC championship game, with the winner naturally set to finish above the other.
#2 Georgia Bulldogs (9-0)
It may have only been a narrow one-point victory over Notre Dame earlier in the season at a time when the Irish were maybe not in the electric top form they have been in recent weeks, but that Week 2 victory stands as the primary argument for placing Georgia at the top of any list, and it’s a valid one.
The Bulldogs look a well-rounded team with playmakers on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, young quarterback Jake Fromm showed in his latest outing he can make plays through the air when a team focuses on stopping the ground game led by veterans Chubb and Michel.
Fromm completed 16 of 22 passes for 196 yards, 2 TDs and no picks in leading Georgia to a fairly pedestrian 24-10 win over South Carolina.
#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-1)
The Irish secured a seventh consecutive win but had a scare regarding a hand injury to quarterback Brandon Wimbush, and kept star running back Josh Adams on the sidelines during the second half due to fatigue, after just five carries for 22 yards to that point. Wake Forest out-scored them in the second half, but Notre Dame did what they had to in a 48-37 win.
Given that their only defeat came at the hands of the Bulldogs ranked a position or two ahead of them, that “good loss” as it is often awkwardly termed is enough to keep them ahead of the remaining one-loss contenders below.
#4 Oklahoma Sooners (8-1)
As is the case for another Big 12 challenger listed below, the biggest knock on the Sooners this week was seeing their defeat to the Iowa State Cyclones lessened by the Cyclones losing to West Virginia. The better Iowa State do, the more it helps both Oklahoma and TCU.
That was followed by another hurtful loss as Ohio State were crushed by Iowa. Previously, the Sooners’ early season victory over the Buckeyes was considered the best win for a playoff contender, but again, the value of that is reduced with a second defeat on OSU’s record.
No matter though as they added another quality win by outscoring in-state rivals Oklahoma State in a wild Bedlam battle that eventually saw Lincoln Riley’s team take it 62-52. With the leader in the Heisman race on the team in Baker Mayfield, they are capable of matching up with anyone, through the rest of their schedule and potentially the playoffs.
#5 Clemson Tigers (8-1)
The biggest knock on the Tigers right now is one of the poorer defeats among the top teams, having lost to a solid but lesser opponent in Syracuse. That said, the committee have already confirmed that they are taking into account the fact that quarterback Kelly Bryant was out that game and factored it into their decision making.
This week saw them outlast a tough opponent in NC State by a score of 38-31. A team ranked 20th in the previous list with nice wins against Louisville and Florida State, this was a test well-navigated by Clemson, even if not the most convincing.
While many of the teams beaten in the early part of the season have since struggled, the historic run of beating highly ranked teams that the Tigers went on still works in their favor.
#6 Miami Hurricanes (8-0)
The undefeated Hurricanes hadn’t convinced everyone of their credentials, with some very narrow wins including by a single point over Georgia Tech and requiring a late game-winning drive against Florida State to escape 24-20. They’ve also lost one of their key offensive playmakers in Mark Walton for the season.
Still, they should move up the rankings this week, with others around them losing, and putting together arguably their most impressive win of the season by 28-10 over a dangerous Virginia Tech side that arrived ranked at #13 themselves.
Malik Rozier needs to cut back on the interceptions (throwing three picks in this one) but continues to make plays, including with his legs after totaling 84 yards and a TD on the run versus the Hokies to go with two scoring throws.
#7 Wisconsin Badgers (9-0)
Another team likely feeling disrespected, but there’s not a great deal that Wisconsin can do about it right now, other than to keep winning. They have played a much weaker schedule than the other top teams, have labored to victory in several of those, and now will have a potential Big Ten title game win weakened by the struggles of the teams out East.
They could well need a couple others above them to falter, but even without the best schedule, it’s not easy to ignore a team that goes undefeated all year, should they achieve that feat.
#8 Washington Huskies (8-1)
The best contender from the west coast, and essentially the only realistic contender. Even then, they will need plenty of help if they are going to make the playoffs for a second straight year. Though boasting an 8-1 record, the 13-7 defeat to Arizona State hurts, as does the perception of a weaker PAC-12 overall this year.
Still, they are averaging 38.6 points per game, good for 15th best nationally despite that seven-point discrepancy included in the statistics. They can boost their resume by closing out the season with wins over Stanford, Utah and Washington State, followed by a conference title game that could be against USC.
#9 TCU Horned Frogs (8-1)
As with the Sooners, the loss of Iowa State to West Virginia doesn’t help, after a 14-7 defeat to the Cyclones a couple gameweeks ago. Winning out though, would begin with a road victory over the impressive Sooners themselves, in what is effectively a playoff elimination game next Saturday. They could potentially also meet Oklahoma again in the Big-12 title game.
#10 Auburn Tigers (7-2)
It’s possible that a two-loss team will still find itself within the top ten later today, and while Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Penn State and USC are all under consideration there as well, our panel went for Auburn, following a strong showing in their 42-27 win over Texas A&M. The ground game looks impressive as does the defensive front.
Ultimately, their chances will be decided over the closing period of the season, with matchups against the top two teams in the country, Georgia and Alabama.
Also receiving votes: UCF Knights.
Where would you rank each team? Discuss in the comments below!
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