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SQ College Football Top-25 Power Rankings: Week 9

Was Notre Dame’s huge win over USC enough to vault the Fighting Irish into the top-10?

It seems weird not to be writing about an upset or two from the previous weekend’s games, but here we are for the first since Week 3 without an upset of a top-10 team. And while the top-10 managed to win-out or relax with a bye, a couple teams made statement wins during the week. Most notably, Penn State and Notre Dame picked up huge wins in Week 8, with the Nittany Lions taking Michigan out of the top-25 and the Irish blowing USC by 35. Were these big wins enough for either team to move up further in our rankings? Find out below.

25. Iowa State

Previous Rank: Unranked

“For the first time since 2005, Iowa State has cracked the AP top-25. At 5-2, including an upset over Oklahoma, head coach Matt Campbell has this team in a position to make its first bowl game since 2012. Thanks to a defense that ranks second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (20.4), rushing defense (120.43), and total defense (353.3), Iowa State has caught the attention of other conference foes and won’t be taken lightly anymore.” - Sean Berger

24. Memphis

Previous Rank: 25

“Memphis found themselves in a 17-0 halftime hole Thursday night at Houston. Quarterback Riley Ferguson rallied the troops in the second half, leading the Tigers on five touchdown drives to complete the comeback victory, 42-38. The Tigers looked like a completely different team on offense in the second half, as they went from being shutout to scoring 42 points in just 30 minutes. We’ll see which Memphis offense shows up this week against Tulane.” - Colton Spaur

23. LSU

Previous Rank: 24

“This LSU team lacks balance on offense with Danny Etling barely getting a chance to throw the ball, but so far it’s worked in the team’s favor. Head Coach Ed Orgeron did not disappoint in his return to Oxford as the Tigers beat the Rebels, 40-24. Derius Guice went off for 276 yards against a struggling Ole Miss defense. Meanwhile the LSU defense held a potent Rebels’ passing attack to just 194 yards and picked off three passes in the process. Overall, it was a very good week for LSU.” - Sean Berger

22. West Virginia

Previous Rank: 23

“Will Grier and the Mountaineers were supposed to roll over the winless Baylor Bears, right? Not quite. After holding a commanding 38-13 lead in the third quarter, Baylor reeled off 23 consecutive points only to fail on a two-point conversion attempt with 17 seconds left in the game. Grier threw for 375 yards and five touchdowns on the afternoon, but couldn’t step on the throats of the Bears. With three ranked opponents left on the slate, West Virginia will have to close out games stronger down the final stretch of the regular season.” - Colton Spaur

21. USC

Previous Rank: 11

“It’s safe to say that USC won’t be making a College Football Playoff appearance after its loss to Notre Dame, barring even more upsets. Notre Dame ran all over the Trojans’ defense for 377 yards and five touchdowns, while averaging just over eight yards per carry. It was not a pretty night for the Trojans, as 2017 will now be deemed as a disappointment.” - Sean Berger

20. Stanford

Previous Rank: 22

“After two early losses and a 1-2 start, Stanford’s season appeared to be in serious jeopardy after just three games. Those days seem long ago now, as the Cardinal have reeled off three consecutive conference wins in impressive fashion since then. Bryce Love has been sensational for Stanford, rushing for at least 140 yards and a touchdown in every game this year. He leads the nation in both rushing yards (1,387) and yards per carry (10.27). With both Washington State and Washington falling, Stanford is now tied for the lead in the Pac-12 North and control their own destiny to win the division. If they want to win the division, Love will have to continue his dominance on the ground.” - Colton Spaur

19. Auburn

Previous Rank: 20

“Auburn racked up 345 yards and five scores on the ground Saturday, as the Tigers used a big second half to knock off Arkansas, 52-20. Despite the loss to LSU, Auburn can still win the SEC West by winning out and having LSU fall at least once. However, this will be a daunting task, with third-ranked Georgia and number one Alabama left on the schedule.” - Colton Spaur

18. USF

Previous Rank: 17

“For three quarters, USF looked like it had an easy win over Tulane, holding a 20-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter. However, the Green Wave turned it into a close contest by scoring 14 points in the final quarter. Luckily, Darius Tice picked up a 30-yard run on the final drive to seal the game and extend the nation’s longest active win streak to 12. Quarterback Quinton Flowers didn’t throw the ball particularly well, but his 138 rushing yards helped spark the offense in the win.” - Sean Berger

17. UCF

Previous Rank: 21

UCF is 6-0 for the first time in school history, and is the perfect sleeper for a College Football Playoff berth. This team may be a longshot to make the Playoff, but with the high-powered offense it has, it’s definitely possible. A year after finishing 66th in scoring offense, the Knights are tied for first in the country, with an average of 47.3 points per game. The defense hasn’t been too shabby either and is 16th in scoring and tied for ninth with 10 interceptions.” - Sean Berger

16. Michigan State

Previous Rank: 19

“Michigan State has yet to look particularly impressive this season, and yet the Spartans are 6-1, bowl-eligible, and tied for first in the Big Ten East. Spartans fans should enjoy it while it lasts, because the inevitable fall from grace is coming. Michigan State ranks 103rd in scoring offense, averaging a dismal 22.7 points per game. The defense seems strong — it ranks 14th in scoring defense — but against the only above-average offense the Spartans have faced all year, Notre Dame, they lost 38-18 in a game that was never close. Penn State and Ohio State still remain on the schedule. There’s no way this team reaches the Big Ten championship.” - Ryan Neu

15. Washington State

Previous Rank: 15

“After the embarrassing loss to Cal, the Cougars rebounded nicely with a 28-0 shutout victory over Colorado. Defensively, safety Jalen Thompson led the way as he racked up 10 tackles and recovered a fumble for the Cougars. The Pac-12 race is wide open, as everyone in the conference now has at least one loss. With both Stanford and Washington left on the schedule, Mike Leach’s squad is in control of their own destiny to win the Pac-12 North division.” - Colton Spaur

14. NC State

Previous Rank: 16

“The Wolfpack were idle this weekend following their win over Pittsburgh. Now NC State looks forward to a trip to No. 8 Notre Dame in one of the biggest games in recent program history. Between this contest against the Irish and their next one against Clemson, NC State has a shot to crash the playoff party. Defensive end Bradley Chubb is going to need to cause a lot of havoc in the backfield in order to slow this Notre Dame team down in order to take care of step one.” - Quinn Douglas

13. Virginia Tech

Previous Rank: 14

“Virginia Tech is just two weeks away from its fateful matchup against Miami that should ultimately decide the Coastal Division. In the meantime, the Hokies put the absolute smack-down on UNC, whose year from hell continues to get worse. Virginia Tech scored two defensive touchdowns, Josh Jackson threw for three touchdowns, and the Hokies were up 35-0 before anyone had blinked. They still have one more week and a game against ailing Duke before the Miami game, but the Hokies should be able to handle that one fairly easily.” - Ryan Neu

12. Washington

Previous Rank: 12

“After the shocking loss to Arizona State a week ago, the Huskies had a bye week to regroup before their contest this week against UCLA. For the Huskies to get back on track, the offense needs to produce points. In all six of their wins, Washington has lit up the scoreboard for at least 30 points. Jake Browning can’t have another 139-yard, no touchdown performance if the Huskies want to get back in the win column.” - Colton Spaur

11. Oklahoma State

Previous Rank: 10

“The Cowboys can breathe a sigh of relief after their Playoff hopes were almost dashed in Austin by the now 3-4 Longhorns. Texas’s defense is better than its offense, but it’s not so good that Oklahoma State shouldn’t be terrified about how its supposedly high-powered offense performed Saturday. The Cowboys found the end zone just once, in the first quarter, and managed just two field goals the rest of the way. Oklahoma State will face three ranked opponents the next three weeks. Its offense needs to be much better to escape that stretch with three more wins.” - Ryan Neu

10. Oklahoma

Previous Rank: 9

“Down by 11 at halftime, Baker Mayfield led the Sooners to 32 second half points for a wild 42-35 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats. Heisman contender Baker Mayfield threw for 410 yards, rushed for 69 more and accounted for four touchdowns. Oklahoma needs to win out and get some help to climb back into the College Football Playoff talk. However, having three of their final five games against ranked opponents makes that task even more difficult.” - Colton Spaur

9. Notre Dame

Previous Rank: 13

“Notre Dame easily has the toughest second-half schedule of any team in the FBS. Things started off well with a 49-14 shellacking of USC. The Trojans Playoff hopes evaporated and the Irish’s remained alive thanks to the legs of running back Josh Adams and quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who combined for 297 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. It’s not likely to get much easier going forward, but Notre Dame now looks like a team that could legitimately grab a Playoff spot.” - Ryan Neu

8. Clemson

Previous Rank: 7

“Clemson’s bye came at the right time. It allowed quarterback Kelly Bryant to recover from the injury he suffered against Syracuse and the defense to get ready for the wildcard Georgia Tech triple-option. The Tigers limited the Yellow Jackets to just 94 rushing yards last season, and could do the same this season as it has yet to allow more than 162 yards in a game up to this point.” - Sean Berger 

7. Miami

Previous Rank: 8

“For the third consecutive week the Hurricanes won a tight one-possession ballgame, surviving a test from Syracuse, 27-19. Miami’s defense picked off Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey four times, limited him to just 137 yards and an unimpressive 24 QBR. The one thing holding Miami back in the eye of the public is their strength of schedule; Miami has yet to face a ranked opponent. They’ll get the chance to prove themselves as true title contenders down the stretch of the regular season with 13th-ranked Virginia Tech and ninth-ranked Notre Dame left on the slate.” - Colton Spaur

6. Wisconsin

Previous Rank: 6

“Wisconsin freshman running back Jonathan Taylor might be the best-kept secret in all of college football. Taylor posted his fifth game of at least 100 rushing yards on Saturday, tallying 126 yards on the ground and scoring once to help the Badgers remain undefeated. The freshman star is currently fourth in the nation in rushing yards and tied for seventh in rushing touchdowns. With a two-game lead in the Big Ten West division and their five remaining opponents being unranked, Wisconsin looks well on their way to a trip to Indianapolis for a chance at the Big Ten title.” - Colton Spaur

5. Ohio State

Previous Rank: 5

“Since their early September loss to Oklahoma, the Buckeyes have looked like a team reborn. They have averaged 53.2 points per game and have allowed just 11.2 points per game. However, during that span, they haven’t really played anybody impressive. Now Ohio State gets another chance to defend its home turf against a top-tier opponent. Quarterback J.T. Barrett has thrown 21 touchdowns against just one interception so far this season, but Penn State’s No. 1 scoring defense is vastly superior to any defense he has faced this year. He’ll need to be perfect to secure the win.” - Ryan Neu

4. TCU

Previous Rank: 4

“After three straight single-digit wins over Kansas, TCU finally put the miserable Jayhawks in their place. The Horned Frogs shut out Kansas, 43-0, thanks to an outstanding performance from the TCU defense and quarterback Kenny Hill. The defense gave up just 21 total yards over 49 plays (yes, you read that correctly). Meanwhile, Hill threw for a career-high-tying five touchdowns while averaging 10.7 yards per pass attempt. This TCU team is well on its way to a spot in the Big 12 title game.” - Sean Berger

3. Georgia

Previous Rank: 3

“Jake Fromm and Georgia continued to flex their muscles on offense as they racked up 53 points in the win over Missouri on Saturday. Fromm and company posted 696 yards of total offense and tallied over 30 points for the sixth time in seven games. Georgia appears to be on a collision course with Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide for the SEC crown, as the Bulldogs have a two-game lead over the rest of the SEC East.” - Colton Spaur

2. Penn State

Previous Rank: 2

“Penn State got its first taste of a reputable opponent this weekend and absolutely demolished poor Michigan. Saquon Barkley continued to add to his Heisman resume with 161 total yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Trace McSorley showed off his own athleticism with 76 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Now comes the biggest test of the year for this Nittany Lions squad: a road game at Ohio State. If Penn State leaves the Shoe with a victory, not much else stands in its way for a Playoff bid.” - Ryan Neu

1. Alabama

Previous Rank: 1

“Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide continue to reign over the SEC, as they rolled over Tennessee 45-7. Alabama dominated Tennessee, out gaining the Volunteers by almost 500 yards and racking up 28 more first downs than Butch Jones’s squad. The Crimson Tide’s recipe of lockdown defense and a balanced offense have Alabama set on a collision course with undefeated Georgia in a potential match-up for the SEC crown.” - Colton Spaur

Edited by Emily Berman.

Before 2017, when was the last time Ohio State and Penn State faced off as top-10 teams?
Created 10/26/17
  1. 2016
  2. 2010
  3. 2008
  4. 1998

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