Four weeks into the season, and we have seen things heat up as teams have risen (Utah, Ole Miss, Notre Dame) and implode (Auburn, Oregon, and Arizona State). There are some teams lurking and “lying in the weeds”( Georgia, Oklahoma, and Baylor) as well. Now, after these for weeks or carnage I am unveiling my Power Rankings of who I think are the top 10 teams in the country are as of NOW and who are on the cusp.
TOP 10 Teams (as of Sept. 28th)
- Utah- Give me a team who has wins that are more impressive than the Utes. I get that Oregon is not as good this season, but the Utes were a decent underdog on the road in Eugene where the Ducks rarely lose and emasculated them 62-20. All of the teams they have beaten are FBS teams as well! Not the most talented team on paper, but they are solid in all phases of the game. QB Travis Wilson I would give them a shot to beat the top teams at the moment. They have a bye week this week going into a tricky game three-game stretch of Cal, Arizona St. and at USC.
- UCLA– Was extremely impressed with how the Bruins handled Arizona for a really good road win. Josh Rosen shook off a couple a so-so games to throw for 284 yards and two scores against the Wildcats. Two solid wins over BYU and Arizona are why they are at #2. The injuries to Myles Jack and Eddie Vanderdoes showed up as Arizona ran for over 300 yards, a real “red flag” with a game against Stanford in just over two weeks.
- Michigan State- I wrestled with them and Ole Miss, but I went with the Spartans because they have simply played better overall competition than Ole Miss overall. Consistent on both sides of the ball. Their defense looks just fine without long-time Pat Narduzzi. They have a budding star at wide receiver in Aaron Burbridge. Would like to see Connor Cook make more plays in the passing game.
- Ole Miss- Ole Miss has the win at Alabama, where they dominated the Tide for 3 quarters. Ole’ Miss offense looks explosive now that they have a “legit” quarterback in Chad Kelly. The running game has been decent in SEC play, but Laremy Tunsil’s return to the offensive line will be needed if Mississippi wants to have continued success in the running game. Tricky game this weekend as they visit Gainesville to play Florida, and one possibly against a high-flying Memphis’ offense on October 17th.
- Ohio State- Too much talent to put them below 5th in my rankings. Cardale Jones looked infinitely better against Western Michigan than in the last two games. Ezekiel Elliott has to get going in the running game to get the balance that they had last season that propelled them to a National Championship. He has not shown the same “pop” since the Virginia Tech game. Defense is still pretty nasty with Joey Bosa and Company.
- Notre Dame- Malik Zaire out, Taurean Folston out, no problem! The Irish continue to march forward. A bit of a struggle against UMASS for a half, but a second-half blitz allowed Notre Dame to pull away 62-27. The defense is solid, but could stand to get healthy as they visit Clemson and QB extraordinaire DeShaun Watson. QB DeShone Kizer has played well, but we will see as awaits his first true road start at Death Valley. Navy and USC are ahead for the Irish after this week.
- LSU- This team might be the most dangerous team on this list because their overall talent I feel has still not been shown. Leonard Fournette is the Heisman favorite, and his numbers should increase with Eastern Michigan and South Carolina coming up (both teams are 75th and below in rushing defense). Their next test might come against Florida on October 17th. My one worry about the Tigers is when Brandon Harris gets called upon to make plays in the passing game, can he get the job done? He is averaging around 15 passes per game and 6.43 yards per pass attempt. What happens if LSU gets into a high-scoring game against Texas A&M or and Ole Miss?
- TCU- I would have them higher with good road wins at Minnesota and Texas Tech, but they did not look great in either game. A big reason was because of all of the injuries and suspensions the Horned Frogs have suffered on defense. They only had one player suit up for the Tech game who started in the Peach Bowl against Ole Miss! They should be able to handle an improved Texas team on Saturday, but some interesting games ahead with Oklahoma State ahead. Oklahoma and Baylor awaits back-to-back if they get to late November undefeated. Trevone Boykin, Josh Doctson, and Aaron Green is an offensive triumvirate that can rival any in college football.
- Georgia- Nick Chubb has been as good as advertised. The pleasant surprise has been quarterback Greyson Lambert and the receivers. Lambert looks like a seasoned veteran in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense. The defense has been really good. The question is can they do this against a good Alabama defense as the Tide come calling to Athens on Saturday. Tennessee, Missouri, and Florida comes afterwards. This is a team that we don’t much about because of the competition they have played, these next four games will tell us everything we need to know.
- Baylor- Play somebody please! Lamar, Rice, and SMU are not exactly murderers’ row. This is a team that I believe will have to go undefeated in order to get into the playoff because of their non-conference schedule. Seth Russell has been solid, despite some issues with accuracy. Shock Linwood and Corey Coleman are game-breakers on offense. Again though, they have not been tested. Texas Tech should provide a tougher test. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU await the Bears in November. They should be undefeated going into November. I still don’t believe in their defense as a unit.
On The Cusp: Oklahoma, Texas A&M