A Weekly Look at the Power 5 Conferences and Independents
On November 7, 2017, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee presented its second rankings of the season based on strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents, conference championships won and the eye test.
The biggest unknown in the Committee’s rankings each week is how much weight each committee member places on those factors when ranking the teams. During the initial three seasons of the playoff, the committee has leaned toward choosing teams with the best resume (most deserving teams) as opposed to relying on the eye test (best teams).
Click here for the Committee’s most recent rankings.
Each week, The Rebel Walk’s Jeff Tetrick presents a national report card on the Power 5 conferences and independent schools. The aim is to rank and grade the 5 conferences based on the cumulative results of each league’s teams that weekend.
Jeff will provide a brief weekly summary for each conference, suggest which teams are in playoff contention, and offer his ranking of the best teams in the country. The Independent schools have a section but are not ranked with the conferences.
Below are the criteria and his rankings for Week 10 of the 2017 season.
Report Card Criteria:
Good Day: A win over a non-Power 5 school is a good day.
Key Loss: A loss to a non-Power 5 team is a key loss. As well, a loss to a non-conference Power 5 school is a key loss because of the missed chance to make the claim that conference A is better than conference B.
Week 10 Power 5 Conference Rankings
Key Wins: 5 Alabama, Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia, Missouri
Good Day: 4 Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas
Key Losses: 5 LSU, Kentucky, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Florida
Alabama earned a 24-10 win over #19 LSU in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide (9-0) was outgained 306-299 by the Tigers but won the turnover battle, 1-0, to stay perfect on the season. Alabama struggled to run the ball against LSU, gaining just 116 yards on 36 rushes, which might be a concern with games against Auburn and Georgia down the road.
Ole Miss surprised Kentucky when D. K. Metcalf caught the game-winning touchdown with 5 seconds left on the clock to give the Rebels a 37-34 upset over the Wildcats in Lexington.
Auburn improved to 7-2 by cruising past Texas A&M 42-27 in College Station. Jarrett Stidham passed for 268 yards and 3 TDs in the victory. Mississippi State (7-2) survived a scare from lowly UMass in Starkville. Nick Fitzgerald ran for 135 yards and 2 scores to help the Bulldogs avoid a big upset.
Georgia moved to 9-0 by beating South Carolina 24-10 in Athens. Nick Chubb rushed for 102 yards for the Bulldogs. Tennessee snapped a four-game losing streak by taking down Southern Miss 24-10 in Knoxville. Missouri hammered Florida 45-16 in Columbia for its third straight win and first SEC win of the year. The Gators (3-5) have dropped 4 consecutive games and appear on the verge of failing to qualify for a bowl game.
Vanderbilt ended a five-game skid by topping Western Kentucky 31-17 in Nashville. Arkansas avoided an embarrassing loss to a one-win Coastal Carolina team by rallying from a thirteen-point deficit in the fourth quarter to pull out a 39-38 victory in Fayetteville.
In the playoff conversation: Alabama, Georgia
Key Wins: 4 Clemson, Miami, Virginia, Florida State
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 5 NC State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech
Clemson boosted its playoff resume with an impressive 38-31 win over #20 North Carolina State in Raleigh. Tavien Feaster ran for 105 yards and a score for the Tigers (8-1). Wake Forest produced 587 yards of total offense and put up 27 points in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome a 21-point halftime deficit in a 48-37 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend.
Miami played and beat its first ranked opponent of the season in seizing control of the Coastal Division race. Miami (8-0) turned the ball over 3 times, but its defense forced 4 turnovers to help the Hurricanes breeze by #13 Virginia Tech 28-10. Miami will face its biggest challenge of the year when #3 Notre Dame comes to town on Saturday night.
Virginia became bowl eligible for the first time since 2011 by shocking Georgia Tech 40-36 in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers (6-3) got 3 TD passes from Kurt Benkert in the huge victory. Florida State won for just the third time this season in sneaking past Syracuse 27-24 in Tallahassee. Freshman Cam Akers rushed for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Seminoles (3-5).
In the playoff conversation: Clemson, Miami
Key Wins: 6 USC, Washington State, Utah, Washington, Cal, Arizona State
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 6 Arizona, Stanford, UCLA, Oregon, Colorado, Oregon State
USC (8-2) took control of the South Division race by downing #22 Arizona 49-35 at the Coliseum. Sam Darnold passed for 311 yards and 2 TDs for the Trojans, and running back Ronald Jones added 194 yards and 3 scores on the ground. Cal moved to 5-5 on the season by beating Oregon State 37-23 in Berkeley. The Golden Bears were led by Patrick Laird, who ran for 214 yards and a touchdown.
Washington State (8-2) stayed alive in the race for the North Division title by edging #21 Stanford 24-21 in Pullman. QB Luke Falk threw for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Cougars. Arizona State moved to 5-4 on the year by outlasting Colorado 41-30 in Tempe. Demario Richard rushed for 189 yards and a score in the winning effort.
Washington (8-1) remained atop the North Division standings by routing Oregon 38-3 in Seattle. The Huskies were led by QB Jake Browning, who passed for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns. Utah snapped a four-game losing streak by beating up UCLA 48-17 in Salt Lake City. The Utes (5-5) got 4 TD tosses from Tyler Huntley in moving to within a game of bowl eligibility.
In the playoff conversation: none
4. Big 12
Key Wins: 5 Oklahoma, TCU, West Virginia, Kansas State, Baylor
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 5 Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas, Texas Tech
Oklahoma sits in a tie for first place in the Big 12 standings after outscoring rival #11 Oklahoma State 62-52 in Stillwater. This edition of Bedlam featured little defense and served as a de facto playoff elimination game. Baker Mayfield passed for 598 yards and 5 touchdowns for the Sooners (8-1), while Mason Rudolph threw for 448 yards and 5 scores for the Cowboys (7-2). Oklahoma hosts #6 TCU this weekend in a game with huge playoff implications.
Speaking of TCU, the Horned Frogs (8-1) remain tied with Oklahoma for first place in the league after thumping Texas 24-7 in Fort Worth. The stout TCU defense limited the Longhorns to 263 yards of total offense on the day. Kansas State (5-4) pulled the surprise of the week in the Big 12 by knocking off Texas Tech 42-35 in overtime in Lubbock. The Wildcats won with a third-string quarterback and despite giving up 527 yards of total offense to the Red Raiders.
West Virginia took down #15 Iowa State 20-16 in Morgantown behind a big day from QB Will Grier. The junior gunslinger threw for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns for the victors. Baylor got its first win of the year by rolling past Kansas 38-9 in Lawrence in a battle between last-place squads. The Bears (1-8) got 3 passing touchdowns from Charlie Brewer and kept the Jayhawks (1-8) winless in league play.
In the playoff conversation: Oklahoma, TCU
5. Big Ten
Key Wins: 7 Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Purdue, Michigan, Northwestern
Good Day: 0 none
Key Losses: 7 Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska
Iowa delivered a knockout punch to #6 Ohio State’s playoff hopes by throttling the Buckeyes 55-24 in Iowa City. Sophomore Nathan Stanley tossed 5 TD passes for the Hawkeyes (6-3), who were three-touchdown underdogs at home. Senior J. T. Barrett was picked off 4 times by the Iowa secondary. The Buckeyes can still win the Big Ten East, but a playoff berth seems out of reach now.
Michigan State upset #7 Penn State 27-24 in East Lansing to eliminate the Nittany Lions from the playoff picture. Brian Lewerke threw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns, while the defense held Saquon Barkley to 63 rushing yards. The Spartans travel to Columbus this weekend to battle Ohio State for first place in the Big Ten East.
Wisconsin appears to be the lone Big Ten team in the running for a playoff berth after downing Indiana 45-17 in Bloomington. Freshman Jonathan Taylor ran for 183 yards for the Badgers (9-0), who host Iowa this Saturday. Rutgers won its third Big Ten game of the season by edging Maryland 31-24 in Piscataway. The Scarlet Knights were winless in Big Ten play a year ago but are 2 wins from bowl eligibility. Purdue lost its starting quarterback for the rest of the season to injury, but the Boilermakers pulled out a 29-10 victory over Illinois in West Lafayette.
Michigan ran the ball with authority in a 33-10 win over Minnesota in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines (7-2) had a pair of tailbacks run for over 190 yards apiece, and the defense limited the Golden Gophers to 164 yards of total offense. Northwestern (6-3) won its fourth straight game by slipping past Nebraska 31-24 in overtime in Lincoln. The Wildcats became the first team in FBS history to win 3 consecutive overtime games, while Mike Riley’s future as the Cornhuskers’ coach looks more in doubt by the week.
In the playoff conversation: Wisconsin
Key Wins: 1 Notre Dame
Good Day: 1 Army
Key Losses: 1 BYU
Notre Dame racked up 701 yards of total offense in beating Wake Forest 48-37 in South Bend. QB Brandon Wimbush passed for 280 yards, rushed for 110 yards, and accounted for 3 scores for the Fighting Irish. RB Josh Adams suffered an injury and sat out most of the game, but Notre Dame (8-1) did not need him to win its seventh straight game. Notre Dame looks to boost its playoff resume this weekend as the Fighting Irish travel to face unbeaten #7 Miami.
Army got 265 rushing yards from quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw during a 21-0 shutout of Air Force in Colorado Springs. The Black Knights (7-2) have won 5 games in a row heading into a matchup with Duke on Saturday at Michie Stadium.
BYU fell to 2-8 on the season after suffering a 20-13 setback at Fresno State.
In the playoff conversation: Notre Dame
This section is our guess at which teams the Selection Committee would choose based on the body of work up to this point in the season. This list is not a ranking of the 4 best teams. Rather, it lists the teams with the top playoff resumes. In other words, these are the most deserving teams for a playoff spot based on their schedule to date.
Based on week 10, if the College Football Playoff was today, the Selection Committee might pick…..
1- Alabama (25.5) versus 4- Oklahoma (22.75)
2- Georgia (22.5) versus 3- Clemson (26.25)
On the outside…..
6-Notre Dame (19)
10-Michigan State (22.5)
Top Ten Teams
This section is our view of the top ten teams in the country at this point in the season. This list is not based on the AP poll or exclusively on a team’s record or resume. Thus, a one-loss team may be ranked higher than an undefeated team. This ranking is based on our view of the best teams in college football via the eye test.
After week 10, the Top Ten Teams are…..
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State