Anyone can put together a simple Top 25 poll, but I like to do things a little differently. I’ve ranked the top team in each Power 5 conference, the best team out of the G5 conferences and have assembled my own Top 10 as well. Why is this called Top of the Charts? It doesn’t make much sense, but neither do the College Football Playoff rankings. We’ve got some big shakeups in the rankings this week, so let’s dive right in.
You can check out last week’s rankings here.
Best of the Big 12: Oklahoma State Cowboys
In my first rankings of the season, Baylor was my top team in the Big 12. Last week it was TCU. This week it’s Oklahoma State after the Pokes dismantled Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs. After weeks of pundits and fans alike yammered on about the Big 12 not playing any defense, OSU limited TCU to just 29 points and forced 4 Trevone Boykin interceptions. Sure, they still gave up 663 yards of offense to the Horned Frogs, but in the end it’s the points that matter, after all. On the offensive side of the ball, you’re usually going to win when your quarterback passes for 5 touchdowns and puts up a 258.6 passer efficiency rating, which is exactly what Mason Rudolph did this past Saturday. The only game which TCU had lost in the past two seasons prior to Saturday evening was a shootout with Baylor which they lost by three points; the Cowboys absolutely manhandled them like no team has since Boykin took over as the TCU quarterback. Does one game indicate the overall strength of a team? No, but the Cowboys have been playing like a legitimate title contender all season long, especially as of late. After all, they’re putting up over 44 points per game on the season and an even 46 per contest in conference play. Baylor is still undefeated as well, but with the way Oklahoma State is playing right now, they have earned the top spot in the Big 12.
Best of the SEC: Alabama Crimson Tide
It was a good run, LSU. After an impressive and undefeated start to the season, the Tigers were pounded into submission by the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium this weekend. It’s incredible that Alabama continues to field one of most talented, if not the most talented, rosters in all of college football year after year. Jake Coker has become a decent quarterback who can lead the team, with a very talented receiver in Calvin Ridley and arguably the new favorite for the Heisman Trophy, Derrick Henry, leading the offense through his devastating running style. And that’s just the offense. Defensively, the Tide shut down Leonard Fournette, holding the (potentially former) Heisman favorite to just 31 rushing yards on 19 carries (with no receptions on the game); until Saturday, Fournette had averaged 193.1 rushing yards per game. Alabama was dominant, simple as that. When you combine this weekend’s victory with the rest of their impressive season, their only blemish being a competitive loss to Ole Miss, they have assembled the best resume in the conference easily. Assuming Bama takes care of Mississippi State this weekend in Starkville (which isn’t a guarantee, mind you), I highly doubt they give up this top spot.
Best of the Pac-12: Stanford Cardinal
Stanford would be a no-brainer playoff team at this point had they not lost in the season opener to Northwestern. Since that first weekend of the season, Stanford has been one of the best teams in the nation bar-none. Not accounting for a two-point victory over Washington State in Pullman last weekend, the Cardinal has an average margin of victory this season of 22.9 points (20.25 if you include the small margin over Wazzu). Utah is playing well still, but the loss to Southern Cal still hurts (even if it took place in the Coliseum). Kevin Hogan, now Stanford’s all-time wins leader at quarterback, continues to put together the finest season of his college career. With 9.11 yards per attempt, 16 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions and a passer rating of 163.0, Hogan has cemented himself as one of the top passers in the nation this season (all of the aforementioned stats are either career-bests for Hogan or are on pace to be career-bests, specifically in the case of touchdowns and interceptions). He’s got plenty of help though, as Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey has been ripping apart defensive units all season long. The sophomore from Castle Rock, Colorado is averaging a shade over 170 total yards per game on 25.1 touches per game (giving him an average of 6.78 yards per touch this season). To add to that, he’s currently on a streak of 7 straight games with at least 100 rushing yards, including 2 200+ yard performances in that stretch. No one can stop McCaffrey right now and no one can stop the Cardinal as whole.
Best of the Big Ten: Ohio State Buckeyes
The competition for this top spot has been lessened slightly after Michigan State’s heartbreaking loss this weekend. Did they get hosed by a bad call? Potentially, depending on your own personal interpretation of the rule book. But they could have still come back and had a shot had Connor Cook not made a terrible decision on the last play of the game. But I digress, as this is a post about the Buckeyes, who continued their undefeated season with a win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers (Tracy Claeys abysmal clock management not withstanding). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: until Ohio State is beaten, they’re not losing this spot. The defense is still as imposing as ever, as the Joey Bosa-led unit still is allowing a mere 15 points per game. In all honesty, that’s ridiculous at this point in the season. Hell, they’ve only allowed 24 or more points 3 times the entire season, never giving up more than 28. The offense, led by Ezekiel Elliott’s phenomenal season on the ground, is still posting high scores on a regular basis, averaging over 37 points per game through 9 games. Speaking of Elliott, he is certainly another contender for the Heisman Trophy this year, as he’s averaging 138.2 yards per game on the ground, not to mention the 14 touchdowns that he’s run for. And while Cardale Jones has proven to be serviceable at the very least (he put together a decent performance against the Golden Gophers), JT Barrett will likely be back next week, which should absolutely terrify fans of the Illinois Fighting Illini (not that U of I fares well against the Buckeyes very often anyway). Iowa is continuing to put together a good undefeated season, but Ohio State will remain atop the Big Ten until they are defeated.
Best of the ACC: Clemson Tigers
I have to admit, I did not expect Clemson to be this good in 2015 (granted, I don’t exactly like Clemson, but it was undeniable that they were going to be a good team this year). Dabo Swinney’s team has been dominant to say the least this season, winning each contest by nearly 22 points per game. You can’t even use the excuse that they haven’t played anyone, because the Tigers have beat some damn good teams this season, including Notre Dame (the Fighting Irish’s lone loss on the season) and Florida State this weekend after having lost their last several meetings with the Seminoles. Clemson’s defense has been nearly as good at shutting down opposing offenses as their offense has been at abusing opposing defenses. Deshaun Watson is having the kind of season that many media types and your average college football fan expected, and that is a great one. He’s developed a great rapport with receiver Artavis Scott, which has helped turn him into a true dual-threat quarterback who can assault you through the air and on the ground. Speaking of the ground game, Wayne Gallman has become a very good tailback for the Tigers, averaging over 108 yards per game so far this season and picking up 8 rushing touchdowns in the process. Clemson’s final three games of the season are against Syracuse, Wake Forest and the hated South Carolina, although that game will be played in Columbia. Nonetheless, it’s not the most formidable slate of opponents for Clemson through the rest of the regular season, meaning their next real test will likely be in the ACC Championship Game against presumably North Carolina. Until then, expect nothing but more dominance from Clemson.
Best of the G5 Conferences: Houston Cougars
I was riding the Memphis hype train so hard this season (possibly because I saw them dismantle my Jayhawks firsthand, but that’s neither here nor there) but alas they were stifled by Navy and suffered their first loss of the season. Suddenly we are left with just one undefeated team in the G5 conferences after having four just two weeks ago, and that team is the Houston Cougars (Memphis lost to Navy, Toledo fell to Northern Illinois in some midweek MACtion and Temple lost to Notre Dame last week). Houston had their own struggles this week, barely hanging on against Gunner Kiel and the Cincinnati Bearcats, but Tom Herman’s squad hung on to maintain their perfect record. The Cougars have played well offensively and defensively throughout the season, allowing just under 19 points per game on the year while scoring over 44 points per game on offense. The schedule doesn’t get any easier in the coming weeks for Houston, as they face Memphis, a team still clinging to hopes of a New Year’s Six bowl game, this week, then after a game against UConn they will take on Navy at home in two weekends. It will be a tough stretch, but Houston has proven that they can hang with anyone on their schedule this year.
Top of the Charts: This Week’s Top 10
- Clemson Tigers
- Ohio State Buckeyes
- Oklahoma State Cowboys
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Baylor Bears
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (join a conference, assholes)
- Iowa Hawkeyes
- Stanford Cardinal
- LSU Tigers
- Utah Utes
Just missing the cut: Oklahoma Sooners, Houston Cougars
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Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.