College Football Power Rankings, Week 6: Alabama Rolls Back Into The Top Spot

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Let’s talk about style points. One of the great benefits of creating a four-team College Football Playoff was the fact that with the likelihood of more than four teams remaining unbeaten pretty low, there’s no longer any need for the best teams to paste hapless opponents with 60-plus points. Winning, it’s thought, should be enough.

So while it’s tempting to look at this past weekend’s two big blowouts between Michigan and Rutgers (78-0) and Washington and Oregon (70-21) and think these were Playoff-hopefuls looking to take advantage of a lesser opponent, that’s wrong. Rutgers joined the Big Ten in 2014 after years of conference expansion rumors, and while the move was largely to the benefit of the Big Ten in their ability to gain the NYC broadcast market, it was also seen as a plus for Rutgers to get out of a quickly-sinking Big East conference. Quite frankly, they made the choice to play with the big boys in Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin, and now they’re paying the price.

As for Washington hanging 70 on Oregon? That’s retribution for years of dominance by the Ducks in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon has made a living the past ten years out of regularly putting up huge numbers thanks to a super-fast tempo and a diabolical willingness to go for two after every touchdown. After twelve straight wins for Oregon against the Huskies, Chris Petersen let his team explode in Eugene and exorcise some demons.

So while it’s not a great idea to coach-pitch your kid’s little league team to a 20-0 mercy rule win, these are all big boys playing at the highest level most of them will ever attain. These aren’t FCS schools just looking for a paycheck, and Jim Harbaugh and Chris Petersen were right to not relent.

And for the rest of the rankings? So long, UNC, you capitalized on a big win in Tallahassee by getting walloped by Virginia Tech. And Stanford? After two straight losses that showed you’ve completely forgot how to run-block, we’re a little concerned whatever you have might be contagious. Frankly it’s for the good of the group that you’ve been dropped (and quarantined).

Alabama’s back home where they belong, folks, is there anyone in the SEC that can take them down?

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1. Alabama (6-0)
Last week: 2
Last game: Beat Arkansas, 49-30
Next up: Saturday at Tennessee

So much for size beating speed. Alabama showed they have plenty of both in handling Arkansas. While they should likewise be able to take Tennessee, this is a pretty tough October schedule for the Tide. After Tennessee is Texas A&M, the only remaining real shot to dethrone Nick Saban in the SEC West. If they don’t take it one game at a time (Saban’s modus operandi), they could falter.

Luckily, they’ve got The Process to get them through it. But lest you think The Process is nothing more than the byproduct of a well-oiled machine focused solely on winning, read this about Nick Saban finding an Arkansas player who lost his father a week ago to share some condolences.

2. Clemson (6-0)
Last week: 1
Last game: Beat Boston College, 56-10
Next up: Saturday vs. NC State

On a short week, coming off the emotional and physical toll of a big game against Louisville, beating BC 56-10 is a good win. It’s no 78-0, sure, but it’s good enough. DeShaun Watson added to his Heisman resume with 267 yards passing and four touchdowns.

3. Ohio State (5-0)
Last week: 3
Last game: Beat Indiana, 38-17
Next up: Saturday at Wisconsin

It’s here, it’s here! Ohio State has been on cruise control the last couple of weeks, but Urban Meyer has got to wake his boys up now before they stroll into Camp Randall on Saturday. Like Michigan two weeks ago, Ohio State will find a much, much tougher test this Saturday than his team has faced all year.

4. Washington (5-0)
Last week: 5
Last game: Beat Oregon, 70-21
Next up: Oct. 22 vs. Oregon State

Yup, guess they’re for real! To be honest, I’m pretty excited about this team. Not only is Chris Petersen on his way to coaching in a Playoff game, but for everyone who didn’t go to a football school, Washington represents a refreshing bandwagon choice as the season winds down.

5. Michigan (6-0)
Last week: 4
Last game: Beat Rutgers, 78-0. Yes, you read that right, 78-0.
Next up: October 22 vs. Illinois

Honestly, the only people feeling worse about this than Rutgers coaches are the owners of Ann Arbor’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House, who started a promotion just last week whereby diners can get a percentage off their bill based on the difference of score in the Michigan game.

That means 78 percent off good eatin’ this week, folks (they capped it at 50 percent unfortunately). Here’s hoping Harbaugh doesn’t decide to bring the whole team in for a dinner.

6. Texas A&M (6-0)
Last week: 7
Last game: Beat Tennessee, 45-38 (2OT)
Next up: October 22 at Alabama

We told you Aggies, Tennessee is like the villain in a horror movie! You’ve got to bury them a few times before you can walk away with confidence. The Volunteers staged another comeback, this time not quite so shocking as last week’s, but nevertheless impressive.

Even more impressive, however, is Texas A&M’s scheduling ability, as they’ve now got a bye to spend two weeks resting and prepping for Alabama.

7. Louisville (4-1)
Last week: 6
Last game: Lost to Clemson, 42-36
Next up: Friday vs. Duke

Louisville didn’t play this week, but somehow their Playoff chances still took a big hit. Thanks to Houston losing, their November game won’t have quite the shine it used to have, a shine that might have been bright enough to sneak the Cards into the Playoff as a second ACC team. Now they have to hope Clemson stumbles twice along the way.

8. Baylor (5-0)
Last week: 10
Last game: Beat Iowa State, 45-42
Next up: Saturday vs. Kansas

There are quite a few teams who got to advance this week without playing, but don’t get used to it, Baylor. Just give us one shot and we’ll drop you like a bad habit.

9. Nebraska (5-0)
Last week: 14
Last game: Beat Illinois, 31-16
Next up: Saturday at Indiana

Nebraska got the biggest gain from other teams losing, entering the Top 10 for the first time this year! We’ll find out how good you are in the second half of the month when you finally play the sharks of the Big Ten.

10. Wisconsin (4-1)
Last week: 16
Last game: Lost to Michigan, 14-7
Next up: Saturday vs. Ohio State

I’m not quite sure there’s anywhere in the world I’d rather be this Saturday night than at Camp Randall. Cool fall weather, a big game under the lights, and cheese curds? That’s a little slice of heaven.

As for Ohio State? I’m guessing their visit will be a little less pleasant:

Have fun, Buckeyes!

11. Tennessee (5-1)
Last week: 9
Last game: Lost to Texas A&M, 45-38 (2OT)
Next up: Saturday vs Alabama

Oh, poor Tennessee. You came so close to pulling out another one at the death, and now you’ve got Alabama coming to town to pour salt in the wound. The SEC East is still up for grabs, so it’s important Tennessee stays focused, but don’t be surprised if we enter November wondering what ever happened to the Volunteers. But at least your pranking game is on point!

12. Houston (5-1)
Last week: 8
Last game: Lost to Navy, 46-40
Next up: Saturday vs. Tulsa

13. Boise State (5-0)
Last week: 17
Last game: Beat New Mexico, 49-21
Next up: Saturday vs. Colorado State

With Houston gone, Boise State is now the torch-bearer for the Group of Five. Careful Broncos, you’ve been here before and let the opportunity slip away.

14. Florida (4-1)
Last week: 15
Last game: Beat Vanderbilt, 13-6
Next up: Saturday vs. Missouri

Florida and LSU didn’t get a chance to continue their rivalry this weekend thanks to Hurricane Matthew, and it’s still up in the air if they’ll be able to re-schedule. In the meantime, both schools are playing hardball when it comes to giving up things to make it happen.

15. Florida State (4-2)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Miami, 20-19
Next up: Saturday vs. Wake Forest

Seven in a row against Miami has got to count for something, right? Best of all, it came down to a kick in true Miami-FSU fashion.

16. Miami (4-1)
Last week: 11
Last game: Lost to Florida State, 20-19
Next up: Saturday vs. North Carolina

It’s going to be hard to see the silver lining if you’re a ‘Canes fan, especially as it looked like this might really be a down year for the Seminoles. But Mark Richt had his team ready to play, and they’ve got a great chance this weekend to take charge in the Coastal division. Seven losses in a row to a rival is a tough pill to swallow, but they’ve still got a great chance at the ACC Championship, unlike the ‘Noles. Here’s hoping Brad Kaaya can get back from the dentist in time to prep for UNC.

17. Oklahoma (3-2)
Last week: 20
Last game: Beat Texas, 45-40
Next up: Saturday vs. Kansas State

If you’re an Oklahoma fan, I hope you’ve managed to get rid of the early season disappointment and just enjoy this team. With the pressure of a Playoff spot removed, you’re free to enjoy a bunch of touchdowns per game and the crazy highlights of Dede Westbrook.

18. Utah (5-1)
Last week: 23
Last game: Beat Arizona, 36-23
Next up: Saturday at Oregon State

Well, you sure showed me, Utah. You might be legit! Don’t look now, but you’re tied for first in an easily winnable Pac-12 South division!

19. Virginia Tech (4-1)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat North Carolina, 34-3
Next up: Saturday at Syracuse

Virginia Tech surprised a lot of folks, us among them, with their deconstruction of North Carolina on Saturday. Sure, the game was played inside a car wash, but that only adds to the impressiveness.

20. TCU (4-2)
Last week: 21
Last game: Beat Kansas, 24-23
Next up: Oct. 22 at West Virginia

Consider yourselves lucky we didn’t watch this game, Frogs. Beating Kansas by one point isn’t really the sort of thing Big 12 champions do, you know.

21. Penn State (4-2)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Maryland, 38-14
Next up: Oct. 22 vs. Ohio State

Penn State is definitely on a tier below Michigan, OSU and Wisconsin when it comes to the Big Ten. But with two weeks to prep for the Buckeyes, the opportunity is there for James Franklin to get a signature win that begins their climb back to prominence.

Just take care of that kicker, he’s clearly on some sort of list.

22. Oklahoma State (4-2)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Iowa State, 38-31
Next up: Oct. 22 at Kansas

Fun fact: you don’t know anybody who watched the Cowboys-Cyclones game. Which is a shame because like Oklahoma, the Cowboys of Oklahoma State are a good pick for any Saturday neutral viewing.

23. Western Michigan (6-0)
Last week: 25
Last game: Beat Northern Illinois, 45-30
Next up: Saturday at Akron

P.J. Fleck continues to win and rise up that list of most-coveted head coaches.

24. Wake Forest (5-1)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat Syracuse, 28-9
Next up: Saturday at Florida State

Welcome to the Power Rankings, Wake Forest! You haven’t really played anyone impressive yet, but 5-1 is 5-1, and we thought we’d give you a look around before the back half of your season goes down in flames with FSU, Clemson and Louisville on the docket.

25. Georgia (4-2)
Last week: Unranked
Last game: Beat South Carolina, 28-14
Next up: Saturday vs. Vanderbilt

If you were flipping around on Sunday looking for a decent NFL game, you probably didn’t find one. But maybe you stumbled upon Georgia-South Carolina? Moved to Sunday in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, the Sunday SEC special no doubt caused many NASCAR fans to try and find their Picture-in-Picture option for the first time in years.

Next Five: Stanford, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Arizona State and Hot Apple Cider.

Enjoy these perfect-weather fall weekends while they last, everybody. There will be snow on the ground and angry Playoff discussions before you know it. On to Wisconsin!

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