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After a Tense Saturday in College Football, There’s a New No. 1 Team

7 months ago 621

Sign up for the Until Saturday newsletter | Jayna Bardahl and The Athletic’s college football staff deliver expert analysis on the biggest CFB stories five days per week. Get it sent to your inbox.

Week 8 turned out to be Survival Saturday within much of the top 10.

Washington escaped Arizona State, thanks to a picked-up flag and a late pick six. Oklahoma escaped UCF by stopping a late two-point conversion. Texas escaped Houston with a fourth down stop. Florida State came back to beat Duke, a game that turned when Duke quarterback Riley Leonard was injured again.

As a result, there is a shakeup in this week’s Athletic 133 and a new No. 1: Ohio State. The Buckeyes beat Penn State 20-12, holding the Nittany Lions to a 1-for-16 performance on third down. That gives Ohio State two wins over current top-15 teams, enough to catapult the Buckeyes to No. 1 this week.

Does this mean Ohio State will beat Michigan? I don’t know. The Wolverines have won the last two against Ohio State and have been a buzzsaw against weak competition this year. They look really, really good again. The escapes by other top-10 teams do help the case for Michigan, which hasn’t had such struggles. But as I get ahead of explaining each week, I can’t put a team whose current best win is Rutgers much higher yet. Once Michigan plays Penn State on Nov. 11, that’ll change. I actually have Michigan in my CFP predictions. But these rankings are not predictions. They’re an attempt to evaluate what you’ve done. Margin of victory matters, but who you’ve played weighs more.



Behind the AP Top 25 ballot: Weak Michigan schedule doesn't mean it can't be voted No. 1

Here is this week’s Athletic 133.


Georgia remains at No. 2 while idle. Florida State moves up to No. 3 thanks to its win and Washington/Oklahoma scraping by. Michigan leaps Texas after the Longhorns barely got out of Houston. Oregon and Oregon State slide into the top 10. The Ducks beat Washington State 38-24, while Oregon State was idle. The Beavers gave Utah their only loss earlier in the season.


Utah jumps to No. 11 after beating USC. Both Penn State and North Carolina fell out of the top 10 after losses. The Nittany Lions drop to No. 13 because they lack notable wins, but the Tar Heels fall to No. 18 after losing to a 1-5 Virginia team at home. Duke was in a battle with Florida State until quarterback Riley Leonard reinjured his right ankle, an unfortunate turn of events. The Blue Devils fall from No. 15 to No. 19. USC hangs on in the top 25 after yet another loss to Utah, and Kentucky slides into the top 25 while idle, on the strength of its earlier win against Florida.



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Iowa is the only team to drop out of the top 25, falling to No. 27. Yes, a fluky referee decision changed what would’ve been a game-winning play, but it was still an ugly affair against a struggling Minnesota team. Oklahoma State has figured things out with three consecutive wins against Kansas State, Kansas and West Virginia to jump up to No. 28. Tennessee sits at No. 29 after losing a halftime lead against Alabama. I remain surprised the Vols are ranked in the polls given their loss to Florida and their best win coming against Texas A&M.

Miami’s overtime win against Clemson sees the Hurricanes rise to No. 30. The Tigers fall down to No. 37. TCU lost 41-3 to Kansas State, and BYU beat Texas Tech, but both the Horned Frogs and Cougars remain in their position because of TCU’s blowout of BYU just last week. Georgia State moves into the top 50 after getting to 6-1.


UNLV is 6-1 and bowl-eligible for the second time since 2000 after beating Colorado State to move up to No. 57. Boston College has won three consecutive games since an ugly start to the year and now sits at 4-3 overall and No. 58 in the rankings. UTSA is 3-0 since quarterback Frank Harris came back, beating FAU 36-10 to jump up to No. 60. Jacksonville State jumps up to No. 63 after beating Western Kentucky. Like James Madison, Jax State can only reach a bowl game if there aren’t enough 6-6 teams.



Saturday Superlatives: Another Utah-USC classic, upsets and scares galore


Not a ton of movement in this group. Old Dominion’s 28-21 win against Appalachian State moves the Monarchs up to No. 88. FAU was blown out by UTSA and USF beat UConn, but FAU remains ahead of USF after the Owls’ win over the Bulls last week. Northern Illinois has won three consecutive games to get up to No. 91. One week after Stanford beat Colorado, the Cardinal lost 42-7 to UCLA and drop back down to No. 95. Michigan State’s 49-0 loss to Michigan drops the Spartans down to No. 97.


Nevada ended its 16-game losing streak with a 6-0 win against San Diego State, so the Wolf Pack get out of the bottom spot. The new No. 133 is Sam Houston, which is 0-7. The Bearkats were 1:11 away from beating Jacksonville State, three yards away from beating Liberty and one fourth-and-18 stop away from beating FIU. Alas, they have yet to get their first FBS win. Elsewhere in this group, East Carolina drops to No. 126 after a 10-7 loss to Charlotte, and New Mexico State moved up to No. 108 with its third consecutive win.

The Athletic 133 Rankings series is part of a partnership with AllState.

The Athletic maintains full editorial independence. Partners have no control over or input into the reporting or editing process and do not review stories before publication.

(Photo: Ben Jackson / Getty Images)

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