While we wait on the selection committee and ESPN for the debut of the College Football Playoff Top 25 later on tonight, the A Lot of Sports Talk’s College Football Top 25 committee of six has already spoken. And if tonight’s poll is any reflection of our aggregation for this week, we might be left with more ambiguity than clarity. But, then again, isn’t that what college football polling has been really all about over the past couple decades?
Outside of the top two teams, Mississippi State and Florida State, which we expect to be the top two teams in every single FBS-related human poll you’ll take a gander at, figuring out teams three and four was more like a parent trying to pick out his or her favorite child. The “children,” of course, are the major conference one-loss teams to choose from and how to separate one from the other…and another from the others.
Reflecting how narrow the margins were in our latest poll, four different teams were ranked third amongst the six polls submitted – Alabama, Auburn, Oregon and TCU. Also, four different teams were ranked fourth amongst the six pollsters. (We can’t tell you those teams, since you’ll kind of figure out at least one of the teams that made our top four in our rankings this week.) The team that’s ranked fourth in our poll finished only one point ahead of the team that placed fifth.
Along with the race at the very top of the poll, the battle for the top non Power Five spot was just as hotly contested, as multiple pollsters had both East Carolina ranking head of Marshall as well as the Thundering Herd ranking ahead of the Pirates. The highest-ranked team from a non Power Five conference will play in one of the prestigious New Year’s Six bowl games this bowl season.
That’s enough talk, right?! It’s on to the A Lot of Sports Talk‘s College Football Top 25 rankings, and we thank our esteemed committee for producing this poll so quickly after this past college football week. Once again, let’s welcome our weekly sextet: T.J. Basalla (super fan, marketing professional, WJPZ Alumni Association President), Pavan Sandhu Eckhart (Texas A&M graduate, Sales Rep at Ferring Pharmaceuticals in Dallas), Basil Mitchell (former TCU and Green Bay Packers RB), Sandy Weintraub (super fan, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards at the University of Oregon), Adesina Koiki (Football Writers Association of America member/voter, A Lot Of Sports Talk editor-in-chief) and an anonymous assistant coach who once coached at a Division I-FBS school. If you have any comments and/or complaints, write them below on the Facebook window or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you, as always.
For a moment, it looked like the Bulldogs were in trouble in Lexington. Then running back Josh Robinson ran over an entire defense, and all was right in Starkville. (Sandy Weintraub)
No disrespect to the rest of the teams on Florida State’s schedule, as well as the eventual Coastal Division champion, but could Thursday’s game at Louisville represent the last true challenge standing in the Seminoles’ way to the College Football Playoff? (Adesina Koiki)
Oregon has to get over their Stanford voodoo sometime soon, right? (T.J. Basalla)
I think Alabama’s best is better than anyone else’s best. They haven’t always played their best this year. (Anonymous one-time FBS coach)
The Tigers play Pac-12 football in the SEC, and while that may mean exciting offense, it also means they will be tested weekly on the defensive side of the ball. (Sandy)
You’ve beaten Michigan six out of the last seven years, are miles above them now as a program, and yet you complain of being “disrespected?” Come on now, Mark Dantonio. (T.J.)
It was a record-breaking day for TCU against the Red Raiders; most points scored ever in a Big 12 Conference league game (82), most total yards in school history (785) and a school single-game touchdown pass record (seven, for Trevone Boykin). Seems like after that loss to Baylor, they are more determined than ever to win the Big 12. (Pavan Sandhu Eckhart)
The Irish are certainly the better team than their Saturday night opponent, Navy, but if Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds goes off like he did last week in orchestrating the triple option attack (251 rushing yards), we might be in for a much more thrilling game than most people would expect. (Adesina)
I still think the Ole Miss defense is for real. Their defensive front is incredibly talented (especially Robert Nkemdiche) and their five defensive backs just cause havoc. They just ran into the perfect storm last Saturday, and as someone who has experienced how crazy Saturday nights in Death Valley are, I’m not surprised. (Anonymous one-time FBS coach)
I actually pity what the Bulldogs will do to the Gators on Saturday. (T.J.)
Other than maybe a couple of SEC West teams, no school may have a tougher closing stretch of games than K-State. Road games with TCU, West Virginia and Baylor await, but first, a home date with a wounded Oklahoma State squad. (Adesina)
I’m a firm believer that the lack of a Big 12 Championship Game will not hurt the conference overall in the eyes of the Playoff committee. But Baylor, more than any team in the league, may wish it did have one. The Bears have fallen to third – at least – in the league’s pecking order, and their upcoming matchup against Oklahoma has lost its cachet with the Sooners’ recent slide. (Adesina)
Who had Arizona State vs. Utah as a marquee game at the start of the season? Anyone? Well, it is now. (T.J.)
One of the latest installments of “Pac-12 After Dark” will start this Saturday night at 10:30 PM Eastern Time in L.A., when the Wildcats look to keep control of their own Pac-12 South destiny against UCLA. Brew another pot of coffee so you can stay up to watch what should be another after-hours thriller. (Adesina)
Joey Bosa is this season’s version of Aaron Donald…but even better. (T.J.)
This team may not have the skill position talent of some of their Pac-12 rivals, but they have the defense and a unique home field advantage in the cold and altitude of Salt Lake City to make life uncomfortable for the rest of the league. (Sandy)
As of now, the Pirates are the team in the driver’s seat in terms of making the New Year’s Six from the Non Power Five, but Marshall is gaining ground. (Or is East Carolina losing ground?) (Adesina)
If they beat Wisconsin in Madison on Nov. 15 (not an easy ask, I know), the Huskers will be 11-1 entering the B1G title game. Ummm…would we be talking about them in the Playoff then? (T.J.)
We’ll see how motivated the Sooners will be going forward now that their playoff hopes have pretty much faded away in the past three weeks. (Adesina)
For all the lamenting about rivalry games that are or will become no more (Michigan-Notre Dame, Kansas-Missouri, etc.), Marshall may miss no longer playing its rival, West Virginia, more than any other team misses playing its rival. From 2006-12, the Herd played their in-state rival every season, and how they wish they had a better-than-expected Mountaineers team on the schedule this season to boost their chances at a New Year’s Six game. (Adesina)
It was a great win for the Bayou Bengals against a previously unbeaten team (Ole Miss), but I’m not going to bump them up as high as some might. Why? I watched the game, and frankly, I didn’t walk away feeling great about either team. Yes, the SEC West has massive size, but most of that game was just boring, ugly football. LSU deserved the win, but I, for one, was not impressed. (Sandy)
They played both Alabama and Oklahoma tough in close losses, as well as defeated a fourth-ranked Baylor team, but the 24-point demolition of Oklahoma State in Stillwater might have been the best result/performance of the season by the Mountaineers. If they win out, what would the committee make of a 10-2 WVU team that will have defeated Baylor, TCU and Kansas State, with its two losses coming to Alabama and Oklahoma by a combined 22 points? (Adesina)
If you include the Louisville game in which freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson broke his finger in the first quarter and was ruled out for a month, Clemson has only averaged 18.7 points in its last three contests. Good thing that its next opponent is a Wake Forest team that has only averaged 9.3 points in its four conference games – all losses. (Adesina)
The Blue Devils have an action-packed month ahead, squeezing in all of their five remaining regular-season games into the short month of November. If all goes well, an additional game in early December will await them in Charlotte, probably against Florida State. (Adesina)
After watching UCLA barely hang on for the overtime win at Colorado after blowing a 17-point fourth quarter lead, your guess as to which Bruins team shows up on Saturday night against Arizona is just as good as mine. I really have no idea at this point. (Adesina)
Others receiving votes:
Southern California (3 points), Colorado State (2), Stanford (2), Louisville (1)
* – To break ties, we used a three-step criteria; 1) higher number of first-place votes, 2) higher number of ballots (out of six) the teams appeared in, 3) highest single ranking by an individual pollster (e.g. if Team A and Team B are tied cumulatively and appeared in all six polls, but Team A’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 7 and Team B’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 9, Team A wins tiebreaker)
[Cover photo (National Championship Trophy) courtesy of Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo]