College Football Top 25:

With another crazy week of college football, which included four of the top 13 teams in the country losing, I decided to make my own top 25 rankings. I largely agree with the top ten of the CFP and AP lists, I just flipped around numbers six to eight a bit. After that, I trust what I see when I put on the games each Saturday (and when I study the tape throughout the week). Of course I also have to take an outlook for each program into consideration as well, because I just can’t put any two-loss team from the Power Five, which doesn’t even have a chance to play in the conference championship game, above one who still basically controls their own destiny and has a chance to leave a mark on me and the committee. Without further ado, here’s my list:

 

1. Alabama (9-0) Alabama

First of all, I don’t see a reason why any team coming off a National Championship game, which hasn’t lost since then, should be behind anybody else in the rankings other than the team who just beat them in that game a year ago. Everybody loses players to the NFL or injury, but since Clemson already has a loss on their record, I don’t believe in putting anybody into the number one slot other than Bama. All the analysts say they haven’t really beaten anybody relevant yet, but don’t forget Florida State was the number three team in the nation when the Crimson Tide faced them in the season-opener and they were up 24-7 until the Seminoles’ starting QB had to be carted off. You can only play who’s in front of you and Alabama has dominated their competition. Offensively, their star players have always been a running back or at times a wide receiver over the last decade or so, but this year quarterback Jalen Hurts is their biggest play-maker. He certainly doesn’t scan the field long enough for my taste, before he decides to tuck the ball and run, but he keeps drives moving with his legs and can really stretch the field. Nick Saban’s defense saw six starters head to the pros, but this unit is still dominant. They shut down the run first and then they come up with turnovers when teams are forced to throw the ball on them. Once again, the are enforcing their will on opponents and are the only squad to give up less than ten points a contest. The problem for them is that injuries are starting to pile up for this defensive unit.


2. Georgia (9-0) Georgia

Nobody in America has a better running back trio than Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift. Those three have combined for just under 2000 yards rushing on what probably is the second-best ground attack behind Notre Dame’s. Jake Fromm wasn’t the starter on opening day, but he hasn’t looked back since being inserted for the injured Jacob Eason after less than a half of play. The Bulldogs’ coaches have taken a lot of pressure off him by running the ball on 72 percent (!) of their offensive snaps. He has repayed them with consistent play and very limited turnovers. As far as the passing game goes, they only have two players with more than 200 yards receiving, but they have already come up with big catches in crucial moments. While putting up 36.6 a contest themselves, Georgia’s defense is ranked third overall in points allowed with 11.8. Inside linebacker Roquan Smith is one of my favorite players to watch because of his tenacious style of play. Safety Dominick Sanders is one interception short of the program’s all-time record with 15 one them. His partner in crime at safety – J.R. Reed – is a very important asset to the Bulldog defense as well, as he lines up in multiple spots for them and makes plays. I like the guys on the edges and they just don’t let opponents come back against them.


3. Notre Dame (8-1) Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish’s extremely physical offensive line sets the tone for this team. Left tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson might be the top guys at their respective position in all of college football right now, as they have dominated basically everybody they’ve played against. QB Brandon Wimbush and RB Josh Adams are home-run threats, who just need a crease to break long runs and with the way they play up front, they have much more room than they even need. The rushing attack was most impressive in the second half versus N.C. State, when they wore out one of the strongest defensive lines in the nation. Their passing game is rather limited, but it hasn’t hurt them yet, as Notre Dame has been held under 300 rushing yards just twice this season. By far their worst performance was also their only loss, which came by one point to number one in the College Football Playoff rankings – Georgia. They only had 55 yards on the ground that game. It will be interesting to see what that number will look like if they can keep the train moving as a College Playoff contender and face on the top two teams in the nation – which are both among the five best in terms of rushing yards allowed.


4. Clemson (8-1) Clemson Logo

Kelly Bryant has picked off right where DeShaun Watson left off and Clemson’s lone loss came in a three-point game, in which their QB was knocked out. He definitely can’t be the same leader Watson was for them already, because that guy is just a rare breed, and the understanding of the game will come with experience, but Bryant is an even more dangerous threat with his feet and there’s no doubt he has the arm strength to break the wheels off folks. The jump-ball specialist Mike Williams is also off to the NFL, but they still have a deep threat in Deon Cain, the explosive Ray Ray McCloud and a clutch performer in Hunter Renfrow. Their young running backs have superstar traits and they rotate them more and more as the year goes. Until another close win over N.C. State on Saturday, the Tigers defense had allowed an average of less than 13 points per game. They have the most talented defensive line in the country, with all four of them being expected to hear their name called early on in next year’s draft. That front creates a bunch of negative plays (75 tackles for loss) and the unit allows only 15 points a game.


5. Oklahoma (8-1) Oklahoma

I know there’s a lot of worthy candidates, but to me there’s no question – right now Baker Mayfield is my Heisman trophy winner. He’s just crazy to watch. It seems like he is on the move constantly and has to make things happen off script, but in all the chaos around him, Mayfield keeps a clear head, makes the right decisions and spectacular plays. He leads the country in completion percentage and QB rating, despite averaging the most passing yards per attempt – a stupendous 11.8. Mayfield’s truly special and comes up the biggest when the stage is bright. On the receiving end, Oklahoma had to replace Dede Westbrook from a year ago and while it looked initially like the ball would be spread around more, Marquise Brown has established himself as the go-to-guy for them, especially after racking up 265 yards in a Bedlam shootout against Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma State. The Sooners have used multiple RBs to replace the likes of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Defensively they give up almost 30 points per contest in the high-scoring Big 12, but they have two star players on that unit with cornerback Jordan Thomas, who’s weaknesses in size and pure speed showed up at times on Saturday, and a force in edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo.


6. Miami (8-0) Miami

Until Saturday’s matchup with Virginia Tech, QB Malik Rosier has taken good care of the football as well as making big plays in the passing game. Losing star-back Mark Walton in their matchup with Florida State keeps me from putting the Canes any higher, but Travis Homer has fit in pretty nicely. I really like his power and balance, but he’s not the game-breaker Walton was for them. Ahmmon Richards has had his fair share of struggles with drops, but he is outstanding at creating separation and working the sideline, while Braxton Berrios is their security blanket they rely on in crucial spots. Defensively, they bring a lot of swagger and they’re extremely competitive with challenging each other to earn the turnover chain. The U’s linebacking corp is one of the best in the country and Shaquille Quarterman will certainly be an early-round selection in next year’s draft. Their corners are long and they dish out some heavy blows from the safety spots. Overall, I think this unit does a great job at squaring up their targets and running their feet through tackles. I like that Miami rotates bodies a lot to stay fresh on the defensive line and that has led in large part to their success in forcing the most tackles for loss per game.


7. Wisconsin (9-0) Wisconsin

This Badger squad is resilient and will always stay true to their gameplan, which is letting their big offensive line dominate at the point of attack and young star running-back Jonathan Taylor carry the load. Unfortunately, as quarterback Alex Hornibrook seemed to finally find his groove a bit at Indiana on Saturday, Wisconsin took another hit to an already banged up receiver group, with their leading receiver Qunitez Cephus possibly out for the rest of the year. Their most important pass-catcher is still tight-end Troy Fumagalli though, who they rely on in the biggest spots. Defensively, they are tough to move up front and get after people with their pass-rush. Even without their best player on that side of the ball in linebacker Jake Cichy, this unit has been flexing their muscles all year long. The Badgers have ten different defenders with three or more sacks and one of the most underrated safeties in the nation – D’Cota Dixon. It will take some time for them to take control of games, but at some point the opposing defense just gets tired, which results in long runs, and the Wisconsin defense comes up with turnovers to seal the deal. They lead all times in the country in time of possession and they really make their mark late in games when putting opponents away with their ground game.


8. TCU (8-1) TCU 2

That TCU defense is for real. They are number one in the country against the run as well as being among the top seven teams on third downs, in the red-zone and in terms of total points allowed. Those are all the statistics that really matter and they are even more impressive when you consider they play in the air-raid Big 12. Quarterback Kenny Hill has been terrific, completing 68 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns and just five INTs. The department the Horned Frogs have really had an advantage so far is the rushing attack, as they have outgained their opponents on the ground by more than 120 yards per game. I think they have handled their schedule very well until this point, as they have won at Oklahoma State, against West Virginia and at Kansas State by multiple scores. Their lone loss on the season came in a tough environment at Iowa State, as the Cyclones have outworked most of their competition, most importantly a huge upset over Oklahoma. As fortune holds it, TCU has a monster matchup with the Sooners on hand themselves, to decide who’s the biggest force in their conference. This will be an epic clash and I can’t wait to see if the Horned Frog defense can slow the smoking-hot Baker Mayfield.


9. Washington (8-1) Washington Logo

The Huskies just lost three starting defensive backs to the NFL, but they are still the number one defense in the country in terms of yards allowed and second in points surrendered. They are destroying folks up front. One of their biggest weapons is the FBS all-time record holder in punt return touchdowns – Dante Pettis – and he is also an excellent receiver. I like Washington’s big O-line and quarterback Jake Browning has quietly had an outstanding junior campaign after being in the Heisman trophy run for a while a year ago. Myles Gaskin is one of the very best running backs in college football, nobody really talks about. He is super-shifty to make the first man miss and once it’s time to get behind his pads and finish runs, he will keep his legs moving and get additional yardage every single time. The big debate with this Huskies team is about them not having played a single ranked team and they still already lost a game. Lucky for them, they will have a chance to get some more attention in the following weeks. They are set to face Stanford at their house, a team they dominated physically a year ago, Utah and Washington State, before getting to the Pac-12 Championship game against USC and one of the nation’s top QBs in Sam Darnold.


10. Auburn (7-2) Auburn

Auburn is kind of that SEC team saying – ‘Hey, what about us?’ And they are right. They still have Georgia and Alabama on their schedule over the final three of weeks of the regular season. At 7-2 they only have an outside chance of playing for the SEC title, but Alabama has to travel to Mississippi State this Saturday and face Auburn at their place for the regular season finale. If the Crimson Tide lost to the Bulldogs, these Tigers basically control their own destiny. Running back Kerryon Johnson is tied for third in the country with 16 total touchdowns, Jared Stidham has played better than any Tiger QB in years and they have outscored their opponents by 20 points per contest. Auburn’s two losses came in a low-scoring 14-6 affair at (back then) number three Clemson and by a tremendous comeback effort from their rivals LSU. Auburn doesn’t have that one dominant pass-rusher they’ve had in recent years, but they have gotten it done from multiple spots, having 12 players with two or more sacks. Carlton Davis has shut-down corner abilities and Jeff Holland has been a force with double-digit TFLs and four forced fumbles. The funny part about Auburn is the fact they could also finish the regular season with four losses and be completely out of the top 25.


11. Ohio State (7-2) Ohio State

After the Buckeyes’ comeback win over rival Penn State last week, I believed the Big 10 conference would be theirs for the taking, but they went into a really tough environment in Iowa and were outplayed badly. Quarterback J.T. Barrett didn’t look at all like the guy who led them to that epic win and who had thrown 22 touchdown compared to zero picks since their first defeat to Oklahoma. The Hawkeyes were all over the Ohio State signal-caller, forcing four interceptions, while their offensive line pushed around OSU’s talented-filled defensive line and Akrum Wadley ran wild on the them. So where do the Buckeyes go from here? They still have the most experienced and accomplished big-game quarterback, running back Mike Weber, who was expected to make a big jump coming into the year, has even been outplayed by freshman sensation J.K. Dobbins and their defense is loaded with NFL talents. I mean I didn’t know where to put three of their defensive linemen in my season-opening positional rankings, so I decided to put them all just outside the top five. I think the Buckeyes just need to really feed Dobbins the ball to impose their will. When they need Barrett to take over games he will do so more often than not. Their pass-rush can be dominant once they establish the lead and that’s when they can really take control of games. The Buckeyes have had some offensive inconsistencies heading into the year and now versus Iowa, but they are still the number one team in the nation in total first downs gained.


12. USC (8-2) USC Logo

No doubt, Sam Darnold’s statistics haven’t stood out over the first nine weeks, as he had thrown 20 touchdowns compared to ten picks, but when you watched him play Arizona in a big game for the Pac-12 crown, you can see why he’s talked about as the first overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. He can make throws maybe nobody else in the country can make and his problem as a sophomore have resulted from trusting his arm too much to make the big play every single time. Even though you think about the Trojans as an offense that airs it out time after time, it has been their rushing attack, that has impressed me the most so far. They are averaging over 200 yards on the ground and that number would be even higher if their offensive line hadn’t been banged up in recent weeks. Early in the season, when they faced Stanford, those five guys took it to one of the most physical defensive fronts in college football. Ronald Jones is a superstar, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. On defense they have had their problems stopping teams, who aren’t really offensive juggernauts, but they have playmakers all over the field. Uchenna Nwosu might be most surprising breakout candidate in college football. In that contest with Stanford he disrupted everything and he has been a huge contributor ever since. Cameron Smith plays downhill from the middle-linebacker position, Marvell Tell is a hybrid defender with outstanding athleticism and even though Iman Marshall came into the year as the guy at cornerback, who didn’t get the credit he deserved across from Adoree Jackson, it has been his running mate Jack Jones, who was stolen the spotlight.


13. Michigan State (7-2) Michigan State

This Spartans team is no fluke. They have one of the top defensive units with a strong leader in middle in linebacker Joe Bachie. They are number three in the country in rushing yards allowed and held three of their Big 10 rivals to ten or less points – Iowa, Michigan and Indiana. On offense, Mark Dantonio’s troops run the ball down opponents’ throats and let QB Brian Lewerke make plays in big spots. Felton Davis has been on the receiving end on most of those and he has come up huge for them on several occasions. Michigan State now has won at Michigan and versus Penn State, a game in which Saquon Barkley was limited to just 63 yards rushing and they didn’t let him find the end-zone. Sparty is putting together quite an impressive resume and they are still in the hunt for winning the Big 10. They are tied with Ohio State on top of the East and will have a chance this upcoming weekend to move into the number one spot all alone. If they can win this match-up against the Buckeyes in Columbus and end up as conference champions over Wisconsin, the committee will be in a precarious spot, having a two-loss team with that many big wins over highly ranked opponents. The margin for error is slim though, as MSU has outscored their opponents by just 36 points over the course of the season.


14. Penn State (7-2) Penn State

It’s crazy to see Penn State, who was number two in the AP rankings less than two weeks ago, move down this far after two heartbreaking defeats. They let Ohio State come back on them, despite leading by 15 with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and then got to know what kind of a fistfight Michigan State gets their opponents into. Unfortunately, I don’t see how the committee could change their minds about the Nittany Lions over their final three match-ups against Rutgers, Nebraska and Maryland. They still have the top offensive weapon in the country with Saquon Barkley, tight-end Mike Gesicki is a matchup nightmare for them and I think they have to expose opponents even more by singling him out and wide receiver DeaSean Hamilton has been a big-play machine for that unit. Nobody really talks about the Penn State defense, but they allow less than 15 points a game and have forced 21 turnovers. With a 2-2 division record and the two teams above them having handed them those two Ls, the Lions won’t get a chance to change voters’ minds in the Big 10 championship game either and it would take the winner of the Spartans – Buckeyes matchup to lose to Wisconsin, for them to even be looked at as the second-best team out of their own conference.


15. Oklahoma State (7-2) Oregon State

Man, was that a back-and-forth shootout-game in Stillwater on Saturday. The Cowboys and Sooners put up a combined 114 points and close to 1500 total yards on offense. Mason Rudolph is clearly one of the top three quarterbacks in college football and his receiving corp easily is the most well-rounded in college football. They feature size, speed and just pure playmaking ability. That was really on display versus Oklahoma, as the nation’s top receiver James Washington left the game with an ankle injury after the first half and the Cowboys still marched up and down the field until finally getting stopped on the game-deciding drive. An underrated asset to this high-scoring machine has been running back Justice Hill, who broke the 1000-yard mark once again on Saturday. The OSU defense is ranked 79th out of 130 quailfied schools in points allowed, but they are tied for fourth in interceptions with 14 of them and came up with one in the final minutes of that Bedlam classic, which put Rudolph and the offense back out on the field, down a field-goal. The Cowboys find themselves in a similar situation to Penn State, as they have a 4-2 conference record and the two teams they lost to are above them in the standings. So no matter who wins the direct match-up, Oklahoma and TCU will play themselves in the Big 12 championship game, if they don’t stumble on their way.


16. UCF (8-0) UCF

These Knights can strike just like that and score on any given play. They are fifth in the country in total yards on offense with 540 and first in terms of points, with a mind-boggling 48.5 per game. Their top two backs have less than 800 yards rushing combined, but Adrian Killins is averaging 8.6 yards a carry and quarterback McKenzie Milton is really pushing the ball down the field with 11.1 yards per attempt and a touchdown-to-INT ratio of 4:1. UCF has some struggles defensively in terms of clean tackling, but they give up just 20 points a contest, which has them beating teams by almost 30 a week, and the D has come up with three touchdown themselves already. The Knights’ biggest problem so far have been penalties, as they give up more than 70 yards for free each game. Coming from the American conference, they haven’t really played anybody relevant yet and they were in quite some trouble Saturday at SMU after blowing out their competition over the last few weeks. Lucky for them, they could really make a name for themselves in a regular-season finale versus South Florida and more than likely a conference championship game versus another top 20 team as of right now – Memphis.


17. Virginia Tech (7-2) Virginia Tech

Last Saturday’s 28-10 loss at Miami was by far the Hokies’ worst game of the season and their stars played particularly bad in that matchup. Freshman QB Josh Jackson is the future of this program and the reason they should be contenders or the ACC for the time he decides to spend there. Unfortunately, he hasn’t really had a running game to complement him, as leading rusher Travon McMillian has amassed just over 400 yards. The one guy Jackson can certainly rely on, is wide receiver Cam Phillips, who has caught seven or more passes in five of their nine games. Virginia Tech’s secondary might be the most talented in the entire nation. I’m a big fan of Adonis Alexander, but he clearly wasn’t right versus the Hurricanes and got beaten a couple of times, which is really uncharacteristic for number 36. Watch him in the season opener versus West Virginia and you get what kind of a baller he is. Especially on the Mountaineers final drive, when he basically sealed the deal for the Hokies. Tremaine Edmunds is a unique linebacker at 6’5’’ and one of five players on that defensive unit with seven or more tackles for loss.


18. Mississippi State (7-2) Mississippi State

Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has been the undisputed leader for the Bulldogs, but the way he goes has determined how far they go. The team has dominated the competition in all their wins, including a 37-7 beatdown of LSU, in which their signal-caller threw 12 TDs compared to 6 INTs, but they were blown out by both Georgia and Auburn by a combined score of 80-13 – two games Fitzgerald put up just one score and four interceptions. He certainly needs some more help from the running game though, as he leads the team in rushing with over 800 yards. Defensively they have some studs up front, who can get after the passer. Sophomore Jeffery Simmons is on his way to becoming an absolute monster on that unit and at times he has shown off the dominance he’s capable of. The Bulldogs’ two losses came on the road, as they have been tremendous at home in front of their fans, outscoring the opposition 200 to 47. This young Mississippi State squad has a huge test at their house coming up though, as Big Bad Bama comes to visit. If they can shock the world and Auburn wins against Georgia this weekend, we are set for a classic between the Crimson Tide and Tigers to decide the SEC West in the regular-season finale.


19. Washington State (7-2) Washington State

Luke Falk was one of my darkhorse Heisman candidates heading into the season and he has been the same efficient high-volume passer he has been ever since earning the starting gig as a freshman. So far, he has completed over 68 percent of his 410 passes for almost 3000 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight picks. He spreads the ball around a lot and I didn’t read through the numbers of every single FBS team, but I’m pretty sure they are the only one with six players topping 350 yards receiving. On the other side of the ball, they probably have the man with the greatest possible name for a defensive player – Hercules Mata’afa. That dude has been a force to be reckoned with – having recorded a mind-boggling 16.5 tackles for loss already. The Cougars defense still allows almost 23 points per game, but they don’t let opponents walk up and down the field on them anymore and they are outstanding in two areas – they are second in the country in percentage of third down conversions allowed and they get after loose balls very well – ten fumbles recoveries until now.


20. Michigan (7-2) Michigan

I think it’s kind of funny nobody talks about Michigan ever since rival Penn State beat them decisively by 42-13. I know they are out of the Big Ten race with their second loss being at home to Michigan State, but how are we need talking about the Wolverines at all? Their defense is phenomenal. They are ranked fourth in TFLs per game, third in percentage of 3rd down-conversions allowed and fourth in total yards surrendered. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst has been the most disruptive player in the trenches nationally for my money and linebacker Devin Bush has been playing like a man possessed all year long. When you shift the focus more to the offensive side of the ball, there are certainly some concerns. Michigan has been dealing with inconsistent quarterback-play throughout the season, but that big O-line has been imposing their will on multiple defensive fronts. There have been games where the Wolverines ran the ball ten times straight and didn’t even think about mixing the play-calling up a bit. Most impressively, they have been rushing for almost 220 yards a game despite not having anything like a featured back and that was on full display Saturday versus Minnesota, when their top two rushers – Karan Higdon and Chris Evans – had 200 and 191 yards respectively.


21. Memphis (8-1) Memphis

The Memphis offense is very explosive, putting up the sixth-most points per game in the country. They average over eight yards per pass play and 5.2 yards a rush- Anthony Miller has established himself as one of the top receivers in college football due to excellent route-running with good speed in and out of his breaks. On defense, they allow more than 30 points a game, but they always find themselves in high-scoring affairs and have some play-makers on that unit. Austin Hill and Terrell Carter both have three picks from the secondary, while linebacker Genard Avery has been playing downhill all season long, with 14 tackles for negative yardage. To me the Tigers are certainly a tier below UCF and that showed up when they were blown out 40-13 by the Knights, but with quality wins versus UCLA, Navy and at Houston, they have turned their program around after a rather disappointing 8-5 season a year ago and will represent the West in the AAC championship game.


22. South Florida (8-1) South Florida

Quinton Flowers and the USF passing offense won’t march down the field methodically on people, they want to stress defenses vertically and that has led to a completion percentage of just 55.5 for the QB. When that possibility to attack deep doesn’t present itself, Flowers doesn’t mind taking off and he’s a huge part of their ground attack, being less than 30 yards behind their leading rusher on the ground. The Bulls defense is ranked second in the country respectively with 17 interceptions and 78 tackles for loss on the year. They have doubled the points of their opponents throughout the season and those numbers aren’t a result of a couple of huge wins, this has been a consistent theme. Other than their lone loss to Houston a couple of weeks ago, they have only had one game decided by a touchdown or less. Outside of that, they have been beating up on the American conference competition pretty bad so far. In the regular season finale, South Florida will square off with UCF to prove they are the top team out of the Eastern division.


23. N.C. State (6-3) N.C. State

I know N.C. State was ranked 20th in the nation a week ago, but I see no reason to drop them too far after barely losing another close game to number four Clemson. Quarterback Ryan Finley has been very consistent for the Wolfpack and he takes good care of the football (only three INTs compared to 15 touchdowns), Nyheim Hines is a nice one-cut-and-go runner, who will burst through contact and Jaylen Samuels is an extremely versatile weapon, having racked up 727 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns up to this point. N.C. State has one of the most dominant defensive fronts. Bradley Chubb is an absolute stud, who doesn’t mind throwing around his body to create a mash before plays even have a chance to get going. Their season-opening loss to South Carolina hurt, but the Wolfpack has had a really tough schedule with Florida State ranked 12th, Louisville 17th, Notre Dame 9th and now Clemson 4th at the moment they were facing them. Their total point margin isn’t as impressive as some of the top above them, but considering the quality of competition, I think they deserve to make the cut.


24. Iowa (6-3) Iowa

The Hawkeyes haven’t consistently run the ball down the throat of their opponents, but that O-line really took it to Ohio State’s star-studded defensively line Saturday. When they push around people in the run game and give Akrum Wadley space to operate, they are dangerous. That running back is a nightmare in the open field and people will finally start talking about him at some point. Quarterback Nathan Stanley has put up an impressive TD-to-INT ratio of 22-to-4, with five scores and no picks respectively coming versus two vaunted defenses in Iowa State and Ohio State. Iowa has two special weapons in the passing game in reliable possession target Matt Vanderberg and athletic move tight-end Noah Fant. The defense always plays with a ton of pride and they feed off the heart of their unit in Mike linebacker Josey Jewell. He has been a force in the middle for them, shutting down the run and coming up with several plays on the ball in coverage. Joshua Jackson has been a ball-hawk for the Black and Gold from his cornerback position with five interceptions on the year, including an incredible one-handed snag on the goal-line versus Ohio State last Saturday.


25. Iowa State (6-3) Iowa State.png

The Cyclones aren’t a team that will steal games despite only playing a mediocre game, they have to be on point and outwork their opponents. That formula has served them well though, as they have handed the top two seeds in the Big 12 their only losses respectively. The rise of QB Kyle Kempt has been a revelation. That guy came out of nowhere after walking on at Iowa State coming off three years on the scout-team of a community college. Iowa State wants to keep the score low and grind out victories. Unfortunately, the Cyclones couldn’t pull off the W in Morgantown on Saturday and pretty much took themselves out of the Big 12 race. The Cinderella story had to end at some point. The bright spot for them is that they have the chance to beat the third big team in their conference in Oklahoma State this weekend to qualify themselves for a major bowl game. I put this team above West Virginia, who just defeated them at home, simply based on the fact ISU have proven they can beat some of the top programs in the country.



 

Just outside: West Virginia, Arizona, Stanford, LSU, Toledo

 

 


 

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