#20 Stanford: Rank = 19th, SOR = 19th, Power Ranking 5.0479
#19 North Carolina State: Rank = 15th, SOR = 22nd, Power Ranking 5.0789
#18 Washington: Rank = 13th, SOR = 21st, Power Ranking 5.1785
#17 Virginia Tech: Rank = 14th, SOR = 20st, Power Ranking 5.2024
#16 Iowa State Cyclones, 6-2 (3-1, Big 12)
Rank = 16th, SOR = 16th, Power Ranking 5.4479
↑(28) def. TCU 14-7
Ames is more than just the land of magical upsets this season as the Cyclones are sitting atop the Big 12 standings with control of the conference’s regular season crown and Oklahoma State looking like the biggest threat to the Cyclone’s capping off the biggest surprise of the 2017 college football season. Matt Campbell is likely to be the biggest name of the offseason for head-coaching positions. Our landing spot for Campbell should he decide to leave Iowa State? Tennessee seems like the logical spot when Butch Jones is inevitably fired by the Volunteers later this season. As pro-stick around people, we’re hoping Campbell sticks it out in Ames and tries to become a legend at Iowa State rather than leaping to a bigger program where its harder to succeed and ultimately can lead you down the path of a Butch Jones or Jim McElwain. Iowa State gets the Cowpokes this weekend in Ames for an opportunity to build on its already blossoming SOR and Cinderella status.
#15 Mississippi State Bulldogs, 6-2 (3-2, SEX-iest)
Rank = 22nd, SOR = 13th, Power Ranking 5.5849
↑(24) def. Texas A&M 35-14
The Bulldogs notched a second big win of the season over Texas A&M and this one was on the road at Kyle Field in College Station. Mississippi State looks forward to a game against giant-killer UMass this weekend in Starkville before Alabama comes calling the following weekend. The Bulldogs and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald are looking like a real threat to the Crimson Tide; although, no one has come too close to making Alabama even sweat this season. With Fitzgerald’s ability to move the ball both through the air and on the ground, Mississippi State has the offense to hang around with Buhmuh, but they will need to stuff an Alabama ground game that is averaging just a shade under 300 yards per game (298.8) which is good for seventh in the nation.
#14 Memphis Tigers, 7-1 (4-1 American)
Rank = 20th, SOR = 14th, Power Ranking 5.6105
↑(17) def. Tulane 56-26
Memphis has crawled its way into the RT16 this week, having to work hard following its loss to Central Florida; however, it should be noted that road loss (while a 27-point loss) doesn’t hurt the SOR too badly. The Golden Knights are coming up later on this list. Big wins over Navy and Houston (who just upset former unbeaten South Florida this weekend) help bolster Memphis’s strength of victories and there was the early season win over a middling California Los Angeles earlier this season when the Bruins had to travel to Memphis. Riley Ferguson accounted for 5 touchdowns five touchdowns and the Tigers eased through Tulane before going through its final three games against some lesser opponents; although, be wary of a Southern Methodist Mustang team which sits tied with Memphis atop the American Conference’s West division. The likely championship game which will be a rematch between the Golden Knights and the Tigers looks like the game to decide the Group of Five representative in the New Year’s Six Bowls.
#13 Miami (FL), 7-0 (5-0, ACC)
Rank = 11th, SOR = 15th, Power Ranking 5.9108
↓(7) def. North Carolina 24-19
A beaten down North Carolina Tar Heels team hung around with Miami being a weekly spread loser. Miami has lost three straight as spread favorites; however, they will likely open as underdogs to Virginia Tech even at home this upcoming weekend (I’m going to guess Va-Tech -5.5 or so). Miami might be the nation’s most overrated team, but if they keep winning we have no choice but to keep them around here in the RT16. The Hurricanes are one of the nation’s few remaining unbeaten teams and the only one in the Power Five outside of the SEC and Wisconsin. The Hokies defense will be the toughest test for a Miami offense which hasn’t scored over thirty the last few weeks. Look for another tight contest, but spoiler pick is Va-Tech over Miami next weekend.
#12 Oklahoma State, 7-1 (4-1, Big 12)
Rank = 7th, SOR = 12th, Power Ranking 6.3170
(-) def. West Virginia 50-39
Oklahoma State is quietly hanging around in Big 12 is now 7-1 and Mason Rudolph has played far better in the last few weeks (although he did struggle against Texas last weekend). The Cowboys are playing the famous Bedlam game versus the Oklahoma Sooners where College Gameday Drinking Game will be heading for the weekend. The game might decide one of the participants in the Big 12 Championship Game with the loser taking a massive step backwards and having any hopes for the College Football Playoff (TO THE SYSTEM) eliminated with a loss. Oklahoma State needs the statement win for both SOR sake and to make this season worth the weight it was given in the preseason. Lofty preseason expectations for the Cowpokes might be toilet swirling this time next weekend.
#11 Central Florida Golden Knights, 7-0 (4-0 American)
Rank = 12th, SOR = 10th, Power Ranking 6.3258
↑(15) def. Austin Peay 73-33
Central Florida! The Golden Knights smoked FCS Austin Peay outside of some hiccups during the second quarter with a fumble score and kickoff return for the Governors. Central Florida is far and away the favorite from the Group of Five following the South Florida loss to Houston AND should even garner some attention from the playoff committee if it remains undefeated in what is a tougher than assumed American Conference. The Golden Knights will have games against Memphis, Navy, Southern Methodist, South Florida, and likely another game against Memphis in the American Conference…a schedule which looks tougher than Wisconsin’s and Miami’s from the Power Five this season.
#10 Wisconsin Badgers, 8-0 (5-0, Big Ten)
Rank = 6th, SOR = 11th, Power Ranking 6.4209
↓(8) def. Illinois 24-10
So here is Wisconsin and its terrible Strength of Schedule which is only injured by Michigan’s sudden decline in value. Remember a few weeks back when the Wolverines surprising appeared at #2 in the RT16? It’s going to be tough for Wisconsin to make it into the Top 4 even with an undefeated record unless we see movement at the top like we saw this past weekend. Wisconsin tight-roped against Illinois, possibly the worst team in the entire Power 5, and will need to clean up its offensive mistakes with its “toughest” games coming versus Iowa and Michigan (notably both games will be played at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison). Alex Hornibrook and the Badgers do not look like a playoff team outside of the perfect 8-0 record. Wisconsin heads to Bloomington, Indiana to play another horrible Big Ten opponent and Cincinnati Elder High School graduate Peyton Ramsey.
#9 Oklahoma Sooners, 7-1 (5-1, Big 12)
Rank = 9th, SOR = 9th, Power Ranking 6.4924
↑(14) def. Texas Tech 49-27
Oklahoma looked much better this weekend against Texas Tech than Kansas State last weekend, especially once the first quarter went by. Baker Mayfield regained some form from some recent struggles and what looked like an upset possibility (especially after the Red Raiders jumped into a first quarter lead). Oklahoma will lean on its victory over Ohio State as it attempts to breach the playoff wall; however, the committee will struggle to pick the Sooners over teams like Notre Dame, Clemson, and a possible one-loss SEC Championship Game loser as well as the Buckeyes. The head-to-head victory matters, but Oklahoma certainly has not looked nearly as much a championship contender as the aforementioned teams since its victory in Columbus. 12-1 with only the loss to Iowa State SHOULD mean the Sooners are in, but Notre Dame might be the spoiler for both OU and Ohio State come December.
#8 Southern California Trojans, 7-2 (5-1, Pac-12)
Rank = 18th, SOR = 4th, Power Ranking 6.5819
↑(10) def. Arizona State 48-17
Southern Cal is the beloved sweetheart of our formula, continuing to defy its ranking through an excellent strength of record. The Trojans slipped slightly over the last two weeks in SOR (and therefore Power Ranking), but cling to a Top-8 standing and the only true hope of the Pacific 12 to make the playoff IF the rest of the nation goes as it should. Southern Cal needs unimaginable amounts of help to climb back into the sights of the committee starting with a loss by both Ohio State and Penn State, a loss by all the Big 12 frontrunners, and two losses by Notre Dame. With the Irish looking stout in the running game, Ohio State matching great defense with great offense, and the plethora of contenders in the Big 12; we’re putting USC’s chances at slim to none. A dangerous Arizona team plays in Los Angeles this upcoming weekend and represents USC’s last chance in the regular season for a big SOR addition.
#7 Texas Christian Horned Frogs, 7-1 (4-1, Big 12)
Rank = 10th, SOR = 7th, Power Ranking 6.7749
↓(2) lost Iowa State 14-7
Texas Christian felt the sting of a magical Ames atmosphere as the Iowa State Cyclones notched another impressive Big 12 win and left many wondering where the conference now looks for its playoff contender; unfortunately, many eyes should remain on the Most Horn-ed of Frogs as TCU has already beaten Oklahoma State and the Oklahoma Sooners still have to play both Okie State and Texas Christian before season’s end. A lot will be decided during the Big 12’s stretch run, but the playoff chances are starting to dwindle with Notre Dame, the Big Ten, the SEC, and Clemson all seeming to own a spot for the playoff. While TCU still owns the best resume in the Big 12, the conference may need to rely on Oklahoma’s win over Ohio State for its playoff bid.
#6 Penn State Nittany Lions, 7-1 (4-1, Big Ten)
Rank = 6th, SOR = 8th, Power Ranking 6.8097
↓(4) lost Ohio State 39-38
Honestly, the ending of the Ohio State – Penn State game was a Rasheed Wallace “Ball Don’t Lie” moment for us here at the Braintrust. Notably Ohio State supporters, we spent most of the game wondering how Penn State led for as long and by as much as they did in a game seemingly controlled on both sides of the ball by Ohio State. The obvious answer is special teams, but the Nittany Lions seemed to only “earn” 14 of its points via special teams. The rest they can thank Ohio State for with two fumbles (both capitalized for touchdowns), one correct overturn of an interception (a 50-50 overturn after it was ruled an interception on the play, but the right call in the end), and an atrocious pass interference call in the endzone which should have been an interception by Ohio State. Penn State’s offense looked flat and Saquon Barkley limped himself out of front-runner status in the Heisman as he was rendered useless most of the game outside of a big 36 yard tuddy and the opening kickoff. In the end, Penn State walked off the field with a close loss, but, and I mean this as truly as I can, bias aside did no look nearly as good as its counterpart in this game. Not all is lost for Penn State, but unless the SEC falls into disarray, Notre Dame loses, and the Big 12 truly embraces Bedlam, Penn State is all but eliminated from the playoff. It would need two Ohio State losses to Iowa, Michigan State, and Michigan (or I suppose Illinois) to find its way back to the Big Ten Championship Game. An unlikely scenario. It’s disappointing for a team which will likely miss the playoff for a second straight year despite great talent, but so is life when you play in the nation’s best division. Penn State, still likely to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl, finishes its three-game stretch against the best in Big Ten east with a visit to East Lansing this weekend.
#5 Alabama Crimson Tide, 8-0 (5-0, SEX-iest)
Rank = 1st, SOR = 7th, Power Ranking 7.0836
It’s definitely of note that Alabama simply doesn’t have the resume of the next four teams as we climb the RT16 rankings. The Tide were voted #1 in the subjective rankings, but its SOR placed it just inches behind both Clemson and Ohio State in power score. The Crimson Tide’s best win of the season is over Texas A&M (just lost by 21 to Mississippi State) and that big non-conference win over Florida State is looking worse each and every week. Yes, the injury to Francois is costing the Seminoles, but they still lost to Boston College. The Cardale Jones amendment of 2014 removes injury to a starting quarterback as an excuse for losing to teams you’re supposed to beat. Anyway, Alabama’s three toughest games and its best chance for improving SOR are in the coming weeks against Louisiana State, Mississippi State, and Auburn (with Mercer thrown in just for fun). The Tide will earn its way back into the Top-4 by winning those three contests.
#4 Clemson Tigers, 7-1 (5-1, ACC)
Rank = 8th, SOR = 2nd, Power Ranking 7.0871
↑(6) def. Georgia Tech 24-10
We don’t believe in Clemson. We’ve made it clear weekly in our picks against the spread. We continue to make it clear with our subjective ranking. It appears as if we’re the only ones who don’t believe in the Tigers as the rest of the nation continues to put them in the playoff regardless of the rest of the three teams AND seemingly picks the Tigers to appear in the National Championship Game against (usually) Alabama. The Tigers returned starting quarterback Kelly Bryant this week and logged less points than Miami (FL) did against Georgia Tech; meanwhile, the defense continues to stifle the triple-option soundly and this recovery game following the Tiger’s loss to Syracuse was needed after the Orange moved the ball extremely well. Clemson has another chance to prove us wrong with a visit from North Carolina State this weekend.
#3 Ohio State Buckeyes, 7-1 (5-0, Big Ten)
Rank = 3rd, SOR = 5th, Power Ranking 7.0981
↑(13) def. Penn State 39-38
All it took was one win and Ohio State leapt from the middle teens to the Top 4 simply by climbing over some losers (TCU, Clemson, and Penn State) and watching its SOR go from 17th to 5th in the blink of an eye. Ohio State’s strength uses Penn State as a foundation and the loss to Oklahoma is only a small subtracting figure from its overall SOR. The wins over middling teams aren’t helping much, but Rutgers has climbed ever so slightly (from the bottom 120 to now ranked in the top 90) and UNLV/Army also sit just high enough to make them more valuable than wins over the FCS. The Buckeyes have three more chances to buttress the SOV with WINS against Michigan State, Iowa, and Michigan. If the Buckeyes play on the level they did Saturday then there is absolutely nothing to worry about, but Iowa already took Penn State to the brink of defeat in Kinnick this season, so they will need to come out motivated against Iowa next week.
#2 Georgia Bulldogs, 8-0 (5-0, SEX-iest)
Rank = 2nd, SOR = 3rd, Power Ranking 7.3276
↑(3) def. Florida 42-7
Georgia’s domination of Florida left Jim McElwain (who just always rubbed us at the Braintrust the wrong way…he felt…like a bad father figure) without a job and now Georgia controls the SEC East without anyone on its tail. The Dawgs have South Carolina visiting on Sunday, but the biggest test comes the following week with a visit to Auburn. Georgia dominated Mississippi State earlier this season and squeaked a win out in South Bend, but the rest of the schedule isn’t nearly as tough as the rest of the nation would have you believe (I mean it is the SEC East). Don’t sleep on currently 6-2 South Carolina, but Georgia knows that Auburn is the biggest threat to its playoff position (outside of a potential SEC title fight with Alabama).
#1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 7-1 (IND)
Rank = 4th, SOR = 1st, Power Ranking 7.4245
↑(5) def. North Carolina State 35-14
Surprise, surprise as Notre Dame’s #1 ranked SOS finally pushes the Irish into the driver’s seat of the RT16. Notre Dame took care of business at home and the rest of the schedule looks a little easier than the surface tells. Stanford in Palo Alto is always tough and they still visit Miami (FL) in a playoff elimination game, but Notre Dame knows it can make the playoff simply by winning out (unless the committee favors either Oklahoma or Ohio State). An unstoppable physical play has Notre Dame reminding us of Irish teams from long ago rather than the stomped flat Brian Kelly and Charlie Weis Notre Dames we have come to know over the last decade. The Irish still have some work to do in 2017, but outside of Iowa State they are the biggest surprise of the college football season.