2015 College Football Rankings, Predictions, and Mid-season Review – Week 8

Remember way back before the season started? Remember when everyone said Auburn was going to be a playoff team? Remember when Oregon was supposed to not be terrible?

Those were good times. Now that we’re at the halfway point, it’s time to look back on all of those hideous choices and see where to go from here.

First, here will be your first playoff rankings when they come out on November 3. I don’t know what the order will be, but this will definitely be the top 4:

Baylor, Ohio State, LSU, TCU

Just outside will most likely be: Michigan State, Alabama, Clemson, Utah

So many things can still happen.

For one thing: Baylor/TCU, Ohio State/Michigan State, and LSU/Alabama still have to play each other. If Alabama wins, that will eliminate three undefeated teams.

Clemson and Utah should go undefeated before their conference title games, considering they play one total currently ranked team (Clemson plays #9 Florida State). Utah is on track to face #10 Stanford in the Pac-12 title game and Clemson is on track to face #23 Duke or #25 Pittsburgh in the ACC title game. Stanford can win out and take Utah’s place, but if Clemson loses, the ACC is just out (if Florida State isn’t undefeated).

However, I will say that Utah should be on upset alert this week against USC.

Here is my top 10 as of now, with a look at their season so far, and a look at their future.

1. Baylor

Easily the best team in the country right now. They don’t need a defense because their offense will outscore anyone. I’d be interested to see them against an SEC team, but I don’t think anyone can stop them. They are 100% going to be in the playoff, with the only possible slip-up coming against TCU on November 27th.

Preseason AP Ranking: #4
Current AP Ranking: #2

Best Win: West Virginia 62-38
Losses: None

Ranked teams upcoming: #17 Oklahoma (11/14), #14 Oklahoma State (11/21), #4 TCU (11/27)

2. LSU

As of now, easily the best SEC team, and they survived a scare against a Florida team on their second strong QB (although one of the better “back-ups” in the league). There is really only one reason people are hyped up on them, and that is Leonard Fournette. Their defense is just ok, giving up 20+ points to teams like Auburn, Syracuse, Eastern Michigan and South Carolina. They rank #123 in passing yards, but that’s probably because they rank #6 in the running game. Their only real tests left are Texas A&M and Alabama. They should be able to handle Ole Miss fine if they just don’t fumble the ball 100 times like Alabama did.

Preseason AP Ranking: #14
Current AP Ranking: #5

Best Win: #13 Florida 35-28
Losses: None

Ranked teams upcoming: #8 Alabama (11/7), #24 Ole Miss (11/21), #15 Texas A&M (11/28)

3. Ohio State

While shaky at times, Ohio State is still undefeated, so you have to give them credit. They have many hard games coming up against Michigan, Michigan State, and most likely Iowa in the Big Ten title game. They haven’t really beaten anyone of note, but they have struggled against teams they shouldn’t have struggled against. They won’t have anything in the loss column, but they have lost a few eye tests. There is a reason they started with every #1 vote in the AP Poll and now have lost more than half of them and are barely ahead of Baylor.

Preseason AP Ranking: #1
Current AP Ranking: #1

Best Win: Penn State 38-10
Losses: None

Ranked teams upcoming: #7 Michigan State (11/21), #15 Michigan (11/28)

4. Alabama

Despite the loss, which now looks more and more like a fluke after Ole Miss lost to Memphis this weekend, Alabama has been pretty darn impressive on the road this season. Only two true road games this season and they both were against top 10 teams, Derrick Henry broke his own career rushing records both games, the defense scored FIVE touchdowns, and put up around 40 points in each game. Hard to overlook that. Alabama is playing like one of the best teams in the country, and have finally seemed to get everything together on offense. They have plenty more chances to show off, especially against LSU on November 7.

Preseason AP Ranking: #3
Current AP Ranking: #8

Best Win: #15 Texas A&M 41-23
Losses: #24 Ole Miss 43-37

Ranked teams upcoming: #5 LSU (11/7)

5. Utah

Utah just has to stay the course. Since their shellacking of Oregon, they have played a couple of close games against Cal and Arizona State. They have definitely been the better team in those games, but certain things have made you question whether they are really as good as the team that beat Oregon looked. More so than their win over Oregon, a week one win over Michigan is really their defining win now, and if that game was played now, I’m not sure Utah would win. Being a Thursday night opener in Utah, things definitely went their way. They don’t have much of a road ahead, only USC and UCLA really pose any legitimate threat, but we’ll see where they are when the rankings come out.

Preseason AP Ranking: Unranked
Current AP Ranking: #3

Best Win: #15 Michigan 24-17
Losses: None

Ranked teams upcoming: None (regular season)

6. Iowa

Easily the most surprising team this year. Utah is a bit of a surprise, but they have been good in recent history. I can’t even remember the last time Iowa was good. I wasn’t ready to call them really legit until they thumped Northwestern this weekend. They also beat Wisconsin, who I saw against Alabama and while they aren’t a top ten team or anything, they are pretty good. Iowa should be able to finish 12-0 and have a date with Michigan State, Michigan or Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. If they get a big win there, look out.

Preseason AP Ranking: Unranked
Current AP Ranking: #12

Best Win: Northwestern 40-10
Losses: None

Ranked teams upcoming: None (regular season)

7. TCU

TCU has been a little lackluster as well this season, despite being undefeated right now. A close scare against teams like Texas Tech and Kansas State make you question the Horned Frogs a little bit. Their first game against Minnesota didn’t do much for anyone either. The only time they have looked super impressive was against Texas…which is Texas. So I’m still not sure what to think of them. Until they face Baylor, I don’t think we’ll know what they are made of.

Preseason AP Ranking: #2
Current AP Ranking: #4

Best Win: Texas Tech 55-52
Losses: None

Ranked teams upcoming: #14 Oklahoma State (11/7), #17 Oklahoma (11/21), #2 Baylor (11/27)

8. Clemson

One of only two potential teams that can sneak into the playoffs from the ACC. They have won their few tests so far, and don’t really have anything else outside of Florida State. There have been a few times they have looked vulnerable, such as against Louisville, but they are winning. There isn’t much to say about them other than if they beat FSU, they should be in, but that is as far as they will go. See FSU last year.

Preseason AP Ranking: #12
Current AP Ranking: #6

Best Win: #11 Notre Dame 24-22
Losses: None

Ranked teams upcoming: #9 Florida State (11/7)

9. Stanford

After their loss to Northwestern, Stanford has looked pretty good. The teams they have beaten have fallen on hard times since losing to them, but still a decent season so far nonetheless. They have a hard road at the end against Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame all in a row, but if they can get past that, they should set up a date against Utah in the Pac-12 championship.

Preseason AP Ranking: #21
Current AP Ranking: #10

Best Win: UCLA 56-35
Losses: Northwestern 16-6

Ranked teams upcoming: #20 California (11/21), #11 Notre Dame (11/28)

10. Michigan State

They should have lost this past weekend, but…I don’t even know what to say about that ending. It makes Alabama/Auburn’s kick six look like a routine end to a game. However, none of that matters because they ended up with the win. All they need to do is win out over a mostly weak schedule, and then of course Ohio State and they can have a chance to get in with a Big Ten title over most likely Iowa. Despite their undefeated record, their wins only include a fluke win over Michigan and a not-so-impressive-anymore close win over Oregon. We’ll see what happens when they face the Buckeyes.

Preseason AP Ranking: #5
Current AP Ranking: #7

Best Win: #15 Michigan 27-23
Losses: None

Ranked teams upcoming: #1 Ohio State (11/21)

Now, for this week’s picks.

Week Eight SEC Games

Alabama (-15.5) Tennessee

Arkansas (-5.5) Auburn

Missouri (-3) Vanderbilt

Ole Miss (-5.5) Texas A&M

LSU (-16.5) Western Kentucky

Mississippi State (-11) Kentucky

Week Eight National Games

USC (-3.5) Utah

Oklahoma (-14) Texas Tech

UCLA (-3.5) California

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Jon Lunceford is a sports media broadcaster and digital professional. Jon is a graduate of the University of Alabama school of journalism, and played football at Birmingham-Southern College. He has also won two AHSAA Football State Championships while at Homewood High School and was a two-time World Cyber Games Team USA representative. He currently hosts Primetime on WJOX 94.5 and runs the high school athletics site JoxPreps.