Even as chaos overtook the college football landscape in a wild Week 10, the five teams at the top of the Pigskin Rating System team rankings remained exactly the same. Among that crew is three of the five remaining undefeated Power Five teams, with only Oklahoma State (10th) and Iowa (21st) remaining outliers according to the calculations.
We are beginning to see the numbers normalize as the schedules play out, with teams that seemingly were rated far too highly suddenly looking like they are exactly where they should have been all along. Then again, we are also seeing some teams rated far higher or lower than they ostensibly should be as well, which is half the fun of the exercise that is calculating out rankings on a set system. The numbers often feel counterintuitive even to the person who set up the system.
Oklahoma remains the top-ranked team, its loss to Texas fading into obsolescence as the Longhorns at least maintain a veneer of mediocrity and they continue to obliterate competition week after week. Sitting in second despite being undefeated, Baylor will have a chance to make its case directly as the Bears host the Sooners next Saturday.
Ohio State, defending national champions, continue to weather the loss of offensive coordinator Tom Herman (to the Houston job, where he is the only remaining undefeated mid-major coach) and the musical chairs game that Urban Meyer is playing with his quarterbacks to remain undefeated. They are now the clear favorite in the Big Ten East, with Michigan State’s controversial loss to Nebraska (though the PRS was always skeptical of the Spartans, who were rated 30th prior to the loss and kept them in that spot after the defeat).
Clemson, ranked first overall by the College Football Playoff selection committee, remains behind Alabama in the PRS rankings despite having one fewer loss — and it isn’t by an insignificant margin, either. The Tigers are closer to falling out of the top 10 than rising up into the first four, though luckily their win over Florida State this weekend will keep them on the CFP committee’s radar and in the playoff picture.
The committee ultimately has the final power and the final responsibility in deciding which teams will make the cut. But for all of the “wins over .500” and the “top-25 victories” and the “quality wins” that will be discussed at each Tuesday press conference, there is no objective criteria that fans can track like the much-maligned BCS actually did offer. Instead we are left to try to create our own sense out of the quagmire, and here is one guess based on several key aspects of football success and failure.
Here are some random takeaways from the Week 10 PRS rankings:
- Other than Houston, which actually fell four spots despite ending the weekend of attrition as the only remaining undefeated team, the PRS rankings are highest on a familiar Cinderella that had been largely left for dead earlier this season. Boise State is once again the favorite to play in the MWC championship game from the Mountain Division after Utah State lost its second conference game at New Mexico on Saturday. The showdown in Boise on November 20 against Air Force will essentially decide the division, barring calamity against the Lobos next weekend.
- Things have finally normalized enough in the rankings so that Stanford has finally vaulted above the USC squad they had defeated in Los Angeles back in September. The Cardinal will ensure their spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a win over Oregon next weekend or Cal the week after, and are now left to hope that Utah runs its own table to provide the best possible matchup in the conference title game. Northwestern’s win over Penn State definitely helped Stanford, given that their only loss came on the road to the Wildcats in the season opener.
- The conference with the most teams in the top 25 is no surprise, though the SEC’s primacy in that statistic is bolstered by teams that are hovering in the lower half of that list. In terms of average ranking, the Big 12 features the best quartet of teams. Here is the full breakdown by conference:
- SEC: 6 (#4 Alabama, #7 Ole Miss, #15 Mississippi State, #17 Florida, #18 LSU, #24 Georgia)
- Big 12: 4 (#1 Oklahoma, #2 Baylor, #10 Oklahoma State, #11 TCU)
- ACC: 4 (#5 Clemson, #19 North Carolina, #22 Florida State, #23 NC State)
- Pac-12: 4 (#8 Stanford, #9 USC, #16 UCLA, #25 Utah)
- Big Ten: 3 (#3 Ohio State, #6 Michigan, #21 Iowa)
- Independent: 1 (#12 Notre Dame)
- AAC: 1 (#13 Houston)
- Mountain West: 1 (#14 Boise State)
- MAC: 1 (#20 Bowling Green)
You can scroll through the full rankings below, including the breakdown of each category calculated in the Pigskin Rating System. To brush up on the methodology used in the rankings, click here.