6. Colorado State Rams (3-1/MAC)
- LAST WEEK: 16th
- WEEKEND RESULT: won 24-21 at Boston College
- NEXT GAME: October 4 v. Tulsa
The loss to Boise State and the Broncos’ subsequent collapse against Air Force doesn’t help Colorado State’s case to contend for the mid-major berth, as it leaves the Rams buried in fifth place in the MWC Mountain Division after five weeks. But with a win over Colorado already checked off, CSU did one better this weekend by going to Boston and knocking off an Eagles team that had previously shattered USC on its home turf. But this time it was the Rams that did the obliterating, ruining Boston College’s momentum in the polls. They’ll have to get a lot of help in their division if they are to meet the CFP stipulations about the highest-rated of the Group of Five conference champions earning the automatic bid, but the combination of a neutral-site win over a Pac-12 rival and a road trip to knock off an ACC team that had its own statement win over a Pac-12 foe bolsters their case if the Rams can reach the MWC championship.
7. Cincinnati Bearcats (2-1/AAC)
- LAST WEEK: 3rd
- WEEKEND RESULT: lost 50-28 at Ohio State
- NEXT GAME: October 4 v. Memphis
So the Bearcats couldn’t upset Ohio State, and in the great wheel of results they’re mired behind East Carolina both in their own conference as well as in public perception. (Cincinnati < Ohio State < Virginia Tech < East Carolina, goes the equation.) Of course, Cincinnati will get its chance to close that loop when they face the Pirates in prime time on November 13, and they also have a road trip to face Miami in two weeks. If they beat the Hurricanes, they can save face after falling flat against one of the Big Ten’s better squads. Of course, first Tommy Tuberville’s crew has to get past a tough Memphis squad that has tested UCLA and Ole Miss. Gunner Kiel has looked as good as advertised, tossing four touchdowns without a pick against the Buckeyes and already over 1000 yards for the season. But the offense lacks balance, ranking 112th in rushing, and the defense has given up 36 points per game so far. If they are to survive the AAC gauntlet, the Bearcats must shore up those weaknesses fast.
8. Air Force Falcons (3-1/MWC)
- LAST WEEK: 15th
- WEEKEND RESULT: won 28-14 v. Boise State
- NEXT GAME: October 4 v. Navy
They pulled off the result nobody saw coming this weekend to stay alive in the MWC Mountain Division. Forcing seven turnovers, the Falcons then leaned on their offense to build a 28-0 lead before allowing two late Boise State touchdowns in the upset. With the other service academies on their annual schedule, Air Force did itself no favors by scheduling Nicholls State and Georgia State as its non-conference opponents. But if they can win the Commander-in=Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 2011 with wins over the Midshipmen and the Black Knights, it would bode well for their chances. They still need a Wyoming loss in MWC play, though, to have a shot at forcing the selection committee’s hand, and there are still conference games against Utah State, Nevada, San Diego State, and Colorado State that could all be potential stumbling blocks. They’re on the radar for now, but there is still a steep climb to be navigated if Air Force is to make serious noise.
9. UL-Monroe Warhawks (3-1/SUN)
- LAST WEEK: 9th
- WEEKEND RESULT: won 22-20 v. Troy
- NEXT GAME: October 4 at Arkansas State
Louisiana-Monroe didn’t lose this weekend, but they came far too close to losing to gain any ground in this week’s Power Ranking. A two-point home win against Troy, when accounting for home-field advantage, is tantamount to a defeat, and the Warhawks have zero margin for error at this point after being shut out by LSU. A trip to face three-time defending Sun Belt champion Arkansas State is next on the schedule, so we should know more about whether ULM is prepared to carry the mantle for its conference this season. With every other Sun Belt team sporting at least two losses, and the league already mired at the bottom of the pecking order, more than one loss will likely be too large an impediment for the conference’s champion to surmount. Thus ULM needs to start taking better care of business — easier said than done for a team that is ranked 115th in scoring — lest the Sun Belt become an afterthought in the first season of the CFP and its attendant access for mid-majors.
Dropped from Last Week
- Memphis Tigers (2-2/AAC, lost 24-3 at Ole Miss)
- Boise State Broncos (3-2/MWC, lost 28-14 at Air Force)
- UAB Blazers (2-2/C-USA, lost 34-20 v. FIU)
- Wyoming Cowboys (3-2/MWC, lost 56-14 at Michigan State)
- UTEP Miners (2-2/C-USA, lost 58-28 at Kansas State)
- Old Domnion Monarchs (3-2/C-USA, lost 41-28 v. Middle Tennessee)
- Western Michigan Broncos (2-2/MAC, lost 35-17 at Virginia Tech)