College Football Rankings 2013: Projecting Week 7's Top 25 Teams
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
With several tasty matchups on tap this weekend, the Week 7 college football rankings should undergo several changes.
Not only do five of the top seven teams play on the road, but three of the top eight face off against another ranked opponent. Upsets, blowouts and shootouts will be plentiful.
It all adds up to make Saturday a can’t-miss affair for college football fans.
Here’s how next week’s rankings should pan out.
Rankings from the latest AP Poll are used throughout this article
No. 25: Maryland (4-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 25
Week 6 Prediction: at No. 8 Florida State (L)
I know, I know, they lost. But hear me out.
A close loss against a top-ranked Seminoles team on the road shouldn’t drop the Terrapins too far. Given that three other teams dropped out of the rankings with losses, that gave way for Maryland to sneak back into the Top 25.
It’s pretty hard to argue against the team’s inclusion.
Head coach Randy Edsall deserves some props for the work he’s done with this football team thus far. It takes a lot of talent to turn around a program that had been 6-18 and lead it to the school’s first 4-0 start since 2001.
With a defense that ranks among the nation's best and one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks around in C.J. Brown, the Terrapins should have no problems becoming a frequent fixture in these rankings.
No. 24: Northern Illinois (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: NR
Week 6 Prediction: at Kent State (W)
Don’t remind Oklahoma that the Huskies are back in the Top 25.
After finishing 12-1 in 2012, Northern Illinois finished in the Top 16 of the BCS Standings, securing a berth in the Orange Bowl and giving the Sooners the boot. Unfortunately, the Huskies would go on to get crushed by Florida State, 31-10. But if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
While a victory over the Golden Flashes would move the team to 5-0, Northern Illinois’ biggest accomplishment came from thrashing Purdue 55-24 on the road. It marked the first time a MAC team has beaten two Big Ten foes in the same regular season.
Hey, you can’t knock the Huskies for a lack of effort in trying to boost their schedule.
No. 23: Nebraska (4-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: NR
Week 6 Prediction: vs. Illinois (W)
Amid all the turmoil surrounding head coach Bo Pelini, the Cornhuskers’ only loss of 2013 is to a stout UCLA squad.
Sure, the defense has been rather underwhelming thus far. However, the offense has performed well enough to give Nebraska a chance to win any game. That’s especially true about the team’s rushing attack.
Thus far, the Cornhuskers rank No. 14 in the nation, rushing for an average of 280.8 yards per game. Running backs Ameer Abdullah (465 YDS, 3 TD) and Imani Cross (198 YDS, 5 TD) lead the way.
While starting quarterback Taylor Martinez (turf toe) may not be able to suit up on Saturday, Nebraska’s run game will carry them past a weak Illini defense and back into the Top 25.
No. 22: Virginia Tech (5-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: NR
Week 6 Prediction: vs. North Carolina
Don’t look now, but head coach Frank Beamer and the Hokies are closing in on a 5-1 record. Chances 1-3 North Carolina get in their way? Slim.
It’s only so long that the pollsters can deny Virginia Tech its rightful spot in the Top 25.
While it’s no secret that watching the team’s offense could cure insomniacs—the Hokies rank near the bottom in scoring (94th), passing (99th) and rushing (90th)—Virginia Tech also has one heck of a defense. In fact, the unit ranks No. 4 in the nation, limiting opponents to just 241.2 yards per game.
The Hokies shouldn’t face another challenge in their schedule until dates with Miami and Maryland on Nov. 9 and 16. Then again, this is the same team that required three overtimes to put away Marshall.
If it wasn’t for the porous offense, there’s no telling just how good this Virginia Tech squad could be.
No. 21: Fresno State (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 23
Week 6 Prediction: at Idaho (W)
The Bulldogs are off to their best start since 2001, when the team began 6-0. Back then, the team was led by quarterback David Carr.
Ironically, this year’s Fresno State squad is also led by a Carr. More specifically, Derek Carr—David’s younger brother.
Just like his brother, Derek has been sensational through the air, throwing for 1,145 yards and 14 touchdowns (3 INT). He’s been the spark plug for upsets against Rutgers and Boise State—Carr totaled 916 yards and nine touchdowns (1 INT) in those games.
However, the Bulldogs' defense—No. 114 in scoring (38.8 PPGA) and No. 115 overall (487.8 YPGA)—could be the team’s ultimate downfall.
Regardless, don’t expect Fresno State to have a setback against the 1-4 Vandals.
No. 20: Oklahoma State (4-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 21
Week 6 Prediction: vs. Kanas State (W)
The loss to West Virginia all but stripped the Cowboys of their tag as Big 12 favorites. Not only that, it exposed the team’s weaknesses and liabilities.
Fortunately for Oklahoma State, the season is still young.
The Cowboys should pound the Wildcats, putting the rest of the conference on alert. With games remaining against Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Baylor, it’s still anybody’s title to win.
Although the ascension up the rankings may come slow, Oklahoma State must take the earlier loss and build on it.
More specifically, the team must find a run game. As it stands, quarterback J.W. Walsh is the team’s leading rusher with 234 yards and two touchdowns.
Sure, running back Jeremy Smith has six scores on the year. However, he also only averages 3.4 yards per carry. Discovering the run game is the key to getting the Cowboys back in the Top 15.
No. 19: Northwestern (4-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 16
Week 6 Prediction: vs. No. 4 Ohio State (L)
Leading up to the showdown against the Buckeyes, everything looked like it was falling in place for the Wildcats. The contest was at home, ESPN’s College GameDay would be in attendance and the team was returning last season’s leading rusher, Venric Mark.
Unfortunately, it all pales in comparison to Ohio State and a rejuvenated Braxton Miller.
Backed by a powerful running game, Northwestern should keep the game close. However, the team’s inexperience and turnover-dependent defense will come up just short.
Given the opponent and tightness of the game, the Wildcats should only drop a couple spots.
Furthermore, it will also showcase that this team should not be taken lightly moving forward.
No. 18: Texas Tech (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 20
Week 6 Prediction: at Kansas (W)
Is this a repeat of last year? If you recall, the Red Raiders began the season 4-0, only to finish 4-5 the rest of the way. Big 12 play proved to be the death of the team.
With a likely win against the struggling Jayhawks, Texas Tech will improve to 5-0. But who exactly has the team played? Who proves that the Red Raiders are worthy of an undefeated record and a spot in the Top 25?
OK, it’s true that TCU were ranked at the time. But beating a team that was already nursing a loss is hardly impressive at this point of the year. Not to mention, the Horned Frogs were without starting quarterback Casey Pachall.
However, credit must be given where credit is due. Texas Tech has looked great in its wins, ranking No. 3 in passing and No. 10 in scoring defense.
You can’t fault a team for underperforming opponents.
No. 17: Michigan (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 19
Week 6 Prediction: vs. Minnesota (W)
The Wolverines went into the bye week on a low note. The team struggled in back-to-back contests against Akron and Connecticut—teams with a combined record of 1-8.
You’d have to believe head coach Brady Hoke utilizes the week off to motivate his troops. To remind them that they’re still undefeated, but they won’t be for long unless they pick it up.
With that said, Michigan should come out and absolutely dominate the Gophers.
I don’t care that Minnesota is a respectable 4-1, that it boasts the nation's No. 23-ranked rushing attack or that Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner couldn’t toss a kernel of popcorn accurate into his mouth as of late. When the final whistle blows and the smoke clears, Michigan will appear, still unbeaten at 5-0.
Expect the team to load the box and exploit the Gopher’s No. 118 passing attack (111.2 YPG) while feeding them a healthy dose of Fitzgerald Toussaint.
I expect nothing but the Wolverines to turn it around in preparation for a tougher second half of the season and a push towards the Top 10.
No. 16: Baylor (4-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 17
Week 6 Prediction: vs. West Virginia (W)
The Bears have crushed the first three opponents on the schedule to the tune of 69.7-7.7. Granted, those opponents were Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe, but hat’s still pretty darn impressive.
Thus far, Baylor’s offense ranks among the best nationally, including total offense (1st), scoring (1st), passing (1st) and rushing (5th).
Although the Mountaineers should provide the Bears with the best defense they’ve faced—No. 37, allowing 345.4 YPG—Baylor should still come away victorious, rather comfortably.
Don’t expect an offensive showcase; however, quarterback Bryce Petty (1,001 YDS, 74.6 CMP%, 8 TD, 0 INT) and running back Lache Seastrunk (417 YDS, 6 TD) should still put in work for the Bears.
This is a team that could be on the cusp of winning its first Big 12 title.
No. 15: Miami (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 14
Week 6 Prediction: vs. Georgia Tech (W)
After letting the defense carry the load for the first couple of weeks, the Hurricanes offense has finally started to come around. The team has racked up 126 points over the last two games.
Regardless, Miami’s defense is why the team will be 5-0.
The Hurricanes have held opponents to just 12.5 points per game while ranking No. 10 in overall defense. But most impressively, the unit is No. 5 in turnovers gained with 13.
While the Yellow Jackets initially threatened to steal Miami’s claim as the “surprise of the ACC”, the team was recently exposed in a 17-10 loss to Virginia Tech. Expect the Hurricanes to take the defeat as a blueprint on how to stop Georgia Tech’s explosive run game—the Hokies limited the Jackets to just 129 yards on 42 carries (3.1 YPC).
Due to other results, Miami will drop down a spot. However, the team will get a chance to make a jump of its own when it clashes with Florida State on Nov. 2.
No. 14: South Carolina (4-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 13
Week 6 Prediction: vs. Kentucky (W)
Honestly, head coach Steve Spurrier could start himself at quarterback and the Gamecocks would still beat the Wildcats. However, whether or not the team will win on Saturday isn’t the question.
Moreso, it’s Spurrier’s decision on starting quarterback Connor Shaw.
The senior left South Carolina’s contest against UCF early after injuring his shoulder. Initially, he was expected to miss two-to-three weeks. But then Spurrier made a shock announcement on Tuesday, informing the media that Shaw was healthy to play.
But is it really worth rushing him back?
Sure, backup Dylan Thompson was subpar in relief—15-of-32 (46.9 percent), 261 yards and one interception. However, 1-3 Kentucky and its No. 97 scoring offense doesn’t really provide the biggest challenge.
If anything, Spurrier should focus more on road trips against Arkansas and Tennessee over the following two weeks.
Either way, the Gamecocks will come out on top. It’s just a matter of who will lead the team there.
No. 13: UCLA (4-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 12
Week 6 Prediction: at Utah (W)
The Bruins are undefeated, No. 12 in the AP Poll and boast the nation’s No. 2 offense. Yet nobody is speaking of them.
That should change with a Thursday-night win on the road against the 3-1 Utes.
With the entire college football world tuning in to find out whether UCLA is the real deal, expect the team to put together one of its finer performances. Quarterback Brett Hundley (1,005 TOT YDS, 10 TD) should once again steal the show.
Interestingly, the sophomore should meet a perfect counterpart in Utah’s quarterback Travis Wilson (1,369 TOT YDS, 14 TD).
For a Bruins defensive unit that is considered nothing more than solid, this game will be the perfect opportunity to raise its stock. As a result, defensive coordinator Lou Spanos will have his guys ready to step up to the challenge.
This win will certainly give the team its much-deserved attention.
However, it’ll be back-to-back road matchups with No. 5 Stanford and No. 2 Oregon later this month that will determine how much praise UCLA really deserves.
No. 12: Oklahoma (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Week 6 Prediction: vs. TCU (W)
Under the radar for most of the season, the win against Notre Dame propelled the Sooners back into the forefront of BCS discussions. However, the team still has some work to do to prove it’s deserving of national-title considerations.
Expect Oklahoma to take the first step by dominating the Horned Frogs over the weekend.
Backed by the comforts of the Norman faithful, and going up against the nation’s No. 76 pass defense, Sooners quarterback Blake Bell should continue his sensational play. The junior has thrown for 683 yards and six touchdowns (0 INT) on 71.2-percent passing during his two starts.
Oklahoma’s No. 6 scoring defense should also get the opportunity to flex its muscle.
Without starting quarterback Casey Pachall, TCU’s offense has struggled. The unit has fared pretty poorly, ranking No. 94 in passing, No. 84 in rushing and No. 66 in scoring.
It’ll be another walk in the park for head coach Bob Stoops as he gears up his team for this year’s installment of the Red River Rivalry against Texas’ woeful attempt at fielding a football team.
No. 11: Stanford (4-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 5
Week 6 Prediction: vs. No. 15 Washington (L)
The Cardinal may have been last year’s feel-good story. However, this time around, the team is playing the role of the annoying relative, overstaying their welcome. In fact, if it weren’t for Louisville, Stanford would own the distinction as the one Top-10 team most undeserving of its spot.
Against the Huskies, the team will finally be kicked out on the curb.
Yes, the game is played at Stanford stadium. However, it is also against a Washington team that is very good on both sides of the ball.
In comparison, the Cardinal possess a defense that is full of holes. Most noticeably, the unit struggles to stop the pass and force turnovers. Offensively, Tyler Gaffney (377 YDS, 5 TD) may make the run game respectable, but Stanford still ranks No. 77 in passing, averaging just over 220 yards per game.
It all adds up to a recipe for disaster.
With what should be a convincing loss at home, it’ll be no surprise to see the Cardinal drop six spots and out of the Top 10.
No. 10: Washington (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 16
Week 6 Prediction: at No. 5 Stanford (W)
It was a little over a year ago when the Huskies topped the then-No. 8 Cardinal 17-13.
Back then, Washington was a team still healing from a 41-3 shellacking by LSU. The win would prove to be the team’s highlight of 2012, as it would go 4-5 the rest of the way.
Funny how much can change in 12 months.
This year, the Huskies come in boasting the nation’s No. 5-ranked offense and a borderline, Top-10 defense. Running back Bishop Sankey leads the nation in yards per game (151.8) and quarterback Keith Price is one of the most efficient signal-callers in the country (173.6 QB rating).
In 2013, a win against Stanford would surely be a highlight. However, it would only be the first of many to come in what’s setting up to be a very promising season for Washington.
No. 9: LSU (5-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 10
Week 6 Prediction: at Mississippi State (W)
Following a heartbreaking 44-41 loss to Georgia in Week 5, expect the Tigers to take out their pain and frustration on the SEC cellar-dwelling Bulldogs.
Sure, the loss definitely hurts. However, LSU still has a lot to play for. Especially since Georgia isn’t in the same division.
If the Tigers win out—that’ll include games at Alabama and against Texas A&M—the SEC West title and a spot in the conference championship will be theirs. It could also mean a rematch with Georgia.
There’s no doubt LSU is far from out of it. As we’ve seen in recent years, a one-loss SEC champion is viewed just as good or better than an undefeated team from any other conference.
No. 8: Texas A&M (4-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 9
Week 6 Prediction: bye
Heading into the bye week, the Aggies have a lot to be proud of.
For starters, the team has one of the most prolific offenses in the country. Among the accomplishments, Texas A&M ranks No. 4 in total offense, No. 5 in passing and No. 6 in scoring.
The team also has last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel under center.
Through five games, the sensational sophomore has accounted for 1,803 yards and 17 touchdowns both through the air and on the ground. He’s also connected frequently with wide receiver Mike Evans (691 YDS, 28 REC, 5 TD).
However, on the negative side of things, the Aggies’ defense has been downright atrocious.
The early excuse was that the unit was missing several starters due to injuries and suspensions. But five games in, the issues are still there. The team ranks No. 57 in total defense and No. 107 against the run, conceding a staggering 214.8 yards per game.
A good offense can only take you so far. If Texas A&M has BCS aspirations, the team must use the bye week to fix the holes on defense.
No. 7: Louisville (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 7
Week 6 Prediction: at Temple (W)
It’s never too early to be worrying about style points. Given that the Cardinals look set to play an entire schedule that features no ranked opponents, it’s imperative that they start running it up.
Otherwise, regardless of record, the team could be the odd man out during the BCS draw.
Consider this: The four opponents Louisville has beaten have a combined record of 6-11. Furthermore, the team’s remaining opponents have a mark of 14-16.
From here on out, it’s 60 points or bust for the Cardinals. That starts with the 0-4 Owls on Saturday.
Not only that, the team could definitely benefit from the national attention that would come from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (1,214 YDS, 14 TD) making a run at the Heisman Trophy.
If that doesn’t happen, and Louisville keeps on barely beating lesser opponents, ranked teams will begin leap-frogging the Cardinals.
That begins this week with Florida State.
No. 6: Florida State (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 8
Week 6 Prediction: vs. No. 25 Maryland (W)
There’s no doubt at the beginning of the season that the Seminoles viewed this weekend’s contest with the Terrapins as nothing more than a walk in the park.
And who could blame them? Maryland was an abysmal 6-18 over the last two years. Things got so bad last season that the team actually started a linebacker at quarterback midway through the year.
Instead, Florida State will have to grind it out for a hard-fought victory. It’s something that could actually benefit the team down the road.
Initially, Clemson and Florida were the only ranked teams on the Seminoles’ schedule. Now, with the emergence of the Terrapins and Miami, that number is up to four.
It can only strengthen the resume of a team fighting for a BCS title bid.
After a scare on the road against Boston College, redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston should only continue his dark-horse run towards the Heisman Trophy. Playing in front of what should be a packed Doak Campbell Stadium should also certainly help.
The win will be just the boost Florida State needs heading into the bye week and in preparation for its Week 8 clash against Clemson.
No. 5: Georgia (4-1)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Week 6 Prediction: at Tennessee (W)
This team just refuses to go away. And as long as Clemson keeps winning, the Bulldogs look as good as any other team in the nation.
Going 2-1 against Top 10 opponents in the month of September certainly helps support that argument.
After allowing 32.5 points per game over the first four games, Georgia’s defense should start to regain some swagger against the Volunteers and their No. 112-ranked passing attack. By halftime, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Neyland Stadium less than half full.
Whether or not Heisman-hopeful running back Todd Gurley (sprained ankle) suits up, the Bulldogs should have no difficulties this weekend.
The team still has quarterback Aaron Murray, who has built up a Heisman case of his own. The senior has accounted for 13 touchdowns over Georgia’s past three games.
Only a Nov. 2 date with Florida prevents the team from running the table until the SEC title game.
No. 4: Clemson (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Week 6 Prediction: at Syracuse (W)
The Tigers have a good chance of putting together their third straight 10-win season. But more importantly, a spot in the BCS title is becoming a real possibility.
Sure, ACC teams have normally been left out of the national-championship banter as of late. However, Clemson has made a strong case for its inclusion, following back-to-back wins against Top-10 SEC foes—No. 8 LSU during last year’s Chick-Fil-A bowl and against No. 5 Georgia in Week 1.
If the Tigers run the table, that will include wins over Florida State, Maryland and another SEC foe in South Carolina. Not to mention, a possible ACC title clash with Miami.
It would be tough to keep Clemson out with a resume like that.
With Tajh Boyd strengthening his Heisman candidacy with every passing week, expect nothing short of a blowout against the Orange.
Even so, an impressive win by Ohio State on the road will cause the Tigers to drop a spot.
No. 3: Ohio State (6-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Week 6 Prediction: at No. 16 Northwestern (W)
Head coach Urban Meyer has single-handedly brought back respect to the Buckeyes program. A 12-0 season followed by a 5-0 start will usually accomplish as much.
Against the Wildcats on Saturday, the team will face its toughest test of 2013.
The fans will be loud, ESPN’s College GameDay will be in attendance and the game will be played at primetime in front of a national audience. All things considered, don’t expect any of that to stand in the way of an Ohio State victory.
Fresh off his best performance of the year against Wisconsin, quarterback Braxton Miller will pick apart Northwestern’s No. 117 pass defense. His mobility will give the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator nightmares.
With the win, the Buckeyes should have no problem leap-frogging Clemson while increasing the nation’s longest winning streak to 18 games.
No. 2: Oregon (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 2
Week 6 Prediction: at Colorado (W)
The week got off to a bad start for the Ducks when it was announced that running back De’Anthony Thomas was out for this weekend’s contest against the Buffaloes.
But that’s as bad as it gets for the team.
Sure, losing your leading rusher is never good—especially when going against the No. 10 run defense (91.3 YPGA). However, Oregon boasts the nation’s top rushing attack and sophomore Byron Marshall (326 YDS, 4 TD) should have no trouble picking up the slack.
And if all else fails, the Ducks still have Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota at quarterback (1,298 TOT YDS, 14 TD).
Against a Colorado secondary that got exposed against Oregon State, Oregon may not even need to rely on the ground game. The team should win rather easily.
Next up? A four-week stretch that includes trips to Washington and Stanford (Thursday night) and a visit from UCLA.
The next month should really tell us a lot about this Ducks squad.
No. 1: Alabama (5-0)
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Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Week 6 Prediction: vs. Georgia State (W)
Honestly, I’m tempted to drop the Crimson Tide a spot just for scheduling such a cupcake matchup at this point in the season. Not only are the Panthers 0-4, but they are also in just their first year as an FBS school.
With a weak offense and a defense that has allowed over 400 yards per game, Georgia State would be doing itself a favor by refusing to step foot off the team bus. This one could easily get ugly before the midway point of the first quarter.
As a 56.5-point favorite, Alabama really can only hurt itself in a contest like this. I’d be surprised to see A.J. McCarron and the rest of the starters play in the second half. Heck, they may not even make it until halftime.
Expect the Tide to keep rolling until a Nov. 9 meeting with LSU.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com