College Football Rankings: B/R's Top 25 After Week 9
Another week of college football, another huge upset. Chaos has arrived, and it's not going away.
Oklahoma became the latest Top 10 team to fall, losing 48-41 on the road at Kansas State. The Sooners made a valiant late charge, but an overturned onside-kick recovery ended OU's chance at a magical comeback and an undefeated season.
Elsewhere around the country, Ohio State and LSU picked up marquee victories to remain atop the College Football Playoff chase.
Bleacher Report's panel of experts—Matt Hayes, David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Brad Shepard and Ian Wharton—each submitted a ballot for B/R's Top 25. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, followed by 24 points for second, 23 for third, etc.
B/R's Week 9 Top 25
3. Ohio State
5. Penn State
16. Notre Dame
17. Appalachian State
20. Boise State
22. San Diego State
23. Wake Forest
T-25. Kansas State
Others receiving votes: Texas A&M, Navy
Who's Hot: Appalachian State Mountaineers
SMU clipped Houston and stayed the highest-ranked Group of Five team, but Appalachian State isn't far behind.
The Mountaineers steamrolled South Alabama 30-3 while holding the Jaguars to a paltry 139 offensive yards. App State had a pair of 90-yard rushers and finished with 313 yards on the ground, rising to No. 17 after losses by Wisconsin and Texas.
"I thought our defense played unbelievable today and held them in check all game," head coach Eli Drinkwitz said, according to Steve Lyttle of the Charlotte Observer.
Sitting at 7-0, Appalachian State has a relatively favorable remaining schedule other than a trip to South Carolina in a couple of weeks. Before heading to Columbia, the Mountaineers will host Georgia Southern for a Thursday night clash on ESPNU.
SMU remains the G5 leader, but one misstep from the Mustangs―and their upcoming slate is loaded with tough matchups―means App State could be the leader for a New Year's Six bowl berth.
Who's Not: Texas Longhorns
Say goodbye, Texas.
After surviving a near-upset against Kansas, the Longhorns fell to TCU 37-27. It marked the fifth straight game Texas has surrendered at least 30 points. The poor performance resulted in a critical assessment from head coach Tom Herman.
"We're not good," he said, per Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman. "And we need to be better. You know, I think the off week will help. We've got to do a better job as coaches. The guys that are out there, we gotta get them ready to play. We've got to make plays and put them in position to do so."
In fairness, the offense didn't provide much help.
Sam Ehlinger tossed four interceptions, which TCU turned into 13 points and the game-sealing takeaway. For good measure, Cameron Dicker missed a 26-yard field goal. Saturday was a comprehensive failure for the Longhorns, who dropped to 5-3.
And swiftly out of the Top 25.
Fun Fact: Minnesota, Penn State Set Up Undefeated Clash
Minnesota has benefited from a favorable schedule. That's a reasonable qualifier to this particular 8-0 team. At the same time, if going 8-0 were so easy, more programs would do it.
Plus, the Golden Gophers have outscored the last three opponents―Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland―by a whopping 104 points. They're getting hot at the perfect time.
Minnesota has reached 8-0 for the first time in 78 years, while Penn State last attained the mark in 2008.
Somewhat similarly, the Nittany Lions took advantage of a soft early schedule before they navigated a three-game stretch with Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State. In Week 9, Penn State cleared out a rain-soaked Spartan Stadium with a 28-7 victory.
Both programs have an idle weekend next Saturday, so the showdown won't happen until Week 11. But the winner will officially be the Big Ten's biggest CFP threat behind Ohio State.
What to Watch For: Pac-12 Favorites Hit the Road
Oklahoma's loss has ever-so-slightly widened the crack in the door for the Pac-12 to reach the College Football Playoff. Oregon and Utah each has a fighting chance at the CFP, but Week 10 brings a tough matchup for both schools.
In the afternoon, Utah heads to Washington. Although the Huskies have dropped out of the Top 25, they're a reasonably tough team and will be rested after an idle weekend.
Oregon is the clear North Division front-runner and appears destined for its first Pac-12 Championship Game appearance in five seasons. Still, a trip to USC―which has a volatile yet talented roster―could be a tricky matchup for the Ducks.
Ideally, an 11-1 Oregon would square off with 11-1 Utah on December 6. That would be best for the Pac-12's perception, as well as any possible CFP chance.
Is it likely? No. But it remains possible.
Still, nothing is guaranteed. While the last three weekends have showed chaos may pop up anywhere, Week 10 seems to present the toughest remaining regular-season game for both teams.