NCAA Football Rankings 2021: Predicting Top Movers in Week 9 Post-Week 8 Results

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIOctober 24, 2021

NCAA Football Rankings 2021: Predicting Top Movers in Week 9 Post-Week 8 Results

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Many of the top college football teams in the country were in action Saturday. However, no matchups featured a pair of ranked schools. So Week 8 was mostly about the best teams trying to avoid potential upset losses.

    No team ranked in the top six was knocked off. No. 1 Georgia had a bye, while No. 2 Cincinnati, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Michigan were all victorious. Not every Top 25 team was as successful, though.

    Among the biggest upsets of the day were Illinois' nine-overtime win over No. 7 Penn State, Iowa State's victory against No. 8 Oklahoma State and Miami's win over No. 18 NC State. And earlier in the week, No. 14 Coastal Carolina lost to Appalachian State.

    With these ranked teams likely to drop down the AP Top 25 poll, others will be on the rise. Here's a look at several teams that have the best chance to be big movers up the rankings after Week 8.

Oregon (6-1)

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    After getting upset at Stanford on Oct. 2, Oregon has gotten back on track by winning its past two games. The Ducks beat California in Week 7 and then went on the road and defeated UCLA on Saturday. Although Oregon trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter against the Bruins, it rebounded for a 34-31 victory.

    The Ducks, who entered the week ranked No. 10, remain the best team in the Pac-12, even if they are not undefeated. And while UCLA wasn't ranked, it was still a quality opponent considering it had won five of its seven games before Saturday.

    It's going to require some help, but Oregon is still in the College Football Playoff conversation. If the Ducks can win their final five regular-season games and then also win the Pac-12 Championship Game, they may have an argument for inclusion.

    For now, Oregon will keep working its way back up the AP Top 25 poll. With No. 7 Penn State and No. 8 Oklahoma State both losing, the Ducks will move up at least two spots. Expect to see them at No. 8 when the rankings are released, and they could keep rising if more top teams are upset in future weeks.

Ole Miss (6-1)

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Here's another one-loss team that has gotten back on track since suffering an early-season setback. Ole Miss lost to Alabama on Oct. 2, but it's responded by notching wins over a trio of SEC rivals: Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU. And the Rebels may not be slowing down anytime soon.

    Ole Miss trailed 7-0 at the end of the first quarter against LSU on Saturday, but it outscored the Tigers 31-0 over the second and third quarters. The Rebels compiled 470 total yards of offense as quarterback Matt Corral passed for 185 yards and had two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing), while running backs Snoop Conner, Jerrion Ealy and Henry Parrish Jr. all had rushing scores.

    Like Oregon, Ole Miss, who entered the week at No. 12, has a good chance to overtake Penn State and Oklahoma State in the rankings. While the Rebels also have one loss, their defeat came against the No. 4 Crimson Tide, so it wasn't a bad loss. And Ole Miss may even have an argument to pass No. 11 Iowa, which was on a bye after losing to Purdue in Week 7.

    The Rebels should enter the top 10, but things are set to get tougher for them. Two of their next three games are against Auburn and Texas A&M, another pair of ranked SEC teams, so they could end up going either way in the poll after those matchups.

Pittsburgh (6-1)

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    A win over Clemson isn't quite what it would have been in previous years, as the Tigers are having a down season. Still, it was an impressive way for Pittsburgh to continue its strong October. The Panthers won their fourth straight game by notching a 27-17 home victory over Clemson on Saturday.

    Pittsburgh beat Clemson for the first time since 2016, and it led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Panthers have already picked up road wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in October, and they will look to keep rolling at home against Miami in Week 9.

    Before that matchup, Pittsburgh has a strong case to move a few spots up the AP poll. No. 14 Coastal Carolina and No. 18 NC State both lost, so the Panthers should pass both of them while moving up from No. 23. It's also possible their win was impressive enough to overtake another team or two.

    As long as Pittsburgh keeps winning, it could be heading toward a meeting with Wake Forest in the ACC Championship Game. And the victor of that matchup will get into a New Year's Six bowl. So this has the potential to be a special season for the Panthers.

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