Syracuse Football
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Though several top-tier teams were idle, chaos reigned prior to the first College Football Playoff unveiling, shifting our middle group.

This Week’s Voters: Geoff Magliocchetti, Justin Weiss

(All Times ET)

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

#1. Alabama (8-0)

  • Last Week: Idle
  • Top Performer: N/A
  • This Week: Saturday @ #4 LSU (8:00 p.m., CBS)

To pull off a big win on the road, the Crimson Tide may have to do the unthinkable: let Tua Tagovailoa play the fourth quarter.

#2. Clemson (8-0)

  • Last Week: W 59-10 @ Florida State
  • Top Performer: WR Amari Rodgers (6 receptions, 156 yards, 2 TD)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Louisville (12:00 p.m., ABC)

Firmly in the second slot, the Tigers have a prime opportunity to build momentum with just one more road game, albeit one against an opponent currently ranked in the CFP standing. (Boston College next weekend).

(Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)

#3. Notre Dame (8-0)

  • Last Week: W 44-22 vs. Navy (@ San Diego, CA)
  • Top Performer: RB Dexter Williams (23 carries, 142 yards, 3 TD, 3 receptions, 27 yards)
  • This Week: Saturday @ Northwestern (7:15 p.m, ESPN)

If the Fighting Irish pull off an undefeated season, one that will be unencumbered by a conference championship game, one can definitely say that they earned it, as the Irish are in the midst of a stretch that features a mere single game in South Bend.

#4. LSU (7-1)

  • Last Week: Idle
  • Top Performer: N/A
  • This Week: Saturday vs. #1 Alabama (8:00 p.m., CBS)

It’s going to be a thrilling weekend in Louisiana, one dominated by football as the top-ranked Crimson Tide and Los Angeles Rams each come to visit.

#5. Michigan (7-1)

  • Last Week: Idle
  • Top Performer: N/A
  • This Week: Saturday vs. #13 Penn State (3:45 p.m., ESPN)

Of all the top CFP contenders, no one may face a harder road than the Wolverines, who must deal with the Nittany Lions and Ohio State Buckeyes before the regular season lets out, and that doesn’t even figure in a conference title game.

#6. Georgia (7-1)

  • Last Week: W 36-17 vs. #Florida (@ Jacksonville, FL)
  • Top Performer: QB Jake Fromm (17-for-24, 240 yards, 3 TD)
  • This Week: Saturday @ #11 Kentucky (3:30 p.m., CBS)

It was crucial that the Bulldogs earned some clarity in their quarterback discussion last week, and Fromm provided it with gusto against the Gators.

#7. Ohio State (7-1)

  • Last Week: Idle
  • Top Performer: N/A
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Nebraska (12:00 p.m., Fox)

Lord help the Cornhuskers, who not only have to deal with the Buckeyes taking the field for the first time since the Purdue disaster, but Ohio State is likely even more furious over their 10th place ranking in the first CFP poll.

#8. UCF (8-0)

  • Last Week: Idle
  • Top Performer: N/A
  • This Week: Thursday vs. Temple (W 52-30)

The College Football Playoff discussion has been once again opened for the undefeated Golden Knights, who opened November with a 52-40 victory over the Temple Owls.

#9. Oklahoma (7-1)

  • Last Week: W vs. Kansas State 51-14
  • Top Performer: QB Kyler Murray (19-for-24, 352 yards, 5 carries, 46 yards, 4 total TD)
  • This Week: Saturday @ Texas Tech (8:00 p.m., ABC)

Back in the Big 12’s driver’s seat after Texas’ latest disappointment, the Sooners will square off against the Red Raiders in a game we can only hope comes close to the Mayfield-Mahomes showdown of 2016.

#10. Washington State (7-1)

  • Last Week: W 41-38 @ Stanford
  • Top Performer: QB Gardner Minshew (40-for-50, 438 yards, 3 TD)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. California (10:45 p.m., ESPN)

The Cougars have a manageable stretch that could end in the PAC-12 title game, but will that relatively weak slate ruin their CFP case?

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

#11. Kentucky (7-1)

  • Last Week: W 15-14 @ Missouri
  • Top Performer: LB Josh Allen (11 tackles, 2 sacks)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. #6 Georgia (3:30 p.m., CBS)

Exciting as its walk-off final was, it was good for the Wildcats to get any stale play out of the way before embarking on what could be the biggest football game in Lexington in decades.

#12. West Virginia (6-1)

  • Last Week: W 58-14 vs. Baylor
  • Top Performer: QB Will Grier (17-for-27, 353 yards, 4 total TD)
  • This Week: Saturday @ #Texas (3:30 p.m., Fox)

Everyone’s attention has diverted to Murray and Oklahoma, but the Mountaineers technically hold first place in the Big 12, though keeping it will be a challenge with both the Longhorns and Sooners on the remaining docket.

#13. Penn State (6-2)

  • Last Week: W 30-24 vs. #16 Iowa
  • Top Performer: DE Yetur Gross-Matos (9 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks)
  • This Week: Saturday @ #5 Michigan (3:45 p.m., ESPN)

Two losses make it difficult to generate any CFP momentum for the Lions, but a victory in Ann Arbor would at least begin the conversation.

#14. Florida (6-2)

  • Last Week: L 36-17 vs. #6 Georgia (@ Jacksonville, FL)
  • Top Performer: LB Vosean Joseph (13 tackles, 1 sack)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Missouri (4:00 p.m., SEC Network)

Despite the disappointment of the no-show against the Bulldog, hope reigns for the Gators, but Dan Mullen must remember that the Jim McElwain era opened with hope as well.

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#15. Texas (6-2)

  • Last Week: L 38-35 @ Oklahoma State
  • Top Performer: QB Sam Ehlinger (22-for-42, 283 yards, 10 carries, 47 yards, 4 total TD)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. #12 West Virginia (3:30 p.m., Fox)

The Longhorns aren’t quite “back”, but they have a prime opportunity to instantly re-enter the conversation against fellow conference topper Mountaineers.

#16. Iowa (6-2)

  • Last Week: L 30-24 @ #13 Penn State
  • Top Performer: DE Anthony Nelson (5 tackles, 1.5 sacks)
  • This Week: Saturday @ Purdue (3:30 p.m., ESPN2)

One broken play might’ve cost the Hawkeyes a Big Ten championship berth, but they still have an outside shot starting with a dangerous visit to West Lafayette.

#17. Utah (6-2)

  • Last Week: W 41-10 @ UCLA
  • Top Performer: RB Zach Moss (26 carries, 211 yards, 3 TD)
  • This Week: Saturday @ Arizona State (4:00 p.m., PAC-12 Networks)

Winners of four in a row, the Utes might have a breezy pace to 10 wins and, on a greater scale, the PAC-12 title game.

#18. Fresno State (7-1)

  • Last Week: W 50-20 vs. Hawaii
  • Top Performer: RB Ronnie Rivers (11 carries, 125 yards, 1 TD)
  • This Week: Saturday @ UNLV (10:30 p.m., CBSSN)

If the Golden Knights somehow falter (and the powers that be on the CFP committee probably hope they do), the Bulldogs have emerged as a prime candidate to take over the small conference New Year’s Six spot.

#19. Houston (7-1)

  • Last Week: W 57-36 vs South Florida
  • Top Performer: QB D’Eriq King (28-for-40, 419 yards, 12 carries, 132 yards, 7 total TD)
  • This Week: Saturday @ SMU (7:00 p.m., ESPNU)

The Cougars have further made the AAC’s case for power conference status, crushing the hapless, previously undefeated Bulls behind the talents of yet another multi-talented quarterback.

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

#20. Syracuse (6-2)

  • Last Week: W 51-41 vs. North Carolina State
  • Top Performer: QB Eric Dungey (27-for-38, 411 yards, 3 TD)
  • This Week: Saturday @ Wake Forest (12:00 p.m., ACC Network)

The Orange were another team that gained some clarity on a volatile quarterback situation, as Dungey threw for a season-high to get the Orange back on the national scene.

#21. Utah State (7-1)

  • Last Week: W 61-19 vs. New Mexico
  • Top Performer: QB Jordan Love (23-for-34, 448 yards, 5 total TD)
  • This Week: Saturday @ Hawaii (11:59 p.m., Spectrum Sports PPV)

Finding Aggie games on TV this time of year may difficult, but it might be worth the extra time/effort/money to see an offense currently ranked third in the nation in scoring (49.3 points per game).

#22. Virginia (6-2)

  • Last Week: W 31-21 vs. North Carolina
  • Top Performer: QB Bryce Perkins (18-for-27, 217 yards, 21 carries, 112 yards, 4 total TD)
  • This Week: Friday vs. Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m., ESPN2)

Suddenly, the Cavaliers, whose bowl chances alone were doubted by many, are in the drivers’ seat to represent the Coastal division in the ACC title game.

#23. Texas A&M (5-3)

  • Last Week: L 28-13 @ Mississippi State
  • Top Performer: LB Otaro Alaka (9 tackles, 2 TFL)
  • This Week: Saturday @ Auburn (12:00 p.m., ESPN)

The Aggies suffered a disheartening loss against the Bulldogs, their first against an opponent not currently going to the CFP, but have a chance to get back on the right track against the Tigers.

#24. Northwestern (5-3)

  • Last Week: W 31-17 vs Wisconsin
  • Top Performer: RB Isaiah Bowser (34 carries, 117 yards, 1 TD)
  • This Week: Saturday vs #3 Notre Dame (7:15 p.m., ESPN)

Another surprise division leader, the Wildcats have a rare November non-division game to not only test their mettle against a CFP opponent, but they also have a dangerous opportunity that has nothing to lose.

#25. Buffalo (8-1)

  • Last Week: Idle
  • This Week: W 51-42 vs. Miami (Ohio) (on Tuesday)
  • Top Performer: WR Anthony Johnson (8 receptions, 238 yards, 3 TD)
  • Next Week: Tuesday vs. Kent State (7:30 p.m., ESPNU)

MACtion kind of got away from us, but it certainly didn’t get away from the Bulls, who wound up with 505 yards of offense.

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