PFF's Top 25 teams in college football
Our top four don’t match the College Football Playoff committee, but we do still have two teams from the same conference in the top two spots, along with Clemson finally breaking into the top four. Here is PFF’s Top 25 this week:
1. Ohio State (Previous ranking: 1)
The continued issues at quarterback rolled into their bye week, with J.T. Barrett (+3.3) now suspended and Cardale Jones (-6.3) back as the starter for this week’s game against Minnesota. Still number one, thanks to having the best edge defender in the country in Joey Bosa (+40.8), but at some point the quarterbacks problems will be their undoing.
2. Michigan State (2)
The bye week was almost badly timed for the Spartans, with quarterback Connor Cook (+26.1) enjoying the highest graded three game spell we’ve seen from him since we began grading. He and wide receiver Aaron Burbridge (+18.6) have formed a great duo, and they are a real threat to win the Big 10 ahead of Ohio State.
3. LSU (3)
Coming off their bye week they now face their biggest game of the year against Alabama. Running back Leonard Fournette (+30.2) continues to impress, but Alabama also have the best defense they’ll have faced all year. That being said, the Florida defense is very good too, and Fournette still graded at +6.0 in that game.
4. Clemson (6)
They’ve made a statement in each of the past two weeks, blowing out Miami and then with Deshaun Watson (+15.4) having a huge game against NC State, grading at +6.4. Some would argue this is still too low, but they have a real opportunity to set themselves up for glory with a big win over Florida State on Saturday.
5. Baylor (4)
They’ve had a week to adjust to life without Seth Russell (+18.7) and getting used to Jarrett Stidham (+6.8) being the new starting quarterback. That helps, especially with games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU this month.
6. TCU (5)
There’s very little, if anything, separating Baylor and TCU at this point, and that will be the case until they play each other, provided they both keep winning. Trevone Boykin (+40.8) and Josh Doctson () are now our highest graded quarterback and wide receivers this year.
7. Alabama (7)
This is the Crimson’s Tide’s shot at redemption after the Ole Miss loss earlier in the year. Win and the likelihood that they win the SEC and make the College Football Playoff goes up, lose and they can forget about either. Which Jake Coker (+4.9) shows up at quarterback for Alabama will be key. He’s graded at +1.8 or higher in five games, but -3.1 or lower in the other three.
8. Stanford (8)
It was close, but Christian McCaffrey (+25.0) and the Stanford Cardinal did enough to get past Washington State. They now have three conference games to go, including one against an improved Oregon team, but the game that looms largest is the season finale against one-loss Notre Dame, which has the potential to have huge College Football Playoff ramifications.
9. Oklahoma State (9)
They’ve scored 128 points over the past two weeks, but did give up 53 points to Texas Tech. One key thing to note in the battle for the Big 12, they play Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor all at home. Emmanuel Ogbah (+38.3) is the second highest graded edge defender in the nation next to Joey Bosa.
10. Iowa (10)
Another comfortable win, this time against Maryland, has them four wins from a Big 10 Championship showdown with whoever makes it out of Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan. People will point to their schedule, but they’ve beaten everyone in front of them so far this year.
11. Notre Dame (14)
It wasn’t easy, but they got the job done against a very good Temple team. Their only loss of the season came by two points against our fourth ranked team in Clemson, and they look likely to head into the Stanford game at the end of the year with that being the only blemish on their schedule.
12. Florida State (11)
The slip up against Georgia Tech was costly, but they get the chance to get back in the driver’s seat, at least in the ACC, against Clemson on Saturday. They would be wise to get the ball in the hands of running back Dalvin Cook (+20.5) early and often.
13. Florida (12)
Their only loss of the year came against Leonard Fournette and the third ranked LSU Tigers and they are now on the verge of wrapping up the division and getting their shot to avenge that defeat in the SEC Championship game. Safety Marcus Maye (+15.7) is having a big year, both in coverage and against the run.
14. Utah (13)
It would have been understandable if there was a hangover from the loss against USC, which severely dented their College Football Playoff hopes. There wasn’t though, and Travis Wilson (+0.1) rebounded with his second highest graded game of the year at +3.5.
15. Michigan (15)
They were made to work for it, keeping Minnesota out of the end zone as time expired to stay in the hunt for the Big 10 Championship game. Safety Jabrill Peppers (+14.3) was huge, making plays on defense, special teams, and scoring on offense too.
16. Memphis (16)
This week’s game against Navy is the very definition of a trap game. Houston and Temple are next up on the schedule, but Navy have lost just once all year, against one-loss Notre Dame. Still, you would expect that our fifth highest graded quarterback Paxton Lynch (+29.7) would be able to make enough plays to get the win.
17. Oklahoma (18)
The sleeper team to watch in college football as we get closer to the end of the year. Baker Mayfield (+33.8) is now our second highest graded quarterback, and the Sooners have the opportunity to knock off three of the teams in our top nine over the next month.
18. Temple (17)
They lost to Notre Dame, but Temple gave a really good account of themselves and pushed the Fighting Irish all the way. They need to rebound in a hurry though, and can’t afford to slip up if they want to beat Houston and Memphis to the AAC title.
19. Houston (20)
Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (+29.4) has slowed down in the past two weeks, but based on his performance throughout the year, you would hope it’s just a minor blip. They now have four huge games to end the year as they try to win the AAC and give themselves any hope of being in the College Football Playoff.
20. North Carolina (23)
Their win over Pittsburgh, coupled with Duke’s crazy loss to Miami, means that the Tar Heels are now in the driving seat for a place in the ACC Championship against either Florida State or Clemson. Quarterback Marquise Williams (+15.6) continues to impress as a runner.
21. Ole Miss (25)
With three games left to play, they are still alive in the SEC. Their two losses have come against one-loss Florida, and undefeated Memphis. Laquon Treadwell (+14.8) is having an impressive season at wide receiver.
22. UCLA (24)
In a way the Pac-12 has gone exactly as we expected it to this year, with everyone beating each other up. The Bruins have won two games in a row after losses to Arizona State and Stanford and, while everyone talks about quarterback Josh Rosen (+8.7), running back Paul Perkins (+22.9) has been a bigger reason for their success.
23. Duke (21)
That loss will haunt them, especially in the manner it came, but the Blue Devils can still make the ACC Championship with wins over North Carolina and Pittsburgh in the next two weeks. With four games to go, Jeremy Cash (+31.3) has already topped the highest graded safety from a year ago. He’s registered pressure of some form on 26 of the 42 times he’s rushed the passer this year.
24. Wisconsin (UR)
Losses against two teams in our top 10 in Alabama and Iowa are what separate Wisconsin from being in the discussion in the Big 10. Outside linebacker Joe Schobert (+29.7) has the highest Pass Rushing Productivity rating of all edge defenders this year, with 37 total pressures from 125 pass rushing attempts.
25. USC (UR)
There’s a fairly big selection of teams who are right around this spot, but USC have really shown some big improvement in recent weeks. Adoree’ Jackson (+6.3) hasn’t played much on offense, but has made big plays when he has.