The top eight ain’t great.
That’s kind of the tune everyone is singing in the NCAA football world.
But it’s what we’re left with as far as national contenders go through 10 weeks of the 2023 pigskin campaign.
The second release of the College Football Playoff rankings proved to be awfully ho-hum after the top eight teams all won and stayed right in the same place they were after the initial list last week.
But here comes Week 11 with a possible shakeup at hand. A great slate features the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs (9-0) hosting the No. 9 Ole Miss Rebels (8-1) late Saturday (7 p.m. ET) and the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (9-0) tested by The White-Out and the No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions (8-1) earlier Saturday at State College (noon ET, FOX).
• At 5-1 in conference play, Ole Miss is still right there in the hunt for the SEC West title. The trouble is that Georgia is still pretty much defending two-time champion Georgia, although they haven’t looked as dominant this year. Still, UGA has won 26 straight games dating back to 2020 and haven’t fallen at home since a 20-17 double-overtime loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks that year. The Bulldogs did, however, clinch the SEC East last weekend to earn that coveted berth in the conference championship tilt, so perhaps their bite is less worse than their bark for this tilt.
• Here’s yet another opportunity — a golden one at home — for Penn State to prove it can measure up to its powerhouse brothers in the Big Ten. Too bad Michigan probably already knows what plays PSU is throwing at it, thanks to Connor ‘Sign-stealing’ Stalions. And don’t forget Penn State QB Drew Allar is still just 19 years old. It’s a lot to ask of a teenager to take on Big Blue — let alone sign-stealing Big Blue — and come away victorious. Not going to happen.
A few other games could loom large to rock the top of the charts:
• The No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (9-0) need to be on alert when the Miami Hurricanes (6-3) roll into Tallahassee on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., ABC). You never know whether we get the ferocious or fairweather ’Canes.
• The No. 18 Utah Utes (7-2) are always a pain in the backside when it comes down to the stretch-run in the Pac-12. Everyone forgets they are the defending two-time conference champions. So the No. 5 Washington Huskies (9-0) better be ready for their Saturday matinee in Seattle (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC).
• And the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-1) haven’t exactly dominated away from home, which is where they find themselves this week. The Tide visit the host Kentucky Wildcats (6-3), who have been known to ball out in Lexington, for an early Saturday adventure (noon ET, TSN5).
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Brace yourself for more sign-stealing garbage out of Michigan, with the Big Ten telling the school that punishment is forthcoming and Michigan firing back threats that any penalty would result in a violation of league bylaws. It’s a mess since the Big Ten does not have any rules regarding teams stealing signs from rivals. Please, Michigan — just take the loss, man, so we can move on in the name of sportsmanship … Including Michigan, seven unbeatens remain now that we’re in Week 11. The top five are ranked 1-5, but the other two — Liberty (9-0) and James Madison (9-0) — are seeded outside the top 25 of the CFP Rankings. That’s silly given there are four three-loss teams on that board — No. 19 LSU (6-3), No. 20 Notre Dame (7-3), No. 21 Arizona (7-3) and No. 25 Kansas State (6-3). The Group of Five just can’t garner any respect … At the other end of the win-loss spectrum, there are no winless teams left in the FBS. Shockingly, all 133 teams have at least a victory. In fact, there are only four one-win teams — Kent State (1-9), East Carolina (1-8), newcomer Sam Houston (1-8) and perennially putrid UConn (1-8) … By the way, UConn gets cover-happy Jimmy Mad in a battle of polar opposites Saturday (2 p.m. ET).
If there is, indeed, a shake-up at the top of the rankings, No. 11 Louisville (8-1) — Louisville? — is likely to luck out and move up … QB Quinn Ewers (shoulder) returns for No. 7 Texas (8-1) against host TCU (4-5) on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC) … By the way, what happened to TCU after last year’s surprise run to the final four? It proves how valuable QB Max Duggan was to that team in 2022 and why he should’ve stolen away the Heisman Trophy, in our opinion … NC State (6-3) has lost its starting pivot, MJ Morris, who has opted out of the rest of the schedule in order to redshirt. That despite taking over for Virginia transfer Brennan Armstrong in October and leading NC State to three wins in four starts, turning the school’s season around … How low can you go? Lower than 30 total points, apparently, if you’re Rutgers (6-3) facing No. 22 Iowa (7-2). In fact, 28 is the over/under betting total popping up in sportsbooks for this Big Ten slobber-knocker, which is historically low, according to many oddsmakers. We’re talkin’ a 17-13 game breaks the under. Unreal.
The firing of longtime defensive coordinator Alex Grinch by Lincoln Riley earlier this week comes two — or even three — losses too late for USC. This should’ve been Southern Cal’s year to at least win the Pac-12 and make the final four. Riley really wasted QB Caleb Williams’ return for one more year to USC by not making this move sooner. No wonder last year’s Heisman winner was left balling in the crowd after last week’s 52-42 defeat to visiting UDub … Fun fact: Riley’s guy is known these days around football circles as ‘The Grinch that stole defence.’ Ha! … How bad has it been defensively for USC? They have allowed the most yards and second-most points of the 133 FBS schools this year. That’s whack for a supposedly elite program … By the way, that scene late last Saturday of Williams being overwrought with emotion and seeking comfort from his mom in the stands immediately after USC’s third loss is a strong reminder these kids are still just that — kids. For those saying there’s no crying in football and the can’t-miss NFL QB needs to be tougher to make it on Sundays, how about the fact that he’s taking this losing pretty darn hard? You want ’em to hate losing, don’t ya?
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS
Rank Team (last week) Record
1. Ohio State (1) 9-0
2. Georgia (2) 9-0
3. Michigan (3) 9-0
4. Florida State (4) 9-0
5. Washington (5) 9-0
6. Oregon (6) 8-1
7. Texas (7) 8-1
8. Alabama (8) 8-1
9. Ole Miss (10) 8-1
10. Penn State (11) 8-1
11. Louisville (13) 8-1
12. Oregon State (16) 7-2
13. Tennessee (17) 7-2
14. Missouri (12) 7-2
15. Oklahoma State (22) 7-2
16. Kansas (21) 7-2
17. Oklahoma (9) 7-2
18. Utah (18) 7-2
19. LSU (14) 6-3
20. Notre Dame (15) 7-3
21. Arizona (NR) 6-3
22. Iowa (NR) 7-2
23. Tulane (24) 8-1
24. North Carolina (NR) 7-2
25. Kansas State (23) 6-3
NR — not ranked
GAME TO WATCH
(-4.5) #3 MICHIGAN @ #10 PENN STATE
Saturday, noon ET, in State College, FOX
Michigan doesn’t deserve any love, but we can’t deny it’s likely the best of FBS teams.
UCONN @ JAMES MADISON (-24)
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET
Jimmy Mad is a cover machine this year and we all know UConn’s sad history.
PICK: JAMES MADISON
RUTGERS @ #22 IOWA (+1)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., BTN
Iowa always finds a way to win these Big Ten slobber-knockers at home.
(-7.5) IOWA STATE @ BYU
Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET
Strange line, since Provo’s no easy visit late Saturday and BYU’s the better crew.
LAST WEEK: 2-2
2023 RECORD: 18-20-2