Tomorrow’s Top 25 Today: TCU takes control of Big 12, moves into the top five

 In Sports

Conference play in October has claimed its first big-time victim. It wasn’t crazy to think that
Oklahoma Sooners
would lose at some point during the nine-game Big 12 schedule given the current depth of the league but no one thought that one conference loss would come at home after a week off against
Iowa State Cyclones

The Sooners looked College Football Playoff bound after beating
Ohio State Buckeyes
in Columbus, Ohio, with that key win serving as insurance if they got tripped up against one of the Big 12 title contenders as long as it wasn’t in the Big 12 Championship Game. With this loss against Iowa State, Oklahoma has to beat
TCU Horned Frogs
Oklahoma State Cowboys
and the rest of its conference foes — and then run it back against one of them in the Big 12 title game in order to give itself the best shot for a playoff spot. 

Losing to an unranked Iowa State team will also mean Oklahoma will tumble in the polls — falling even behind the Ohio State team it defeated — heading into the Red River Rivalry against
Texas Longhorns
. After that is a road trip to
Kansas State Wildcats
and two weeks later is the Bedlam game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Getting through the next month undefeated will be a challenge, and after losing on Saturday, the Sooners not only have to do that but probably run the table to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff. 

Here’s our projection of how the new AP Top 25 poll will look on Sunday

Alabama Crimson Tide
(Previous — 1)
: For the first time in 38 quarters of college football, Alabama had a turnover against
Texas A&M Aggies
. That development was more stunning than the result against the Aggies, and the Tide will remain in its perch at the top of the rankings.  

Clemson Tigers

Kelly Bryant
suffering an injured ankle is not a particularly devastating development but one to watch given how his mobility stresses opposing defenses. The good news for Clemson is that between
Zerrick Cooper
Hunter Johnson
it looks like the offense should still hum if they need to rest Bryant for a few weeks. 

Georgia Bulldogs
: There is now a common opponent with Alabama, and voters who saw Georgia run the ball right through
Vanderbilt Commodores
in a similar manner could find the Bulldogs as a hot pick to move up with Oklahoma falling. Georgia didn’t put up 59 points like the Tide did, but Kirby Smart’s group was similar enough in its dominance to have whatever doubters are left start to jump on the train.   

Penn State Nittany Lions
: We’ve spent so much time gawking at
Saquon Barkley
and Penn State’s offense that it’s been easy to miss what’s happening on defense.
Northwestern Wildcats
hasn’t been a good offensive team, but Penn State gave it no room to work. The offense was slow to start, but of course Barkley got it going eventually and finished with two touchdowns, including a 53-yard run late in the third quarter to put the game away. 

5. TCU (8): The scary thing about TCU so far this season is that it has won in all kinds of ways, sometimes in the same game. It can grind out low-scoring wins and outscore teams in a shootout. Gary Patterson’s defense has been ferocious, and
Kenny Hill
is having his best season yet as a college football player. Wins against
Arkansas Razorbacks
, SMU, Oklahoma State and
West Virginia Mountaineers
have all come in different fashions — Saturday featured a low scoring first half and then a flurry of action in crunch time — but the Frogs keep winning and currently sit in first place of the Big 12 standings. 

Washington Huskies
: Cal couldn’t move the ball at all against Washington. The defensive front is salty, and the back end of the defense does a great job flying around and rallying to the ball. Jake Browning played well and the Huskies totally dominated the Bears from the start.  

Wisconsin Badgers
: After a really strong start to his sophomore season, quarterback
Alex Hornibrook
has stumbled int he last couple of weeks. Luckily,
Jonathan Taylor
(249 yards, two touchdowns) is still a beast and
Nebraska Cornhuskers
defense could not keep him in check for long after hanging tough in the first half.  

8. Ohio State (10): Against lesser teams, Ohio State looks unbeatable. The Buckeyes’ defense didn’t allow
Maryland Terrapins
to get anything going, and J.T. Barrett kept pouring the points on in the third straight week of scoring 50 points or more in a 62-14 win against the Terps. 

Washington State Cougars
By going into Autzen Stadium and taking care of business, Washington State overcame the first of several obstacles between the
Southern California Trojans
upset and an Apple Cup meeting with Washington that could, if current trends continue, be a game that sends the winner to the Pac-12 Championship Game. 

Auburn Tigers
: Everything is rolling for the Tigers, who are clicking on all cylinders offensively and continuing to build confidence as the SEC wins start to pile up. Up next is a three-game road run against LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M before returning home for a three-game run to close the regular season that includes the colossal matchups against Alabama and Georgia. 

11. Miami (13): Undefeated and now with a crucial cross-division win, Miami has entered the playoff picture as a dark horse. The Hurricanes will have their hands full in the ACC Coastal, but winning the division would put them in the conversation for a playoff spot. The key is avoiding the bad loss before then and not letting this opportunity get away after getting a game up on
Virginia Tech Hokies
in the standings. 

12. USC (14): Ronald Jones is healthy and running hard again, and
Sam Darnold
threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns, but the Trojans can get better. There were mistakes that kept USC from winning be even more than the 28-point final margin, and in order to win six games over the next six weeks — what the 5-1 Trojans likely need to do in order to keep their playoff hopes alive — there is going to be little room for error. 

13. Oklahoma State (15): The Cowboys were off in Week 6, back in action next week against
Baylor Bears
at home. 

14. Virginia Tech (16):
Josh Jackson
looked good, but the Hokies lost their top receiver,
Cam Phillips
, to an apparent ankle injury.
Sean Savoy
did a good job of stepping up with Phillips knocked out, but it’s going to be an injury to monitor moving forward. Luckily, the Hokies are off next week, back in action on Oct. 21 against
North Carolina Tar Heels

Michigan Wolverines
: The torrential downpour in Michigan Stadium made for an incredible rivalry environment but also really hurt
John O’Korn
chances to spark the offense in a comeback effort when the Spartans jumped out to an early lead. 

16. Oklahoma (3): A quick glance at Saturday’s loss to Iowa State is going to draw criticism for the defense, but a closer look shows that
Baker Mayfield
and the Sooners offense had one of their most dysfunctional stretches of football we’ve seen all year. After looking great early, Oklahoma couldn’t sustain drives and scored just once on four second-half possessions. 

South Florida Bulls
: The Bulls were off in Week 6, back in action next week against
Cincinnati Bearcats
at home

San Diego State Aztecs
: The Aztecs beat
UNLV Rebels
 handily in yet another show-stopping performance from running back Rashaad Penny. Who knew when we watched San Diego State-Stanford we were watching two potential Heisman finalists with Penny and Bryce Love. 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
: Getting in and out of Chapel Hill without having to risk further injury to
Brandon Wimbush
makes this weekend a win for the Irish, who should see a slight bump in the rankings. 

NC State Wolfpack
: With wins against
Florida State Seminoles
Louisville Cardinals
, NC State has already lived up to its preseason hype and positioned itself to host Clemson on Nov. 4 in a game with ACC championship implications. The key for the Wolfpack is avoiding the bad loss between now and then, a task that could be as challenging as defeating the Tigers.

Michigan State Spartans
: A 5-1 record with a loss to Notre Dame and win at Michigan is going to good enough to get top 25 consideration. The question is whether the Spartans can keep the momentum of the last two wins rolling over the next three weeks, setting up a high-profile back-to-back against Penn State and Ohio State in the first two weeks of November. 

UCF Knights
: Scott Frost’s group keeps rolling with hopes of chasing down USF in the rankings in the eyes of the poll voters and CFP Selection Committee. We have to wait another three weeks to get the latter so Knights fans will be poll tracking for now. 

Navy Midshipmen
With a couple conference wins and now a victory against
Air Force Falcons
, Navy has put together a 5-0 profile that will deserve some top 25 consideration. The schedule will get tougher soon with UCF in a couple weeks and Notre Dame next month, but given their start, there’s a chance the Midshipmen could be right back in the mix for the American Athletic Conference title later this year.  

Texas Tech Red Raiders
: The Red Raiders threw 62 on the board on Saturday, and their only loss came by seven to Oklahoma State. There’s a couple teams that could sneak in here, but I think the eye-popping numbers might give Texas Tech the edge.

25. Stanford (NR): Since both of Stanford’s losses have come to teams that are also in the top 25, I think the Cardinal will be back in Sunday. Just one loss back of Washington and Washington State, Stanford can still win the Pac-12 North by winning out in conference play. Picking up a win at Utah was a huge start as it handed the Utes their first loss of the season, but up next is Oregon.

Projected to drop out: Louisville (17), Utah (20) 
Florida Gators
(21), West Virginia (23)

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