Mark Schmor’s Week Eight College Football Top 25

Posted on October 20, 2021

  By Mark Schmor, SuperWest Sports

Week 7 brought us five upsets of ranked teams by unranked teams, and that felt oddly normal.

Here’s how I see the top 25 as of now.

No. 1 — Georgia (7-0)

Kentucky didn’t turn the ball over against Georgia. Kentucky only committed 3 penalties against Georgia. Kentucky’s quarterback completed 76% of his passes. Kentucky actually played Georgia pretty well!

Kentucky lost to Georgia 30-13.

Georgia has claimed three wins in a row over top 20 opponents by a combined score of 101-20 In other words, they have survived the toughest portion of their schedule without the slightest element of concern.

No. 2 — Cincinnati (6-0)

Cincinnati coasted to a 56-21 win over UCF, which desperately missed its injured quarterback Dillon Gabriel.

While this game may not have been the litmus test it was expected to be at the beginning of the season, it’s worth noting that the Bearcats are averaging more than 50 points per game in conference play.

Do I really think Cincinnati is the second best team in the country?

While I think there’s a clear gap between Georgia and everyone else, it’s worth noting that at the beginning of this calendar year Cincinnati lost to Georgia in the Peach Bowl 24-21.

It’s grasping at straws to find any team that seems like a worthy opponent for Georgia but I guess Cincinnati has as good of a shot as any.

No. 3 — Oklahoma (7-0)
No. 4 — Oklahoma State (6-0)

In Caleb Williams’ first start at quarterback Oklahoma, the Sooners beat TCU 52-31. Williams threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns through the air and added a 41-yard touchdown run on the ground.

The concerns I had about Oklahoma’s offense during the month of September seem to have been addressed.

Concerns about Oklahoma’s defense are still lingering as TCU’s offense racked up 346 yards through the air and 183 yards on the ground.

It’s hard to take Oklahoma seriously as a national title contender with a defense this shakey, so this ranking may need to be revised in a couple weeks.

Oklahoma State trailed No. 25 Texas almost the entire game, but somehow found a way to pull out a 32-24 win.

We already knew the Cowboys had the best defense in the Big 12, and that defense made itself known in the second quarter when Jason Taylor II had an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown that completely flipped the momentum of the game.

What wasn’t clear is whether Oklahoma State’s offense could keep pace, but they rode Jaylen Warren for 33 carries and 193 yards.

I usually spend all of college football season rooting for as much chaos as possible, but in the case of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, I’m changing course.

I desperately want their Bedlam matchup at the end of November to be a matchup of two undefeated teams.

No. 5 — Michigan (6-0)
No. 6 — Michigan State (7-0)

Michigan had a bye and it feels weird to elevate them into the top 5 when their most recent performance was a close win over a Nebraska team that lost to Minnesota on Saturday.

But Michigan hasn’t lost yet and that’s something very few teams can say at this point.

I would have been happy to slide Michigan State into the No. 5 spot in these rankings, but there wasn’t much from their 20-15 win over Indiana that suggested they’re a top 5 team.

However, like the Wolverines, they still have that beautiful zero in the loss column.

With the Wolverines playing Northwestern and the Spartans enjoying a bye this week, it looks like both teams could be undefeated when they meet in East Lansing on October 30.

No. 7 — Alabama (6-1)

Alabama bounced back from their first loss of the season by beating a pretty solid Mississippi State team 49-9.

While I recognize their loss to Texas A&M for the purpose of these rankings, I’m still convinced this is the second-best team in the country, and the squad most equipped to take out Georgia.

The nice thing with Alabama is gauging how they would do against Georgia doesn’t have to be a theoretical exercise. If Bama runs the table, they’ll get their shot at Georgia in the SEC Championship.

No. 8 — Ohio State (5-1)
No. 9 — Penn State (5-1)

Both of these Big Ten teams enjoyed a bye. This week Penn State hosts Illinois while Ohio State travels to Indiana.

Assuming they both take care of business, it will set up a huge meeting in Columbus on October 30 on the same day that Michigan meets Michigan State.

No. 10 — Oregon (5-1)

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12The Ducks are one fourth-and-goal stand against Stanford from being 6-0. The Ducks are also one fourth-and-goal stand against Cal from being 4-2.

In a weird way, surviving that scenario against Cal makes the loss against Stanford a little easier to digest….Actually, no it doesn’t.

The Ducks travel to the Rose Bowl on Saturday and ESPN’s College GameDay crew will be there as well. This will be just the second time GameDay has visited the Rose Bowl for a UCLA home game.

The first time was for a memorable UCLA-Oregon clash in 1998 when Cade McNown outdueled Akili Smith 41-38.

As an Oregon fan, am I slightly concerned that Chip Kelly has been secretly gameplanning for this game for the last several months? No, I am not slightly concerned.

I am utterly terrified.

My worst-case scenario for this game is for UCLA to be down 7 late only to score a touchdown and then dust off the swinging gate formation to steal a two-point conversion.

No. 11 — Iowa (6-1)

Iowa lost to unranked Purdue 24-7 and no longer controls their destiny in the Big Ten West as a result.

The Hawkeyes entered the weekend leading the country in interceptions but didn’t intercept Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell once.

O’Connell completed 11 consecutive passes on third down, which is ridiculous against a secondary as good as Iowa’s. Equally ridiculous was Purdue receiver David Bell grabbing 11 receptions for 240 yards.

A team like Iowa makes its living by forcing turnovers, so not forcing any turnovers makes it really difficult for the Hawkeyes to win.

A team like Iowa also makes its living by taking care of the ball, so Hawkeyes quarterback Spencer Petras throwing four interceptions didn’t help matters either.

There’s two ways of looking at this result for Iowa.

If you’re an Iowa skeptic, you see their 6-0 start and their turnover-fueled wins over Penn State and Iowa State as a bit of smoke and mirrors.

You’re expecting Iowa to lose a couple more times down the stretch, even though they won’t play another ranked opponent in the regular season.

If you’re still an Iowa believer, the performance against Purdue was simply one of those games where the train got off the rails and nothing went right.

You’re expecting the defense to get back to forcing turnovers and the offense to get back to taking care of the ball.

I’m an optimist by nature, so I’ll stick with the Iowa believers for now.

No. 12 — Notre Dame (5-1)

Notre Dame had a bye, which means they had another week to sort through an increasingly complicated quarterback situation before meeting USC this week.

After hosting a Trojans team that has had a chaotic start to their season, the Irish will host a North Carolina team that has had a chaotic start to their season.

Back in August, that back-to-back looked to be the most challenging part of the Notre Dame schedule. Notre Dame should be the favorite in both, but both USC and North Carolina at least know who their quarterback will be.

No. 13 — Wake Forest (6-0)
No. 14 — Coastal Carolina (6-0)

Wake Forest had a bye and I used the time to reevaluate Demon Deacons place in these rankings.

A couple weeks ago I moved them up into the top 10 for the simple reason that there were less than ten Power 5 teams with undefeated records and Wake was one of them.

Having taken a second look at their resume, I realize that Wake hasn’t really put forth the type of signature win the teams above them have.

If Wake is to run the table, it will mean ending the regular season with wins over NC State, Clemson, and Boston College.

Those are probably the three best teams on Wake’s schedule, and if the Demon Deacons are still holding an unblemished record by then, their ranking will reflect that.

While Coastal Carolina had a bye, there was a meaningful game in the Sun Belt between Coastal’s two biggest challengers as Louisiana hammered Appalachian State 41-13.

The Chanticleers will play App State this week and it will be interesting to see if they can handle the Mountaineers in a similar fashion. As for Louisiana, Coastal won’t have a chance to play them until the conference championship.

No. 15 — Kentucky (6-1)
No. 16 — Ole Miss (5-1)

As referenced above, Kentucky played really well and lost to Georgia 30-13. Because they play in the SEC East and not the SEC West, they manage to avoid Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M on their schedule.

So Kentucky is an SEC team to about the same extent as BYU or San Diego State is a Pac-12 team. However, that also means the Wildcats should be the favorite in every game on their schedule the rest of the way.

Ole Miss beat Tennessee 31-26 in an entertaining game that will mostly be remembered for Lane Kiffin getting hit by a golf ball as Tennessee fans showered the field with a variety of objects in protest of a late call that didn’t go their way.

It was a pretty terrible display by more than a few Tennessee fans, but I think Lane secretly loved it.

During his postgame interview he was more interested in talking about the golf ball that hit him than he was in talking about the actual game.

This got me to thinking: Would I be surprised if Lane paid someone to throw a golf ball at him?

Now, I’m not saying he did pay someone. I’m just posing a hypothetical.

If some sort of scandal was uncovered in one of Jon Gruden’s emails in which a coach admitted to paying someone to pose as an opposing fan and throw a golf ball at him, wouldn’t we assume it was Lane Kiffin at a Tennessee game?

No. 17 — Auburn (5-2)
No. 18 — Texas A&M (5-2)

Auburn beat No. 17 Arkansas 38-23. In addition to giving the Razorbacks their third straight loss, it was Auburn’s best win of the year. I can’t believe I’m saying this but Bo Nix is actually playing like an above-average SEC quarterback.

Speaking of SEC quarterbacks, a week after Texas A&M’s Zach Calzada played the game of his life against Alabama, he was 13-for-25 for 148 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception against Missouri in a 35-14 win.

Has there been a full investigation into Calzada’s performance against Alabama? Are we sure that wasn’t Johnny Manziel or Ryan Tannehill wearing Calzada’s jersey?

No. 19 — Baylor (6-1)

Baylor beat No. 19 BYU 38-24. It was BYU’s second loss in a row after surging to a top 10 ranking, which goes to show how quickly the college football landscape can change.

The Bears now get a week off before hosting Texas.

Win that one and we’ll have to recognize Baylor as a factor in the Big 12 race, although their previous loss to Oklahoma State means they would almost certainly need to beat Oklahoma to earn a spot in the Big 12 Championship game.

No. 20 — North Carolina State (5-1)
No. 21 — Pitt (5-1)

North Carolina State beat Boston College 33-7 in a big game as far as the ACC Coastal is concerned. Pittsburgh beat Virginia Tech 28-7 in a big game as far as the ACC Atlantic is concerned.

Or wait, did I get that wrong? I think NC St is in the Atlantic and Pitt is in the Coastal. Do ACC fans even know which division their teams are in?

I’ve got NC State over Pitt right now because NC State is still the only ACC team to beat Clemson. Georgia Tech and Boston College both came really close to beating Clemson.

Syracuse joined them when they lost to Clemson by three points on Friday night. The next ACC team to take their crack at the Tigers will be Pitt.

Since the Panthers have the ACC’s best quarterback in Kenny Pickett, I don’t think it’s out of the question that they could essentially knock Clemson out of the ACC race before the end of October.

No. 22 — SMU (6-0)
No. 23 — San Diego State (6-0)
No. 24 — UTSA (7-0)

There are different ways a team can stay undefeated. You can enjoy a bye like SMU did.

You can pull out a gritty overtime win on the road against the defending conference champion like San Diego State did against San Jose State.

You can blow the doors off your opponent like UTSA did in their 45-0 win over Rice. Each can be satisfying in its own way.

No. 25 — Utah (4-2) and Purdue (4-2) (TIE)

It didn’t feel right not to include Purdue after they beat the second-ranked team in the country in resounding fashion. But the team I really wanted to call out was Utah.

Last December, freshman running back Ty Jordan was killed in an accidental shooting in Texas. Many on the team traveled to Texas for his funeral and the football program established the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship in his memory.

The first recipient of the Ty Jordan scholarship was Jordan’s close friend and high school teammate Aaron Lowe.

Earlier this season, Aaron Lowe was shot and killed in Salt Lake City, just hours after Utah’s victory over Washington State. Last week the Utah football team returned to Texas for yet another funeral of a fallen teammate.

When a team is dealing with the type of tragedies that Utah has been dealing with, what happens on the field feels trivial by comparison. A week after beating USC 42-26, the Utes beat Arizona State 35-21 to take control of the Pac-12 South.

If some success on the field can serve as a meaningful distraction or some source of healing for this team that has been immersed in grief, then I’m rooting for that success to continue.

This column also appears at and is syndicated with permission. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchmor.

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