Ranking 131 college football teams after Week 10: No debating Georgia at No. 1


We tried, we thought, we hoped. But ultimately, like Thanos, Georgia is inevitable.

The Dawgs’ 27-13 win against No. 1 Tennessee was never as close as the final score, and it made clear that Georgia is far and away the best team in the country. Thus, it’s back to No. 1 in The Athletic 131.

Georgia played with its food against Kent State and Missouri, but at the end of the day, in a big spot, nobody compares to its depth and talent. The College Football Playoff committee should be allowed to keep spots 2-4 open just to make a point.

Tennessee, even in defeat, still has a shot at the CFP. Georgia’s chances of winning the SEC probably went up when LSU beat Alabama in overtime, and if Tennessee finishes 11-1 with only that loss, the Vols will have a case. (Don’t forget Tennessee blew the doors of LSU in Baton Rouge.)

But there’s only one case for No. 1. Despite losing a record 15 NFL Draft picks off last year’s team, Georgia could still go out and throw a touchdown pass to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, a former top-60 recruit who had one touchdown in his career entering Saturday. Tight end Brock Bowers might be the most talented player in the country. Quarterback Stetson Bennett threw for 226 yards in the first half and attempted only four passes in the second half as the Dawgs melted the clock away.

Georgia is No. 2 in 247Sports’ Team Talent ratings, and only Alabama and Ohio State are close to the Dawgs. Georgia likely won’t have to play Alabama this year after the Tide lost a second game, and Ohio State has rarely been tested. Kirby Smart has built Georgia into the Alabama-like Death Star people always thought it could be.

Georgia may be inevitable, but nothing else in this sport is. After another wacky weekend, here is the Week 11 edition of The Athletic 131.

1-10

Rank Team Record Prev

1

9-0

2

2

9-0

3

3

9-0

4

4

9-0

6

5

8-1

1

6

8-1

8

7

7-2

17

8

8-1

9

9

8-1

10

10

8-1

11

I was surprised to see the CFP committee put Ohio State at No. 2 last week. The Buckeyes move up to No. 3 here this week, but reluctantly after an ugly 21-7 win at Northwestern. Yes, the weather was bad, but the Buckeyes struggled to run the ball at times and have been far from dominant. The win against Notre Dame, however, looks better with time after the Fighting Irish dominated Clemson 35-14. Still, I kept Michigan ahead, moving it to No. 2. The Wolverines have started slow the past few weeks, trailing at halftime at Rutgers on Saturday, but they’ve never been in danger of losing. The weak nonconference schedule hurts, but by closing with Illinois and Ohio State, it ultimately doesn’t matter. The Michigan-Ohio State winner will almost certainly get in the CFP and the loser will need help.

TCU moves up to No. 4 after yet another comeback win, this time 34-24 against Texas Tech. People fretted about the No. 7 spot in the CFP, but if you win your games, you’ll be fine. The 9-0 Horned Frogs have trailed in five consecutive games and won the past three by double-digits. They also own a two-game lead over the rest of the Big 12 and have nearly assured themselves a spot in the Big 12 title game. If TCU wins out, it’s in. If it drops a game before that but still wins the Big 12, it’ll still have a shot. Trips to Texas and Baylor will be big tests.


LSU moved up to No. 7 after its OT win against Alabama. (Stephen Lew / USA Today)

I had LSU far lower than the CFP committee last week, but the win against Alabama moves the Tigers well into the top 10. LSU now has wins against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama. Those are very good wins, which is why the Tigers are ahead of USC and UCLA. (Oregon has the win against UCLA to its credit.) I didn’t include LSU in my list of possible Playoff teams last week because no two-loss team has made it, but the Tigers do have an outside shot now.

USC and UCLA are tough to evaluate against each other. USC’s lone loss was on the road at Utah and by a close margin. UCLA beat Utah handily but also lost a lopsided game at Oregon, whom USC won’t play in the regular season. This will eventually play out like Michigan-Ohio State, with it settled on the field on Nov. 19.

11-25

Alabama falls out of the top 10. With so many close finishes, it’s not hard to see a scenario with Alabama still undefeated or having four losses. The bottom line is this Bama team is just not that good compared to past seasons, with major weaknesses at receiver and on defense. Clemson not only lost, but some of its wins (Syracuse, Wake Forest) have been devalued, while another (Florida State) has looked better. North Carolina is 8-1 but barely held on against Virginia 31-28. Texas also barely held on against Kansas State 34-27 and set up a big home game against TCU next week. NC State beat Wake Forest 30-21 and is 3-1 since Devin Leary suffered a season-ending injury.

Liberty moves into the top 25 after a 21-19 win at Arkansas. The Flames, however, are not eligible for the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bid as an independent team. Illinois lost 23-15 against Michigan State after going 1-for-6 on fourth down and whiffing on a punt. Florida State beat Miami 45-3, two years after Miami won this game 52-10, a sign of the direction of these programs. The Seminoles are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2019.

UCF had the largest gap between the rankings in the CFP (No. 25) and The Athletic 131 (No. 46) last week. That Louisville loss that had been weighing the Knights down is no longer doing so because of the Cardinals’ turnaround. Wins against SMU and Cincinnati at home and now Memphis on the road give the Knights a boost into the top 25. Next up is a big game at Tulane.

26-50

Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Wake Forest and Syracuse drop out of the top 25 after losses. Baylor (beat Oklahoma) and Notre Dame (beat Clemson) are close to the top 25. Coastal Carolina beat Appalachian State for its first real quality win of the season and the Chants finally move into the top 30.

Notre Dame and Louisville are difficult to rank. The Irish have wins against Clemson and Notre Carolina but losses to Marshall and Stanford. Louisville has wins against UCF and Wake Forest and a loss to Boston College. Ultimately, both are trending upward from the beginning of the season, so that carries weight.

Kansas finally rebounded with a win against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were without their starting QB, but so was Kansas.

Maryland beat Michigan State, which beat Wisconsin, which beat Maryland on Saturday, so feel free to order those three teams any way you’d like. Duke is bowl-eligible in Mike Elko’s first season as head coach after beating Boston College 38-31, and the Blue Devils move into the top 50.

51-75

BYU ended a four-game losing streak with a 31-28 win at Boise State, ending the Broncos’ four-game winning streak. SMU beat Houston 77-63 in the highest-scoring FBS game in regulation modern college football history. Texas A&M has lost five consecutive games, most recently a 41-24 home loss to Florida while the Aggies battled a flu bug. North Texas is bowl-eligible and is 10-1 in its past 11 Conference USA games, including a 52-14 win against FIU on Saturday.

76-100

Miami would drop even further after a 45-3 loss to Florida State if nearly all the teams below the Hurricanes didn’t also lose. Memphis lost a close one to UCF and moves up a spot only because of losses by Middle Tennessee (to Louisiana Tech) and Miami. Fresno State has won four consecutive games after a 55-13 win against Hawaii.

UConn is 5-5 after beating UMass and has its most wins in a season since 2015. Rice picked up a much-needed 37-30 win against UTEP. Ohio is bowl-eligible at 6-3 and tied atop the MAC East division after beating Buffalo 45-24. Virginia Tech blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead and lost to Georgia Tech. The Hokies have lost six consecutive games for the first time since 1987.

101-131

Bowling Green is 4-1 in the MAC and has gone 5-2 since a seven-overtime loss to Eastern Kentucky. The regular-season finale against Ohio might be for the MAC East title. Temple’s 54-28 win against USF was one of the most-eye-popping scores of the weekend and drops the Bulls near the bottom. USF subsequently fired coach Jeff Scott. UMass remains at No. 131 after losing to UConn.

(Top photo: Todd Kirkland / Getty Images)





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