NCAAF
October 20, 2021

Lines' College Football Top 25: Week 8

Another week passes and that means it is time for a fresh addition of the Lines' Top 25. There are a lot of changes in the back half of the rankings and with Iowa, the No. 2 team in the country going down, the playoff picture looks a lot different this week.

As we enter Week 8 of the college football season, the actual contenders have begun to separate themselves while the good, but not great teams are starting to eliminate themselves from the competition. That is enough talking, let's get to rankings.

As always, please hold all opinions, insults, or hot takes until the end.

25. Purdue Boilermakers (4-2)

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Whenever you beat the second-ranked team in the country you deserve some love. All season long, Purdue has been right at the doorstep of the rankings and that is thanks to their exceptional defense. In the win against Iowa, George Karlaftis dominated the Iowa offensive line and caused trouble for an already shaky offense.

For the season, Purdue ranks third in points allowed per game (14), 11th in yards allowed per game (296.2), and 19th in yards allowed per play (4.7). If they keep playing like that, Purdue has a real shot at competing for the Big Ten West division title.

24. Utah Utes (4-2)

Previous Ranking: Unranked

The Utes pulled off a comeback victory over Arizona State last week and have cracked my top 25 for the first time this season. Not only are they ranked for the first time in 2021, but they have also taken sole possession of first place in the Pac 12 South division.

It is tough to beat a Kyle Whittingham-led Utes team at home and last week's win showed that they are still among the best the Pac 12 has to offer.

23. Pittsburgh Panthers (5-1)

Previous Ranking: Unranked

The ACC is wide open this year and Kenny Pickett and the Pitt Panthers have kicked down the door and have joined the conversation. Pickett has been lighting up defenses all year and has the Panthers sitting as the fifth-ranked scoring team in the country.

The Panthers have a tough game this week as they host Clemson, but with that offense, and Clemson's lack thereof, this is the time to take over as the favorite to win the ACC.

22. Baylor Bears (6-1)

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Baylor's one loss to Oklahoma State is starting to look better and better. While the Bears would rather have won that game, good losses should matter for a team like Baylor. With over 530 yards of total offense and 303 yards coming on the ground, Baylor showed off its impressive arsenal of weapons on offense in the 38-24 victory over BYU.

Depending on how the rest of the field shakes out, Baylor can rocket up these rankings, especially with this week being the BYE.

21. UTSA Roadrunners (7-0)

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Well look at this, C-USA is getting some representation.

The Roadrunners are undefeated, have an explosive offense, and have taken down a couple of big-name brands like Illinois, Memphis, and even UNLV and Western Kentucky. The schedule is fairly easy the rest of the way and so far, UTSA has been a very fun team to watch this season.

20. Texas A&M Aggies (5-2)

Previous Ranking: 25

It was a very "eh" 35-14 victory over Missouri for Texas A&M. Let's be honest, there was no real way they would impress this week after knocking off Alabama in the previous week. The good news is that Zach Calzada once again looked sharp and the Aggies have another easy game this week against South Carolina.

19. San Diego State Aztecs (6-0)

Previous Ranking: 22

The Aztecs remain undefeated in 2021 but they barely survived against a woeful San Jose State team in double overtime last week. The defense is still great, but the offense needs some improvement. Head coach Brady Hoke made some history in the close 19-13 win last week as he has become the only active coach to have three different 6-0 starts with three different programs (San Diego State, Ball State, and Michigan.)

18. North Carolina State Wolfpack (5-1)

Previous Ranking: 21

The Wolfpack picked up an extremely impressive 33-7 road victory against a very tough Boston College team. Quarterback Devin Leary threw three touchdown passes against the Eagles and is now up to 15 touchdown passes on the season.

Thanks to this well-balanced offense and physical defense, the Wolfpack are now in the driver's seat to play in the ACC championship, all they need to do is finish the season strong. 

17. Kentucky Wildcats (6-1)

Previous Ranking: 14

There is just really nothing you can do when you play Georgia this season. Even though the Wildcats lost 30-13, Will Levis looked sharp and the defense showed flashes of being elite at times. With a relatively easy schedule the remainder of the way, look for a very talented Kentucky team to make some noise in the SEC and during Bowl season.

16. SMU Mustangs (6-0)

Previous Ranking: 18

SMU was on the bye last week but they were rewarded with everyone around them losing. Although they struggled with Navy in their last game, SMU and quarterback Tanner Mordecai are a threat to beat anyone, especially with that high-scoring offense.

A 1-5 Tulane should be no problem for the Mustangs as they continue their march to an undefeated matchup with Cincinnati later this year.

15. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-0)

Previous Ranking: 16

Another surprise team in the ACC, Wake Forest is enjoying an undefeated season so far and they are well-rested coming off the bye. Although Army is a tough team to beat, especially this year, Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons should pick up their seventh win this week.

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-1)

Previous Ranking: 15

A lot of teams were on the bye this week and nobody needed it more than Brian Kelly and the Irish. After a highly emotional win at Virginia Tech, the Irish got a week to relax, gather themselves, and come up with a solid game plan against USC.

If Notre Dame has any outside hope at the playoffs or a big-time bowl game, they need to blow out USC this week.

13. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1)

Previous Ranking: 2

The Hawkeyes got exposed this week against Purdue and have all but ended Iowa's national championship aspirations. The defense, which has forced offenses to turn the ball over all year long was non-existent and let David Bell and Purdue do whatever they wanted.

There is still an outside chance at sneaking into the playoffs but they will need to go on a 2014 Ohio State-type run and they just do not have the offense to do that.

12. Oregon Ducks (5-1)

Previous Ranking: 10

Until Oregon proves to me that they should not keep dropping, they are going to keep dropping. The Ducks are banged up on both sides of the ball but this is now the third one-score win this season for Oregon. While one of those wins was in Columbus against Ohio State, the other two against Fresno State, and now Cal has been very uninspiring efforts.

Oregon still controls its own destiny in the Pac 12 but they no longer have an advantage over Ohio State or others for the playoffs. This just simply is not a playoff team right now.

11. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (7-0)

Previous Ranking: 11

Coastal Carolina was on the bye last week so there was no reason to move them up or down. I think right in the 11-14 range is where this team belongs. They have a tough Wednesday Night game against Appalachian State and if Jamey Chadwell's Chanticleers can come out with a big victory, we will be having an interesting conversation this time next week.

10. Ole Miss Rebels (5-1)

Previous Ranking: 13

I just cannot quit on Lane Kiffin and this Ole Miss offense. Despite only beating Tennessee 31-26, that was an impressive road victory against a very well-balanced Vols' team, especially in an extremely hostile environment.

Matt Corral continues his rise to being the Heisman Trophy winner and a first-round pick with 231 yards passing and 195 yards rushing in the win last week. With a tough LSU team coming into town, he will need to be sharp again this week, which shouldn't be a problem. This offense is just an absolute joy to watch.

9. Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-0)

Previous Ranking: 12

One of the most complete teams in the country stays undefeated with a 16 unanswered points comeback against Texas in the second half last week. Spencer Sanders has finally taken off at quarterback for Mike Gundy and the Cowboys' mix of athletism and experience has led them to this point.

This week will be just as tough when they take on Iowa State.

8. Michigan State Spartans (7-0)

Previous Ranking: 13

Mel Tucker continues his impressive run with the Spartans as they took down Indiana 20-15 to remain undefeated. Heading into the BYE week, the Spartans get a chance to get some rest and hopefully watch the rest of the Big Ten East collapse as they prepare for Michigan to come into town on Oct. 30.

7. Penn State Nittany Lions (5-1)

Previous Ranking: 12

The loss to Iowa stings a lot worse now that the Hawkeyes were exposed last week. However, Penn State can only worry about what is in front of them right now, and that is Illinois. Even with Sean Clifford's status still up in the air, Penn State is the vastly superior team and should handle an easy opponent with or without their starting quarterback.

This game should serve as a nice tune-up before their battle with the Buckeyes in Columbus on Oct. 30.

6. Michigan Wolverines (6-0)

Previous Ranking: 7

Like the rest of the Big Ten East, this is the last week before all hell is going to break loose for Michigan. The Wolverines host Northwestern this week before they travel down the road to East Lansing to take on Michigan State

Michigan was on the bye last week so they should be well-rested against an obviously inferior Northwestern team.

5. Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1)

Previous Ranking: 6

It did not take long for Bryce Young and Alabama to rebound from their first unranked loss since 2007. The Tide walked into Starkville and completely embarrassed Mississippi State 49-9.

Young threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns and the rest of the offense received some love as well as four different players caught a touchdown pass. Alabama will host Tennessee this week in what should be another easy win for Nick Saban's bunch as they try to climb back into the playoffs.

4. Oklahoma Sooners (7-0)

Previous Ranking: 5

Caleb Williams looked good in his first career start with the Sooners as he threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns in the 52-31 victory over TCU. The offense clearly is better when Williams is in over Spencer Rattler and Oklahoma has to be feeling good entering their easy matchup against Kansas.

Oklahoma moves into the top four, but the problems on the offensive line and on defense still remain. One slip up from the Sooners could be a death sentence as Alabama and a lot of other teams are knocking on the door.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (5-1)

Previous Ranking: 4

The Buckeyes move up one spot while enjoying the bye last week.

There is nothing much to say about Ohio State that I have not already said. They have the best offense in the country and the defense has shown signs of improvement while they have played the easy part of their schedule. Things like getting to the quarterback, tackling in space, and forcing turnovers are things you want to see out of your defense when playing weak teams and that is what Ohio State has done since the loss to Oregon.

2. Cincinnati Bearcats (6-0)

Previous Ranking: 3

The Bearcats blew out UCF 56-21 last week and thanks to the Iowa loss, Cincinnati moves up to No. 2 in our rankings.

Desmond Ridder continues to look like a Heisman candidate, the defensive secondary led by cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Ahmad Gardner has been elite, and running back Jerome Ford was able to rip off 212 yards and four touchdowns last week. If you want to keep doubting Luke Fickell's squad that is fine, but the Cincinnati Bearcats are for real and they deserve a chance to play for the national championship.

1. Georgia Bulldogs (7-0)

Previous Ranking: 1

Georgia remains the No. 1 team in the country once again with another impressive showing against a highly-ranked Kentucky team.

Stetson Bennett once again got the job done with J.T. Daniels hurt and the defense that is only allowing 6.6 points per game and 209.1 yards per game has Georgia as the clear best team in America. They are on the BYE this week before their toughest remaining regular-season game against Florida.

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