There’s even a chance OU comes in second among Big 12 teams, as rival Oklahoma State keeps marching along behind the most underrated defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Look for the Sooners, now 9-1, to come in at No. 9, one spot ahead of the one-loss Cowboys.
And look for this week’s poll, which will be released on Sunday, to be highlighted by the one-spot bump for Ohio State and Oregon. Linked by the Ducks’ non-conference win in September, this pair will join Georgia, Alabama and Cincinnati to round out the top five.
Here’s how the top 10 in this week’s Coaches Poll could look:
1. Georgia (10-0)
Tennessee can take some solace in being the first team to score more than 13 points on Georgia’s defense, though that small victory is overshadowed by one, that the Volunteers only scored 17 points, and two, that Georgia scored 41. The best team in the country keeps on rolling.
2. Alabama (9-1)
Alabama will remain ahead of Cincinnati after beating New Mexico State 59-3 in the Crimson Tide’s annual November tune-up game heading into the home stretch of the regular season. Thirteen players had at least one catch and seven players had at least one rushing attempt in the blowout against one of the worst teams in the country.
3. Cincinnati (10-0)
The 45-28 final score against South Florida is a little misleading: Cincinnati did allow the game’s opening touchdown and gave up 21 points in the second half, but the Bearcats went on a 31-0 run beginning in the first quarter to wrestle control of the game away from one of the worst teams in the American. Still, the huge chunk of voters waiting for Cincinnati to blow away opponents of South Florida’s caliber will be left disappointed for another week.
4. Ohio State (9-1)
The Buckeyes pushed around upset-minded Purdue from the start, dropping 45 points in the first half and putting together the sort of dominant win that should resonate in this week’s poll. With Oklahoma losing and Cincinnati struggling, there is a chance that OSU moves ahead of the Bearcats to sit at No. 3. The case for No. 3 will become even stronger should the Buckeyes win next Saturday against Michigan State.
5. Oregon (9-1)
A 38-24 win against Washington State that ended just after 2 a.m. ET on Sunday won’t do much to move the needle for the Ducks. Next week is more promising: Oregon will be at Utah in the first of what could be two meetings with the Utes, the only other team from the Pac-12 in last week’s playoff rankings. Saturday’s 38-29 win against hapless Arizona won’t help Utah get into the Coaches Poll, however.
6. Michigan (9-1)
Michigan will stay in the thick of the playoff hunt after gutting out a 21-17 win against Penn State. The Wolverines’ defense has held nine opponents under 400 yards of total offense and been very good against the pass, with six opponents averaging fewer than 6.5 yards per attempt. It’ll take more on offense to beat Ohio State, though.
7. Notre Dame (9-1)
The Irish took advantage of Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong’s absence and shut down the Cavaliers’ passing game in a 28-3 win. Will it be enough to fend off Michigan and Michigan State? Seventh in last week’s poll, Notre Dame would seem to be the obvious choice to move up following Oklahoma’s loss but may not have the resume to stay in front of the Wolverines.
8. Michigan State (9-1)
Kenneth Walker III ran for 143 yards and two scores, adding to his Heisman Trophy credentials, and Michigan State beat Maryland to set up one of the defining games of the regular season. Topping the Terrapins won’t be enough to change Michigan State’s spot in the Coaches Poll, which mirrors the playoff rankings in placing the Spartans behind Michigan despite the head-to-head win last month.
9. Oklahoma (9-1)
The Sooners’ offense had nearly two weeks to prepare for Dave Aranda’s defense and still managed to put up only 260 yards of offense in a loss that could eliminate the Big 12 from playoff contention. That’s going to lead to a big drop in the Coaches Poll, though OU is likely to remain ahead of rival Oklahoma State as the highest-ranked team in the conference.
10. Oklahoma State (9-1)
The best defense in the Big 12 held TCU to 17 points, 14 coming with the game well in hand in the fourth quarter, one week after the Horned Frogs put up 562 yards in upsetting Baylor. The convincing 63-17 win will be enough for Oklahoma State to stay at No. 10, though there may be an urge to reward Ole Miss, No. 12 last week, after the Rebels beat Texas A&M.