A few changes this week after Clemson picked up another huge win, Alabama knocked off LSU and Michigan State tumbled from the ranks of the unbeaten.
With that, here’s the top 25 ballot I submitted to the Associated Press this week:
1. Ohio State (9-0; Last week: 1) – While other teams around them are building nice resumes this season, I still think Ohio State is the best team in the country. This is a team loaded with championship players and led by a championship coach. No, the Buckeyes haven’t been dominant week in and week out, but put them on a neutral field against anybody else, and I’d put my money on Ohio State. That’s why until they prove otherwise, I continue sticking with them at the top.
2. Clemson (9-0; LW: 4) – I have no problem with the Tigers taking over the AP’s top spot this week. They haven’t lost to anybody and they’ve now got two great victories, against Notre Dame and Florida State.
3. Baylor (8-0; LW: 3) – Bears had to sweat one out on the road against Kansas State, but it was the first career start for freshman QB Jarrett Stidham. Baylor’s three biggest games are coming up in the next three weeks (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU). Win out, and they’ll be sitting pretty for the playoff.
4. Stanford (8-1; LW: 7) – I’m in the minority by having the Cardinal in the top four, but ever since a season-opening clunker at Northwestern, they’ve been as impressive as anybody in the country.
5. Alabama (8-1; LW: 8) – I’m also in the minority by not having the Tide in the top four. To me, it’s pretty much a coin toss between Stanford and Alabama. Both are great teams; I just believe Stanford is a bit better right now.
6. Oklahoma State (9-0; LW: 13) – We’ve been waiting to see the Cowboys play a top-notch team. They did on Saturday and crushed TCU in one of the season’s most impressive performances. Matchups with Baylor and Oklahoma are coming up, and OSU will have an opportunity to move up.
7. Notre Dame (8-1; LW: 9) – Using a backup QB almost all season, the Irish are a two-point loss – on the road at Clemson – away from being perfect. They are 3-0 against other teams currently in the AP top 26.
8. LSU (7-1; LW: 2) – Tigers had been impressive all season until laying an egg against rival Alabama on Saturday. They need some help to get back into the SEC title hunt, but aren’t out of it yet.
9. Iowa (9-0; LW: 12) – Hawkeyes deserve some love for winning week after week. It’s hard to justify them being much higher, though, because the schedule isn’t daunting. Unlike the others ahead of them, the Hawkeyes don’t play a top-tier team this season.
10. Utah (8-1; LW: 10) – I really like this team, but the loss to USC will likely haunt the Utes. To have any shot at the playoff, they need to win out, hope Stanford wins out and then beat the Cardinal in the Pac-12 title game. Even then, they probably need some help.
11. Florida (8-1; LW: 11) – Gators won ugly against Vanderbilt on Saturday, but don’t count them out this season. They’ve got a date with Florida State and the SEC title game (likely against Alabama) coming up. Win out, and they could sneak into the playoffs.
12. Oklahoma (8-1; LW: 14) – Ever since that ugly loss to Texas, the Sooners have been on a roll and blew out Iowa State on Saturday. Now comes the true test: back-to-back-to-back against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State.
13. Michigan State (8-1; LW: 5) – Spartans likely blew their shot at a national title with Saturday’s one-point loss at Nebraska. Disappointing result for a team that’s been on the radar all year.
14. Michigan (7-2; LW: 15) – Wolverines routed Rutgers on Saturday and kept hope alive for a spot in the Big Ten title game.
15. TCU (8-1; LW: 6) – Any shot the Horned Frogs had at a national title went out the window with a 20-point loss at Oklahoma State. There’s still a chance to finish strong, though.
16. Houston (9-0; LW: 20) – Cougars kept their great season going with a good win against Cincinnati this week. A couple of resume building games are coming up against Memphis and Navy.
17. North Carolina (8-1; LW: 24) – Tar Heels are quietly having a great season and crushed rival Duke this week.
18. UCLA (7-2; LW: 25) – Hard to tell which Bruins team will show up from week to week, but last week, it was the good Bruins. They routed Oregon State 41-0 for their third win in a row.
19. Florida State (7-2; LW: 17) – After a close loss to Clemson, the Seminoles have lost two of three.
20. Temple (8-1; LW: 21) – Owls bounced back from their first defeat to pound SMU last Saturday.
21. Wisconsin (8-2; LW: 23) – Badgers have won five in a row after knocking off Maryland. Their only losses have come against Alabama and Iowa.
22. Mississippi State (7-2; LW: unranked) – Four wins in a row for the Bulldogs, who now have a chance to play spoiler. They will host Alabama this week.
23. Southern California (6-3; LW: unranked) – Many wrote off the Trojans after a loss to Washington and the firing of coach Steve Sarkisian. They’ve looked pretty good since then, however, and could play their way into the Pac-12 title game.
24. Navy (7-1; LW: unranked) Midshipmen routed a very good Memphis team last week. Their only blemish was a loss at Notre Dame.
25. Memphis (8-1; LW: 16) – Tigers had a real shot at a special season before last Saturday’s loss to Navy. It can still be a great season; it just won’t be special.
Mississippi (7-3; LW: 18) – Did this team really beat Alabama – on the road? Crazy OT loss to Arkansas dropped the Rebels to 3-3 in the last six weeks.
Toledo (7-1; LW: 19) – The Rockets coughed up a chance at an unbeaten regular season with a loss to Northern Illinois last week.
Texas A&M (6-3; LW: 22) – A 16-point home loss to Auburn gave the Aggies three losses in four games.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.