The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

Op-Ed: An updated top 25 ranking following a chaotic week seven

Four new teams enter the top 25 as the college football season rolls on
Washington Football on X

Washington beating Oregon in dramatic fashion was the most notable story this past weekend in college football. However, several other teams fell in tough losses including Louisville and USC. On the other hand, Missouri and Notre Dame picked up massive victories. My rankings have changed a lot in just three weeks, starting with:

25. James Madison Dukes (6-0)

The Dukes find themselves in undefeated territory during their second FBS season. JMU boasts a strong group of five wins against Troy and South Alabama, as well as a power-five win against Virginia. Following a strong, 28-point victory against Georgia Southern, the Dukes will travel to Marshall on Thursday night. 

24. Fresno State Bulldogs (6-1) 

Fresno State took a loss to Wyoming two weekends ago knocking them from their undefeated pedestal. Quarterback Mikey Keene is leading the offense with fifteen passing touchdowns this season. The Bulldogs will take on UNLV in two weekends following a bye week. 

23. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1)

Despite an offensive passing attack that only threw for 37 yards last weekend, Iowa managed a 15-6 win against Wisconsin. The elite defensive unit is led by senior linebacker Jay Higgins who leads the team with 87 tackles.

Iowa will take on Minnesota at home this weekend. 

22. Air Force Falcons (6-0)

Air Force has taken a hot start to the season. The Falcons have scored 34 or more points in five out of six games so far this season. Air Force picked up a convincing win this past weekend against Wyoming with two scores coming from quarterback Zac Larrier. A rivalry game awaits them next weekend as they travel east to take on Navy.  

21. Louisville Cardinals (6-1) 
Louisville’s season was on a tremendous high following a multi-score defeat of a strong Notre Dame team two weeks ago. However, last weekend they fell in crushing fashion to a 1-4 Pittsburgh team. First-year head coach Jeff Brohm has the Cardinals in a strong spot, but they will need to show resilience in two weeks for a ranked showdown against Duke. 
20. Tennesse Volunteers (5-1)

Tennessee was fighting a close matchup with Texas A&M into the second half last weekend but was able to scrape away a seven-point victory. Senior quarterback Joe Milton has raised more questions than answers with his play this season, but all eyes will be on the Vols this weekend when they travel to Tuscaloosa for a clash with Alabama. 

19. Missouri Tigers (6-1)

Missouri fell short against LSU two weekends ago, but the Tigers did not let that loss get the better of them as they traveled to Kentucky last Saturday and collected a dominating 17-point victory. Transfer running back Cody Schrader has been a key piece for the Tigers offense. He has put up seven touchdowns this season. Missouri will have a home matchup this weekend against 2-4 South Carolina. 

18. Duke Blue Devils (5-1)

Duke suffered a crushing loss at home to Notre Dame before a bye week. They rebounded this past weekend and took a decisive 24-3 victory over rival North Carolina State. The dominating defensive performance led to the fewest points scored by NC State against Duke since 1964. The defense will need to show up once again on Saturday night as the Blue Devils travel to Florida State for a massive test under the lights. 

17. USC Trojans (6-1) 

Quarterback Caleb Williams was odds on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy in back-to-back years heading into last weekend’s game against Notre Dame. However, his hopes were dashed upon throwing three interceptions and surrendering a 48-20 defeat in South Bend.

USC’s defense has allowed 40 or more points in three straight games. The Trojans will look to get back on track this Saturday against Utah. 

16. LSU Tigers (5-2) 

LSU has had an up-and-down season. This includes a solid win against Missouri and heartbreaking losses against Ole Miss and Florida State. However, the Tigers have begun to fight back as they picked up a 48-18 win against Auburn last weekend. The team has seen a boost in play defensively from pass rusher Harold Perkins Jr., who recorded two tackles for a loss last weekend. The Tigers will remain in Baton Rouge for Saturday night football against Army. 

15. Utah Utes (5-1) 

Utah has had one of the most dominant defenses in the country allowing only 13.2 points per game which is fifth best in the country. On the flip side, they are 113th in points scored on offense. The good news is the Utes’ offense posted 34 points in a win over California last weekend. Utah will look to continue the positive momentum this Saturday in a true road test against USC. 

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-2) 

Notre Dame is one of the most perplexing teams to understand in college football. They have picked up ranked wins against Duke and USC, but also have two ranked losses against Ohio State and Louisville. Junior running back Audric Estime has been the star of the offense including last weekend when he posted two touchdowns against USC. The Fighting Irish will enjoy a week off before taking on Pittsburgh at home. 

13. Ole Miss Rebels (5-1)

Following a disappointing loss against Alabama, the Rebels tightened up on offense and have taken two strong wins against Arkansas and LSU. Questions remain about the Rebels’ defense due to them surrendering 49 points against LSU, but the defense got back on track two Saturdays ago as they only allowed 20 points against Arkansas. Ole Miss will look to pick up their third straight victory this Saturday against Auburn. 

12. Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1)

Alabama finds themselves on a five-game winning streak. However, the last two games have featured poor offensive performances against Texas A&M as well as Arkansas with the team only combining for 50 points across both games. However, the talented pass-rushing duo of Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell have combined for 11.5 sacks this season and kept them in these tight games. The Crimson Tide will look to get back to their dominating ways on Saturday against Tennessee. 

11. Oregon State Beavers (6-1) 

It is a truly strange college football landscape we exist in this week as Oregon State has jumped Alabama in the top 25 rankings. The Beavers are not weak and have punched above their weight including a 36-24 victory against UCLA, one of the best defenses in the PAC-12 this season. Oregon State will look to continue its ascension up the ranks following a bye week with a win against Arizona on the 28th. 

10. UNC Tar Heels (6-0) 

The Tar Heels find themselves sitting at 6-0 for the first time since 1997. UNC is not there by accident either and has won their games in a dominating fashion. Quarterback Drake Maye has thrown for 12 passing touchdowns this season, including seven in his last two games. Maye has also established a strong connection with transfer wide receiver Devontez Walker who recorded three touchdowns last weekend in a win against the Miami Hurricanes. UNC will remain in Chapel Hill this weekend for a matchup against Virginia. 

9. Texas Longhorns (5-1) 

No team has experienced the dramatic highs and lows of college football this season more than the Longhorns. The Red River Rivalry ended in a 34-30 heartbreaking loss for the Longhorns against Oklahoma. However, Texas also lays claim to a strong 34-24 win against Alabama earlier this season allowing them to remain in the top 10. Texas will stay in-state this weekend to play Houston. 

8. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-0) 

The Nittany Lions lay claim to the most dominant win in the college football landscape last weekend: A 63-0 trouncing of UMass. Penn State quarterback Drew Allar has still yet to take the next step, but the defense has stood tall by not allowing more than 15 points this season. However, time is running out for the Nittany Lions as their biggest challenge of the season in Ohio State looms over them this Saturday. 

7. Oregon Ducks (5-1) 

Oregon put up a valiant fight against Washington this past weekend and came out with an agonizing three-point loss. The Ducks came up short on a 43-yard game-tying field goal. However, all is not a loss for Oregon as they still have the fifth-highest-scoring offense in the country. Senior quarterback Bo Nix is also playing the best football of his career with 17 touchdowns and one interception on the season. Oregon will return home this weekend and attempt to get back on track against Washington State. 

6. Michigan Wolverines (6-0)

Michigan has been one of the most elite defenses this season and because of that, they lead the country in the fewest points allowed defensively. The team is also firing on all cylinders offensively thanks to quarterback J.J McCarthy and running back Blake Corum. However, their six wins come against teams with a combined record of 17-20 meaning they have not faced a truly top-end team yet. The Wolverines will travel to Michigan State this weekend for one of the biggest rivalry games in college football. 

5. Florida State Seminoles (6-0)

Following close games against Boston College and Clemson, the Seminoles have gotten back on track. Over the past two weekends, the Seminoles beat Virginia Tech and Syracuse by 17 and 38 respectively. Wide receivers Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson have been huge parts of the offense as they have combed for 775 receiving yards this season.

The Seminoles will have another big game at home this weekend when Duke comes to town. 

4. Washington Huskies (6-0) 

The Huskies picked up their sixth and biggest win of their season last weekend against Oregon. Senior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has the team firing on all cylinders. Penix Jr. even led the Huskies on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. He connected for 18 yards to wide receiver Rome Odunze with only 1:38 left in the game for a touchdown. The Huskies will look to ride the momentum of last weekend into a win against Arizona State this Saturday. 

3. Georgia Bulldogs (6-0) 

Georgia picked up their most convincing win of the season two weekends ago in a 51-13 blowout over Kentucky. The Bulldogs followed that up with a 38-20 win at Vanderbilt last Saturday. The defending champions were looking sluggish to start the season, but with help from junior quarterback Carson Beck, the Bulldogs are looking as powerful as they did last year. Georgia will take a bye this week, but then travel across state lines to take on Florida. 

2. Oklahoma Sooners (6-0) 

Quarterback Dillon Gabriel has been elite for the Sooners this season. The UCF transfer has thrown for 16 touchdowns in his second season as the starter and added five touchdowns on the ground. Gabriel posted 398 total yards in the Longhorns win over Texas in the Red River Rivalry. Linebacker Danny Stutsman continues to be one of the best in the country and has now totaled 58 tackles and 10.5 tackles for a loss on the season. Oklahoma comes off of a bye this week and takes on UCF at home in Big 12 action. 

1. Ohio State Buckeyes  (6-0) 

It may be polarizing to have the Buckeyes as the number one team in the country but they pass the eye test with strong wins against Purdue and Maryland despite the latter being close in the second half. The Buckeyes also traveled into South Bend and beat Notre Dame in dramatic fashion. It certainly has helped the Buckeyes to have star wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. at his best. The junior has tallied 604 receiving yards and five touchdowns. The Buckeyes will face off against Penn State this weekend in Columbus with extreme stakes on the line.

This weekend will be an interesting one to look out for as two of the top five teams are involved in ranked matchups. It’s that time of year when rankings mean nothing and upsets are around every corner.

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