College Football Power Rankings: Tennessee and TCU sit in top four, Kansas State makes massive jump

College Football Power Rankings: Tennessee and TCU sit in top four, Kansas State makes massive jump

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This is the week we didn’t expect. Georgia vs. Tennessee went from traditional SEC rivalry to possibly the biggest game of the year. It makes sense, then, that they are No. 2 (Tennessee) and No. 3 (Georgia) in the Power Rankings through nine weeks of the 2022 college football season.

The Volunteers got there with some surprising defense against Kentucky, which was enough to vault Tennessee over Georgia for the first time this week. Saturday’s winner can almost “afford” to lose in the SEC Championship Game and still get to the College Football Playoff.

Looking too far ahead? Let’s just keep it this week. Look for both teams to be in the top three of the first CFP Rankings when released Tuesday night. As meaningless as they might seem, it will at least be a stake in the ground for the final five weeks of the season. 

Consider that only 53% of teams in top four of the first CFP Rankings releases (17 of 32) have actually reached the playoff. That shouldn’t take the shine off the biggest game to date. It is a matchup of the best defensive mind of the age (Kirby Smart) and a former Heisman Trophy runner-up who has turned the SEC on its ear with his Air Raid schemes (Josh Heupel).

Of course, it goes much deeper than that. And let’s not forget another heavyweight SEC battle coming Saturday as Alabama faces LSU. The Crimson Tide can’t suffer another loss in the regular season and hope to get to the CFP. The Tigers, frankly, don’t care. Their only SEC loss is to the VOls, which means they can take control of the SEC West with a win. How would that be for a Brian Kelly debut season?

TCU moves in at No. 4 with possibly the resume of anyone. The Horned Frogs’ schedule is somewhat backloaded, but that’s why we’re here. To get caught up in the hype. And to take a look at this week’s updated Power Rankings.

Biggest Movers







Ohio State

Even in its most perilous game, the Buckeyes won by almost two touchdowns at Penn State. A nightmare for bettors, sure – the Nittany Lions pulled off a backdoor cover – but a true test nonetheless. OSU went on a 28-3 run in the final 9 ½ minutes and picked off Sean Clifford three times. It’s time to say it: Bring on Michigan. 8-0



The nation’s No. 1 offense goes to play the No. 4 defense this week. These days, offense wins. Just in time to face Georgia between the edges, Tennessee flashed a defense holding Kentucky to six points. The last time the Volunteers gave up fewer points to an SEC opponent was 2008. 1 8-0



Told you to stay away from the Florida game (for entertainment purposes only). The Gators gave the Bulldogs a scare (for a while) and covered. Does it matter with the game of the year coming up? That the Dawgs go into Week 10 still in line for a repeat speaks volumes. 1 8-0



Max Duggan (341 yards, 3 TDs) was bloodied and beaten (sore calf) but survived against the motivated Mountaineers. For the third straight game, the Cardiac Frogs came from behind. Hard to argue this kind of consistency — four consecutive weeks, four consecutive wins against ranked wins against conference teams. 1 8-0



Jim Harbaugh’s bunch got more push back from Little Brother in the tunnel than they did on the field. The conflict took the shine off another Paul Bunyan Trophy for UM. “We knew there would be stuff after the whistle,” Harbaugh told reporters. “There usually is with them.” 1 8-0



Bye. Don’t expect the Tigers to be in the top four Tuesday. However, a trip to Notre Dame might be the Tigers biggest impediment to another CFP berth. A double-digit win would sit nicely with the committee. 8-0



Bye. The LSU game went from anticipated in the offseason to a yawn a few weeks ago to must-win now. Brian Kelly has the Tigers on the right track. 7-1



Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham had a day. Bo Nix continued to shine against Cal. Ducks’ running backs caught almost 200 yards worth of passes. 1 7-1


Kansas State

One of the biggest wins in K-State history. A historic shutout stomping of Oklahoma State was accomplished with backup QB Will Howard throwing for a career-high 297 yards and four TDS. 8 6-2



If you were looking for USC-Arizona join the crowd. The league’s best player — Caleb Williams, five TD passes — had a career day on the Pac-12 Network. 2 7-1



No loss from the Oregon loss. Zach Charbonnet ran for a career-high 198 yards against Stanford. 7-1



The biggest takeaway from the Washington State win was Cam Rising’s mystery injury. The Utah QB dressed, went through the warm-up and then sat. “He just didn’t feel like he was right,” coach Kyle Whittingham said. “It was Cam’s decision.” Big ol’ question mark there. 6-2



Bye. Jayden Daniels is at the high point of his career. That’s not a positive for Alabama, which historically struggles with dual threats QBs. 6-2


Ole Miss

Only Lane Kiffin could point out the intersection of Quinshon Judkins running for 205 yards on 34 carries on his 19th birthday at Texas A&M. “That’s like Derrick Henry carries when he was winning Heisman [Trophy while being] 3 years older.” 8-1



Six consecutive wins for the first time in 11 years. The nation’s No. 1 defense. Maybe Ohio State or Michigan ought to start breaking down Illinois film. With the Nebraska win, the Illini guaranteed their first regular season winning season since 2007. 1 7-1


North Carolina

There is a road – a narrow one, at this point – for the Tar Heels to get to the CFP. At this point, Drake Maye should at least get to New York after throwing five TDs against Pittsburgh. That ties Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud for the national lead (29). 5 7-1


Oklahoma State

First shutout loss since 2009 against K-State. Biggest margin of defeat in 18 years. “We got our butts kicked,” coach Mike Gundy said. Worse, the Cowboys dropped out of the Big 12’s top two for the conference title game. 7 6-2



Bye. After UCF beat Cincinnati, the Green Wave is alone in first place (4-0) in the American with four games to play. 4 7-1


Penn State

In his sixth year, in arguably his biggest game, Clifford threw three picks against Ohio State. It looks like the Buckeyes are for real. Penn State … ? Lots of soul-searchin’ coming up. 4 6-2



Gus Malzahn now in line to become the third coach to lead the Knights to a New Year’s Six bowl. That probably comes down to the Nov. 12 game at Tulane. NR 6-2


NC State

No Devin Leary, no problem. QB MJ Morris led the Wolfpack back from a 21-3 hole on Thursday to beat Virginia Tech. NR 6-2


Oregon State

Bye. The best-kept secret on the West Coast could win 10 games. The Beavers are already bowl eligible and have won six games at the earliest point in the season since 2013. NR 6-2



Bye. The Terrapins will have to prove it after an optimistic start. The next three are against Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State. 1 6-2


Wake Forest

Who saw this coming against Louisville? The Demon Deacons turned it over eight times (two returned for touchdowns) in one half. Wake also gave up six sacks. Dave Clawson called the result a “disaster.” Might as well bury the game film. 6 6-2



Bye. What a bye week. Hugh Freeze gets a new, long-term deal that suggests he’s a long-termer at Liberty. The Flames climb into the Power Rankings sitting on the couch. NR 7-1

Out: Kentucky, Syracuse, Cincinnati, South Carolina

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