College Football Playoff rankings: Nos. 6-10
10. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2, +1): The Nittany Lions have fallen into a weird dichotomy this season. In all of their ten wins, they have won by an average of 32.6 points, despite being borderline out of reach in their two losses against Ohio State in Week 8 and Michigan in Week 11. In their dominant season finale win against Michigan State 42-0, the defense allowed a mere 53 yards, and -35 rushing yards. The defense forced 10 punts and did not allow a drive of more than eight plays, including eight three-and-out sequences. While the defense was on point, the offense was also really exemplary, sophomore quarterback Drew Allar posted 292 yards and two touchdowns and Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton earned 137 and 118 yards, respectively with Singleton also notching a touchdown. Penn State will probably have its eyes set on an at-large bid in the Cotton, Peach, or Fiesta Bowl this New Year’s Day.
9. Missouri Tigers (10-2, NC): The Tigers looked as refined as ever, having as big as a 41-0 lead in their rivalry game against Arkansas. All eyes were on senior running back Cody Schrader who was unstoppable, putting up 217 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Brady Cook showed great command of the game despite not having the best stat line of 112 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, and another on the ground. After their first 10-win season in nearly a decade, Missouri is a lock for an NY6 bowl, probably in a Cotton or Peach slot.
8. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, NC): The jump from Missouri to Alabama is probably the biggest between any two teams on this list. The 2023 Iron Bowl left Nick Saban counting his lucky stars after pulling off one of the most unbelievable comebacks in recent memory. Fourth-and-goal from the 31, and Jalen Milroe found a way to pull out the win against arch-rival Auburn. The sophomore quarterback threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another 107 yards. While the defense struggled to limit the Auburn run, opposing quarterback Payton Thorne was held to 91 yards and two interceptions. Despite surviving Auburn, this team has its biggest task of the season on the weekend; beating No. 1 Georgia for the SEC Championship. A win would almost undoubtedly see them in the College Football Playoff for the eighth time in its 10-year lifespan.
7. Texas Longhorns (11-1, NC): There was no hangover effect for the Longhorns as they dropped 47 straight points on Texas Tech en route to a 57-7 win to close out the season. Sophomore Quinn Ewers got the job done with 196 yards passing and a touchdown. Jaydon Blue was outstanding with 121 rushing yards with a score. The Longhorns are favored by 14.5 points and a win in the Big 12 title game would give them a hard-to-ignore case for the College Football Playoff.
6. Oregon Ducks (11-1, NC): Head coach Dan Lanning and senior quarterback Bo Nix have finally earned a win over a close rival with a 31-7 thrashing of No. 16 Oregon State. The Heisman frontrunner was everything Oregon needed to control this game wire-to-wire, putting up 367 passing yards with two touchdowns on 33-for-40 completions. Nix also rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown. Nix’s favorite targets were junior wideouts Tez Johnson and Troy Franklin, putting up 137 receiving yards on 11 catches and 128 yards and a score on nine catches, respectively. The Ducks have a much-anticipated rematch with Washington on Friday in the final Pac-12 title game with a ticket to the CFP on the line.