Jay LaPrete/Associated Press
The latest shakeups in the AP Top 25 will occur in Week 8, when the Big Ten begins its conference-only schedule.
Over the past few weeks, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions have been jumped by teams on the ascendancy in the top 10.
Ohio State did not move in front of the Georgia Bulldogs ahead of its season debut despite the SEC East side dropping its first game of the season to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Penn State moved up a position to No. 8, but it was vaulted by the Texas A&M Aggies after they produced their second consecutive win.
How the Big Ten’s top two teams perform in Week 8 could sway votes for higher positions in their directions.
While the Big Ten will get most of the Saturday spotlight, there are two other games involving undefeated top-10 teams that could give us a better idea of where they stand with November looming on the horizon.
Week 8 AP Top 25
1. Clemson (5-0)
2. Alabama (4-0)
3. Notre Dame (4-0)
4. Georgia (3-1)
5. Ohio State
6. Oklahoma State (3-0)
7. Texas A&M (3-1)
8. Penn State
9. Cincinnati (3-0)
10. Florida (2-1)
11. Miami (4-1)
12. BYU (5-0)
T14. North Carolina (3-1)
16. SMU (5-0)
17. Iowa State (3-1)
19. Virginia Tech (3-1)
20. Kansas State (3-1)
22. Marshall (4-0)
23. NC State (4-1)
25. Coastal Carolina (4-0)
Predictions For Week 8 Standings
Ohio State, Penn State Gain Ground in Top 10 with Victories
After spending the past two months watching the other power programs on the gridiron, Ohio State and Penn State have opportunities to prove they belong among the nation’s elite teams starting Saturday.
The Buckeyes are expected to be the Big Ten’s top College Football Playoff contender, and they have a chance to assert their dominance in their home game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Ryan Day’s team scored 292 points against unranked Big Ten opponents at home in the past two years, and it torched Nebraska’s defense in a 48-7 road victory last season.
Saturday’s meeting with Nebraska is the first of three contests against unranked conference foes in 2020, and it could serve as a good starting point for its title quest.
If Ohio State performs at the level it has against lesser opposition at home in recent seasons, it should make voters think about placing it above Georgia until it drops a game.
Penn State faces the trickier Big Ten opener since it has to visit the Indiana Hoosiers, who tested the Nittany Lions in a one-score game at Beaver Stadium in 2019.
Tom Allen’s program is coming off an 8-5 season in which all four of its conference defeats came to Top 25 teams. Since the Hoosiers failed to nail down a marquee victory in 2019, it is hard to believe they will upset a Penn State squad that won four of its five matchups with unranked Big Ten foes by double digits in 2019.
If James Franklin’s team controls its contest, it would set up at least a top-eight showdown with Ohio State in Week 9, and the Nittany Lions could be ranked higher if they impress voters more than the teams around them.
Oklahoma State, Cincinnati Face Challenges to Remain in Top 10
Two of the four Top 25 matchups in Week 8 involve programs that benefited from the Big Ten’s inactivity to boost their respective rankings.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys climbed up to No. 6 as the lone unbeaten team left in the Big 12, while the Cincinnati Bearcats are the highest-ranked Group of Five team at No. 9.
Both programs face their toughest challenges yet against the Iowa State Cyclones and SMU Mustangs, respectively, who have pulled off some impressive victories this season.
Iowa State won three games in a row and scored an upset over the then-No. 18 Oklahoma Sooners on October 3. Matt Campbell’s side put up 486 total yards in a seven-point loss to Oklahoma State in 2019.
SMU owns a Top 25 victory over the Memphis Tigers from October 3, and in its last meeting with the Bearcats in 2018, it pushed them to overtime.
Cincinnati and Oklahoma State combined to play a single ranked opponent in 2020. In that game, Cincinnati mustered a 24-10 win over the Army Black Knights.
SMU presents a step or two up in competition because of its passing attack led by Shane Buechele, who is second in the FBS in passing yards with 1,710.
Given the recent results out of Iowa State and SMU and their close history against Oklahoma State and Cincinnati, the No. 6 and No. 9 teams could be the ranked programs in the most danger of losing their high positions.