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SB Nation College News | October 8, 2014

Week 7 college football power rankings, conference-by-conference

Let's try and figure out which team tops each group after the craziest weekend of the year.

The ACC

by Bud Elliott
1. Florida State
2. (tie) Notre Dame*
Clemson
4. (tie) Georgia Tech
Virginia
Virginia Tech (Last week: 8)
7. (tie) NC State (4)
Louisville (4)
Miami (4)
Duke (8)
11. (tie) Pittsburgh (8)
Boston College (12)
Syracuse (12)
North Carolina (12)
15. Wake Forest

* Notre Dame included in the ACC because it plays a partial ACC schedule and can share ACC bowl ties. And there's no better place to put it.

Clemson crushed NC State, and freshman QB Deshaun Watson continues to show he's a phenom. Notre Dame didn't necessarily outplay Stanford, but it did get the victory and deserves to stay in the top tier, though its wins over Syracuse and Michigan now look less impressive.

In the next group, Georgia Tech sits at 5-0 with a road win at Virginia Tech and a home win over Miami. Virginia looks better each week, beating Pitt and now seeming likely to make a bowl game. That's a salty defense and an offense that is learning not to beat itself.

NC State played FSU tough for a half, which is better than most ACC teams have been able to say over the last three seasons, but then it was crushed by Clemson and drops down to the net group. Miami lost its third game of the year.

This week: Duke travels to Georgia Tech, and if the Yellow Jackets beat the Blue Devils, the Coastal Division will be firmly in their grasp. And Louisville plays Clemson for second place in the Atlantic.

The Big 12

by Eddie Maisonet
1. TCU (Last week: 6)
2. Baylor
3. Oklahoma (1)
4. Oklahoma State (3)
5. Kansas State (4)
6. West Virginia (5)
7. Texas
8. Texas Tech
9. Iowa State
10. Kansas

The most dangerous head coach in all of college football reared his diabolical head again on Saturday afternoon. Hey Michigan, I don't think you'd be able to get him, but there's no coach who continually finds ways to win better than Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs. Patterson's boys pulled every single trick out the bag to beat the Big 12-favorite Sooners on Saturday afternoon, and now we're left with a conference that gives us more questions than answers.

Are we really ready to have Baylor serve as the lead dog of the Big 12, or are we just waiting for the other shoe to drop? Although TCU did slow down Oklahoma enough to pull out a 37-33 upset, are we sure the Horned Frogs can sustain this level of excellence? Can any of the other Big 12 teams with one loss find a way to keep winning and backdoor their way into the Playoff, or is that a pipedream?

Moreover, the Big 12's big dogs come into the Red River Shootout whimpering and licking their collective wounds. To think that Oklahoma and Texas would lose to the likes of TCU and Baylor used to be implausible. Now, the conference's best rivalry has been reduced to a regional game of the week, instead of a game that could drastically shift the national landscape.

This is all Charlie Weis' fault somehow.

The Big Ten

by Jane Coaston
1. Michigan State
2. Ohio State (Last week: 3)
3. Minnesota (8)
4. Iowa (7)
5. Rutgers (10)
6. Northwestern (11)
7. Nebraska (2)
8. Wisconsin (4)
9. Penn State (6)
10. Indiana (9)
11. Maryland (5)
12. Purdue (14)
13. Death (NR)
14. Michigan (13)
15. Illinois (12)

Michigan State nearly blew a 27-3 lead to Nebraska. Wisconsin lost to Northwestern. Michigan lost to Rutgers by allowing Gary Nova to look like a poor man's Peyton Manning.

The Big Ten is wild and woolly, and should be boiled before drinking. Moving up this week: Northwestern, which is on an inexplicable two-game win streak. Moving down: Michigan. 34 days until basketball season, guys.

The Pac-12

by Nam Le
1. Arizona (Last week: 6)
2. Oregon (1)
3. Utah (8)
4. UCLA (2)
5. Stanford (4)
6. Arizona State (5)
7. USC (3)
8. Washington (9)
9. California (11)
10. Oregon State
11. Washington State (7)
12. Colorado

I’m not going to lie. I had an extremely hard time assembling this top seven after the events of Saturday, so any objections or alternative rankings are more than likely just as justifiable as the ones I’m putting in front of you. Nevertheless, Arizona rises to the top spot this week largely based on its victory over previous Pac-12 No. 1 Oregon, but also holds the distinction of being the conference’s only undefeated team.

The other big riser is Utah, which traveled to the Rose Bowl and mauled UCLA up front right from the get go, sacking Brett Hundley 10 times on the way to a 30-28 victory. It’s becoming quickly apparent that the Utes' defensive line and superb special teams play will have them as a darkhorse contender for the Pac-12 South.

I acknowledge that USC had been over Stanford in recent weeks due to that head-to-head victory over the Cardinal, but this week’s loss to Arizona State –- in a game the Trojans dominated and clearly should have won –- was enough to tip the scales back toward David Shaw’s crew. After all, Stanford's losses came against two ranked teams, while USC has stumbled twice among the ranks of the unranked.

What a wild, wild game to close conference play last week between California and Washington State. One of these teams threw for 734 yards and scored 59 points, only to lose on a 19-yard field goal miss. The other one was California.

The SEC

by Chris Fuhrmeister
1. Auburn (Last week: 2)
2. Ole Miss (4)
3. Mississippi State (5)
4. Alabama (1)
5. Texas A&M (3)
6. Arkansas
7. Georgia (8)
8. LSU (7)
9. Missouri (8)
10. Kentucky (8)
11. Florida (8)
12. South Carolina (8)
13. Tennessee (8)
14. Vanderbilt

We’re starting to figure out some things, but not a whole lot. Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State are most certainly for real. Despite a loss, Alabama is still better than teams below it, and probably better than teams above it on some days. The SEC East is a disaster. Vanderbilt is awful.

Auburn takes over the top spot this week thanks to an impressive all-around performance against LSU, and perhaps the best out-of-conference win: taking down Kansas State in Manhattan on a Thursday night. Mississippi State’s road victory over LSU was in the argument for best win, but after the Bengal Tigers’ implosion on the Plains, some of the shine is off. Ole Miss edges the Bulldogs for taking down Alabama, but Auburn over K-State still might be better, due to being a road game. Thankfully, these three will sort it out among themselves in the coming weeks.

Georgia sneaks into the top seven by virtue of LSU looking like it has several significant issues. It sort of feels like Missouri should be ahead of its Bayou cousins, too, but when you play in the 2014 version of the East Division and you’ve lost to Indiana, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt.

Coming up this week: more cannibalization in the West (Auburn at State, Ole Miss at A&M, ‘Bama at Arkansas) and Georgia at Missouri in a big East matchup -- if those exist this year.

The Underdogs

by Bryan M. Vance
1. East Carolina (Last week: 2)
2. Marshall (3)
3. BYU (1)
4. Northern Illinois (5)
5. Colorado State (7)
6. Boise State (8)
7. Memphis (12)
8. Air Force (11)
9. Nevada (5)
10. Temple (9)
11. UCF (10)
12. (tie) Cincinnati (4)
Georgia Southern (17)
14. Middle Tennessee (13)
15. Utah State (25)
Group of 5 and independents ranked by the Underdogs Poll.

There’s a new leader amongst the Underdogs, and this one is a purple defense eater.

With Taysom Hill’s fractured leg came the end of BYU’s undefeated season, and now ECU, with a pair of wins over ACC teams and a handful of blowout wins already, is sitting on the throne atop the Underdogs. The Pirates have arguably been the most impressive team of the bunch all season long. Now they have the No. 1 power ranking to back it up.

It all starts and ends for ECU with the best quarterback you’ve maybe never heard of, senior Shane Carden. The hurler from Houston has been putting up eye-popping numbers since 2012, but he doesn’t have the brand power that BYU’s Hill, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato, or even Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel have. That will surely change if he can keep the Pirates’ offense humming along this fall.

Already ranked in the national top 20, and with the toughest remaining games on the schedule being back-to-back road contests at Temple and at Cincinnati to start November, ECU could easily wind up in the top 10 come the end of the season. You may want to familiarize yourself with Carden, because he very well could be all over your TV screens come New Year’s Day.

Your turn!

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