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Post-Week Eight College Football Playoff Power Rankings

Jalen Hurts, Alabama
The Four

1 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC)
As expected, Alabama had no issues this past weekend, punishing the struggling Tennessee Volunteers 45-7 in front of their home crowd. It wasn't much of a resume-boosting win for the Tide, but gave them plenty of momentum as they head into their bye week, right before their battle against LSU. The meeting with the Tigers very well could be the toughest remaining opponent for Alabama before their Iron Bowl matchup with Auburn, and then likely an SEC Championship Game meeting with Georgia. This team still has plenty to work on, including fixing a mediocre passing attack, and on special teams, but it is looking like 'Bama once again has a very good chance at running the table before they head into postseason play.

2 Penn State Nittany Lions (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten)
Outside of a tough road win over Iowa, Penn State's Playoff resume really paled in comparison to most of the other serious contenders up until this Saturday. The Nittany Lions were able to get vengeance against Michigan after losing 49-10 to them last year (a loss that ended their Playoff hopes), pounding the Wolverines 42-13. Penn State's offense continues to give defenses fits, as Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley are a big play waiting to happen. On the other side of the ball, it is still unclear just how good PSU is, but the numbers speak for themselves. Up next for the Nittany Lions: a huge game against Ohio State in Columbus. The Buckeyes will be eager to get revenge after losing to Penn State last season, but the Nittany Lions know a victory there should put them on a clear track to a second straight conference title.

3 Georgia Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
Even though Georgia was on a bye this weekend, it was a great day for the Bulldogs. That is because UGA's signature victory, Notre Dame, who they beat in a thriller, beat USC to give them a real signature win. Notre Dame looking better in turn makes Georgia look better, who needs all the help they can get, considering they play in the notoriously weak SEC East. The Bulldogs get Florida this next weekend in their annual rivalry game that could be interesting but beyond that it looks like pretty smooth sailing for Georgia, before their likely SEC Championship Game berth.

4 TCU Horned Frogs (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)
Things went as planned for TCU over this weekend as well, as the Horned Frogs dominated Kansas 43-0 to stay undefeated. Not only did TCU look potent once more offensively, their defense was absolutely terrific, holding Kansas to a meager 21 yards of total offense. The continued success of that defense is a major advantage for TCU, particularly considering they play in the Big 12, a league that is well-known for it's big-time offenses. A road matchup against Iowa State in Ames could be a tough one for the Horned Frogs. The Cyclones are much-improved this season, have already beaten Oklahoma and have a history of stunning undefeated teams (see Oklahoma State, 2011).

Next Four Out

5 Wisconsin Badgers (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten)
The Badgers just keep on rolling, running past Maryland 38-13 on Saturday to stay flawless overall and in Big Ten play. It might have added another win to Wisconsin's total, but it didn't exactly increase their Playoff odds. The Badgers still lack a true signature victory to impress the Playoff Committee, and it is hard to see when they are going to get one. Their toughest remaining opponent prior to the Big Ten Championship Game is against Michigan, which may be a tough battle, but doesn't really qualify as a huge win. It is looking more and more like Wisconsin should run the table, but it is hard to know what the Committee will think of a team without a very impressive resume.

6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1)
Not a lot was expected of Notre Dame following a 4-8 2016, but there is no denying this team has been a notable surprise. The offense has been absolutely lethal on the ground and defensively, new coordinator Mike Elko has worked wonders. This past weekend really gave ND the signature win they needed, by blowing out USC, who still has a good chance to win the Pac-12. That plus a non-conference victory over Michigan State and plenty of remaining opportunities to even further impress the Committee (Stanford, NC State and Miami all await) gives the Irish a very good shot to make the Playoff, particularly if they can run the table.

7 Clemson Tigers 6-1 (4-1 ACC)
Clemson had a week off to ponder what went wrong in the team's stunning loss to unranked Syracuse, which could be a huge blessing. It may help quarterback Kelly Bryant get healthy once more, and also prepare the team for a tough end-of-the-year stretch, which includes facing a tough triple-option attack in Georgia Tech, a dangerous NC State squad and a bitter rival in South Carolina. What also helps the Tigers is the fact that Syracuse went out and gave undefeated Miami a very tough game on Saturday, making that loss look a lot better. The loss still won't look great in front of the Committee but if Clemson can still run the table and win the ACC, it's hard to imagine a team with such a solid resume missing out on the four-team field.

8 Ohio State Buckeyes 6-1 (4-0 Big Ten)
This Ohio State team is looking more and more like the 2013-2014 Buckeyes, and that should strike fear into the rest of the country. That team lost a non-conference game early on (like the Buckeyes did this year against Oklahoma) before playing like mad the rest of the season and using a great second half of the season to find their way into the Playoff. However, Ohio State still has yet to get a signature win on the year. They've absolutely pounded lesser competition in the conference, but this week against Penn State could give the team the big win they desperately need. A win there, in front of the home crowd in Columbus, makes OSU not only the favorite in the Big Ten East, but also likely puts them in the forefront of the Playoff race.

Others in the Mix
Miami Hurricanes
Oklahoma Sooners
Washington Huskies
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Virginia Tech Hokies
Washington State Cougars
Michigan State Spartans
South Florida Bulls
UCF Knights
Stanford Cardinal

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