Projections for No. 7-10
7. USC: The Trojans slipped up against Utah, but that is their only blemish. There was probably no way the offense could live up to the lofty expectations of the preseason, but it has been good enough to get USC to the Top 10 and the cusp of a playoff berth. The Trojans, as well as any other contender from the PAC-12, will need a bit of chaos to grab one of those top four spots.
8. Alabama: You may be surprised to see the Crimson Tide at #8, but I promise you that Nick Saban is licking his chops. He is thinking he’s got everyone just where he wants them. Rarely does Saban get to work outside the spotlight (well, at least less spotlight than usual) and have the disrespect card to play with his team. After all, their one blemish is a last-minute road loss to a team that will likely be in the top four.
9. Oregon: The 2022 Ducks exist to remind us that we shouldn’t get carried away with Week 1 game outcomes. Oregon has played very well since that game in Atlanta and is in contention for a conference championship. The caveat? Huge blowouts tend to creep back up on teams when the committee is looking for tiebreakers between programs.
10. Ole Miss: The Rebels followed up their first loss of the season with a win in College Station. Ole Miss has a big game against Alabama coming in two weekends, but if they beat the Tide, it will ironically give LSU the de facto lead in the SEC West because the Tigers will own the tiebreaker with the Rebels.