11. Utah – Remember in Week 1 when we thought we could just forget about the Utes? Or when UCLA outlasted them about a month ago? They’ve won four straight since that loss, including a thriller over USC. They are flirting with the Top 10 and a New Year’s Six Bowl Bid. If USC makes it back to the playoffs, the Utes could end up back in the Rose Bowl Game.
12. Penn State – I’ve considered Maryland to be a team flirting with a ranking this season, but Penn State eliminated any chance of that when they curb-stomped the Terps last weekend. Nittany Lion fans are hoping Ohio State and Michigan can both find a way into the playoffs so they can have a shot at the Rose Bowl.
13. North Carolina – The bad fortunes of the PAC-12 this past weekend have a little boost to the ACC that their conference champion still has an outside chance at the playoffs if either North Carolina or Clemson can run the table. Drake Maye is playing out of his mind right now.
14. Ole Miss – I think many people are down on the Rebels because they have been down on Alabama and expected Ole Miss to win this game. PSA: Alabama is still very good. They aren’t championship caliber, but they still have the best head coach in the business and they still have the defending Heisman winner. Everyone has a chance, but there was a reason why a Top 15-ranked team was a 12-point underdog at home to the Tide.
15. UCLA – Arizona has kind of felt like Oregon State the last few seasons: not ready for prime-time but improving and very capable of surprising someone. The Wildcats did just that to the Bruins last weekend. Now Chip Kelly must get UCLA ready to play USC. Clemson needs the Bruins to handle business against the Trojans.