The JP Top 25: Clemson’s on top


Believe it or not, we’ve got three weeks of wall-to-wall college football already under our belts. As you all know, the AP Top 25 is for the most part, very wrong. It takes preseason rankings way too seriously. It’s how Mississippi State, which has one of the most impressive wins all season long, can be ranked 17th.

The JP Top 25 rewards teams for what they’ve done between the white lines in 2017. I don’t care how many 5-star recruits you’ve signed. I don’t care how many starters you brought back from last season. I care about wins, losses, and how you look in those wins and losses during this season and this season alone.

My evaluation of these teams seems to be paying off. I’m 16-4 against the spread this season. I was a Florida Hail Mary away from going 7-0 on Saturday. You can always catch my weekly gambling preview on the CFB Country podcast. 

Forget the rankings you see every week on TV. This is the best ranking of college football teams on the internet.

  1. Clemson

The Tigers have entered Alabama-level territory of “don’t ever bet against us, no matter how many guys we just sent to the NFL.”

Think about the guys Clemson has lost in recent years – DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Vic Beasley, Andre Ellington – and the Tigers kept getting better. All we needed to know this year was if Kelly Bryant could honestly not screw it up, and now he’s proven he won’t. Hell, Pat Forde’s even starting the Heisman talk – and he’s not crazy. A trip to Blacksburg in two weeks is the next real test, but after watching Clemson dismantle Auburn and Louisville in back-to-back weeks, it’s hard to see anyone getting in the Tigers’ way. Here we go again. 

  1. Alabama

Nick Saban could start a Coke bottle at quarterback and the Tide ain’t losing a game this season. The SEC West is a joke. The SEC East is a joke. Alabama has never had a clearer path to the Playoff than he does this season. It’s a wrap.

  1. Oklahoma

The Sooners should be 4-0 when they welcome Iowa State – a tricky game when it falls the week before Texas – but so far the Sooners have earned a top-3 ranking. Am I sold on the Sooners as a full-fledged Playoff team yet? No, I’m not. There’s a team just down the road I might feel better about…more on that in a minute.

  1. Mississippi State

I picked the Bulldogs to cover a 7.5-point spread at home against LSU, and even thought an upset wouldn’t shock me. But hooooo boy did Dan Mullen blow the pants off Ed Orgeron Saturday night. Enjoy him while you have him, Bulldogs. Mullen’s getting out of Starkville in a few months.

  1. Georgia


  1. Oklahoma State

This is the best team in the Big 12. I’m ranking them behind a few teams because they don’t have the quality wins anyone of the first five teams on this list have. But good GOD is this team filthy. Mason Rudolph is my favorite player in college football. The cynical side of me wonders if there’s a little Geno Smith/Bryce Petty in him right now, but I’m just gonna ignore that for now.

  1. Maryland

That Texas wins looks alright now, huh?

  1. USC

That Stanford win doesn’t look too good now, huh?

I can’t put USC ahead of Maryland when the Terps beat Texas by more points and did it on the road. Stanford’s loss to San Diego State didn’t help the Trojans’ case. I’m telling you, there’s a letdown coming for USC. It might be in two weeks at Washington State

  1. Michigan

I’m getting a little nervous about the Wolverines. The offense hasn’t clicked yet, but the defense is so good it might not matter. Florida’s win over Tennessee is enough for me to keep Michigan in the Top 10. Barely.

  1. Penn State

After watching what Oklahoma State did to Pittsburgh, it’s fair to wonder why Penn State couldn’t win by more than 19. All eyes are on the two-week stretch in late October against Michigan and Ohio State, but the next three games (at Iowa, Indiana, at Northwestern) are awfully tricky. I expect Penn State to struggle in at least one of those games.

  1. Virginia Tech

What started out as a disaster ended as one of the most dominant offensive performances in school history, beating East Carolina 64-17. Watching the Pirates just concede 12-yard out routes to Cam Phillips all afternoon convinced me their defensive coordinator bet on the over. The Hokies’ offense is gaining confidence. This weekend is another chance to build on that momentum before Clemson comes calling.

  1. Notre Dame

What am I doing putting Notre Dame at 12? Crazy right? Well, not really. If I think Georgia is a top-5 team, how much lower can Notre Dame be after losing to them by just one point? I think Notre Dame has a chance to be a very good team this year, if Brian Kelly can get out of his own way.

  1. Florida State

It seems like eight years ago that Florida State lost to Alabama and lost Deondre Francois in the process. Maybe James Blackman has gained 20 pounds since then to get up to around 150.

  1. Washington

It’d be nice if Washington could play anyone relevant so we can figure out how good they are. I think the Huskies are the best team in the Pac-12, but it’s hard to say when they open the season with Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State. A road trip to Colorado this weekend is the first even remotely challenging test. 

  1. TCU

It looked like SMU was ripe for an upset before the Horned Frogs got off the ground and waxed the Mustangs 56-36. This weekend’s road trip to Stillwater is a huge chance for TCU to throw the Big 12 race into chaos already.

  1. Louisville

Poor Lamar Jackson. Without much help, Jackson had no shot at keeping pace with the Jacksonsville Jaguars Clemson Tigers. Want to know how good Jackson is? He threw for 317 yards, three touchdowns and one pick – and that was a bad game. 

  1. Ohio State

You know your fan base is a wee bit entitled when your quarterback breaks Drew Brees’ conference record for all-time touchdown passes, and you’re thinking about benching him. J.T Barrett looked better against Army, with 270 yards and two touchdowns on 75% completions. Army was the best possible matchup for the Buckeyes, whose only questions on defense are in the secondary. Army’s triple option offense wasn’t testing that.

  1. West Virginia

I want to see West Virginia line up against a real team again. It’s a shame they’ll go five weeks between the Virginia Tech game and their next game of any significance, a road trip to TCU on October 7. I’ll keep saying this until they prove me wrong, but I think the Mountaineers are a legit threat to win the Big 12.

  1. Memphis

Everyone’s favorite upset pick of the weekend came through, and what a way to do it. Memphis outlasted UCLA in a shootout 48-45. Riley Ferguson threw SIX touchdown passes. He’s the real deal. Speaking of the real deal, that sound you hear is head coach Mike Norvell’s agent’s phone ringing off the hook.

  1. San Diego State

Who’s winning the Pac-12 right now? It’s the Aztecs, who are 2-0 against the conference so far. After beating Arizona State by 10 on the road, the Aztecs hosted Stanford (why did the Cardinal agree to this?), and walked away with a 20-17 win. Remember Donnell Pumphrey? Me neither, that’s because the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher is watching his replacement rush for almost 200 yards per game. Rashaad Penny ran for 175 yards and a touchdown against Stanford. (P.S., the Cardinal aren’t that good. I tried to warn you). 

  1. Wisconsin

Like Washington, I need to see the Badgers in a real game before I can rank them much higher than this. They’re off this weekend before hosting Northwestern, then at Nebraska. The way those two teams have played, neither one may be a test. Surprisingly, the biggest test on the horizon for Wisconsin might be a home game with Purdue on Oct. 14.

My God, the Big Ten West is so bad.

  1. Washington State

At Texas Tech, Mike Leach was pretty much always 8-4 or 7-5, outside of the magical 2008 run with Michael Crabtree. At Washington State, it seems like he’s doing the exact same thing. I don’t know if this team has Magical Run potential, but I would not sleep on the Cougars in two weeks hosting USC.

Have I mentioned Wazzu might beat USC in two weeks?

  1. Oregon

Willie Taggart gets the headlines for helping lift Oregon to a 3-0 start, but it’s defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt who is doing the Lord’s work in Eugene. The Ducks allowed 13 points or fewer for the first time since 2014 on Saturday. The problem for Oregon (and it’s a good problem to have), is how do they carry over red-hot first halves into the second half? The Ducks have 84 points the last two weeks. Just seven have come after halftime.

  1. Purdue


Jeff Brohm is doing incredible work in West Lafayette. I watched the Boilermakers thrash a pretty good Ohio team last week, and thought they had a really good chance at upsetting Missouri. Welp, how does 35-3 sound? Brohm has completely injected new life into the program. If you’re a Purdue fan you have to be awfully nervous that at this rate, Brohm could be a one-and-done in the black and gold.

  1. Utah

Tyler Huntley wasn’t expected to be the Utes’ quarterback this year, but he’s now thrown for more than 300 yards in back-to-back games. Oregon castoff Darren Carrington is lighting it up at receiver, with 409 yards and four touchdowns through three games. Those are All-American caliber numbers.

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