College Football Rankings Week 8: Pittsburgh takes hold of the ACC

As we leave Week 8 of the 2021 season, let's take a look at our updated Top 25 College Football Rankings. How far does Pittsburgh rise?

Week 8 of the college football season is in the books, and as it goes, a new set of Top 25 College Football Rankings comes into focus. Which teams move up and down after the eighth week of action on the FBS stage?

College Football Rankings | Week 8 Top 25

There were a few close calls, but there is still no movement in the top five of our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings.

1) Georgia Bulldogs (–)

The bye wasn’t a very tough opponent for the SEC leaders, and so the Georgia Bulldogs stay on top for another week. One of just nine remaining undefeated teams, the Georgia Bulldogs are head and shoulders above the rest with their strong résumé in SEC play.

2) Oklahoma Sooners (–)

For a minute, it looked like Oklahoma’s playoff hopes would be dashed by Kansas — yes, you read that right. Kansas. The Jayhawks had a 10-0 lead at the half and went into the fourth quarter up 17-14. But talent has a way of breaking through, and that’s what the Sooners did. They ended up winning by double digits, but the struggle with Kansas isn’t lost on us.

3) Alabama Crimson Tide (–)

Hendon Hooker put up a valiant effort against the Crimson Tide, but Alabama leaves Week 8 with the same amount of losses they entered with (one). The Tide racked up 7 touchdowns, and the offense may be ready to take on Georgia in the prospective SEC Championship. For now, however, Alabama has to close out the season.

4) Cincinnati Bearcats (–)

Cincinnati’s 27-20 win over Navy looks weak on the surface. And to be fair, it’s far from the strongest win on their résumé. But Navy has given better teams trouble before, and the Bearcats had a 17-point lead heading into the final period. They controlled this one more often than not. Thus, it’s not a blemish on their record.

5) Ohio State Buckeyes (–)

C.J. Stroud, Garrett Wilson, and Chris Olave constitute one of the most explosive offensive attacks in the nation. But this week against Indiana, it was TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams, Jeremy Ruckert, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba who led the attack. There were signs of life on defense as well, as the Buckeyes totaled 5 sacks. They’ll be a tough out in the Big Ten race.

Week 8 College Football Rankings | 6-15

Which teams inhabit the 6-15 range in our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings?

6) Michigan Wolverines (–)

In Week 8, Michigan did what good teams do. The Wolverines took on an unranked Northwestern squad at home and handily beat the Wildcats in a game that was never close past the intermission. Michigan’s defense was once again suffocating, and the Wolverines ran for almost 300 yards and 4 touchdowns.

7) Ole Miss Rebels (–)

Matt Corral is a Heisman front-runner, but he didn’t look quite as electric on Saturday against LSU. Corral only totaled 214 total yards and 2 scores, and the Rebels won a relatively low-scoring 31-17 showing. Nevertheless, any SEC win is a valuable one, and the Rebels hold their ground in our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings as a result.

8) Oregon Ducks (–)

Oregon is basically begging teams to knock them out of the top 10. Since their loss to Stanford, they’ve had two close wins — one against California and now against UCLA. UCLA is a more formidable team than the Golden Bears, but the Ducks still don’t have the feel of a top-10 squad. Natural selection will follow through soon enough.

9) Iowa Hawkeyes (–)

The Iowa Hawkeyes had a much-needed bye week after losing unexpectedly to the Purdue Boilermakers — who then, in turn, lost to the Wisconsin Badgers. If the transitive property holds, Wisconsin has a chance to best Iowa next week. But the Hawkeyes still have an in for the Big Ten Championship, so they can’t give that up.

10) Michigan State Spartans (+2)

Like fellow Big Ten team Iowa, the Michigan State Spartans also had a bye this week. However, they move up two spots in our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings, courtesy of two highly ranked teams slipping down the board. Next week, Michigan State engages in a top-10 matchup with Michigan. Playoff ramifications could be on the line.

11) Kentucky Wildcats (+2)

We’ve got three bye week teams in a row — all of which remained relatively stagnant, save for a modest bump up. After both Coastal Carolina and Penn State fell to unranked opponents, Kentucky follows Michigan State up the board. The Wildcats may have one loss, but they still have good standing in the SEC.

12) Pittsburgh Panthers (+4)

A win against Clemson in 2021 doesn’t have as much weight as it would have in years prior. But for Pitt — a team that’s been looking to topple the Tigers for far too long — Saturday’s win was the vindication of endless effort and hard work. Kenny Pickett passed perhaps the biggest test on his schedule in resounding fashion. Not only do his Heisman hopes improve, but so does his 2022 NFL Draft stock.

13) Texas A&M Aggies (+1)

Ever since the Alabama game, the Aggies have been rolling. They beat Missouri and South Carolina — albeit two of the lesser SEC squads — by a combined 51 points. The team’s talent is starting to shine through, and that gives them some security on our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings.

14) SMU Mustangs (+3)

We told SMU fans on Friday that they could expect to rise in our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings after crushing Tulane on Thursday night. In light of the losses by Coastal, Penn State, and Oklahoma State, the Mustangs rise three spots. Quickly, they’re replacing Coastal Carolina as the next-best Group of Five team behind Cincinnati.

15) Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+5)

Few teams can contend with the Wake Forest offense right now. The Demon Deacons have scored at least 35 points in every single game this season. They put up 40 against a vaunted Syracuse defense, and most recently, they hung 70 on a tough Army team. In a game that revolves around outscoring opponents, the undefeated Deacons are making that hard to do.

Week 8 College Football Rankings | 16-25

Here’s a look at the final segment in our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings, where three new teams break through.

16) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+3)

Like SMU, the Fighting Irish move up three spots to counteract the fallers in Week 8. That’s not to say that Notre Dame didn’t deserve to rise. They handled a potentially problematic game against USC in stride. Next week, however, North Carolina should provide a more significant challenge.

17) Arizona State Sun Devils (+1)

An abnormally large amount of teams in our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings were on a bye week this past weekend. Arizona State was just another one. It feels wrong to move a two-loss team in the Pac-12 up a spot, but multiple fallers enabled Arizona State to rise a bit. Next week, Washington State provides another opportunity to do so.

18) Auburn Tigers (+3)

Coming off a bye week, the two-loss Auburn Tigers should be recharged. That replenishment comes at a good time, as Auburn is set to take on Ole Miss in Week 9. They’re already rising in our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings, but if they beat Lane Kiffin and Co., they’ll only move farther up.

19) Baylor Bears (+5)

We had a little bit of movement in this range regarding Big 12 teams. Bear with me because the transitive property factors in here. Iowa State just beat Oklahoma State, and Baylor beat Iowa State. So that means Baylor should be ranked first among those teams. But wait … Baylor also lost to Oklahoma State. Never mind. Big 12 football is just meaninglessly chaotic.

20) Iowa State Cyclones (N/A)

The Cyclones kicked off the season in the top 10 — for a lot of people. Then two quick losses against Iowa and Baylor knocked them out. Since that Baylor loss, however, Matt Campbell’s squad is 3-0, with wins over Kansas, Kansas State, and top-ranked Oklahoma State. All they need is one more win to be bowl-eligible, but they likely won’t stop there.

21) Oklahoma State Cowboys (-6)

Oklahoma State may only have one loss just like Baylor, but their loss is more recent and perhaps weighs more heavily on their current standing. It doesn’t look as bad now that Iowa State is back in our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings. Still, Oklahoma State never had the look of a dominant team. Now they’ve proven it.

22) San Diego State Aztecs (N/A)

At this point in the 2021 season, undefeated teams are an absolute rarity — such is the case with the San Diego State Aztecs. After notching their seventh win this past weekend, the Aztecs have now entered our Top 25 College Football Rankings. Some of their toughest tests remain on deck, however, with Fresno State, Nevada, and Boise State all coming up.

23) UTSA Roadrunners (+2)

Louisiana Tech jumped out to a 10-7 lead over UTSA in Week 8. After that, however, it was all Roadrunners. UTSA outscored Louisiana Tech 38-6 the rest of the way, ultimately winning the game 45-16. The Roadrunners continue to impress, but they’ll need every bit of their NFL talent next week against UTEP.

24) Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (N/A)

Louisiana isn’t undefeated, but they’re trending in the opposite direction of Coastal Carolina right now. Coastal is coming off a bad loss, while Louisiana has won six straight since the season-opening contest against Texas. Louisiana doesn’t play Coastal in the regular season, but they could meet the Chanticleers in the Sun Belt Championship.

25) Penn State Nittany Lions (-14)

Penn State moves down more spots than they had overtimes in Week 8 — which is a lot more impressive than it sounds on the surface. Nine overtimes weren’t enough for the Nittany Lions to score more than 16 points, and Illinois ultimately punished them for it. Penn State is now on life support in our Week 8 Top 25 College Football Rankings. Upcoming games against Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State are sure to push them out.

Moving Out

  • Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
  • NC State Wolfpack
  • Clemson Tigers

Closing In

  • Fresno State Bulldogs
  • Houston Cougars
  • UTEP Miners
  • Virginia Cavaliers
  • Oregon State Beavers
  • Appalachian State Mountaineers

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and his voice and face on Pro Football Network Daily. Follow him on Twitter @ian_cummings_9.