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  • Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams leaps into the end zone for a touchdown against Navy on Saturday in San Diego. The Irish are No. 3 in this week's AP Poll and No. 2 in Dylan Sinn's poll. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Sunday, October 28, 2018 6:40 pm

Sinn's AP Poll: Week 9

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

In the final week of action before the College Football Playoff committee releases its first batch of rankings on Tuesday, the results gave the committee plenty to think about. Eleven of the Top 25 teams lost, including No. 6 Texas, while No. 12 Kentucky needed a touchdown on the final play of the game to escape with a 15-14 win over unranked Missouri. The very top of the rankings remained mostly unchanged, but there was plenty of chaos this week and I added a whopping seven new teams to my poll. Here is my full Top 25 following Week 9.

1. Alabama (8-0)

2. Notre Dame (8-0)

3. Clemson (8-0)

4. LSU (7-1)

5. Michigan (7-1)

6. Georgia (7-1)

7. Oklahoma (7-1)

8. Central Florida (8-0)

9. Kentucky (7-1)

10. Washington (7-1)

11. Ohio State (7-1)

12. West Virginia (6-1)

13. Florida (6-2)

14. Penn State (6-2)

15. Utah (6-2)

16. Texas (6-2)

17. Iowa (6-2)

18. Houston (7-1)

19. Boston College (6-2)

20. Utah State (7-1)

21. Cincinnati (7-1)

22. Texas A&M (5-3)

23. Northwestern (5-3)

24. Virginia (6-2)

25. Iowa State (4-3)

You can find the full AP Poll here: www.collegefootball.ap.org/poll

Notre Dame returned to action this week and played its best half all season against Navy, taking a 27-0 halftime lead into the locker room. The second half was sloppier, but the Irish still cruised to a 44-22 victory and moved one step closer to an undefeated season. I kept Notre Dame at No. 2, while the Irish stayed at No. 3 in the official poll. Clemson, the team closest to Notre Dame in my mind and in the poll, demolished Florida State 59-10 and has played two very impressive games in a row. It's still really early, but Irish-Tigers is shaping up as a potential semifinal matchup in the CFP. 

Of course, the biggest concern for Notre Dame is the status of linebacker, captain and second-leading tackler Drue Tranquill, who left the game on a cart after an ankle injury Saturday night and did not return. The Irish seem to have avoided the worst from that injury, but if Tranquill is out or limited next week, it makes an already difficult matchup against Northwestern even tougher.

Meanwhile, the bottom of the rankings got a major shake-up this week. I added Northwestern to my poll after the Wildcats took command in the Big Ten West with a convincing 31-17 victory over Wisconsin. Despite its early-season loss to Akron, Northwestern was in the "others receiving votes" portion of the poll this week, checking in with the 27th-most points. Next week's matchup in Evanston could be Notre Dame's toughest remaining game. 

Or, the Irish's most difficult matchup left could be Nov. 17, when they play Syracuse in Yankee Stadium. The 6-2 Orange returned to the poll at No. 22 this week, but I left them out, mostly because they've been so inconsistent. They lost to a struggling Pitt team and barely beat an awful North Carolina squad. On the other hand, they hung with Clemson on the road – which looks much more impressive since Clemson started blowing everyone out – and then beat 5-1 NC State on Saturday. Syracuse was my "first team out" and if the Orange take care of Wake Forest semi-convincingly next week, they'll probably be back in my poll.

Bold Pick of the Week: Texas Tech 43, No. 7 Oklahoma 38

The Sooners can't stop anyone and the Red Raiders finally play some defense this season. Sure, Tech just lost to Iowa State this week , but the Cyclones are better than people think despite a 4-3 record. Kyler Murray accounts for five touchdowns in the loss (because Kyler Murray is great and Oklahoma is not).

dsinn@jg.net