Covering Saturday night's LSU-Alabama game in person opened my eyes to just how much better the Tide have gotten over the course of the season. They held Leonard Fournette to 31 yards for crying out loud.

Alabama may well be the best team in the country, but the Tide have not earned that spot yet.

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Meanwhile, a fond farewell for now to Michigan State and Florida. One complete newcomer and one familiar face join the fold.

1. Clemson (9-0). FSU's Dalvin Cook shredded the Tigers early, but the D held the 'Noles to three points in the second half of an eventual 23-13 win. Barring a complete collapse, Clemson will take a 12-0 record to Charlotte.

2. Alabama (8-1). Nobody can run the ball on the Tide, and no one's slowed down Derrick Henry anytime recently. QB Jake Coker will continue to elicit skepticism but he was an efficient 18-of-24 for 184 yards vs. LSU.

3. Ohio State (9-0). It's puzzling why the Buckeyes' offense struggles with Cardale Jones at the helm. But Ezekiel Elliott got his usual 114 yards against Minnesota, and the good news is, J.T. Barrett's back next week.

4. Baylor (8-0). Freshman QB Jarrett Stidham passed the test in his first start at Kansas State. Now the Bears' season really starts -- three straight games against Top 20 foes Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU.

5. Notre Dame (8-1). Despite yet another injury to a key player, RB C.J. Prosise, the Irish largely cruised at 6-3 Pittsburgh. And Navy's upset of undefeated Memphis added another rung to the Irish's strong resume.

6. Oklahoma State (9-0). Shame on me for sleeping on the Cowboys. QB Mason Rudolph exploited a shaky TCU secondary, but more impressively, Oklahoma State's D picked off Trevone Boykin four times in a breakout 49-29 upset.

7. Stanford (8-1). Stanford took care of business at Colorado to improve to 7-0 in Pac-12 play. These next three weeks will be fun for the Cardinal -- consecutive home games against Oregon, rival Cal and Notre Dame.

8. Iowa (9-0). This team is just plain good. Indiana's offense gave the Hawkeyes problems at times but never truly threatened to pull the upset. QB C.J. Beathard continues to play well despite playing through injuries.

9. LSU (7-1). Every LSU fan's worst nightmare came true against Alabama, as QB Brandon Harris was mostly helpless to produce offense of his own when the Tide shut down Leonard Fournette.

10. Utah (8-1). Outside of the USC loss, Utah's ball-hawking defense has been impressive all year. Saturday at Washington they notched four turnovers, including one for a score, in a 34-23 road win.

Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for FOXSports.com. He covered college football and basketball for 15 years at Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @slmandel and Facebook. Send emails and Mailbag questions to Stewart.Mandel@fox.com.