The playoff picture cleared up quite a bit this weekend, but there remains significant intrigue. Will the committee finally give the Badgers some respect?
Could the SEC still get two teams? Could the first two-loss team get in? Will the Big10 and PAC12 get shut out? What happens to the Big12 if Oklahoma falls?
Michigan-Wisconsin, Georgia-Kentucky, Notre Dame-Navy, Oklahoma State-Kansas State, NC State-Wake Forest, and USC-UCLA are the featured matchups in a relatively lackluster “calm before the storm” type week.
Receiving Consideration: South Florida (8-1), NC State (7-3), Arizona (7-3), South Carolina (7-3), Troy (8-2), Army (8-2), Iowa State (6-4), Iowa (6-4), Ohio (8-2), and Kentucky (7-3)
25. West Virginia 7-3 [Last Week: NR, Defeated Kansas State 28-23]—Will Grier and the Mountaineers still have a chance to do close strong if they can beat Texas and then spoiling Oklahoma’s season.
24. Virginia Tech 7-3 [Last Week: #17, Lost to Georgia Tech 28-22]—The Hokies are now 3-3 in their last 6 with the loss to the Yellow Jackets the lone surprise. That will be a hard one to swallow for Justin Fuente’s rising program.
23. Boise State 8-2 [Last Week: NR, Defeated Colorado State 59-52]—A six game winning streak has the Broncos riding high heading into games against Air Force and Fresno State.
22. Northwestern 7-3 [Last Week: #25, Defeated Purdue 23-13]—Northwestern has posted a strong season and could push their case even further with late season wins over Minnesota and Illinois.
21. Michigan 8-2 [Last Week: #24, Defeated Maryland 35-10]—It would take a wild scenario, but Michigan defeating Wisconsin, Ohio State, and earning a spot in the Big10 title and winning could put the Wolverines in the playoff conversation.
20. Stanford 7-3 [Last Week: NR, Defeated Washington 30-22]—A roller coaster season for the Cardinal now puts them in the thick of the PAC12 race after a win over Washington.
19. Mississippi State 7-3 [Last Week: #22, Lost to Alabama 31-24] — Yeah, yeah the Bulldogs lost, but I’m giving them points for putting real fear into the Crimson Tide.
18. Washington State 9-2 [Last Week: #20, Defeated Utah 33-25]—.The Cougars get a fortunate off week prior to a key faceoff against their in-state foe.
17. LSU 7-3 [Last Week: #19, Lost to Arkansas 33-10]—Only Syracuse and Iowa State managed bigger wins than LSU’s victory over Auburn. A route over Arkansas keeps Ed O’s seat cool.
16. Oklahoma State 8-2 [Last Week #18, Defeated Iowa State 49-42] —The Cyclones were Big12 giant killers until the Cowboys snuck out this one.
15. Washington 8-2 [Last Week: #9, Lost to Stanford 30-22]—In a chaos scenario, maybe the Huskies still have a shot at a playoff berth, but they may have lost the opportunity with the loss to the Cardinal, leaving the PAC12 in disarray.
14. USC 9-2 [Last Week: #16, Defeated Colorado 38-24]—With a PAC12 championship berth secured, USC now has only UCLA in its way over the regular season.
13. TCU 8-2 [Last Week: #8, Lost to Oklahoma 38-20]—The Horned Frogs are likely to win the state of Texas with wins over Texas Tech and Baylor despite the likely playoff-eliminating loss to Oklahoma.
12. Penn State 8-2 [Last Week: #15, Defeated Rutgers 35-6]— Technically, Penn State remains viable in the Big Ten East, but it’s a long shot. While the Nittany Lions’ playoff hopes are dim at best, the reclamation of the program is still miraculous.
11. Memphis 8-1 [Last Week: #11, BYE]— Memphis scored an off week ahead of their final push for the AAC title.
10. Notre Dame 8-2 [Last Week: #5, Lost to Miami 41-8]—The Fighting Irish were humiliated by the resurgent Hurricanes, and their loss to Georgia does not look quite as strong. Still, victories over USC, NC State, and Michigan State help form a strong bounce-back season.
9. Ohio State 8-2 [Last Week: #13, Defeated Michigan State 48-3]—Is there a more up and down team in college football this season? The Buckeyes may not be in control of their own destiny, but wins against Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin would put them very much in the mix.
8. UCF 9-0 [Last Week: #10, Defeated UCONN 49-24]—The seven teams ahead of UCF are in control of their playoff destiny. If something crazy happens, I imagine the committee will consider the Big10 or PAC12 conference champion over UCF.
7. Auburn 8-2 [Last Week: #12, Defeated Georgia 40-17]— Auburn ended a three-year losing streak to the rival Dawgs in a big way. The dominant victory puts the Tigers in the thick of the playoff hunt, but it is tough to imagine them beating Alabama and then Georgia again.
6. Georgia 9-1 [Last Week: #2, Lost to Auburn 40-17]— It feels a little wrong to rank the Dawgs ahead of Auburn after suffering a route at the hands of the Tigers. Still, Georgia has an easier path to the playoff- needing only one win against a top ten foe, whereas the Tigers will need two.
5. Clemson 9-1 [Last Week: #6, Defeated Florida State 31-14]—The annual matchup against FSU lost its luster this year, but the Tigers remain in control of their own destiny. The Citadel will pose little challenge, but South Carolina and Miami are capable of ruining the playoff march.
4. Wisconsin 10-0 [Last Week: #4, Defeated Iowa 38-14]—The gap between #2 and #4 is miniscule, but, let’s face it, despite being undefeated, the Badgers’ most impressive win came on Saturday. As of now, Wisconsin belongs in the Playoff, but they still have Michigan and the Big Ten championship to get through.
3. Oklahoma 9-1 [Last Week: #3, Defeated TCU 38-20]— The Sooners made a case for the #2 spot, but the loss to Iowa State combined with the act that Miami now has two really strong wins, keeps them at #3. Oklahoma’s route of TCU was nonetheless impressive.
2. Miami 9-0 [Last Week: #7, Defeated Notre Dame 41-8]—Until the last two weeks, Miami had won a series of close contests against a host of nobodys. After handling Virginia Tech and dismantling Notre Dame, Miami has the strongest claim to the #2 spot.
1. Alabama 10-0 [Last Week: #1, Defeated Mississippi State 31-24]—A narrow win over Mississippi State puts the Tide on notice heading into a tune-up game against Mercer before an SEC West title/Iron Bowl matchup against Auburn.