College Football Playoff Picture: Week 10

The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night and the results told a story of a much bigger picture for every Power Five conference. Some teams that were unranked in the AP Poll found a surprising visit into the CFP rankings and others (such as #8 Washington State) found themselves in playoff contention. Here’s the rundown on every top 25 team entering week 10:

1. Alabama (SEC, 8-0)

Status: IN CONTROL

Last Game: BYE

No surprise here as the undefeated Crimson Tide and Heisman frontrunner Tua Tagovailoa are running through their schedule. They face #3 LSU this week in a game that will basically decide the SEC West. Alabama can afford a loss here and still find themselves in the top 4 simply based upon the fact that there are 5 teams ranked in the top 10 from the SEC.

2. Clemson (ACC, 8-0)

Status: IN CONTROL

Last Game: W vs Florida State 59-10

The Tigers should be ecstatic that other teams such as Syracuse (#19), NC State (#21), Boston College (#22), and Virginia (#25) are also ranked ACC teams. QB Trevor Lawrence looks good running the offense heading into a conference game against Louisville. Clemson will most likely win out ahead of the ACC Championship game against #25 Virginia, Virginia Tech, or Pitt.

3. LSU (SEC, 7-1)

Status: IN CONTROL

Last Game: BYE

The Tigers are in complete control of their own destiny after Tuesday night revealed they are ahead of undefeated Notre Dame (#4). QB Joe Burrow has a lot to prove if he wants to take down #1 Alabama this weekend, and he won’t be able to afford many mistakes. Can a two-loss LSU still make the playoff without a conference title? It’ll be interesting to see where the loser of this almost-divisional championship game falls in next week’s ranking.

4. Notre Dame (Independent, 8-0)

Status: IN CONTROL

Last Game: W vs Navy 44-22
The CFP Selection Committee gave the nod to the Fighting Irish to control their own fate even without a conference championship. An undefeated Notre Dame will certainly make the semifinals, but their schedule is filled with perennially upset-thirsty opponents in Northwestern, Florida State, #22 Syracuse, and USC in the final stretch of the season.

5. Michigan (Big Ten, 7-1)

Status: MOSTLY IN CONTROL

Last Game: BYE

Michigan took their bye week before they take on #14 Penn State this Saturday. Michigan will need someone to lose ahead of them and just like every other team in the country, they should be rooting for Alabama to run through the SEC. If Michigan wins out, they would get in over a one-loss Clemson or a one-loss Notre Dame ahead of them, even though the Irish beat them in the season opener 24-17.

6. Georgia (SEC, 7-1)

Status: IN CONTROL

Last Game: W vs #11 Florida 36-17

Georgia is doing all they need to in order to get a shot at the SEC Championship, which looks to be a play-in game to the CFP. They looked great taking down Florida last Saturday and now get to face #9 Kentucky to decide the SEC East crown. QB Jake Fromm passed for 3 touchdowns and 240 yards against the Gators, who Kentucky also beat earlier in the season. The loser of this game should not fall farther than #11 in next week’s rankings and remain ahead of Florida.

7. Oklahoma (Big XII, 7-1)

Status: MOSTLY IN CONTROL

Last Game: W vs Kansas State 51-14

QB Kyler Murray continues his run at the Heisman trophy but still has some big games left this season. Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are on schedule in back-to-back weeks and a season finale against #13 West Virginia should decide at least one of the teams playing in the Big XII Championship. If Oklahoma can win out and get a redemption shot at #17 Texas, they would still need some help from Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and the Big Ten.

8. Washington State (Pac-12, 7-1)

Status: NEEDS HELP

Last Game: W vs Stanford 41-38

The Cougars should be very happy with their position in the top 10 after beating Stanford on Saturday. The Pac-12 cannot afford another loss if they want to send a team (either Wazzu or #15 Utah). On top of that, every major conference has a better shot at sending a team over anyone in the west. QB Gardner Minshew needs to continue to have 400-yard passing games and keep his name in the Heisman headlines if this team wants a shot at the final four.

9. Kentucky (SEC, 7-1)

Status: IN CONTROL

Last Game: W vs Missouri 15-14

Well, well, well. The Wildcats find themselves in prime position to control their fate and have their first real test this Saturday against #6 Georgia in the SEC East title game. The winner will most likely face the winner of the other big SEC game this weekend (Alabama vs LSU). Former QB Lynn Bowden Jr. became one of QB Terry Wilson’s favorite targets in Saturday’s thrilling win against Missouri, catching 13 passes for 166 yards. He also asked head coach Mark Stoops if he could go in and return a punt, which he did for a 67-yard touchdown.

10. Ohio State (Big Ten, 7-1)

Status: NEEDS HELP

Last Game: BYE

The Buckeyes are licking their wombs ahead of Nebraska this Saturday. Michigan State and #5 Michigan loom in November, but QB Dwayne Haskins needs his offense to establish a run game before they can even think about a Big Ten Championship appearance. The Buckeyes should move up at least one spot in next week’s rankings ahead of the loser of Georgia/Kentucky. However, they should still root for #1 Alabama to run the table and for the Big XII to have a winner not named Oklahoma.

11. Florida (SEC, 6-2)

Status: ON THE BRINK

Last Game: L vs #6 Georgia 36-17

The Gators will need a lot to go down in order to reach the semifinal. The good news now is that they don’t have to worry about playing in a conference championship game. Florida looks to be a team that could be hopped by teams behind them, but the Committee told us something by rankings them so high in the first poll: that there’s still a chance. The loser of Georgia/Kentucky on Saturday should not fall behind Florida, but the Gators still have a very real possibility of winning out; Missouri, South Carolina, Idaho, and Florida State are all winnable games.

12. UCF (American, 7-0)

Status: NEEDS HELP

Last Game: BYE

The Knights ranking is very curious. If last year has no implication on this year, then why is UCF ranked so high? They have one of the weakest schedules in the country. The Committee basically gave them a tip-of-the-hat for winning 20 consecutive games – and they deserve it. They shouldn’t worry about Florida being ranked ahead of them, as UCF still has a chance to play a ranked opponent if Cincinnati (7-1), USF (7-1), and Houston (7-1) (in a conference championship game) keep winning. UCF should root for Pittsburgh, who they beat 45-14, to win the ACC Coastal Division and beat #2 Clemson. If that happens, the Knights value can skyrocket. Other than that, they need Alabama to run the table and for the other conferences to find additional losses on their schedules. It’s all very unlikely, but teams ahead of them will lose.

13. West Virginia (Big XII, 6-1)

Status: MOSTLY IN CONTROL

Last Game: W vs Baylor 58-14

WVU is exactly where they should be in the CFP rankings. They have one of the toughest remaining schedules left in the country in #17 Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State, and #7 Oklahoma to close out the season. If QB Will Grier can get through the top-heavy portion of the conference, he should root for a rematch with #24 Iowa State, who beat the Mountaineers 30-14.

14. Penn State (Big Ten, 6-2)

Status: ON THE BRINK

Last Game: W vs #16 Iowa 30-24

Penn State remains on the brink this week after a comeback win against the Hawkeyes. Iowa, however, did not fall far behind the Nittany Lions in the first CFP rankings. Penn State needs a lot to happen in order to get to the Big Ten Championship, including beating #5 Michigan this weekend. They would still need the Wolverines and Ohio State to find other losses. If Penn State is eliminated from contending for their conference championship, consider them eliminated from the playoff as well.

15. Utah (Pac-12, 6-2)

Status: ELIMINATED

Last Game: W vs UCLA 41-10

The Utes’ offense has taken control of every game since back-to-back losses to Washington and #8 Washington State earlier this season. Utah can find themselves in a Pac-12 Championship rematch against Wazzu, but a two-loss champ from the Pac-12 will not get into the CFP this season.

16. Iowa (Big Ten, 6-2)

Status: NEEDS HELP

Last Game: L vs #14 Penn State 30-24

Iowa is on the brink of elimination this week after losing to Penn State. Crucial games against Purdue and Northwestern will decide the Big Ten West, and a victory in the Big Ten Championship against an Ohio State or Michigan will propel them into the top 10 by season’s end. They would need a lot to happen to see a CFP appearance, and that includes Alabama running the table in the SEC.

17. Texas (Big XII, 6-2)

Status: NEEDS HELP

Last Game: L vs Oklahoma State 38-35

The Longhorns saw their playoff hopes take a tumble in Bedlam on Saturday, but they still control their own destiny in the Big XII. They face #13 West Virginia this weekend and finish off the year with Texas Tech, #24 Iowa State, and Kansas. Texas needs the Big Ten and Pac-12 to have two-loss champs, but even that might not be enough to get in over two teams from the SEC.

18. Mississippi State (SEC, 5-3)

Status: ELIMINATED

Last Game: W vs #20 Texas A&M 28-13

A triple in the loss column will deal you out.

19. Syracuse (ACC, 6-2)

Status: ELIMINATED

Last Game: W vs #21 NC State 51-41

Ranking Syracuse does well for #2 Clemson in the long run, but a two-loss team from the ACC needs to be able to win the conference to play in a semifinal.

20. Texas A&M (SEC, 5-3)

Status: ELIMINATED

Last Game: L vs #18 Mississippi State 28-13

Refer to #18 Mississippi State, then add on the fact that the Aggies lost to them.

21. NC State (ACC, 5-2)

Status: ELIMINATED

Last Game: L vs #19 Syracuse 51-41

Refer to #19 Syracuse, then add on the fact that the Wolfpack lost to them.

22. Boston College (ACC, 6-2)

Status: ON THE BRINK

Last Game: W vs Miami (FL) 27-14

Interestingly enough, the Eagles still control their own fate in the ACC. They face Virginia Tech, #2 Clemson, Florida State, and #19 Syracuse to close out the season. If they can take down the Tigers in two weeks and #10 Ohio State can win the Big Ten, then maybe that mid-season loss to Purdue (30-13) wouldn’t look as bad anymore. If Alabama runs the show, a win over Clemson can propel them ahead of the rest of the SEC by season’s end.

23. Fresno State (Mountain West, 7-1)

Status: ELIMINATED

Last Game: W vs Hawai’i 50-20

The Bulldogs were able to shut down QB Cole McDonald last Saturday, and their ranking should be a wake-up call to the American Conference that there is still work to do. Fresno State has a seriously good defense and can play in a New Years Six Bowl game if they control the wild, wild Mountain West.

24. Iowa State (Big XII, 4-3)

Status: ELIMINATED

Last Game: W vs Texas Tech 40-31

The Cyclones can still play for a conference title if chaos ensues near the top.

25. Virginia (ACC, 6-2)

Status: NEEDS HELP

Last Game: W vs UNC 31-21

A crucial game against Pitt is on the slate for tomorrow and they face Virginia Tech to close the season. If the Cavaliers can reach the ACC title game and beat #2 Clemson, they would need the assistance of the other conferences to get into a semifinal.

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