The top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings looks slightly different this week than it did last Tuesday. Both divisions of the SEC found their champions in Alabama and Georgia after two lopsided victories, the Big Ten saw Iowa and Penn State officially get placed in the elimination wastebasket, the Pac-12 is down to one possible bid in Washington State, the Big XII is a two-man race for a bid between teams that could face in back-to-back weeks, the ACC is left with Clemson and Boston College exclusively, and UCF is still in the mix. Here’s a look at which teams control their fate, in need of some assistance, and just flat-out eliminated in this week’s CFP poll.
CONTROLLING THEIR FATE:
#1 Alabama (SEC, 9-0)
Last game: W vs #7 LSU 29-0
Next game: vs #16 Mississippi State
Alabama is about as safe a bet as any team in the country. If they lose, they could still remain in the top 4 – which teams like #4 Michigan should deeply worry about (especially if it’s a loss to #5 Georgia in the SEC Championship). QB Tua Tagovailoa is still the favorite for the Heisman and the defense is clicking on all cylinders, which should prove vital this weekend against the Bulldogs.
#2 Clemson (ACC, 9-0)
Last game: W vs Louisville 77-16
Next game: vs #17 Boston College
QB Trevor Lawrence (18 TD, 3 INT) is proving exactly why he was able to steal the starting job earlier this season. Clemson’s defensive line is scary good and their offense is as potent as ever. They get #17 Boston College this weekend to decide the ACC Coastal.
#3 Notre Dame (Independent, 9-0)
Last game: W vs Northwestern 31-21
Next game: vs Florida State
The Irish can’t falter now. So far, Notre Dame has escaped multiple dark horses late in the season in Virginia Tech, Pitt, Navy, and Northwestern, but they still have Florida State and #13 Syracuse on schedule. An undefeated Notre Dame should receive a bid to a semifinal; a one-loss South Bend team would drop significantly.
#5 Georgia (SEC, 8-1)
Last game: W vs #11 Kentucky 34-17
Next game: vs #24 Auburn
Barring any November losses, the winner of the Alabama-Georgia SEC Championship game will receive a playoff berth. Georgia took care of business in the SEC East by beating Kentucky, and Alabama took care of LSU in the West. Georgia should control their remaining schedule and they would hop #4 Michigan if they won the conference title game. The question would be if Michigan can pass the eye test over a one-loss Alabama.
MOSTLY IN CONTROL:
#4 Michigan (Big Ten, 8-1)
Last game: W vs #20 Penn State 42-7
Next game: vs Rutgers
Michigan and QB Shea Patterson get the two weakest teams in the Big Ten before closing the season against #10 Ohio State to decide the East. The winner will play a current-unranked opponent in either Northwestern or Purdue on Championship Saturday. The Wolverines should get in the playoff with a title belt, but Georgia’s strength of schedule looms overhead.
#6 Oklahoma (Big XII, 8-1)
Last game: W vs Texas Tech 51-46
Next game: vs Oklahoma State
Oklahoma and Heisman candidate Kyler Murray have survived some scares this season, their latest being a shootout against Tech. The Big XII is still a four-team race late in the season with #9 West Virginia (5-1), Oklahoma (5-1), #22 Iowa State (4-2), and #19 Texas (4-2) and Texas and Iowa State still having a date in two weeks. The scenarios are interesting for who could face who in the Big XII Championship, and you can check out those scenarios at 247 Sports. Oklahoma and West Virginia are sandwiched between Michigan and Ohio State in the rankings, and any of those four teams that win out and win their conference would have to prove to be better than the others off-paper.
#9 West Virginia (Big XII, 7-1)
Last game: W vs #19 Texas 42-41
Next game: vs TCU
QB Will Grier ran the ball in the endzone on the two-point conversion and was able to leap over #10 Ohio State all at once as the Buckeyes struggled to beat Nebraska and stayed stagnant this week. WVU’s playoff hopes still ride on how the Big Ten and SEC play out, particularly Alabama vs Georgia and Ohio State vs Michigan.
#8 Washington State (Pac-12, 8-1)
Last game: W vs California 19-13
Next game: vs Colorado
Wazzu has no ranked opponents left outside of #25 Washington and their schedule is just too weak to compete with the Big XII and Big Ten. If any of Michigan, Oklahoma, West Virginia, or Ohio State win-out they will most likely jump QB Gardner Minshew and the Cougars – Heisman trophy or not. Washington State could hope for the Big XII chaos that could ensue near the top, for Ohio State to find a loss in #18 Michigan State before taking down Michigan for the seventh straight season, and for #1 Alabama to run the table. That may seem like a tall order, but history tells us otherwise.
#10 Ohio State (Big Ten, 8-1)
Last game: W vs Nebraska 36-31
Next game: vs #18 Michigan State
The Buckeyes have been slumming through games since Urban Meyer’s return. Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska all gave Ohio State unneeded scares as Purdue took them down with flying colors. QB Dwayne Haskins is a Heisman finalist today, but the run game needs to get going for his offense to be successful if he wants to beat #4 Michigan by season’s end. #18 Michigan State will be their first ranked opponent since Penn State this weekend. Ohio State should root for Northwestern to lose against #21 Iowa and Minnesota, setting up a potential revenge date with Purdue in Indianapolis.
#17 Boston College (ACC, 7-2)
Last game: W vs Virginia Tech 31-21
Next game: vs #2 Clemson
RB AJ Dillon (897 YDS, 8 TD) is still one of the most reliable backs in the country. If BC could take down #2 Clemson on Saturday, they’d control their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic with Florida State and #13 Syracuse to close the year. They would obviously need a lot of help from two-loss champions in other conferences, but the Eagles cannot be officially written off yet, especially with how the Committee views the ACC.
CAN ONLY WATCH AND WAIT:
#7 LSU (SEC, 7-2)
Last game: L vs #1 Alabama 29-0
Next game: vs Arkansas
The Tigers can win out and still remain #7 throughout the season. The CFP Committee values their most recent loss to Alabama – even if it was a 29-point shutout – as LSU only dropped 4 spots. If they win out, #8 Wazzu, #9 West Virginia, and #10 Ohio State could all be ranked above this “hop-over” team after Championship Saturday. LSU needs help and has no control of their own fate.
#12 UCF (American, 8-0)
Last game: W vs Temple 52-40
Next game: vs Navy
The Knights need to make a statement. Close games against American Conference opponents have kept them outside of the top 10, but Cincinnati continues to win and could be ranked by the time UCF faces them on November 17. If the Bearcats beat a two-loss South Florida team this weekend and are ranked next Tuesday, don’t count out UCF’s chances. Now, UCF still needs two-loss champs from the Big Ten, Big XII, and Pac-12 as well as #1 Alabama to look formidable in the SEC. It would also help if Houston could win out in the American West before the title game.
#11 Kentucky (SEC, 7-2)
Last game: L vs #5 Georgia 34-17
Next game: vs Tennessee
The Wildcats were eliminated from playoff contention after losing the SEC East to #5 Georgia on Saturday. Kentucky could play for a New Years Six trophy if they win out against Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and Louisville.
#13 Syracuse (ACC, 7-2)
Last game: W vs Wake Forrest 41-24
Next game: vs Louisville
Syracuse’s stock rose 6 spots this week and the Orange have a very good shot at a New Years Six game. They are virtually eliminated from ACC contention unless #2 Clemson loses twice. Syracuse’s schedule is interesting for their current ranking, as they still have #3 Notre Dame and #17 Boston College to finish out the year. They could rise significantly in future weeks and finish the season as the highest two-loss team.
#14 NC State (ACC, 6-2)
Last game: W vs Florida State 47-28
Next game: vs Wake Forrest
The Wolfpack take on Wake Forrest tonight and are still one of the stronger two-loss teams. The Committee values the ACC this season and is figuring to give Clemson a little wiggle room for a good bowl game or semifinal if they were to lose.
#15 Florida (SEC, 6-3)
Last game: L vs Missouri 38-17
Next game: vs South Carolina
The SEC has 5 of the top 15 teams with the back-to-back double-digit loss Gators as the highest ranking three-loss team.
#16 Mississippi State (SEC, 6-3)
Last game: W vs LA Tech 45-3
Next game: vs #1 Alabama
It’s too little too late, but the Bulldogs could make a case for a big bowl game with a win over the Tide.
#18 Michigan State (Big Ten, 6-3)
Last game: W vs Maryland 24-3
Next game: vs #10 Ohio State
A down season for Mark Dantonio is a good season for many other coaches, especially coming from the Big Ten. The Spartans could make a statement against #10 Ohio State this weekend as they have many times in the past.
#19 Texas (Big XII, 6-3)
Last game: L vs #9 West Virginia 42-41
Next game: vs Texas Tech
The Longhorns are still playing for a possible bid to the Big XII Championship, with Tech and #22 Iowa State on back-to-back Saturdays.
#20 Penn State (Big Ten, 6-3)
Last game: L vs #4 Michigan 42-7
Next game: vs Wisconsin
QB Trace McSorley is one of the most dynamic players in the country, but even he couldn’t withstand the might of the Wolverines defense.
#21 Iowa (Big Ten, 5-3)
Last game: L vs Purdue 38-36
Next game: vs Northwestern
A big game against the Wildcats this weekend is all for pride for the Hawkeyes. A three-loss team by the end of the postseason usually finds themselves in good position for next year.
#22 Iowa State (Big XII, 5-3)
Last game: W vs Kansas 27-3
Next game: vs Baylor
The Cyclones still have a shot at the Big XII crown and face #19 Texas next weekend. If they make it to Arlington, Iowa State would have to cancel that December 1 game against Incarnate Word – a true bummer.
#23 Fresno State (Mountain West, 8-1)
Last game: W vs UNLV 48-3
Next game: vs Boise State
The Bulldogs have a big test tomorrow night against the team that is usually ranked from the Mountain West in Boise State. Unlike their Group of Five counterparts (#12 UCF), Fresno has been destroying their opponents, but one could argue the American Conference is much stronger than the Mountain West.
#24 Auburn (SEC, 6-3)
Last game: W vs Texas A&M 28-24
Next game: vs #5 Georgia
The Tigers schedule couldn’t be more difficult down the stretch with #5 Georgia and #1 Alabama, both of which are on the road. Auburn hasn’t been blown out this year and could really do some internal damage to the SEC in the final weeks of the season.
#25 Washington (Pac-12, 7-3)
Last game: W vs Stanford 27-23
Next game: BYE
Washington hasn’t looked well on offense this season and veteran QB Jake Browning (13 TD, 8 INT) is struggling compared to his sophomore year numbers (43 TD, 9 INT). The Huskies could still win the Pac-12 if they take down #8 Washington State in the season finale.