The College Football Playoff Eliminator: Week 9

After a week of upsets and conference-telling games, the Eliminator returns to knock out more teams.

Teams are listed in order of if they were to win their remaining games, who has the best chance at reaching the College Football Playoff (CFP). Here is where we stand on a national level this season:

1. #2 LSU (SEC, 7-0):

Loss: None
Next up: vs #9 Auburn

In a huge SEC West stretch, LSU gets #9 Auburn and #1 Alabama in back-to-back games with a bye week in between. QB Joe Burrow continues to look like the best available offensive player in this year’s NFL draft, but getting LSU over the hump within the SEC will be the ultimate goal for the transfer QB.

2. #1 Alabama (SEC, 7-0):

Loss: None
Next up: vs Arkansas

Arkansas is on slate before the bye week that will set up a home contest against #2 LSU; surely, this will be the biggest game of the college football season if both teams stay unbeaten through one more game. #9 Auburn is also an important game to end the year in the West. With QB Tua Tagovailoa out this week, it’ll be interesting to see how the offense adjusts to a slower pace of play.

3. #3 Ohio State (Big Ten, 7-0):

Loss: None
Next up: vs #13 Wisconsin

After rolling Northwestern (52-3) on Friday night, the only question remains is if they Buckeyes can stay focused against formidable opponents all year. With #13 Wisconsin coming off an embarrassing upset loss to Illinois, Ohio State has to be able to capitalize. The good news is that potential number-one overall draft pick DE Chase Young has mentioned multiple times how he wants to reach the CFP.

4. #6 Penn State (Big Ten, 7-0):

Loss: None
Next up: @ Michigan State

After controlling the #19 Michigan offense on Saturday, the Nittany Lions will have to go through the two remaining undefeated teams in the Big Ten (#17 Minnesota and #3 Ohio State). Their offense will have to be more impressive down the stretch to earn the right to win the conference.

5. #17 Minnesota (Big Ten, 7-0):

Loss: None
Next up: vs Maryland

Minnesota keeps winning football games and has finally established a more sustainable defense in the last three weeks. #6 Penn State, #20 Iowa, and #13 Wisconsin will all be huge tests to see if the Gophers can get a Big Ten Championship matchup with #3 Ohio State (or a rematch with Penn State).

6. #5 Oklahoma (Big XII, 7-0):

Loss: None
Next up: @ Kansas State

Jalen Hurts continues to look like the favorite for the Heisman trophy based on his stats alone. With Iowa State earning the #23 ranking and #14 Baylor continuing to stay unbeaten, the Big XII is looking more like the third best conference behind the SEC and Big Ten.

7. #14 Baylor (Big XII, 7-0):

Loss: None
Next up: BYE

As #5 Oklahoma and #15 Texas loom in November, Baylor will have to find a way to take down a chippy WVU squad. With a steady offense and a better-then-usual defense, the Bears are not only in control of their conference hopes, but possibly even their CFP chances.

8. #4 Clemson (ACC, 7-0):

Loss: None
Next up: vs Boston College

#25 Wake Forrest is the only remaining ranked team on the schedule for the Tigers, who cannot afford a blemish even with QB Trevor Lawrence not playing up to his own standard.

9. #7 Florida (SEC, 7-1):

Loss: @ #2 LSU (42-28)
Next up: BYE

In a game that will decide who leads the East, #10 Georgia travels to The Swamp. The Florida run game and dual-QB system has worked so far after QB Feleipe Franks’ injury. This is an important game for both Florida and Georgia as both have one loss already on the season. Another loss will surely diminish their CFP hopes, although there are not many other teams that have a better shot at making a semifinal with two losses other than these two.

10. #9 Auburn (SEC, 6-1):

Loss: @ Florida (24-13)
Next up: @ #2 LSU

Auburn still controls the outcome of the SEC West and can prove if they can compete with the top as they take on #2 LSU in Death Valley. They also play #10 Georgia and #1 Alabama, giving them arguably the toughest SEC route to the playoff.

11. #10 Georgia (SEC, 6-1):

Loss: vs South Carolina (20-17)
Next up: BYE

Georgia and #7 Florida meet in two weeks to decide who leads the East, but the Bulldogs also have to go through Missouri and #9 Auburn after their matchup with the Gators. With the offense looking stifled in the last two weeks, it’ll be interesting to see if they can bounce back against better defenses or if the hype surrounding Georgia was built up for nothing.

12. #11 Oregon (Pac-12, 6-1):

Loss: @ #9 Auburn (27-21)
Next up: vs Washington State

The Ducks just took down Washington (35-31) and can make a statement by winning out and controlling the Pac-12 outright. If they do so, they should be rooting for #9 Auburn to win the SEC and for the Big Ten to have one, preferably undefeated (#3 Ohio State, #6 Penn State, or #17 Minnesota) champion.

13. #13 Wisconsin (Big Ten, 6-1):

Loss: @ Illinois (24-23)
Next up: @ #3 Ohio State

After Illinois’ stunning victory on Saturday, questions started being raised about the potency of the Badgers’ offense. RB Jonathan Taylor and company will have to run the table and hope that the SEC only finds one team they can put ahead of them.

14. #12 Utah (Pac-12, 6-1):

Loss: @ USC (30-23)
Next up: vs California

Utah is not in control of the Pac-12 South and has a weak schedule as well. If Utah can win out, they’d face a highly-ranked Oregon team in a Pac-12 Championship if USC finds another conference loss.

15. #8 Notre Dame (Independent, 5-1):

Loss: @ #10 Georgia (23-17)
Next up: @ #19 Michigan

ND can eliminate #19 Michigan outright this weekend and then do the same to Virginia Tech the following week. With a favorable schedule in which they should be favored in every game to end the season, the Fighting Irish should be rooting for chaos and two-loss champions within the SEC, Big Ten, and Big XII.

16. #25 Wake Forest (ACC, 6-1):

Loss: vs Louisville (62-59)
Next up: BYE

The Demon Deacons are on pace for a historic season for their program. If they can continue to sneak by ACC opponents and find new ways to win games, they can attempt to give #4 Clemson a run for their money in an ACC Atlantic title game. After Louisville’s loss to Clemson this past weekend, Wake Forrest takes back control of their conference destiny.

17. #16 SMU (The American, 7-0):

Loss: None
Next up: @ Houston

After Boise State’s loss to BYU, the Mustangs of SMU now have sole control of their destiny in getting to a New Years’ Six (NY6) bowl game. Even if #21 Appalachian State beats South Carolina and wins the Sun Belt, SMU will have a more impressive resume overall. A tough Houston team and Memphis will be important contests in the coming weeks.

18. #19 Michigan (Big Ten, 5-2):

Loss: @ #13 Wisconsin (35-14) and @ #6 Penn State (28-21)
Next up: vs #8 Notre Dame

With #8 Notre Dame and #3 Ohio State still on schedule, it’s not impossible that the Wolverines find themselves in a playoff discussion. However, they won’t be able to do it without a conference championship. With two conference losses and being ranked third in their own division, teams ahead of them will have to lose multiple games down the stretch.

19. #15 Texas (Big XII, 5-2):

Losses: vs #2 LSU (45-38) and vs #5 Oklahoma (34-27)
Next up: @ TCU

Texas can still meet #5 Oklahoma again in the conference title game, but they’ll have #23 Iowa State and #14 Baylor standing in their way in back-to-back weeks. The Big XII is probably the third-likeliest conference to have a two-loss team make the playoff behind the SEC and Big Ten, respectfully.

20. #20 Iowa (Big Ten, 5-2):

Losses: @ #19 Michigan (10-3) and vs #6 Penn State (17-12)
Next up: vs Purdue

The Hawkeyes have a better shot at the Big Ten title than #19 Michigan (a team Iowa lost to) because Iowa gets to play all three teams that are ahead of them in the West Division (#13 Wisconsin, #17 Minnesota, and Nebraska). If they can continue to be impressive on defense and get QB Nate Stanley to play more effectively on offense, this Iowa team could be tough down the stretch.

21. #23 Iowa State (Big XII, 5-2):

Losses: vs #20 Iowa (18-17) and @ #14 Baylor (23-21)
Next up: vs Oklahoma State

The Cyclones have two very close and very applaudable losses (see above) that have kept them out of a higher ranking. They can make up for it by taking down #5 Oklahoma and #15 Texas in back-to-back weekends and winning a Big XII title.

22. Navy (The American, 5-1):

Loss: @ Memphis (35-23)
Next up: vs Tulane

After Tulane and UConn, Navy gets matchups with #8 Notre Dame, #16 SMU, and Army. Amongst every Group of Five team with one loss, they can make the best case to reach a NY6 bowl.

23. Missouri (SEC, 5-2):

Losses: @ Wyoming (37-31) and @ Vanderbilt (21-14)
Next up: @ Kentucky

Missouri has two very embarrassing losses on their schedule, but still maintain sole control of their SEC title hopes. If QB Kelly Bryant and the offense can get the ball going on the ground, they’d have to take down #10 Georgia and #7 Florida in back-to-back weeks.

24. Virginia Tech (ACC, 5-2):

Losses: @ Boston College (35-28) and vs Duke (45-10)
Next up: BYE

In an elimination game for both teams in two weeks, #8 Notre Dame hosts Virginia Tech in a crucial game that will decide the entire season for both program’s slim playoff hopes.

25. #21 App State (Sun Belt, 6-0):

Loss: None
Next up: @ South Alabama

App State’s toughest remaining game is against South Carolina, with little-to-no hope at getting into a semifinal. If other conferences produce two-loss champions (which is more likely in the ACC, Big XII, and Pac-12) then there can be a case as long as the Big Ten and SEC provide only one truly dominant team.

26. Memphis (The American, 6-1):

Loss: @ Temple (30-28)
Next up: @ Tulsa

Memphis will find themselves back in the top 25 if they can take down Tulsa ahead of their huge AAC matchup with #16 SMU. The Tigers are currently receiving the most votes to be ranked again and will need some help in controlling their NY6 hopes.

27. #18 Cincinnati (The American, 6-1):

Loss: @ #3 Ohio State (42-0)
Next up: BYE

Cincinnati controls their own AAC East destiny and can continue to move up in the polls. The truly telling story will be where Luke Fickell and his Bearcats defense rank when the CFP rankings come out.

28. Kansas State (Big XII, 4-2):

Losses: @ Oklahoma State (26-13) and vs #14 Baylor (31-12)
Next up: vs #5 Oklahoma

The Wildcats can make statements with #5 Oklahoma and #15 Texas still on schedule, but they will need multiple teams to lose conference games to reach a Big XII Championship.

29. Virginia (ACC, 5-2):

Losses: @ #8 Notre Dame (35-20) and @ Miami (FL) (17-9)
Next up: @ Louisville

Virginia bounced back from their two-straight losing skip to beatdown Duke (48-14). No ranked teams remain on schedule, but the Hokies control their own fate in the Coastal Division.

30. Pittsburgh (ACC, 5-2):

Losses: vs Virginia (30-14) and @ #6 Penn State (17-10)
Next up: vs Miami (FL)

Due to their loss to Virginia, Pitt doesn’t control their conference destiny. They can pull themselves into the rankings and hope that Virginia falters in a dead-even Coastal Division.

31. #24 Arizona State (Pac-12, 5-2):

Loss: vs Colorado (34-31) and vs #12 Utah (21-3)
Next up: @ UCLA

Herm Edward’s offense decided not to show up against the Utes in Saturday’s Pac-12 South loss. Arizona State will have to fight to make up ground, but they’d still need Utah to lost twice in order to reach the conference championship game.

32. Indiana (Big Ten, 5-2):

Losses: vs #3 Ohio State (51-10) and @ Michigan State (40-31)
Next up: @ Nebraska

Indiana is having an above average season despite a blowout loss to the Buckeyes early in the year. A lot would need to happen for them to reach a conference championship, which just isn’t that likely this season.

Eliminated:

Arizona (Pac-12, 4-3): Eliminated with week 8 loss to USC, 41-14.
#22 Boise State (Mountain West, 6-1): Eliminated with week 8 loss to BYU, 28-25.
California (Pac-12, 4-3): Eliminated with week 8 loss to Oregon State, 21-17.
Duke (ACC, 4-3): Eliminated with week 8 loss to Virginia, 48-14.
NC State (ACC, 4-3): Eliminated with week 8 loss to Boston College, 45-24.
Louisville (ACC, 4-3): Eliminated with week 8 loss to #4 Clemson, 45-10.
Oklahoma State (Big XII, 4-3): Eliminated with week 8 loss to #14 Baylor, 45-27.
TCU (Big XII, 3-3): Eliminated with week 8 loss to Kansas State, 24-17.
Temple (The American, 5-2): Eliminated with week 8 loss to #16 SMU, 45-21.
Tulane (The American, 5-2): Eliminated with week 8 loss to Memphis, 47-17.
Washington (Pac-12, 5-3): Eliminated with week 8 loss to #11 Oregon, 35-31.

All teams that were eliminated this week (with the exception of #22 Boise State) lost to conference opponents as this list continues to grow. Boise is not out of the NY6 bowl discussion, but they would need a ton of help and should expect to get jumped in the rankings throughout the season.

Here is a complete list of teams that have been eliminated this season:

Eliminated in Week 0/1 (21 teams):

Akron: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Illinois, 42-3.
Arkansas State: Eliminated with week 1 loss to #16 SMU, 37-30.
Ball State: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Indiana, 34-24.
Coastal Carolina: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Eastern Michigan, 30-23.
Colorado State: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Colorado, 52-13.
Florida Atlantic: Eliminated with week 1 loss to #3 Ohio State, 45-21.
Florida International: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Tulane, 42-14.
Fresno State: Eliminated with week 1 loss to USC, 31-23.
Georgia Southern: Eliminated with week 1 loss to #2 LSU, 55-3.
LA-Lafayette: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Mississippi State, 38-28.
Liberty: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Syracuse, 24-0.
Louisiana Tech: Eliminated with week 1 loss to #15 Texas, 45-14.
Miami (OH): Eliminated with week 1 loss to #20 Iowa, 38-14.
Middle Tennessee: Eliminated with week 1 loss to #19 Michigan, 40-12.
New Mexico State: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Washington State, 58-7.
Rice: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Army, 14-7.
South Alabama: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Nebraska, 35-21.
Texas State: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Texas A&M, 41-7.
Toledo: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Kentucky, 38-24.
UMass: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Rutgers, 48-21.
Western Kentucky: Eliminated with week 1 loss to Central Arkansas, 35-28.

Eliminated in Week 2 (21 teams):

Army: Eliminated with week 2 loss to #19 Michigan, 24-21 (OT).
Bowling Green: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Kansas State, 52-0.
Buffalo: Eliminated with week 2 loss to #6 Penn State, 45-13.
Central Michigan: Eliminated with week 2 loss to #13 Wisconsin, 61-0.
Charlotte: Eliminated with week 2 loss to #21 Appalachian State, 56-41.
Eastern Michigan: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Kentucky, 38-17.
LA-Monroe: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Florida State, 45-44 (OT).
Marshall: Eliminated with week 2 loss to #22 Boise State, 14-7.
Nevada: Eliminated with week 2 loss to #11 Oregon, 77-6.
North Texas: Eliminated with week 2 loss to #16 SMU, 49-27.
Northern Illinois: Eliminated with week 2 loss to #12 Utah, 35-17.
Ohio: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Pittsburgh, 20-10.
Old Dominion: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Virginia Tech, 31-17.
San Jose State: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Tulsa, 34-16.
South Florida: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Georgia Tech, 14-10.
Southern Mississippi: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Mississippi State, 38-15.
Tennessee: Eliminated with week 2 loss to BYU, 29-26.
UNLV: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Arkansas State, 43-17.
UTEP: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Texas Tech, 38-3.
UTSA: Eliminated with week 2 loss to #14 Baylor, 63-14.
Western Michigan: Eliminated with week 2 loss to Michigan State, 51-17.

Eliminated in Week 3 (10 teams):

East Carolina: Eliminated with week 3 loss to Navy, 42-10.
Georgia State: Eliminated with week 3 loss to Western Michigan, 57-10.
Georgia Tech: Eliminated with week 3 loss to The Citadel, 27-24 (OT).
Hawai’i: Eliminated with week 3 loss to Washington, 52-20.
Houston: Eliminated with week 3 loss to Washington State, 31-24.
Kent State: Eliminated with week 3 loss to #9 Auburn, 55-16.
New Mexico: Eliminated with week 3 loss to #8 Notre Dame, 66-14.
Troy: Eliminated with week 3 loss to Southern Miss, 47-42.
Tulsa: Eliminated with week 3 loss to Oklahoma State, 40-21.
UCLA: Eliminated with week 3 loss to #5 Oklahoma, 48-14.

Eliminated in Week 4 (11 teams):

Air Force: Eliminated with week 4 loss to #22 Boise State, 30-19.
BYU: Eliminated with week 4 loss to Washington, 45-19.
Illinois: Eliminated with week 4 loss to Nebraska, 42-38.
Kansas: Eliminated with week 4 loss to West Virginia, 29-24.
San Diego State: Eliminated with week 4 loss to Utah State, 23-17.
South Carolina: Eliminated with week 4 loss to Missouri, 34-14.
Stanford: Eliminated with week 4 loss to #11 Oregon, 21-6.
UConn: Eliminated with week 4 loss to Indiana, 38-3.
UNC: Eliminated with week 4 loss to #21 Appalachian State, 34-31.
Vanderbilt: Eliminated with week 4 loss to #2 LSU, 66-38.
Wyoming: Eliminated with week 4 loss to Tulsa, 24-21.

Eliminated in Week 5 (8 teams):

Arkansas: Eliminated with week 5 loss to Texas A&M, 31-27.
Kentucky: Eliminated with week 5 loss to South Carolina, 24-7.
Northwestern: Eliminated with week 5 loss to #13 Wisconsin, 24-15.
Ole Miss: Eliminated with week 5 loss to #1 Alabama, 59-31.
Oregon State: Eliminated with week 5 loss to Stanford, 31-28.
Purdue: Eliminated with week 5 loss to #17 Minnesota, 38-31.
Rutgers: Eliminated with week 5 loss to #19 Michigan, 52-0.
UAB: Eliminated with week 5 loss to Western Kentucky, 20-13.

Eliminated in Week 6 (5 teams):

Boston College: Eliminated with week 6 loss to Louisville, 41-39.
Miami (FL): Eliminated with week 6 loss to Virginia Tech, 42-35.
Syracuse: Eliminated with week 6 loss to NC State, 16-10.
UCF: Eliminated with week 6 loss to #18 Cincinnati, 27-24.
Utah State: Eliminated with week 6 loss to #2 LSU, 42-6.

Eliminated in Week 7 (11 teams):

Colorado: Eliminated with week 7 loss to #11 Oregon, 45-3.
Florida State: Eliminated with week 7 loss to #4 Clemson, 45-14.
Maryland: Eliminated with week 7 loss to Purdue, 40-14.
Michigan State: Eliminated with week 7 loss to #13 Wisconsin, 38-0.
Mississippi State: Eliminated with week 7 loss to Tennessee, 20-10.
Nebraska: Eliminated with week 7 loss to #17 Minnesota, 34-7.
Texas A&M: Eliminated with week 7 loss to #1 Alabama, 47-28.
Texas Tech: Eliminated with week 7 loss to #14 Baylor, 33-30.
USC: Eliminated with week 7 loss to #8 Notre Dame, 30-27.
Washington State: Eliminated with week 7 loss to #24 Arizona State, 38-34.
West Virginia: Eliminated with week 7 loss to #23 Iowa State, 38-14.

Eliminated in Week 8 (11 teams):

Arizona: Eliminated with week 8 loss to USC, 41-14.
#22 Boise State: Eliminated with week 8 loss to BYU, 28-25.
California: Eliminated with week 8 loss to Oregon State, 21-17.
Duke: Eliminated with week 8 loss to Virginia, 48-14.
NC State: Eliminated with week 8 loss to Boston College, 45-24.
Louisville: Eliminated with week 8 loss to #4 Clemson, 45-10.
Oklahoma State: Eliminated with week 8 loss to #14 Baylor, 45-27.
TCU: Eliminated with week 8 loss to Kansas State, 24-17.
Temple: Eliminated with week 8 loss to #16 SMU, 45-21.
Tulane: Eliminated with week 8 loss to Memphis, 47-17.
Washington: Eliminated with week 8 loss to #11 Oregon, 35-31.

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