College Football Playoff Eliminator: Week 4


As we move past Week 4, the SEC has been establishing themselves as the dominant conference in college football. Arkansas and Georgia meet this week as well as Ole Miss and Alabama; those two games will be massive indicators for the College Football Playoff (CFP). Cincinnati and Notre Dame will be a top-10 matchup that can have a huge impact on the Group of Five and Independent window to reach the postseason. The Big Ten East continues to impress as well, with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State all on late-season collision courses.

Let’s run through the CFP Eliminator criteria before breaking down the conferences:

  1. Three-loss Power Five teams: A two-loss Power Five team can absolutely make the CFP at the end of the season: see LSU, whose two losses in 2007 didn’t stop them from winning a BCS National Championship. Clemson’s second loss to NC State proved that the Tigers still have a lot of work to do on offense, but they are not eliminated from contention by any means.
  1. Two-loss Group of Five teams: Even though undefeated Group of Five teams have always been on the outside looking in (UCF in 2017 and 2018), I’d like to keep talking about the teams that are in the running for a New Years’ Six bid before eliminating them completely. One loss is pretty much enough to eliminate them from the CFP, but we’ll talk about the teams at the top who can still finish the season ranked. This guideline could also be used for the FBS Independents, although undefeated BYU and Notre Dame are still very much in contention.
  1. Strength of schedule issues: Outside of a few teams going undefeated, pretty much every program in the country needs additional assistance getting into the playoff. Cincinnati is still the Group of Five favorite, but BYU is putting together an independent resume that can stack up with just about anybody this far into the season.

Now that we’ve established the guidelines, let’s look at where we stand on a conference by conference basis:


Memphis lost a 31-28 bout with UTSA, which is significant for the American as a whole. SMU escaped another close one as they took down TCU, 42-34. Cincinnati had the benefit of a bye before they travel to South Bend to take on an undefeated Notre Dame squad. Any way you slice it, this is the Bearcat’s conference to lose.

Still in the hunt (2 teams):

#7 Cincinnati (3-0)

SMU (4-0)

Current bubble (3 teams):

UCF (2-1): lost to Louisville, 42-35 (Week 3)

Houston (3-1): lost to Texas Tech, 38-21 (Week 1)

Memphis (3-1): lost to UTSA, 31-28 (Week 4)


The ACC is on the outside looking in as far as Power Five playoff contenders go. Clemson’s loss to NC State propelled the Wolfpack into the AP Poll and Wake Forest remains undefeated in an extremely confusing Atlantic Division. The good news for the ACC is that many of the early tumblers came out with a win in Week 4.

Still in the hunt (2 teams):

#24 Wake Forest (4-0)

Boston College (4-0)

Early tumblers (6 teams):

#23 NC State (3-1): lost to Mississippi State, 24-10 (Week 2)

Virginia Tech (3-1): lost to West Virginia, 27-21 (Week 3)

Louisville (3-1): lost to Ole Miss, 43-24 (Week 1)

Syracuse (3-1): lost to Rutgers, 17-7 (Week 2)

Pittsburgh (3-1): lost to Western Michigan, 44-41 (Week 3)

Duke (3-1): lost to Charlotte, 31-28 (Week 1)

Current bubble (5 teams):

#25 Clemson (2-2): lost to Georgia, 10-3 (Week 1) & NC State, 27-21 (OT) (Week 4)

Miami (2-2): lost to Alabama, 44-13 (Week 1) and Michigan State, 38-17 (Week 3)

Georgia Tech (2-2): lost to Northern Illinois, 22-21 (Week 1) and Clemson, 14-8 (Week 3)

UNC (2-2): lost to Virginia Tech, 17-10 (Week 1) & Georgia Tech, 45-22 (Week 4)

Virginia (2-2): lost to UNC, 59-39 (Week 3) & Wake Forest, 37-17 (Week 4)


Baylor has looked good in recent weeks, as they send Iowa State to the bubble after a two-point victory. The Bears get an undefeated Oklahoma State on Saturday, which will inevitably result in only two ranked teams heading into Week 6 (Oklahoma, being the other). Baylor also has BYU on the schedule, who has ripped through the Pac-12 South to start 4-0. West Virginia gave Oklahoma a scare this weekend as holes continue to open up for the SEC and Big Ten to send multiple teams to the CFP.

Still in the hunt (3 teams):

#6 Oklahoma (4-0)

#19 Oklahoma State (4-0)

#21 Baylor (4-0)

Early tumblers (4 teams):

Texas (3-1): lost to Arkansas, 40-21 (Week 2)

Kansas State (3-1): lost to Oklahoma State, 31-20 (Week 4)

Texas Tech (3-1): lost to Texas, 70-35 (Week 4)

TCU (2-1): lost to SMU, 42-34 (Week 4)

Current bubble (2 team):

West Virginia (2-2): lost to Maryland, 30-24 (Week 1) & Oklahoma, 16-13 (Week 4)

Iowa State (2-2): lost to Iowa, 27-17 (Week 2) & Baylor, 31-29 (Week 4)


The Big Ten East (24-4 overall) is in for a massive late-season collision between the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State. Rutgers has also been surprisingly competitive, as they gave Michigan all they could handle in a 20-13 loss. Iowa is still the class of the West, as Wisconsin ran out of gas against Notre Dame.

Still in the hunt (5 teams):

#4 Penn State (4-0)

#5 Iowa (4-0)

#14 Michigan (4-0)

#17 Michigan State (4-0)

Maryland (4-0)

Early tumblers (3 teams):

#11 Ohio State (3-1): lost to Oregon, 35-28 (Week 2)

Purdue (3-1): lost to Notre Dame, 27-13 (Week 3)

Rutgers (3-1): lost to Michigan, 20-13 (Week 4)

Current bubble (4 teams):

Wisconsin (1-2): lost to Penn State, 16-10 (Week 1) & Notre Dame, 41-13 (Week 4)

Indiana (2-2): lost to Iowa, 34-6 (Week 1) and Cincinnati, 38-24 (Week 3)

Northwestern (2-2): lost to Michigan State, 38-21 (Week 1) and Duke, 30-23 (Week 3)

Minnesota (2-2): lost to Ohio State, 45-31 (Week 1) & Bowling Green, 14-10 (Week 4)


UTSA beating Memphis was huge for the Roadrunners as they head into a matchup with a winless UNLV squad. They’re receiving votes to be ranked, but their fellow C-USA opponents have been all but eliminated.

Still in the hunt (1 team):

UTSA (4-0)

Current bubble (3 teams):

UAB (3-1): lost to Georgia, 56-7 (Week 2)

Charlotte (3-1): lost to Georgia State, 20-9 (Week 3)

UTEP (3-1): lost to Boise State, 54-13 (Week 2)


Army has started a silent 4-0 this year; Wisconsin, Wake Forest, and Liberty can all be potential opportunities for the Black Knights’ stock to rise. BYU’s schedule has pushed them to a No. 13 ranking with Utah State, Boise, and an undefeated Baylor coming up this October. Liberty lost a close one to Syracuse on Friday night, but they still have Ole Miss and Army on the schedule. Among all the Independents, Notre Dame has the most likely path to the playoff as they welcome No. 7 Cincinnati to South Bend this weekend.

Still in the hunt (3 teams):

#9 Notre Dame (4-0)

#13 BYU (4-0)

Army (4-0)

Current bubble (1 team):

Liberty (3-1): lost to Syracuse, 24-21 (Week 4)


Eastern and Western Michigan remain the only two MAC teams with only one loss. Western Michigan’s upset of Pitt and win against San Jose State make them the conference’s best as MACtion begins.

Current bubble (2 teams):

Western Michigan (3-1): lost to Michigan, 47-14 (Week 1)

Eastern Michigan (3-1): lost to Wisconsin, 34-7 (Week 2)


Fresno State continues to rise in the AP Poll thanks to their win over UCLA. QB Jake Haener (30/42, 378 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT against UNLV) is a legit Heisman contender for a Mountain West Conference that still has San Diego State and Wyoming sitting at 4-0.

Still in the hunt (2 teams):

San Diego State (4-0)

Wyoming (4-0)

Current bubble (4 teams):

#18 Fresno State (4-1): lost to Oregon, 31-24 (Week 1)

Nevada (2-1): lost to Kansas State, 38-17 (Week 3)

Utah State (3-1): lost to Boise State, 27-3 (Week 4)

Air Force (3-1): lost to Utah State, 49-45 (Week 3)


Oregon continues to be the class of the league, sitting at 4-0 and the only undefeated Pac-12 team. Oregon State’s stock is rising following a win over USC. UCLA bounced back after a loss to Fresno State by beating Stanford; the Bruins will have a hard time jumping the Bulldogs, however, based on head-to-head and the weakness of the conference overall.

Still in the hunt (1 team):

#3 Oregon (4-0)

Early tumblers (3 teams):

Arizona State (3-1): lost to BYU, 27-17 (Week 3)

#20 UCLA (3-1): lost to Fresno State, 40-37 (Week 3)

Oregon State (3-1): lost to Purdue, 30-21 (Week 1)

Current bubble (4 teams):

Stanford (2-2): lost to Kansas State, 24-7 (Week 1) & UCLA, 35-24 (Week 4)

Utah (2-2): lost to BYU, 26-17 (Week 2) and San Diego State, 33-31 (OT) (Week 3)

USC (2-2): lost to Stanford, 42-28 (Week 2) & Oregon State, 45-27 (Week 4)

Washington (2-2): lost to Montana, 13-7 (Week 1) & Michigan, 31-10 (Week 2)


Much like the Big Ten East, the SEC West has been outstanding so far this season. Ole Miss and QB Matt Corral have been lightning, and the true test comes in Tuscaloosa as they take on Alabama this Saturday afternoon. Arkansas has been on the constant rise and was able to bounce Texas A&M out of the top ten – they get Georgia and College GameDay this weekend.

Still in the hunt (5 teams):

#1 Alabama (4-0)

#2 Georgia (4-0)

#8 Arkansas (4-0)

#12 Ole Miss (4-0)

Kentucky (4-0)

Early tumblers (4 teams):

#10 Florida (3-1): lost to Alabama, 31-29 (Week 3)

#22 Auburn (3-1): lost to Penn State, 28-20 (Week 3)

LSU (3-1): lost to UCLA, 38-27 (Week 1)

#15 Texas A&M (3-1): lost to Arkansas, 20-10 (Week 4)

Current bubble (4 teams):

Tennessee (2-2): lost to Pitt, 41-34 (Week 2) & Florida, 38-14 (Week 4)

Mississippi State (2-2): lost to Memphis, 31-29 (Week 3) & LSU, 28-25 (Week 4)

Missouri (2-2): lost to Kentucky, 35-28 (Week 2) & Boston College, 41-34 (OT) (Week 4)

South Carolina (2-2): lost to Georgia, 40-13 (Week 3) & Kentucky, 16-10 (Week 4)


Coastal dismantled UMass to stay unbeaten while App State’s one-point victory over Conference USA’s Marshall keeps the Sun Belt’s Group A afloat. South Alabama is undefeated from Group B; they close the season with Tennessee and Coastal in November.

Still in the hunt (2 teams):

#16 Coastal Carolina (4-0)

South Alabama (3-0)

Current bubble (3 teams):

Appalachian State (3-1): lost to Miami, 25-23 (Week 2)

Louisiana (3-1): lost to Texas, 38-18 (Week 1)

Louisiana-Monroe (2-1): lost to Kentucky, 45-10 (Week 1)



California: eliminated with loss to Washington, 31-24 (OT) (Week 4)

Colorado: eliminated with loss to Arizona State, 35-13 (Week 4)

Florida Atlantic: eliminated with loss to Air Force, 31-7 (Week 4)

Kansas: eliminated with loss to Duke, 52-33 (Week 4)

Marshall: Eliminated with loss to Appalachian State, 31-30 (Week 4)

Nebraska: eliminated with loss to Michigan State, 23-20 (Week 4)

New Mexico: eliminated with loss to UTEP, 20-13 (Week 4)

San Jose State: eliminated with loss to Western Michigan (Week 4)

Troy: eliminated with loss to Louisiana-Monroe, 29-16 (Week 4)

Vanderbilt: eliminated with loss to Georgia, 62-0 (Week 4)

Washington State: eliminated with loss to Utah, 24-13 (Week 4)

Western Kentucky: eliminated with loss to Indiana, 33-31 (Week 4)


Arizona: eliminated with loss to Northern Arizona, 21-19 (Week 3)

Arkansas State: eliminated with loss to Washington, 52-3 (Week 3)

Ball State: eliminated with loss to Wyoming, 45-12 (Week 3)

Boise State: eliminated with loss to Oklahoma State, 21-20 (Week 3)

Buffalo: eliminated with loss to Coastal Carolina, 28-25 (Week 3)

Central Michigan: eliminated with loss to LSU, 49-21 (Week 3)

FIU: eliminated with loss to Texas Tech, 54-21 (Week 3)

Florida State: eliminated with loss to Wake Forest, 35-14 (Week 3)

Georgia Southern: eliminated with loss to Arkansas, 45-10 (Week 3)

Illinois: eliminated with loss to Maryland, 20-17 (Week 3)

Kent State: eliminated with loss to Iowa, 30-7 (Week 3)

Louisiana Tech: eliminated with loss to SMU, 39-37 (Week 3)

Middle Tennessee: eliminated with loss to UTSA, 27-13 (Week 3)

Northern Illinois: eliminated with loss to Michigan, 63-10 (Week 3)

North Texas: eliminated with loss to UAB, 40-6 (Week 3)

Old Dominion: eliminated with loss to Liberty, 45-17 (Week 3)

Southern Miss: eliminated with loss to Troy, 21-9 (Week 3)

Temple: eliminated with loss to Boston College, 28-3 (Week 3)

Texas State: eliminated with loss to Incarnate Word, 42-34 (Week 3)

Toledo: eliminated with loss to Colorado State, 22-6 (Week 3)

Tulane: eliminated with loss to Ole Miss, 61-21 (Week 3)


Akron: eliminated with loss to Temple, 45-24 (Week 2)

Bowling Green: eliminated with loss to South Alabama, 22-19 (Week 2)

Colorado State: eliminated with loss to Vanderbilt, 24-21 (Week 2)

East Carolina: eliminated with loss to South Carolina, 20-17 (Week 2)

Georgia State: eliminated with loss to UNC, 59-17 (Week 2)

Hawai’i: eliminated with loss to Oregon State, 45-27 (Week 2)

Miami (OH): eliminated with loss to Minnesota, 31-26 (Week 2)

Navy: eliminated with loss to Air Force, 23-3 (Week 2)

Ohio: eliminated with loss to Duquesne, 28-26 (Week 2)

Rice: eliminated with loss to Houston, 44-7 (Week 2)

Tulsa: eliminated with loss to Oklahoma State, 28-23 (Week 2)

UConn: eliminated with loss to Holy Cross, 38-28 (Week 2)

UMass: eliminated with loss to Boston College, 45-28 (Week 2)

UNLV: eliminated with loss to Arizona State, 37-10 (Week 2)

USF: eliminated with loss to Florida, 42-20 (Week 2)


New Mexico State: eliminated with loss to San Diego State, 28-10 (Week 1)


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