College Football Playoff Eliminator: Week 5


Week 5 is over and most conferences are heading into the thick of league play. The Big Ten has put themselves in great positions to make College Football Playoff runs (CFP) as the top begins to separate from the rest. The SEC remains a two-team race after Alabama and Georgia’s beatdowns of Ole Miss and Arkansas, respectfully. Cincinnati’s win over Notre Dame should not go unnoticed, as the Bearcats are in firm control going into a weaker-than-usual American Athletic Conference schedule. There also remains undefeated teams across the board that are still making their case for their New Years’ 6 (NY6) bowl bids: BYU, Coastal Carolina, San Diego State, SMU, UTSA, and Wyoming.

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 two-loss resume is not stellar by any means as their offense continues to struggle, but they aren’t eliminated just yet.
  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 NY6 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, as BYU’s schedule is not a laughing matter through five weeks.
  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 after their Notre Dame win, but Coastal Carolina has been dominating their opponents so far this year as well.

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


The American Athletic Conference took the wrong year to only have three teams with one loss or less through five weeks. Cincinnati and SMU remain unbeaten as Houston has been in an offensive groove since their Week 1 loss to Texas Tech. We say goodbye to Memphis and UCF, two teams who the Bearcats would have loved to have ranked at this point in the season.

Still in the hunt (2 teams):

#5 Cincinnati (4-0)

#24 SMU (5-0)

Current bubble (1 team):

Houston (4-1): lost to Texas Tech, 38-21 (Week 1)


The ACC has one remaining undefeated team left – Wake Forest. Clemson has struggled offensively, while Coastal Division Pitt has been an offensive rocket behind the arm of QB Kenny Pickett; but Pitt lost to Western Michigan, which pretty much sums up the ACC as a whole. Miami is finally eliminated and we can stop talking about them as being anywhere near relevant, along with Georgia Tech after their loss to Pitt.

Still in the hunt (1 team):

#19 Wake Forest (5-0)

Early tumblers (4 teams):

#23 NC State (4-1): lost to Mississippi State, 24-10 (Week 2)

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

Pittsburgh (4-1): lost to Western Michigan, 44-41 (Week 3)

Boston College (4-1): lost to Clemson, 19-13 (Week 5)

Current bubble (6 teams):

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

Louisville (3-2): lost to Ole Miss, 43-24 (Week 1) & Wake Forest, 37-34 (Week 5)

Syracuse (3-2): lost to Rutgers, 17-7 (Week 2) & Florida State, 33-30 (Week 5)

UNC (3-2): lost to Virginia Tech, 17-10 (Week 1) & Georgia Tech, 45-22 (Week 4)

Duke (3-2): lost to Charlotte, 31-28 (Week 1) & UNC, 38-7 (Week 5)

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


The parity of the Big XII has given it an interesting storyline. Both Oklahoma teams remain unbeaten, Texas is back (in the top 25 rankings, that is), and there are still numerous teams in position to make a run at the conference. West Virginia took their third loss of the year (all have come by six points or fewer); even though they’ve been eliminated, they can cause problems for the rest of the league this season.

Still in the hunt (2 teams):

#6 Oklahoma (5-0)

#12 Oklahoma State (5-0)

Early tumblers (3 teams):

#21 Texas (4-1): lost to Arkansas, 40-21 (Week 2)

Baylor (4-1): lost to Oklahoma State, 24-14 (Week 5)

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

Current bubble (3 teams):

TCU (2-2): lost to SMU, 42-34 (Week 4) & Texas 32-27 (Week 5)

Kansas State (3-2): lost to Oklahoma State, 31-20 (Week 4) & Oklahoma, 37-31 (Week 5)

Iowa State (3-2): lost to Iowa, 27-17 (Week 2) & Baylor, 31-29 (Week 4)


The Big Ten East has four teams in the top 11. Whether one of them can run the table is yet to be seen, but Penn State has to play Iowa from the West this weekend and could give us a lot more information as to how the conference picture will play out. Indiana, Northwestern, and Wisconsin (!) are all out of contention.

Still in the hunt (4 teams):

#3 Iowa (5-0)

#4 Penn State (5-0)

#9 Michigan (5-0)

#11 Michigan State (5-0)

Early tumblers (2 teams):

#7 Ohio State (4-1): lost to Oregon, 35-28 (Week 2)

Maryland (4-1): lost to Iowa, 51-14 (Week 5)

Current bubble (3 teams):

Purdue (3-2): lost to Notre Dame, 27-13 (Week 3) & Minnesota, 20-13 (Week 5)

Rutgers (3-2): lost to Michigan, 20-13 (Week 4) & Ohio State, 52-13 (Week 5)

Minnesota (3-2): lost to Ohio State, 45-31 (Week 1) & Bowling Green, 14-10 (Week 4)


UTSA scraped by again after beating UNLV, 24-17. Their balanced rushing and passing attack behind QB Frank Harris and RB Sincere McCormick have slowly been putting away teams this year. UTEP is the only other team with one loss or less, as Charlotte and UAB head to the eliminator.

Still in the hunt (1 team):

UTSA (5-0)

Current bubble (1 team):

UTEP (4-1): lost to Boise State, 54-13 (Week 2)


BYU is handling business this year and gets a beatable Boise State squad this weekend. Baylor and Virginia are also two teams that can boost the Cougars’ resume if they can stay above .500 before then. Liberty and Army both have one loss, but the Flames still have Ole Miss and Army still plays Wisconsin and Wake Forest before the two teams meet each other near the end of the season. Notre Dame’s home loss to Cincinnati was a massive hit, as they don’t control any part of their destiny.

Still in the hunt (1 team):

#10 BYU (5-0)

Current bubble (3 teams):

#14 Notre Dame (4-1): lost to Cincinnati, 24-13 (Week 5)

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

Army (4-1): lost to Ball State, 28-16 (Week 5)


Western Michigan is still holding onto that win against Pitt, which is holding up nicely as the Panthers keep winning in the ACC. Their MAC opponents are weak but winning a few more games in a season like this will push them into the AP Poll. Eastern Michigan took their second loss and has been eliminated.

Current bubble (1 teams):

Western Michigan (4-1): lost to Michigan, 47-14 (Week 1)


San Diego State and Wyoming both had byes and remain at 4-0. A heartbreaking loss to Hawai’i for Fresno State ends any outside shot they had at a playoff bid; their seven-point loss to Oregon and three-point win over UCLA both lost some clout after the Ducks’ and Bruins’ conference losses this weekend. They are still receiving votes to be ranked and have a great shot at the Mountain West title. Air Force’s shootout loss to Utah State is the only blemish on a schedule that has been dominated by the Falcons. Utah State’s loss to BYU puts them in the eliminator.

Still in the hunt (2 teams):

#25 San Diego State (4-0)

Wyoming (4-0)

Current bubble (2 teams):

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

Air Force (4-1): lost to Utah State, 49-45 (Week 3)


Oregon’s loss to Stanford was a big hit, but their Ohio State win continues to keep them ranked. This is a conference that has bleak hopes, and any conference carnage will remove the Pac-12 from a CFP spot yet again. Washington is done after their road loss to a surging Oregon State squad.

Early tumblers (3 teams):

#22 Arizona State (4-1): lost to BYU, 27-17 (Week 3)

Oregon State (4-1): lost to Purdue, 30-21 (Week 1)

#8 Oregon (4-1): lost to Stanford, 31-24 (OT) (Week 5)

Current bubble (4 teams):

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

UCLA (3-2): lost to Fresno State, 40-37 (Week 3) & Arizona State, 42-23 (Week 5)

Stanford (3-2): lost to Kansas State, 24-7 (Week 1) & UCLA, 35-24 (Week 4)

USC (3-2): lost to Stanford, 42-28 (Week 2) & Oregon State, 45-27 (Week 4)


It has become a clear, two-team race in the SEC. Ole Miss and Arkansas may be good and deserve to be ranked, but they showed they aren’t anywhere near the level of the top two teams in the country in Alabama and Georgia. Kentucky made a statement against Florida and Auburn continues to win as well. The conference will sort itself out in time, but only Missouri joins Vanderbilt amongst the SEC eliminated.

Still in the hunt (3 teams):

#1 Alabama (5-0)

#2 Georgia (5-0)

#16 Kentucky (5-0)

Early tumblers (3 teams):

#13 Arkansas (4-1): lost to Georgia, 37-0 (Week 5)

#17 Ole Miss (3-1): lost to Alabama, 42-21 (Week 5)

#18 Auburn (4-1): lost to Penn State, 28-20 (Week 3)

Current bubble (6 teams):

#20 Florida (3-2): lost to Alabama, 31-29 (Week 3) & Kentucky, 20-13 (Week 5)

Tennessee (3-2): lost to Pitt, 41-34 (Week 2) & Florida, 38-14 (Week 4)

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

LSU (3-2): lost to UCLA, 38-27 (Week 1) & Auburn, 24-19 (Week 5)

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

Texas A&M (3-2): lost to Arkansas, 20-10 (Week 4) & Mississippi State, 26-22 (Week 5)


Coastal Carolina QB Grayson McCall has been the most accurate QB in the country through five weeks, as the Chanticleers have been ripping through their opponents and eliminated Louisiana-Monroe with a 59-6 win. App State, who is receiving votes to be ranked, and Louisiana, whose only loss is to Texas, get to play this weekend. Either outcome is a positive for Coastal as an App State win could give them a ranked opponent in two weeks whereas a Louisiana win could give more importance to a Sun Belt Championship game at season’s end.

Still in the hunt (1 team):

#15 Coastal Carolina (5-0)

Current bubble (3 teams):

Appalachian State (4-1): lost to Miami, 25-23 (Week 2)

Louisiana (4-1): lost to Texas, 38-18 (Week 1)

South Alabama (3-1): lost to Louisiana, 20-18 (Week 5)



Charlotte: eliminated with loss to Illinois, 24-14 (Week 5)

Eastern Michigan: eliminated with loss to Northern Illinois (Week 5)

Fresno State: eliminated with loss to Hawai’i, 27-24 (Week 5)

Georgia Tech: eliminated with loss to Pitt, 52-21 (Week 5)

Indiana: eliminated with loss to Penn State, 24-0 (Week 5)

Louisiana-Monroe: eliminated with loss to Coastal Carolina, 59-6 (Week 5)

Memphis: eliminated with loss to Temple, 34-31 (Week 5)

Miami: eliminated with loss to Virginia, 30-28 (Week 5)

Missouri: eliminated with loss to Tennessee, 62-24 (Week 5)

Northwestern: eliminated with loss to Nebraska, 56-7 (Week 5)

UAB: eliminated with loss to Liberty, 36-12 (Week 5)

UCF: eliminated with loss to Navy, 34-30 (Week 5)

Utah State: eliminated with loss to BYU, 34-20 (Week 5)

Washington: eliminated with loss to Oregon State, 27-24 (Week 5)

West Virginia: eliminated with loss to Texas Tech, 23-20 (Week 5)

Wisconsin: eliminated with loss to Michigan, 38-17 (Week 5)


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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