With the official College Football Playoff rankings coming out next week, here is a last-minute update. Despite the chaos this week (Ohio State, Oregon), the top four is relatively solid. Before the first edition of the selection committee’s list, here’s a quick preview of what it might look like.
I probably don’t need to say too much about the dominant Tide, as they have been a unanimous no. 1 for most of the season thus far. Notably though, they have a matchup with LSU looming on November 3 which will have serious Playoff implications.
Clemson is sitting pretty at 7-0 after a 41-7 destruction of no. 22 NC State. The Tigers are the clear favorite in the ACC with FPI giving them an 88% chance to win the conference. Barring a hiccup, they have a pretty clear path to an undefeated regular season.
Notre Dame remains unbeaten as well, and have a win over Michigan that continues to look more and more impressive on their resume. Since coach Brian Kelly made the QB switch from Brandon Wimbush to Ian Book, the Irish offense has been explosive. Additionally, Notre Dame has no more ranked teams on its schedule.
The other Tiger team in the top four currently is LSU, who has only one loss to no. 9 Florida, and the top Strength of Record in the country. They demolished Georgia in Athens, but once again, next Saturday’s game with the Crimson Tide will be telling.
With the exception of a one-score loss to Notre Dame in week 1, Michigan has continued to silence the Harbaugh haters and get the job done. Their elite defense is allowing the fewest yards per play of any team in the nation. However, the Wolverines will likely have to beat Penn State and Ohio State to sneak into the top four by season’s end.
I’m still not sure if it’s time to call it, but Texas football might be back. I will admit I was ready to write this team off after a season-opening loss to Maryland (which will remain damaging to their resume) but the Longhorns have played very well, especially in their signature win over Oklahoma.
The fifth-ranked team in the country by FPI takes on Kansas State this weekend. Though they lost to Texas in a shootout earlier this season, the electric offense led by Kyler Murray will allow the Sooners to compete with any of the top contenders. FPI gives them nearly a 50% chance to win the Big 12 conference.
Rounding out last season’s Playoff foursome is the Georgia Bulldogs, who hadn’t played a ranked team until last week’s 20-point drubbing at the LSU Tigers. They will have to prove themselves to remain in contention, with Florida and Kentucky next up on the schedule.
Still in the Hunt
Speaking of Florida, the Gators are still very much in the hunt. However, their tough schedule continues with Georgia this weekend, and ESPN’s FPI gives them just a 2.8% chance to win out. Whether they do or not, Florida is in line for a big postseason.
This Kentucky team started off as a pleasant surprise, but people may have to start thinking of them as the real deal. They have a quality win against Florida, and their only loss wasn’t so bad- an exciting matchup with no. 16 Texas A&M that they took to overtime.
They Buckeyes had to feel a little deja vu last Saturday, as this marks the second straight year they have been blown out by an unranked conference opponent. Although they are still in contention, the loss to Purdue was a crippling blow to their chances.
Despite the pleas from UCF fans who claim they are the defending national champs, the Knights can’t realistically be in contention for the Playoff this season. They deserve enormous credit for their 20-game win streak dating back almost 14 months, but their schedule simply isn’t difficult enough. Only seven of those wins are relevant right now, and they have come against opponents with a combined record of 18-32.