College Football Playoff Outlook: Week 10
On Halloween night, the College Football Playoff Committee released the first rendition of their rankings as we near the postseason.
Their top four consists of Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, and Clemson, in that order.
The committee seems to think Georgia’s impressive win over Notre Dame and stronger schedule were enough to break their Alabama hypnosis. Alabama logically follows at No. 2 as the only other elite undefeated team. The big surprise, if even, were the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at No. 3, being a dominant team, and undefeated against teams outside Georgia. To round out the top four, the committee must’ve thought Clemson’s loss at Syracuse was mulligan-worthy because they were forced to play out the home stretch without star quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Sitting on the outside, I see four teams with a legitimate chance to play their way into the playoffs.
The first of these four teams is the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners have a non-conference win on the road against playoff contending Ohio State and suffered their only loss to an Iowa State team that now sits at No. 15 in these rankings, making the loss a much more legitimate one than it appeared to be at the time.
The second are the Ohio State Buckeyes. After a big win over Penn State, the Buckeyes will likely run the table and eviscerate a likely undefeated Wisconsin team in the Big 10 championship game. They will probably need a domino or two to fall ahead of them.
The other two teams aren’t nearly playoff worthy in my estimation, but would be impossible to keep out if they run the table and finish as undefeated conference champions. If Wisconsin wins out, it will mean that they beat Ohio State to win the Big 10 and would almost have an auto bid to the dance. The same would have to be said for Miami, as running the table would mean they’d be undefeated champions of the ACC with wins over the third and fourth teams in the committee’s rankings in Notre Dame and Clemson.
- Patrick Murphy
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
I was shocked when the committee ranked Georgia ahead of Alabama. The Crimson Tide have dominated every single opponent, except the Texas A&M Aggies. Alabama ranks with in scoring offense and first in scoring defense. They have played like a No. 1 team, and should be ranked as such.
2. Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and his bulldogs are a special team. While I believe that the Crimson Tide should be in first, the Bulldogs are right behind them. Georgia has two impressive wins over the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Their defense is also top 5 and they are winning games soundly with a freshman QB. Every college football fan should be excited if and when Alabama and Georgia play each other in the SEC Championship.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
Other than their 31-16 loss against the Oklahoma Sooners, the Ohio State Buckeyes have practically looked unbeatable since. The No. 2 offense in the nation proved its worth by posting 523 total yards and 39 points against Penn State’s, at the time, No. 1 scoring defense. Redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett looks like a Heisman contender and while the secondary has been a week spot for the Bucks, the defensive line has been nothing short of amazing to make up for their play.
4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
It is difficult to argue against having the Fighting Irish in the top 4. With convincing wins over ranked opponents like Michigan State, NC State and USC, Notre Dame has the look of an elite team. Notre Dame’s lone loss came at the hands of No. 1 Georgia at a final of 20-19, proving that they can hang with the best of the best.
5. Penn State Nittany Lions
6. TCU Horned Frogs
- Zach Seyko
Coming off the bye, Alabama hosts No. 19 LSU this week in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama has done everything right so far this season, led by a defense ranked first in points against, allowing just 9.8 points per game. Cornerback-safety hybrid Minkah Fitzpatrick has been tremendous and is the only defensive player in the nation deserving of a place in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
The Tide have hardly been tested this year, and LSU comes into town with one of the best chances of any team to knock off Alabama. However, that isn’t much of a chance, as Alabama should beat the Tigers convincingly.
Thus far, Georgia has been phenomenal. Head coach Kirby Smart has his team playing their best football in over a decade, as the Bulldogs are off to their first 8-0 start since 2002.
The bright spot for Georgia has been the defense, as the Bulldogs allowed over 20 points just once this season, against Missouri. Georgia has virtually dominated all competition, and has just one ranked opponent left on the schedule in No. 16 Auburn.
The SEC has the top two teams in the nation this year and the Bulldogs will most likely meet Alabama in the SEC Championship. Look for Georgia to win again as they host South Carolina on Saturday.
3. Notre Dame
It has become too difficult to leave the Fighting Irish out of the College Football Playoff Rankings.
Sitting at 7-1, Notre Dame is riding a six-game win streak, including back-to-back decisive victories over No. 11 USC and No. 14 NC State. The Fighting Irish’s only loss came at the hands of Georgia, in a marginal 20-19 defeat.
Strong on both sides of the ball, the Fighting Irish have a relatively easy test this week, hosting 5-3 Wake Forest, before traveling to No. 9 Miami in a crucial game for both teams.
4. Ohio State
What a statement win for the Buckeyes as they came back from an 18-point deficit to beat Penn State 39-38 in Columbus.
J.T. Barrett was near-perfect for the Buckeyes, completing 84.6 percent of his passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. Barrett also led the team in rushing with 95 yards on 17 carries. The senior quarterback thrust himself into the Heisman race with a spectacular performance.
The only thing holding the Buckeyes back thus far is their relatively weak schedule. Ohio State travels to Iowa this weekend in what could be a tricky road game, but expect the Buckeyes to ride their big win to another Big Ten victory against the Hawkeyes.
6. Penn State
- Alex Loughin
Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism, to contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zach Seyko is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Alex Loughin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.