College Football Playoff Outlook: Week 6
As the calendar shifts to October, College Football Playoff contenders are starting to solidify themselves at the top of the rankings. Here are our analysts’ top four teams after five weeks.
Alabama continues to dominate, and is the best team in college football through five weeks.
The Crimson Tide scored their most points ever under Nick Saban in a 66-3 victory over Ole Miss, as the Tide continue to dominate on both sides of the ball.
Alabama will remain at No. 1 until it is beaten, plain and simple.
The Tigers have all but cemented themselves as the No. 2 team in the nation thus far.
Clemson has played three top-15 teams so far, more than any other ranked team, and it has won all three games.
Led by standout linemen Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins, the Tigers possess the best defensive front in the country, and have the best chance to knock off Alabama again this year.
TCU has played well above expectations so far this season, currently ranked at No. 8 after coming into the 2017 season unranked and knocking off No. 6 Oklahoma State in Stillwater on September 23.
The Horned Frogs are coming off a bye week and face a tough test this Saturday against No. 23 West Virginia, but will only add to their playoff resume if they can pull off a win at home.
After just missing out on the College Football Playoff in 2014, TCU looks to ride an explosive offense and a stout defense to an unlikely appearance in this year’s playoffs.
4. Penn State
The Nittany Lions sit at No. 4, but have yet to play a ranked opponent or make a statement win.
Penn State escaped with a walk-off victory against Iowa two weeks ago, and beat Indiana at home this past week, in a game where the special teams and the defense both shined.
Behind Saquon Barkley and a defense that ranks third in points allowed, the Nittany Lions look to remain undefeated against Northwestern this weekend, before facing their first real test, No. 7 Michigan on October 21st.
Clemson remained in cruise control in Week 5, beating No. 16 Virginia Tech 31-17 on the road. This marks the third time Clemson has topped a ranked opponent and the second time it did so on the road.
Many attribute their success to the quarterback play of junior Kelly Bryant. While he has done a phenomenal job all year, what has really been the difference maker for this Tigers team is their defense.
Ranked seventh in the country in total defense, this Clemson defensive unit has only given up 250 yards per game.
Saying the tide is rolling would be an understatement.
Starting the season at No. 1 overall in both the AP and coaches poll, they have not given up that spot yet.
Alabama has racked up a 5-0 record with its closest margin of victory being 17 against Florida State in their first game of the season.
This Alabama team is a double edged sword. They have a dual threat quarterback in Jalen Hurts and are able to counter with arguably one of the best defenses in the country.
Coming off a bye week, the Sooners will be over-prepared going into this week's game against Iowa State.
Thus far, Oklahoma has put together a 4-0 record with its most impressive win coming against No. 10 Ohio State on the road.
While the Sooners stumbled in week four against Baylor, they have the blueprint of a national championship team; a Heisman front runner at quarterback with veteran leadership surrounding him on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
The Wolverines are also coming off a bye week. This week, however, they will have their work cut out for them as they welcome rival Michigan State.
Michigan is currently 4-0 with its only big win coming over Florida in week one.
While they have not proven much yet, this team has a tremendous upside. What will really make or break their season, granted they don't have any trouble before, is when they travel to Happy Valley to take on No. 4 Penn State.
If they are able to knock off the Nittany Lions, they would have a clear road to the Big Ten championship with Ohio State also having one loss against Oklahoma early on in the season.
As I said last week, if Clemson could escape Blacksburg undefeated we could be looking at a new No.1. The Tigers’ 31-17 road win over Virginia Tech was more comprehensive than an escape, and as all three ranked teams to fall to Clemson remain within the top 20, I feel they warrant the top spot at the moment.
The Tide routed the troubled Ole Miss Rebels 66-3. This rout came against a program in shambles. The Tide haven’t done anything wrong, but they won’t face a ranked team until in the final week of the season at No.12 Auburn. Their only ranked win came against now unranked Florida State, and thus the Tide may struggle to find wins to brag about.
Putting TCU in the top four over OU for one stellar win was rash on my part. Baker Mayfield will continue to make the OU offense special while Okoronkwo will do the same for the defense. Oklahoma already beat Ohio State and will beat TCU in November.
4. Washington State
After beating then-No.5 USC in OT, the Cougars have a strong case for No. 4. The Cougar defense surprisingly held former Heisman favorite Sam Darnold to 164 yards passing, a pick, and no touchdowns. Additionally, WSU quarterback Luke Falk threw for 340 yards, which isn’t much by his standards. Falk is a legitimate Heisman candidate and this offense can flat out score.
Alex Loughin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cooper Deck is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.