Week 7 Playoff Picture
The Top Four:
1.) Utah (5-0)
Best win: vs. Michigan 24-17
In an upset-filled college football season that lacks a clear-cut dominant team, the #1 spot has to go to the team with the most impressive résumé. So far, that belongs to the Utes. They didn’t look dominant, but Saturday they added to their win total by defeating a ranked, unbeaten Cal 30-24.
2.) Ohio State (6-0)
Best win: at Indiana 34-27
In the third quarter of Saturday’s game, Ohio State found itself tied 21-21 with the struggling Maryland Terrapins. Luckily for the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer’s team flipped a switch and finished the game in dominant fashion, winning 49-28. The defending champs lack a signature win, but a visit from the 5-1 Nittany Lions should boost their résumé.
3.) Baylor (5-0)
Best win: vs. Texas Tech 63-35
The good: Through five games, Baylor leads the FBS in points per game (64.2), and total points (321) despite playing one less game than many teams. The Bears are currently on pace to be one of the best scoring offenses in college football history. The bad: Through five games, Baylor has played four FBS schools. Those schools rank 117th, 121st, 123rd and 124th defensively. Yikes.
4.) Clemson (5-0)
Best win: vs. then No. 6 Notre Dame 24-22
Clemson followed up their big win last weekend by putting the hurt on Georgia Tech, beating the Yellow Jackets 43-24. The exceptional play of quarterback Deshaun Watson plus their top-20 scoring defense has the Tigers poised to make a run in the ACC.
The Next Four:
5.) TCU (6-0)
Best win: at Minnesota 23-17
The Horned frogs notched another close road victory this weekend, beating conference foe Kansas State 52-45. Trevone Boykin has this TCU offense firing on all cylinders, and is putting his name on many Heisman ballots along the way. Their defense, however, has looked vulnerable despite playing some weak competition.
6.) Michigan State (6-0)
Best win: vs. then No. 3 Oregon 31-28
Sparty continues to plummet in the playoff rankings. Their “signature win” over Oregon looks worse and worse each week, and the Spartans haven’t exactly looked dominant themselves. They escaped New Jersey with a narrow 31-24 win over Rutgers, but they’ll need a far better effort in order to beat Jim Harbaugh and the red-hot Wolverines.
7.) Florida (6-0)
Best win: vs. then No. 3 Ole Miss 38-10
Florida went on the road and picked up a solid SEC East win, beating Mizzou 21-3. Unfortunately, the Gators look a huge loss off the field. Freshman quarterback Will Grier tested positive for performance enhancing substances, and will miss the remainder of the season. It will be up to sophomore Treon Harris to lead the Gators the rest of the way, which includes a daunting trip to LSU this weekend.
8.) LSU (5-0)
Best win: vs. then No. 18 Auburn 45-21
Speaking of the LSU, I have the Tigers ranked as my No. 8 team in the country. Like many of the top teams, they’re undefeated yet lack a signature win. However, that has the potential to change when Florida comes to town this Saturday. Leonard Fournette will look to continue his streak of looking like a man amongst boys and piling up absurd rushing yards.
Four Games to Watch:
(Rankings based on AP Poll)
1.) No. 7 Michigan State at No. 12 Michigan
Michigan has become the storyline of the college football season so far. Since their week one loss to Utah, the Wolverines have outscored opponents 160-14, including three straight shutouts. State, on the other hand, has looked less dominant every week. Can Mark Dantonio right the ship against their in-state rival? Does Michigan enter the playoff conversation with a win?
2.) No. 8 Florida at No. 6 LSU
Winning in Death Valley is one of the hardest things to do in college football. Winning with your backup quarterback? Nearly impossible. Nobody has stopped Leonard Fournette all season, but Florida’s top-20 ranked rushing defense will need to at least slow him down. Do the Gators have what it takes to go on the road and defy the odds?
3.) No. 10 Alabama at No. 9 Texas A&M
While outside of the top-8 at the moment, both of these teams are very much contenders. A&M’s defense is massively improved from last season and will look to stop an inconsistent Alabama offense. The winner of this game will get a huge boost in the race for the SEC West.
4.) Penn State at No. 1 Ohio State
Ohio State will look to make a statement in primetime this week as they host James Franklin and the Nittany Lions. While Penn State might not be elite, they boast one of the top defenses in the Big Ten and an intriguing collection of young talent. Will Penn State keep it close, or will this game resemble the 63-14 game from two years ago?
Jeff Capanelli is a junior, broadcast journalism major. He can be contact him email, firstname.lastname@example.org