Week 8 Playoff Picture
The Top Four:
1.) Utah (6-0)
Best win: vs. No. 15 Michigan 24-17
Utah continued their surprising undefeated run Saturday, defeating Arizona State. They trailed early, but were able to beat the Sun Devils 34-18. Kyle Whittingham has the Utes playing great football, and deserves to be in the conversation for Coach of the Year.
2.) Ohio State (7-0)
Best win: vs. Penn State 38-10
Ohio State looked anything but complacent under the lights against Penn State. Donning all black alternate uniforms, the Buckeyes thrashed the Nittany Lions 38-10. J.T. Barrett has handled his red zone duties beautifully, and appears to have seized the job from Cardale Jones. Barrett will get the start this week against Rutgers.
3.) Baylor (6-0)
Best win: vs. Texas Tech 63-35
Baylor’s offense just seems unrealistic at this point. Through six games, the Bears are averaging 63 points and 719 yards of offense per game. They have yet to be held under 56 points in a single game. Baylor certainly has enough firepower to win it all.
4.) LSU (6-0)
Best win: vs. No. 13 Florida 35-28
The final spot in the playoff goes to the only remaining undefeated team in the SEC. It seems like I’m running out of creative ways to express how good Leonard Fournette is, so this week I’ll keep it simple: Leonard Fournette is really, really, really good at football. As long as Les Miles and the Tigers can remain unbeaten, they’ll have a spot in the top four.
The Next Four:
5.) Clemson (6-0)
Best win: vs. No. 11 Notre Dame 24-22
Clemson keeps humming along in the ACC. This weekend, they hosted Boston College and beat the Eagles 34-17. Their matchup with No. 9 Florida State looms, but it will be important for head coach Dabo Swinney to keep the team focused. Overlooking Miami and N.C. State could spell trouble.
6.) Michigan State (7-0)
Best win: at No. 15 Michigan 27-23
Michigan State won a game in the Big House despite leading for a total of zero seconds throughout the game. It took a botched punt, but Sparty pulled off a 27-23 against rival Michigan. Mark Dantonio’s squad is undefeated, but barely. They will need to improve if they want to beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten.
7.) TCU (7-0)
Best win: at Texas Tech 55-52
TCU has all but coasted through an easy schedule so far. They’re lead by Heisman hopeful quarterback Treyvone Boykin, who has the Horned Frogs scoring 50 points per game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Frogs have struggled, but largely because they’ve lost seven starters to injury.
8.) Alabama (6-1)
Best win: at No. 15 Texas A&M 41-23
Alabama is on a mission to distance themselves from that Week Three loss to Ole Miss and enter the playoff discussion. They are doing this by making their opponents look silly every week. This week’s victim: Texas A&M, courtesy of two pick-sixes by Minkah Fitzpatrick and 236 rushing yards from Derrick Henry.
Four Games to Watch:
(Rankings based on AP Poll)
1.) No. 3 Utah at USC
Despite an undefeated start and a top five ranking, Utah is an underdog this week on the road in Los Angeles. Does this give the Utes extra motivation? Can USC rally after the dismissal of head coach Steve Sarkisian?
2.) Tennessee at No. 8 Alabama
Tennessee has disappointed so far in the season, but the team is coming off a bye and will be fired up to take on the rival Crimson Tide. Does Butch Jones have what it takes to rally the Vols and pull off an upset in Tuscaloosa? Or do Nick Saban and the Tide keep rolling?
3.) No. 6 Clemson at Miami
Dabo Swinney is coaching for a playoff spot while Al Golden is coaching for his job. Clemson will have to remain sharp and focused in order to beat the desperate Hurricanes and avoid the upset in South Beach.
4.) Washington at No. 10 Stanford
It’s time to start paying attention to Stanford. The Cardinal had an ugly Week One loss against Northwestern, but have been playing sensational football since, scoring 40+ points in each of their past four games. This weekend, they’ll look to beat Washington and gain ground in the Pac 12 North.
Jeff Capanelli is a junior, broadcast journalism major. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.