College Football Playoff Rankings prediction: Georgia on top, TCU in top four ahead of Clemson, Michigan
The Bulldogs had a relatively easy time of things with Florida in a 42-20 win. It could have been even more if Georgia did a better job of taking care of the ball. For all intents and purposes, the SEC East title is on the line in this week’s game with Tennessee, along with a leg up in the race for a spot in the CFP.
The Buckeyes picked up their first win over a AP ranked opponent with a 13-point win at Penn State. If you are a fan of game control, this was not a great performance by Ohio State. The Nittany Lions controlled the game into the fourth quarter, but two Buckeyes touchdowns in 34 seconds turned it around. The Buckeyes’ strength of schedule actually ranks second only to TCU among the undefeated teams, but that figures to change after this week.
Tennessee looks primed for the big matchup at Georgia. The Volunteers destroyed Kentucky, and that is a pretty good Wildcats team. The winner of the Georgia-Tennessee game will surely have the No. 1 spot in these rankings next week, but all hope is not lost for a CFP place for the loser.
The committee could justify any of the next four teams in any order. I have TCU here because of its strength of schedule. The Horned Frogs do not run teams off the field. They have four wins with margins of 10 points or less, including a double-overtime win against Oklahoma State.
Clemson had the week off to get ready for a trip to Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish offense seems to be coming around, although the Tigers defense will be a different level of test for them. Clemson has three wins over teams in last week’s AP Top 25, and while all three are still ranked there, Syracuse and especially Wake Forest are further down the list.
Michigan’s schedule ranks 100th at the moment. The next-lowest rated schedule among the six undefeated teams is Georgia’s at 70. The win over the Spartans was more convincing than the score would indicate. The Wolverines need to look dominant at Rutgers.
The committee loves themselves some Alabama, so the Crimson Tide could be ranked higher than this. Surely, they will not be any lower. The off week came at a good time for Alabama as it starts a difficult two-game road trip to LSU and Ole Miss.
The Ducks put up another 40-point performance at Cal in a 42-24 win. Bo Nix may start getting Heisman Trophy consideration soon. Of course, the one loss will hang over this program. No team is rooting harder for Georgia this week — and every week — than Oregon. The Ducks’ strength of schedule will take a hit against Colorado.
The Trojans got a pretty good challenge from Arizona but held on for the win. USC finishes with three of four at home with the lone exception being the game at UCLA on Nov. 19.
It’s a Pac-12 trifecta in this part of the rankings. There is not much separating these three teams yet except for the Oregon win over the Bruins. UCLA handled Stanford with ease. Now, the Bruins start the Arizona doubleheader, after which is the big game with USC.
Ole Miss got a tough battle from Texas A&M, which lately has been playing just well enough to lose. The Rebels will get to spend this Saturday on the couch watching the one team to beat them, LSU, take on Alabama, which is their next opponent.
Talk about making a statement! The Wildcats obliterated Oklahoma State 48-0 and is the biggest mover up the rankings from last week’s projection. Kansas State did that behind backup QB Will Howard, who was filling in for Adrian Martinez. K-State can’t rest on its laurels, though. A talented Texas team visits next.
The Utes also had to turn to a backup QB when Cam Rising was a late scratch from the lineup. No problem, though. Utah won at Washington State, 21-17. The Utes could still win the Pac-12 championship, but because of the loss at Florida to start the season, the CFP is out of reach.
I don’t foresee much of a drop for Penn State off their loss to Ohio State. The Nittany Lions acquitted themselves well, and if not for a bad minute in the fourth quarter, could have won that game. As it stands, PSU is 0-2 against the two best teams in the conference. Their best win came in the season opener at Purdue.
The Tigers still control their own fate when it comes to the conference race. They beat Ole Miss two weeks ago and now get their shot at Alabama. A win would give LSU tiebreakers over the other two contenders in the SEC West. Like Utah, an unfortunate nonconference loss has likely eliminated them from CFP contention.
Tulane’s win at Kansas State got a nice boost this week. The reasons that the Green Wave are not higher than this are a relatively poor strength of schedule and the fact that they have the worst loss of any top 25 team. That came at home to Southern Miss. Their strength of schedule should improve as the season goes on because they still have to face UCF and Cincinnati.
We have reached the bottom nine teams of these rankings, and the ACC has come out to play. The league will have five of the final nine places. The Tar Heels start things out coming off a win at home over Pitt. A home loss to Notre Dame is the only blemish on the schedule that is crying out for a quality win.
Yikes. The Cowboys were shutout by Kansas State 48-0, the first shutout of the Pokes since 2009. There’s more bad news. QB Spencer Sanders left the game in the second half with an injured shoulder. His status for this week’s game is unknown.
The Beavers keep flying under the radar, which is easier to do during an off week. They are back in action on Friday at Washington. Both teams are at 3-2 in the Pac-12, and while a conference championship seems unlikely, they are at least playing for a spot in a good bowl game.
Before Saturday, I did not think it was possible to squeeze six turnovers into 15 minutes, but that is exactly what Wake Forest did at Louisville. The Demon Deacons threw interceptions that were returned for touchdowns on the first and last plays of the third quarter. It’s only one game, though. No time to sulk. They can still reach the Orange Bowl if they win out.
The Orange started 6-0 but have now suffered back-to-back losses, most recently at home to Notre Dame. The rest of the way will not be easy, either. Syracuse finishes with three of four on the road, and the home game is against Florida State.
I am not 100% convinced that the committee will put a three-loss major conference team ahead of one with just one loss, but the differences in strength of schedule and the quality of the losses are pronounced. The Bulldogs will look to break a two-game skid against Auburn, which fired coach Bryan Harsin on Monday.
I struggle with figuring out how the committee will view this team. The Illini have a fabulous defense by any reasonable measure and an All-American level running back in Chase Brown. Their schedule is really lacking, though. The only team to score more than 14 points against Illinois beat them. That came in a 23-20 loss at Indiana back in Week 1. It’s hard to choose a best win. They have defeated some decent teams but no great ones, and the higher quality opponents were played at home. The jury is out on this team until they play at Michigan on Nov. 19. Their record alone may push the Illini higher up the list than this.
The Wolfpack has a tough road ahead, especially playing without QB Devin Leary, who was lost for the season with an injury a couple of weeks ago. They did pick up a win over Virginia Tech but still have this week’s game with Wake Forest before finishing at Louisville and North Carolina.
Oh, look! Another ACC team! The Seminoles snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over Georgia Tech last week. All three losses came against ranked opposition. They started the season off strongly with wins over LSU and Louisville, both away from home.