College Football Playoff Outlook After Ten Weeks
by: Dom Stearn
The College Football Playoff picture is finally starting to form. Week ten was one of the most entertaining weeks thus far, as there were several games between teams that were competing for the four coveted playoff spots. Multiple teams watched their playoff hopes wash away with a loss, while others can still see the finish line following a win.
Two teams were basically eliminated from the CFP, as they suffered their second loss of the season. LSU lost to #1 seeded Alabama, and Kentucky lost to #6 seeded Georgia. Both teams got blown out at home, possibly proving that LSU and Kentucky might not have been as good as the rankings suggested. Alabama and Georgia are now set to face off in the SEC championship on December 1st.
Several playoff contenders survived close games against inferior opponents. #4 Notre Dame went on the road and defeated Northwestern 31-21. Although Notre Dame never trailed in this game, they never lead by more than 14 points. If Notre Dame wants to reach the playoff, they will need to play better as they face Florida State, Syracuse, and USC down the stretch. #7 Oklahoma defeated Texas Tech 51-46 on the road. Oklahoma once again proved that their offense is legit. However, the defensive play is raising a lot of questions. #8 Washington State survived against Cal, winning 19-13 in front of their home crowd. Heisman candidate Gardner Minshew threw for 334 yards, including a game winning TD in the final minute. The offense will need to play better in order to remain undefeated. #10 Ohio State held off 2-7 Nebraska in “The Horseshoe,” by outscoring the Cornhuskers 36-31. Ohio State has played terribly lately. They need to figuring things out before Michigan come to town. #13 West Virginia went on the road and defeated #17 Texas. Down by seven, West Virginia QB Will Grier threw a TD with 16 seconds remaining. Instead on kicking the extra point to tie up the game, WVU went for two. Will Grier ran into to endzone and completed the upset comeback. West Virginia’s playoff hopes remained, as they look ahead to hosting Oklahoma in two weeks.
While the teams I mention survived, three other teams thrived this weekend. As I noted to earlier, #1 Alabama shutout #3 LSU on the road. Alabama has been historically dominating, as this was the first game that star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa played in the fourth quarter. #2 Clemson also rolled over Louisville. The score was 77-16, but the game felt even more one-sided. #5 Michigan dominated #14 Penn State, defeating the Nittany Lions 42-7. Michigan is undefeated since losing on the road in week 1 against Notre Dame, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Looking ahead at the games this weekend, there are a couple of games that involve CFP contenders. #10 Ohio State travels to East Lansing to face off against #18 Michigan State. Ohio State looks to keep their playoff hopes alive, while Michigan State hopes to defend their home turf. #16 Mississippi State will face off against #1 Alabama. I’d imagine that Bama will cruise to victory. #6 Oklahoma hosts their interstate rival, Oklahoma State in “Bedlam.” If Oklahoma can play some defense, they should win easily. #8 Washington State will visit Colorado. After Colorado started 5-0, they’ve lost four straight. They hope to avoid 5 straight losses and eliminate WSU from the playoff picture. #5 Georgia will match up against #24 Auburn in the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.” Georgia will look to knock off their third straight ranked opponent. Lastly, #2 Clemson will march into the cold Northeast as they face their toughest task yet, #17 Boston College. Clemson is heavily favored, but Boston College has upset several opponents under their home lights.
This exciting college football season is far from over. With each team still having three regular season games left, the contenders will separate themselves from the pretenders. Currently, there are nine contenders remaining. However, there are three match-ups that showcase two of those contenders. Oklahoma @ West Virginia will play each other on November 23rd. The following day is “The Game,” or Michigan @ Ohio State. And as I noted earlier, Georgia and Alabama will face off in SEC championship game. A lot still has to be figured out, and football fans will be highly entertained throughout the next month as they watch teams attempt to prove they’re the best.