Handicapping the CFP Race heading into week 10

The first playoff rankings are out. In the last year of college football as we know it before radical realignment with mega-conferences and a 12-team playoff takes effect, we’re almost at the end of this season. Kansas upset Oklahoma, while North Carolina’s playoff hopes vanished with their loss to Georgia Tech. Oregon avenged their defeats to Utah 2 years ago, and eliminated the Utes from the playoff chase. Oregon State was eliminated from the chase with their loss to Arizona. So without further ado, here are the contenders for the playoff after week 9, going into week 10:

Group of 5: No one
Independents: No one

ACC: #4 Florida State. 6-0 ACC, 8-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 @ Pitt, Week 11 vs. Miami (FL), Week 12 vs. North Alabama, Week 13 @ Florida

#13 Louisville. 4-1 ACC, 7-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 vs. Virginia Tech, Week 11 vs. Virginia, Week 12 @ Miami (FL), Week 13 vs. Kentucky

North Carolina’s second consecutive loss eliminated them from the playoff chase. The ACC is now a 2 team race between Florida State and Louisville. Expect both of them to win this week.

Big 12: #9 Oklahoma. 4-1 Big 12, 7-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 @ Oklahoma State, Week 11 vs. West Virginia, Week 12 @BYU, Week 13 vs. TCU

#7 Texas. 4-1 Big 12, 7-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 vs. Kansas State, Week 11 @ TCU, Week 12 @ Iowa State, Week 13 vs. Texas Tech

Oklahoma’s loss to Kansas was the biggest surprise of the week, but the Sooners are still in prime position to make the playoff. They face Oklahoma State this week in the final edition of Bedlam for the time being. Texas is still without Quinn Ewers, but should have no trouble with Kansas State this week.

SEC: #2 Georgia. 5-0 SEC, 8-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 vs. Mizzou, Week 11 vs. Ole Miss, Week 12 @ Tennessee, Week 13 @ Georgia Tech

#8 Alabama. 5-0 SEC, 7-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 vs. LSU, Week 11 @Kentucky, Week 12 vs. Chattanooga, Week 13 @ Auburn

#10 Ole Miss. 4-1 SEC, 7-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 vs. Texas A&M, Week 11 @ Georgia, Week 12 vs. UL Monroe, Week 13 @ Mississippi State

#12 Missouri. 3-1 SEC, 7-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 @ Georgia, Week 11 vs. Tennessee, Week 12 vs. Florida, Week 13 @ Arkansas

#14 LSU. 4-1 SEC, 6-2 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 @ Alabama, Week 11 vs. Florida, Week 12 vs. Georgia State, Week 13 vs. Texas A&M

Georgia beat Florida easily last week to run their winning streak to 25 games, the longest in the country. They face Mizzou this week in an elimination game for the Tigers. Georgia will still be alive even with a loss to Mizzou as they still have ranked opponents in Ole Miss and Tennessee. Alabama and LSU were off last week, and they face off this week in Tuscaloosa following last year’s thriller when LSU went for 2 in overtime to defeat the Tide. A 2-loss team has never made the playoff, but LSU is in contention due to SEC bias, and the fact that a win over Alabama would give them a chance to play for the SEC championship game and that 13th data point the committee values. Ole Miss has already lost to Alabama, but an LSU win over Alabama would give them a chance to win the West, due to their victory over LSU.

Pac-12: #5 Washington. 5-0 Pac-12, 8-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 @ USC, Week 11 vs. Utah, Week 12 @ Oregon State, Week 13 vs. Washington State

#6 Oregon. 4-1 Pac-12, 7-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 vs. Cal, Week 11 vs. USC, Week 12 @ Arizona State, Week 13 vs. Oregon State

In the last year of the Pac-12 as we know it, 6 teams are ranked in the top 25, but we’re down to 2 in playoff contention. Like I mentioned in the open, we saw two eliminations last week. Can Oregon and Washington make it to the Pac-12 championship game unscathed or will they stumble along the way and leave the conference without a playoff team? History suggests it’ll be the latter, but anything can happen. I like Oregon to defeat Cal, but USC could upset Washington and throw more chaos into the chase. Look for USC to pull the upset.

Big 10: #3 Michigan. 5-0 Big 10, 8-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 vs. Purdue, Week 11 @ Penn State, Week 12 @ Maryland, Week 13 vs. Ohio State

#1 Ohio State. 5-0 Big 10, 8-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 @ Rutgers, Week 11 vs. Michigan State, Week 12 vs. Minnesota, Week 13 @ Michigan

#11 Penn State. 4-1 Big 10, 7-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 10 @ Maryland, Week 11 vs. Michigan, Week 12 vs. Rutgers, Week 13 @ Michigan State

Normally, we would be discussing how it’s coming down to how it’s historically been in the Big 10 between Michigan and Ohio State, with Penn State being a 3rd wheel, but the Michigan sign stealing scandal has overshadowed everything. The CFP committee said it’s an NCAA issue, so they’re only looking at their play on the field, but other teams are very unhappy about it, and some Big 10 teams have asked the conference to take action, as the NCAA probably won’t do anything about it this year. On the field, Penn State is not yet eliminated, but they will have to defeat Michigan and will need Ohio State to lose to Michigan to have any chance at playing for the Big 10 Championship and making the playoff. Look for all 3 teams to win this week

Brian Ferentz watch: Due to a nepotism clause in his contract, in order for coach Kirk Ferentz’s son to keep his job, the Hawkeyes must win at least 7 games this season, and score at least 325 points in 13 games, for an average of 25 points per game. Points from the defense and special teams count towards the total as well. Iowa is 6-2, and through 8 games they have scored 156 points, putting them 44 points off the pace. They were off last week, and play Northwestern at Wrigley Field this weekend. Earlier in the week, the Iowa AD said he won’t be coming back for the 2024 season. He probably wouldn’t have made it anyways. Iowa ranks 133rd out of 133 teams in the FBS in total scoring. The Hawkeyes would have to score 69 points in their next game to get back on the pace, or average 34 points a game in their remaining 5 games.

CFP Top 10 Rankings:
1. Ohio State
2. Georgia
3. Michigan
4. Florida State
5. Washington
6. Oregon
7. Texas
8. Alabama
9. Oklahoma
10. Ole Miss

Championship Saturday matchup predictions:
ACC: Florida State vs. Louisville
Big 12: Oklahoma vs. Texas
SEC: Georgia vs. Alabama
Pac-12: Oregon vs. Washington
Big 10: Iowa vs. Ohio State

Top games of the week:
Alabama vs LSU. Game of the week, site of ESPN College Gameday
Georgia vs. Mizzou. Winner is in control of the SEC East
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State. The last time we’ll see Bedlam for the foreseeable future

Playoff prediction:
Rose Bowl: #1 Ohio State vs. #4 Texas
Sugar Bowl: #2 Georgia vs. #3 Florida State

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