The first edition of the College Football Playoff Rankings will be released on Halloween — and yes, some teams are sure to get a trick while others a treat (I couldn’t help making a lame Halloween joke). Let’s check out where some of the nation’s top teams stand as they jockey for position in that coveted top-4.
With Clemson’s loss (although, it probably means little in the big picture), the Tide are the unquestioned number 1 team in the land right now. No games have been close — ho hum, Nick Saban just has the team winning. As usual. The Iron Bowl, against rival Auburn, at the end of the regular season will be one to watch as will a possible showdown with high-flying and undefeated Georgia in the SEC championship.
2. Penn St.
No one can question the offense in Happy Valley and running back Saquon Barkley might be the country’s best player. But there’s a lot still left on the schedule as the Big Ten powers start colliding. We’ll know who Penn St. really is over the next three weeks. First real test is this weekend when the Nittany Lions host Michigan and their stellar defense under the lights.
The Big-12 is always tough to take seriously. But TCU shut down the high-octane offense of Oklahoma State while also providing a punch on offense themselves. But it all may come down to a TCU-OU battle in the coming weeks to see if a Big-12 team can get into the playoff. The Horned Frogs look like the most well-equipped right now. Three in-conference road wins says enough.
If one loss is supposed to derail Clemson’s season and national title hopes, you may want to see how last year ended for the Tigers. Injuries are a real concern, but if they win out, Dabo Sweeney’s kids will be in the playoff.
For all those Alabama haters, here’s your new favorite team. The Bulldogs are playing as well as they’ve played in 15 years. A very winnable schedule ahead as they look to be a collision course with the Tide for the SEC title and perhaps the number-1 ranking going into the playoff.
Undefeated, yes. But the Badgers haven’t beaten a team with a winning record yet and the most recent struggle against Purdue doesn’t help their cause.
The win at the Horseshoe against the Buckeyes is the biggest win of the college football season to this point. The slip-up against Iowa State is embarrassing, but shouldn’t change the perception that OU is as talented as anyone and can play with anyone. Big games ahead against OK State and TCU will make or break the Sooners’ playoff hopes.
8. Ohio St.
Bouncing back after the home loss to Oklahoma has happened rather quietly for the Bucks. But doesn’t this often happen with OSU? Drop a game, unexpectedly, then just plug away and win while others fall around them? It’s happening again this year.
The Canes are living dangerously. They’ve needed all 60 minutes in each of their last two games to eek out victories.
10. Notre Dame
With the Irish’s lone loss coming to Georgia, the playoff is distinct possibility. In fact, it will be a reality if Brian Kelly can get his team to navigate a treacherous schedule that includes games against USC, Miami, Stanford, and NC State. Win those 4 (and the other ones), how can the Irish be kept out?
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.