We are now down to 4 undefeated teams after USF got manhandled by Houston yesterday. The remaining 4 have a very good chance to run the table. How this plays out over the next few weeks will very well shape the playoff scenario. Who buckles down, who loses focus and slips, who slides in if that happens?
Alabama faces their toughest test yet when they take the field against LSU this coming Saturday. This will easily be the game of the week and all eyes will be on these 2 teams. Clemson has Louisville, aka a bye week. Come on, let’s face it, the Cardinals aren’t scaring anyone right now. Notre Dame will take on a resurgent Northwestern team that seems to get better each week. And UCF will face Temple on Thursday night. If UCF sleeps on this one, the Owls could catch them off guard. Temple isn’t in the same class as UCF, but they have shown signs this season that they can play above their head.
The only other meaningful game in Week 10 will be the Michigan vs Penn State game. This is a crucial game for the Wolverines. I think most people have them on the cusp of the playoffs right now sitting at #5 or #6. A loss would drop them out, in my opinion. A win, if coupled with an LSU loss, puts them firmly in the #4 slot. And again, I’m merely speculating, but this seems to be the general consensus.
So where are we regarding the playoff picture? The first rankings come out this week, so we’ll see officially where each team is at that time. I currently have my playoff teams as Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and LSU, in that order. That can always change though. If Bama beats LSU, then Michigan slides into their spot. If LSU beats Bama, then I think the 4 teams remain the same, but in a different order. Notre Dame and Clemson just need to stay focused and take care of business like they have all season. But this Bama/LSU game will answer a few questions, or so we hope.
Now let’s look at teams that are hoping for some losses at the top of the rankings. Oklahoma, West Virginia, Georgia, Ohio State, and Michigan all need some help. Michigan is in the best spot, but they need to get past Penn State this week. As far as UCF goes, I don’t see them getting in even if they run the table. Their schedule is too weak, and despite the stellar showing last season, both regular season and their bowl game, I just don’t feel the committee will consider them a top 4 team. It does seem unfair at times for the smaller conference teams, but it at least makes a solid case for an 8 team playoff.
We have 4 full weeks and a partial week of college football left. We need to enjoy it and let it play out on the field. The committee will put what they feel are the best 4 teams in the playoffs. We can’t change that, regardless of how angry anyone gets on social media (my favorite people). Let the teams do what they do and then hand it over to the committee to give us our playoff. Now, I’m going to spend the next 5 days visualizing how that Bama/LSU game plays out.