Well this was a great weekend in college football. Conference races are taking shape, contenders are separating and pretenders are dropping off. The potential playoff field continues to narrow and things look exciting.
Rankings teams and conferences is tough, so I thought it would be helpful to see which teams are still real contenders in each conference or who the decent squads are.
If I’m ranking the top four in each conference, the SEC would be LSU, Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss. Texas A&M showed us they simply aren’t one of the elite teams in the conference. Good, sure, but not great. Georgia and Tennessee aren’t quite there either. It’s really all about these four teams, which is a strong four. LSU or Alabama look like the favorites to win the conference and secure a playoff spot.
The top four teams here would be Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan. Look, the Spartans needed a miracle to beat the Wolverines. The Hawkeyes have beaten Northwestern and Wisconsin on the road. Lest you forget, Northwestern handed Stanford and Duke their only losses and Wisconsin’s only other loss is to Alabama. Ohio State seems to have things together with Barrett at QB. No offense Cardale, you just weren’t getting it done. Iowa should have an easy path to the Big Ten title game where they will face either Ohio State or Michigan State. If there is a three way tie between them and Michigan, I believe highest ranked team wins the tie breaker, which would eliminate Michigan due to the non-conference loss and then the winner of the head to head would win out, which would have to be Ohio State if it is a three way tie. Still, don’t be surprised if Iowa sneaks into the playoff undefeated.
Baylor is on shaky ground with the QB situation in question. If the injury isn’t serious that’s good news for them. They have a well timed bye week at least. The top four here are easily Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The best part? They all haven’t played and meet up in November. Should be a fun month for the conference. At this point I’m doubting anyone comes undefeated from the Big 12 and they will likely be campaigning against the Pac 12 champ for a playoff spot.
With Utah’s loss it looks like Stanford is the favorite here. They should easily win the north. Utah still controls its destiny, but if UCLA or USC wins out, they would face Stanford for the league championship. Anything can happen in this conference where you might as well flip a coin each week for who wins each game. Strong conference with a lot of parity. That might work against them all come playoff time. If Stanford wins out you can’t possibly leave them out though. They’ll have to get through Notre Dame to get there.
It’s Clemson’s to lose. If Clemson loses a game you might as well consider whoever the ACC champ ends up being as out of the playoff. I just don’t see it to be honest. Sure Pitt, North Carolina or Duke could win out an have one loss. But a one loss ACC champ gets left out in my opinion. Their only chance is a 2 loss Pac 12 champion and a 2 loss Notre Dame. Very intriguing conference though, with Clemson leading the way followed by Florida State, Pitt and Duke.
Someone from the American is getting into a New Year’s Six bowl. Temple will probably lose to Notre Dame this week and be out. Memphis has a good nonconference win to bolster their resume. Houston will have 2 power 5 nonconference wins if they beat Vanderbilt this weekend. My bet is Memphis, Houston or Temple is playing on New Year’s. Toledo has an outside shot if they all lose and every MWC team is out.
Leonard Fournette wins in a blow out, but McCaffrey of Stanford and Boykin of TCU are there for the ceremony.
Here is my bet for the playoff right now:
SEC champion: LSU over Florida
Pac-12 champion: Stanford over Utah
Big Ten champion: Ohio State over Iowa
Big 12 champion: Baylor
ACC champion: Clemson over Duke
Playoff: (1) LSU vs (4) Ohio State and (2) Baylor vs (3) Stanford
Championship: LSU over Stanford
If I were an AP voter, this would be my ballot this week:
4. Ohio State
6. Michigan State
7. Oklahoma State
14. Notre Dame
17. Florida State
22. Ole Miss
24. North Carolina