Here’s What We Think the College Football Playoff Rankings Will Look Like After Week 10

    There's guaranteed to be a new top four in Week 11's College Football Playoff rankings after No. 1 Alabama shut out No. 3 LSU 29-0 in Baton Rouge. Eight

    November 4, 2018

    There’s guaranteed to be a new top four in Week 11’s College Football Playoff rankings after No. 1 Alabama shut out No. 3 LSU 29-0 in Baton Rouge. Eight other ranked teams lost this weekend as the list of playoff contenders got shorter.

    Here’s what we think the next edition of the College Football Playoff rankings will look like in Week 11.

    1. Alabama (9-0): On paper, a road trip to LSU was the biggest challenge left for Alabama in the regular season. It turns out, it wasn’t much of a challenge as the Crimson Tide won 29-0 as it looked extremely dominant on both sides of the ball. Alabama clinched the SEC West with the win and it will face Georgia in the SEC Championship.

    2. Clemson (9-0): Clemson’s 77-16 win against Louisville is on the short list of the most impressive offensive performances this season. Two notes to put the Tigers’ 661 yards of offense in perspective:

    a) Clemson backup quarterback Chase Brice threw for more yards and touchdowns (110 yards, three touchdowns) than starter Trevor Lawrence (59 yards, two touchdowns) because of how early in the game Clemson built a comfortable lead and pulled Lawrence.
    b) Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was able to draw up a touchdown for his son, Will, in the fourth quarter. He had just seven catches in his career entering the weekend.

    If Clemson wins out, it will play for a top-two seed in the College Football Playoff.

    3. Notre Dame (9-0): Northwestern could have been a sneaky trap game for undefeated Notre Dame and its College Football Playoff hopes but the Fighting Irish were able to find their rhythm offensively in the second half to pull out a 31-21 win. They close the season at home against Florida State and Syracuse before traveling to face USC in their regular season finale.

    4. Michigan (8-1): The Wolverines didn’t just win, they dominated the Nittany Lions in their 42-7 win in Week 10. Michigan held Penn State to 186 total yards of offense and scoreless for the first 57-plus minutes, while forcing three turnovers.

    Michigan’s next two opponents – Rutgers and Indiana – have combined for just one Big Ten win this season. After that, a trip to Columbus, Ohio, is all that stands in Michigan’s way of reaching the Big Ten Championship and potentially the College Football Playoff.

    5. Georgia (8-1): Georgia clinched the SEC East behind career days from running backs D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield, who combined for 34 carries for 271 yards and three touchdowns. The Bulldogs, who have established themselves as the best program currently in their division, will now have the chance to defend their SEC title against No. 1 Alabama.

    If the Dawgs can handle business the rest of the way at home against Auburn, UMass and Georgia Tech, a win in Atlanta would give Georgia its second College Football Playoff appearance in as many years.

    6. Oklahoma (7-1): The Sooners prevailed 51-46 in a shooutout at Texas Tech thanks to a 100-yard interception return for a two-point conversion, followed by a game-sealing touchdown run by Trey Sermon. Oklahoma is tied with West Virginia for first in the Big 12 and the Sooners will travel to Morgantown in Week 13.

    7. Washington State (8-1): For the second week in a row, it took until the final minute of the game for Washington State to pull out the win, this time a 19-13 victory over Cal as quarterback Gardner Minshew II and the Cougars kept pace with the other one-loss playoff contenders. Wazzu will have to win out to have a realistic shot at making the playoff.

    8. Ohio State (8-1): In its first game since losing at Purdue, Ohio State held off Nebraska 36-31 at home as the Buckeyes looked shaky for the fourth game in a row against unranked competition. The Cornhuskers (2-7) led 21-16 at halftime and cut the Buckeyes’ lead to five with three minutes to play but they ran out of time in Columbus.

    Ohio State’s record and roster will keep it in the Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff hunt – for now – but if you’re a subscriber of the “eye test,” the Buckeyes’ last month of play makes you wonder how they’ll fare at Michigan State and more notably, against Michigan in three weeks.

    9. West Virginia (7-1): West Virginia picked up its biggest win of the season in dramatic fashion as quarterback Will Grier led a game-winning, nine-play, 75-play scoring drive, capped off by a gutsy two-point conversion call by coach Dana Holgorsen that gave the Mountaineers a 42-41 win in Austin.

    They’re now tied with Oklahoma for the Big 12 lead, dropping Texas one game back in the standings, with three games left. West Virginia’s win sets up a huge regular season finale on November 23 when Oklahoma comes to town.

    10. UCF (8-0): UCF is still rolling, its latest win a 52-40 victory in a shootout against Temple in which the Owls actually out-gained the Knights 670 yards to 630. Quarterback McKenzie Milton threw for 312 yards with four total touchdowns, while running back Greg McCrae rushed 16 times for 188 yards and one touchdown. The Knights finish the regular season with arguably their toughest three-game stretch of the year: Navy, Cincinnati and at South Florida.

    11. LSU (7-2): There’s no shame in losing to Alabama but LSU was shut out at home in primetime, which was far from ideal. The Tigers weren’t able to establish the run and even though their defense kept Alabama’s lead in check for most of the first half – 6-0 after the first quarter, 9-0 until late in the second quarter – LSU couldn’t muster enough offense to make the Tide sweat.

    With the loss, LSU is out of the SEC West, SEC Championship and College Football Playoff races.

    12. Kentucky (7-2): Kentucky’s SEC Championship and College Football Playoff hopes are over after getting doubled up by Georgia at home but there’s still a reasonable path to a 10-win season, which would be the school’s most since 1977.

    13. Florida (6-3): Florida was out of the SEC East divisional race after its loss to Georgia in Week 9 but the Gators were dominated for the second week in a row, this time to a Missouri team that entered the game with a .500 record. Starting quarterback Feleipe Franks was replaced and outshined by backup Kyle Trask, so there could be a change made under center for Florida’s SEC finale against South Carolina.

    14. Mississippi State (6-3): After going 2-3 in a brutal stretch that featured games against Kentucky, Florida, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M, Mississippi State beat Louisiana Tech 45-3 in Week 10 before the Bulldogs visit No. 1 Alabama. They’ll finish the regular season with games against Arkansas and Ole Miss, so it’s reasonable to think Joe Moorhead could go 8-4 in his first season in Starkville.

    15. Syracuse (7-2): The Orange leaned heavily on its running game in a 41-24 win over Wake Forest as it rushed for 264 yards and five touchdowns as a team. The biggest game left on Syracuse’s schedule is at Notre Dame on November 17.

    16. NC State (6-2): Quarterback Ryan Finley was an efficient 21-of-27 passing for 240 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-28 win against Florida State that made the Wolfpack bowl-eligible. Its three remaining ACC games are against Wake Forest, Louisville and North Carolina, which have combined for just two wins in conference play.

    17. Boston College (7-2): Boston College edged out Virginia Tech 31-21 in a game that was pretty even across the board from yards (BC out-gained VT 396 to 392) to time of possession (VT held the ball for 30:58 to BC’s 29:02) to third-down conversions (VT was 5/16, BC was 4/16). The Eagles could still win the ACC Atlantic if they win out against Clemson, Florida State and Syracuse.

    18. Penn State (6-3): Penn State limped out of the Big House with its worst loss of the season as senior quarterback Trace McSorley had a performance he’ll hope to soon forget: 5-of-13 passing for 83 yards and one interception with 12 rushes for -6 yards. The Nittany Lions are now tied for fourth in the Big Ten East as a preseason top-10 team could soon fall out of the rankings entirely.

    19. Utah (6-3): The Utes are still the favorites in the Pac-12 South but their margin for error got smaller after a 38-20 loss at the hands of Arizona State. They finish the year against Oregon, at Colorado and at home against BYU.

    20. Iowa (6-3): The Hawkeyes were the only Big Ten West team ranked in Week 10’s College Football Playoff rankings but they’re now in fourth place in the division and they no longer control their own destiny in the conference. Even if Iowa beats division-leading Northwestern (5-1 Big Ten) next week, it will still be weighed down by its three conference losses – two of which have come against fellow Big Ten West contenders Wisconsin and Purdue.

    21. Iowa State (5-3): With Iowa State’s win over Kansas and Texas’ loss to West Virginia, the Cyclones are tied for third in the Big 12. Thanks to a win over West Virginia, Iowa State is still in contention for the Big 12 Championship if it wins out and the Mountaineers suffer at least one more loss.

    22. Texas (6-3): In the span of two weeks, Texas dropped from a College Football Playoff contender to potentially just another team in the competitive Big 12. With two conference losses, the Longhorns aren’t out of the Big 12 Championship hunt but they no longer control their own destiny and even a conference title couldn’t put them into the playoff conversation given that they’ve lost three times.

    Texas fans should cheer for West Virginia to win out, beating Oklahoma in the process, since the Longhorns own a head-to-head win over the Sooners that could serve as a tiebreaker in deciding who plays for the Big 12 Championship.

    23. Fresno State (8-1): The Bulldogs picked up their second-biggest win of the season in terms of margin of victory when they defeated UNLV 48-3 in Week 10. They finish the regular season at Boise State before hosting San Diego State and San Jose State.

    24. Washington (7-3): The Huskies bounced back after a loss to Cal with a 27-23 win over Stanford. With just two regular season games left, Washington can still win the Pac-12 North if it wins at Washington State. The Huskies’ three losses this season have come by just 10 points with each game away from home.

    25. Utah State (7-1): Utah State rode the running back tandem of Darwin Thompson and Gerold Bright in a win over Hawaii in Week 10. Both players had more than 100 yards and three rushing touchdowns in the game.

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