Breaking Down the College Football Rankings Heading Into Week 10

Breaking Down the College Football Rankings Heading Into Week 10

NCAA

Breaking Down the College Football Rankings Heading Into Week 10

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Butch Dill/AP Photo

We are now into week 10 of the College Football season and per usual, we have seen upsets, thrilling finishes, and surprises. It has all led to this week when the first College Football Playoff rankings finally drop. 

Now as we all know, these aren’t set in stone, and we still have a lot of football left to be played but these tend to give everyone an idea of how the committee views each team and could provide hints for down the line. With many deserving teams to reach the playoff, only four are able to do so and the need for an expanded playoff still remains. But before the first rankings drop, it would be wise to break down each of the top eight teams to see how they got here and what it will take for them to make the cut at the end of the season.

  1. Georgia Bulldogs (8-0, remaining games: vs. Missouri, @ Tennessee, vs. Charleston Southern, and @ Georgia State) 

-For the Bulldogs, they have looked like the best team in the country the entire season and will look to finish the regular season unbeaten. The defense has been the main story for this team as it is only allowing 6.6 points per game thus far, good for first in the country. They seem to have the SEC East wrapped up at this point and with all winnable games left on the schedule, the only obstacle for this team could come in the SEC Championship game. But if they remain undefeated and suffer anything other than a blowout loss in the conference title game, they should be fine to make the college football playoff. This team is legit and remains the favorite to hoist the trophy up at the end of the season in Indianapolis. 

  1. Cincinnati Bearcats (8-0, remaining games: vs. Tulsa, @ South Florida, vs. SMU, and @ East Carolina)

-Much talk this season has been about whether to take this Bearcat team seriously as playoff contenders but thus far, they have proved that they belong in the discussion. Behind a strong defense and quarterback Desmond Ridder, they have won every game including against stronger competition by going into both Indiana and Notre Dame to win. The Notre Dame win looks bigger each week as the Irish continue to win and this Cincinnati team deserves all the praise. For them it’s simple, win out and they should be included into the final four teams without a doubt. But unlike other teams on this list, they don’t have the luxury of even losing one game due to the conference they play in but they seem capable of winning out. The game against SMU seems to be the hardest remaining test for the Bearcats but they seem up to the challenge. 

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1, remaining games: vs. LSU, vs. New Mexico State, vs. Arkansas, and @ No.12 Auburn)

-This has been an interesting year for the defending champions as they haven’t looked overly dominant but still find themselves in the top four of the rankings for now. A close loss in College Station, Texas, had many thinking the Crimson Tide may be done but they have bounced back with some convincing wins. Bryce Young continues his strong season as the Alabama quarterback despite all the major pieces they lost to the NFL last season. While this team isn’t the same as previous Alabama teams, nobody is going to want to play them if they get into the College Football Playoff.  They have three very winnable games coming up before a road showdown with archrival Auburn, who has been playing very well as of late. Winning out means a spot in the SEC championship game and a date with Georgia. For Alabama, they can’t afford another loss if they want to make the playoff, even to the Bulldogs, unless other teams stumble. They need to play perfect football the rest of the way and honestly, it’s not a good idea to count out Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.

  1. Oklahoma Sooners (9-0, remaining games: @ No.14 Baylor, vs. Iowa State, @ No.11 Oklahoma State)

-This Sooners team has been up and down all season but yet still find themselves unbeaten which is an accomplishment in itself. They have seen inconsistent offense and even a quarterback change, something not many saw coming before the season. They have survived some tough games thus far including one against Kansas, but they remain very much alive for a playoff spot. The last few games however are going to show us what this Oklahoma team is really about as they have two games against highly ranked teams on the road. Win those games and nobody will be questioning the Sooners any longer. Oklahoma really controls its own destiny here as they play both teams behind them in the standings and will likely find themselves in the Big 12 title game once again. An undefeated or one-loss Sooner team most likely gets placed into the playoff and gets another shot at finally getting past the first part of the playoff bracket. 

  1. Michigan State Spartans (8-0, remaining games: vs. Maryland, @ No.6 Ohio State, and vs. No.22 Penn State)

-What a year it has been for Mel Tucker and this Spartans team as nobody saw them doing much in the Big Ten this season. However, they have flipped the narrative and remain unbeaten and just beat their archrival Michigan in a thrilling matchup. Running back Kenneth Walker III should be squarely in the Heisman conversation, especially after the five-touchdown performance against the Wolverines this past weekend. He continues to shine for this Spartan offense and has them locked directly in the playoff hunt. Much like Oklahoma, the Spartans control their own destiny as they still have to go on the road to take on the red-hot Buckeyes and have a home game against once top ten ranked Penn State. Michigan State shouldn’t take any opponents for granted but the game against Ohio State looms large as they sit directly behind them in the standings. Win that game and the Spartans are sitting pretty to at least make the Big Ten title game. If they can come away from only one loss after winning the conference, I have no doubt the committee will put them in the final four. I’d argue they should be ahead of Alabama at this point, to be honest, due to their quality of win over Michigan. 

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-1, remaining games: @ Nebraska, vs. Purdue, vs. No.5 Michigan State, @ No.9 Michigan)

-After losing to Oregon in the second week of the season, many counted out the Buckeyes, but they have been resilient and quietly have found themselves back into the thick of everything. They have been clicking on all cylinders since the loss and just beat Penn State this past weekend in impressive fashion. Quarterback C.J. Stroud has looked good and continues to lead this explosive offense each week. For them, they have two winnable games against Nebraska and Purdue before the real test begins with games against the Spartans and rival Wolverines. With one loss already, the Buckeyes will need to win out, including a potential Big Ten title game if they are lucky enough to get there if they want to make the playoff. It is an uphill battle for them, especially the game against Michigan, who themselves are still alive in potential playoff conversation and would love to spoil the season for the Buckeyes. These next few weeks will really be telling on who the clear best team in the Big Ten is. 

  1. Oregon Ducks (7-1, remaining games: @ Washington, vs. Washington State, @ Utah, and vs. Oregon State)

-The PAC-12’s last remaining hope for a playoff team, the Ducks find themselves still involved despite some huge injuries to the team. The rest of their schedule seems to favor them with the Utah game being the toughest left, but they can’t take their foot off the gas. The only loss they have came on the road against Stanford where a bad penalty at the end of the game allowed Stanford to tie the game, but a loss is a loss. The problem for the PAC-12 is that the teams beat up on each other each year and that tends to cost them a spot in the playoff. They have a potential PAC-12 title game preview with Utah coming in a few weeks and that game is huge for the Ducks. If they win out, they’ll find themselves once again playing for the PAC-12 conference but will likely need other teams to stumble to find themselves in the playoff. The Ducks can make it, but will the committee potentially favor a two-loss Big Ten team over them due to the level of competition? Only time will tell, I guess. 

  1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1, remaining games: vs. Navy, @ Virginia, vs. Georgia Tech, and @ Stanford)

-The team sitting outside the top four that is sitting in the best spot may be the Fighting Irish because the other teams likely will beat up on each other, allowing Notre Dame to move up slowly if they continue to win. Their only loss came at the hands of the Cincinnati Bearcats, who sit as the No. 2 team in the country so the committee may give some benefit of the doubt to the Irish. They don’t play a ranked team the rest of the season and if they win out will be sitting at 11-1 and could find themselves in a “somebody has got to take the final spot” situation. If both they and Oregon find themselves at 11-1, the committee may lean towards Oregon due to the win against Ohio State but the Oregon loss to Stanford could come into play, especially if Notre Dame easily beats Stanford in their final game of the season. The Irish don’t play in a conference which could also hurt them but if they keep winning games, they need to be in the conversation at least. 

The way this college football season has gone has been extremely exhilarating and looks to be one of the best finishes that we have seen in a while. There are a bunch of very good teams and the need for expanded playoffs is looming large the way this season has played out thus far. We will get our first answer to any potential committee questions when the first rankings drop, setting up a great finish to the season. 

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