Handicapping the CFP Race Week 10

I’m back with my weekly thoughts on the college football playoff race. All I can say about week 10 is WOW! For the first time in the college football playoff era (since the 2014 season), Alabama and Clemson both lost on the same weekend. So without further ado, here are the contenders for the playoff after week 10, going into week 11

Group of 5: No one
Independents: No one

ACC: #10 Clemson. 6-0 ACC, 8-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 vs. Louisville, Week 12 vs. Miami, Week 13 vs. South Carolina.

Despite their loss to Notre Dame, they’re still in contention for the playoff, but they’re going to need some chaos to get in. Working in their favor is the fact that they will play in the ACC Championship Game, giving them that 13th data point that the committee values. If #15 North Carolina continues to win, that will give Clemson an opportunity for a win over a highly ranked team in the ACC Championship Game.

Big 12: #4 TCU. 6-0 Big 12, 9-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 @ Texas, Week 12 @ Baylor, Week 13 vs. Iowa State.

TCU travels to Austin to play the 18th ranked Longhorns in ESPN’s game of the week, and the site of College Football Gameday. TCU is fully in control of their own destiny, and if they win this game, they clinch their spot in the Big 12 Championship Game, and should be in prime position to go 13-0 and make the playoff.

Big 10: #3 Michigan. 6-0 Big 10, 9-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 vs. Nebraska, Week 12 vs. Illinois, Week 13 @ Ohio State.
#2 Ohio State. 6-0 Big 10, 9-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 vs. Indiana, Week 12 @ Maryland, Week 13 vs. Michigan.

Both teams remain on track to face each other at 11-0 going into the rivalry game. In the Big 10 West, the Illini’s loss to Michigan State has left the West wide open who will get to go to Indianapolis. The winner has no shot at the playoff, but it is something to look at, if for nothing else than to know who the East division winner will play.

Pac-12: #6 Oregon. 6-0 Pac-12, 8-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 vs. Washington, Week 12 vs. Utah, Week 13 @ Oregon State.
#8 USC. 6-1 Pac 12, 8-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 vs. Colorado, Week 12 @UCLA, Week 13 vs. Notre Dame.
#12 UCLA, 5-1 Pac-12, 8-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 vs. Arizona, Week 12 vs. USC, Week 13 @ Cal.

After an opening week loss to defending national champions Georgia, Oregon has won 8 in a row and has gotten better every week, but will it be enough to make the playoff? Only time will tell. Oregon is in good position to run the table. The winner of USC-UCLA will determine who faces Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game. I predict USC will win the Pac-12 if they face Oregon, while Oregon will win it if they face UCLA.

SEC: #1 Georgia. 6-0 SEC, 9-0 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 @Mississippi State, Week 12 @ Kentucky, Week 13 vs. Georgia Tech.
#5 Tennessee. 4-1 SEC, 8-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 vs. Mizzou, Week 12 @ South Carolina, Week 13 @ Vanderbilt.
#7 LSU. 5-1 SEC, 7-2 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 @ Arkansas, Week 12 vs. UAB, Week 13 @ Texas A&M.
#9 Alabama. 4-2 SEC, 7-2 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 @Ole Miss, Week 12 vs. Austin Peay, Week 13 vs. Auburn.
#11 Ole Miss. 4-1 SEC, 8-1 overall. Remaining schedule: Week 11 vs. Alabama, Week 12 @ Arkansas, Week 13 vs Mississippi State.

What a week in the SEC. Georgia rolled over Tennessee and showed why they are the defending national champions the #1 team in the country. However, I said last week if Tennessee lost, they would still be alive due to their win over Alabama, and that hasn’t changed. In the SEC West, what a game between Alabama and LSU, and what a move by Brian Kelly to go for 2 and the win in overtime against Alabama. As I said in the intro, this is the first time since 2013 that Clemson and Alabama both lost on the same weekend.

Never before has a 2-loss team made the playoff, but due to SEC bias, LSU and Alabama still have a chance. LSU lost their opening week game to Florida State and lost to Tennessee. Working in LSU’s favor after their win against Alabama is now they have back to back wins over Ole Miss and Alabama, along with tiebreaker against both of them to play in the SEC championship game. Ole Miss plays Alabama this week. Alabama is still alive in the playoff chase due to SEC bias, and the fact that they still have a chance to play in the SEC championship game and have that 13th data point for the committee, however faint. The loser of Alabama-Ole Miss is eliminated from the playoff, and if LSU wins, Alabama is eliminated, as they would have no chance to play for the SEC championship.

Top 12 playoff rankings:

  1. Georgia
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan
  4. TCU
  5. Tennessee
  6. Oregon
  7. LSU
  8. USC
  9. Alabama
  10. Clemson
  11. Ole Miss
  12. UCLA

Championship Saturday matchup predictions:
ACC: Clemson (clinched ACC Atlantic) vs. North Carolina
Big 12: TCU vs. Texas
Big 10: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State
Pac-12: Oregon vs. USC
SEC: Georgia vs. LSU

Games to watch for this week:
TCU vs. Texas
Alabama vs. Ole Miss
Tulane vs. UCF. This game has no bearing on the playoff chase, but the winner of this game will get an inside track for a New Year’s 6 bowl game, as the highest ranked group of 5 conference champion is guaranteed a spot in one of those games.
Illinois vs. Purdue, Wisconsin vs. Iowa. These games have no bearing on the playoff chase, but will have an impact on who wins the Big 10 West

Playoff prediction:
Peach Bowl: #1 Georgia vs. #4 TCU
Fiesta Bowl: #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Tennessee

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