A number of potential contenders for a berth in the College Football Playoff (CFP) have already been eliminated. Perennial challenger Clemson came out of the gate with offensive issues in a 10-3 loss to Georgia and have since fallen again, eliminating them form consideration.
Two other participants from last seaon’s CFP have also suffered early losses, with Notre Dame falling to Cincinnati and Ohio State losing to Oregon. It’s unlikely either one will be able to recover and rise in the rankings, but a lot can happen in the remaining seven weeks of the season.
Oregon, who defeated Ohio State 35-28 to jump into the CFP mix, lost to Stanford, leaving the Pac-12 without an undefeated team and once again in danger of getting left out of the party. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Cincinnati Bearcats are making a case to become the first Group of Five team to qualify for a shot at the national championship.
Wake Forest is the only team left that has yet to suffer a loss, sporting a 5-0 record and playing the best football of any team in the league. It’s still early in the season, but with the overall weakness of the conference demonstrated by a poor non-conference record, the only way for an ACC team to get into the playoff is to go undefeated and capture the league championship.
The East division is perhaps the deepest of any in college football, with only the SEC West possibly making a case for that distinction. Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State have yet to lose, along with Iowa from the West.
That will definitely change this week, with Iowa hosting Penn State in what could be a virtual CFP elimination game, although with the depth of the conference, a one loss team could make it into the playoff. Even with the early stumble, Ohio State could still control its own destiny and run the table to make it into the postseason.
Hasn’t been dominant, but heading into their annual rivalry game with Texas the sixth ranked Sooners remain undefeated. They’re joined at 5-0 by instate rival Oklahoma State and depending on what happens in the other conferences, a Big 12 team might be able to survive a loss and make it into the CFP.
Every team in the conference has suffered at least one loss so it will take someone to navigate the rest of the season unblemished to have a chance at the CFP. After stumbling against BYU, Arizona State looked like a longshot, but that loss looks a lot better as the year progresses and the Sun Devils won’t have to face Oregon until a potential meeting in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Alabama and Georgia appear to have separated themselves from not just the other team in their respective divisions, they are both playing at a level that’s a notch above the rest of the nation. It looks like they’re on a collision course to meet in the league title game, and if they both get there with undefeated records, they’ll both be a lock for the CFP.
Independents: BYU, currently undefeated and ranked tenth in the polls, already has a victory over Arizona State and their remaining schedule provides them the opportunity to go 12-0 but is challenging enough to give the CFP committee a reason to take them seriously.
Group of Five:
With victories over Big Ten member Indiana and previously unbeaten Notre Dame, fifth ranked Cincinnati from the American Athletic Conference has put themselves in a prime spot to become the first non-Power Five team to make it into CFP, but they’ll definitely need to get through the season without a loss the get there.