College Football Playoff Prediction: Georgia, Ohio State on top with TCU ahead of Alabama

1 Aside from not showing up at Missouri in a near upset and a closer win over Kent State than they should have, the defending champs have once again dominated this season. They have two wins over currently ranked teams and both were blowouts. The rivalry game with Florida could be a turning point on Saturday. 2 The Buckeyes have spoiled their schedule so far, but it hasn’t been a particularly good schedule. The supposed best team in it so far, Notre Dame, was an underdog. Ohio State has yet to play a ranked opponent this week, though that changes Saturday against Penn State. 3 The volunteers finally got the elephant off their back. A 52-49 win over Alabama two weeks ago sent a statement that Tennessee is ready to contend for a CFP berth. The Vols also have two wins against ranked opponents, but they’ve also played two glorified games, which drags down their overall strength of schedule. Tennessee is one of the five most penalized teams in the country, so that could come back to haunt them at some point. 4 The Tigers seem to be rounding more into the form we’re used to seeing from them, but they’re not quite there yet, as questions remain as to whether DJ Uiagalelei is capable enough to lead them beyond the conference title. Clemson has three wins over teams in this week’s rankings. 5 Michigan’s schedule has been terrible so far. The Wolverines played perhaps the worst non-conference slate of any highly competitive team and did so without fielding an FCS team. They got a bit of a scare from Maryland and battled Indiana for the half (game control!), but swept Penn State, the only ranked team the Wolverines have played thus far. 6 The Horned Frogs are fun to watch. They rank third nationally in total offense and points scored. They’ve had to go through some tough games, but TCU is still undefeated. The Frogs still have road games against Texas and Baylor coming up, but until then it should be smooth sailing. 7 The Crimson Tide have struggled a little more this season than we’re used to seeing. They already have a loss and were lucky to get a win in Texas. They had to play a game and a half with backup QB Jalen Milroe, but the Tide were able to win those games. After a week off, Alabama has a tough two-game road trip to LSU and Ole Miss. 8 The Cowboys’ lone loss came at home to TCU in double overtime. Oklahoma State had its best win of the season over Texas on Saturday. The Pokes have back-to-back games at Kansas the next two weeks, so things don’t get any easier. 9 The Ducks have scored at least 49 points every time they’ve taken the field this season with one notable exception. Oregon may finish 12-1 and win the Pac-12, but most people will only remember the game against Georgia in the season opener. However, that is an issue for another day. Oregon’s schedule is shaping up well for a Pac-12 title game with all of its top opponents at home. 10 The Nittany Lions have done pretty well against most opponents, but Michigan beat them pretty badly in the Big House two weeks ago. The only other team to really test them so far was Purdue on the road earlier in the season. We’ll find out this Saturday if Penn State can slow down mighty Ohio State. Too bad this isn’t their white out game. 11 The Trojans came out hot with new coach Lincoln Riley and a host of new players from the transfer portal. Things have slowed down a bit lately and they suffered their first loss in Utah two weeks ago. USC should have an easy road the next few weeks before traveling to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA. 12 The Pac-12 hasn’t had much appeal in recent years, but it’s stronger at the top than we’ve seen in a while. Part of the reason for that is UCLA’s resurgence. The Bruins served notice with back-to-back wins over Washington and Utah. They came up short last week against Oregon and now probably need to win to get a shot at the Pac-12 title. 13 The Rebels suffered their first loss of the season in a blowout at LSU. Ole Miss led 17-3 before giving up a 42-3 run to end the game. He has a win over Kentucky that helps bolster his case. 14 The Orange are showing their best performance of the season, which is also their only loss. They gave Clemson everything they had in Death Valley on Saturday, but came up short. Syracuse’s best win came over NC State, which was without QB Devin Leary. Cuse faces Notre Dame this week, which has already lost at home to Marshall and Stanford. 15 The Demon Deacons are a whisper of undefeated. Their only loss came to Clemson at home in double overtime. They lack a win of higher quality, with their best to date coming in the blowout at Liberty. Some might say the Florida State win is better. Better opportunities await you, but not this week. 16 It’s been an up and down year for the Tigers, but they’re coming off their best effort of the season so far. LSU bounced back to beat previously undefeated Ole Miss on Saturday. That concludes the season review of Mississippi schools. The Tigers likely would have been higher in the top 10 if they had finished Florida State earlier in the season. LSU now has two weeks to prepare for Alabama. 17 The Utes were the preseason favorite in the Pac-12, and winning the league is still possible, but not with another loss. Utah got off to a rough start this season, losing to Florida and then falling to UCLA in conference play. The Utes got a big win over USC and have a win over 6-2 Oregon State. 18 The Tar Heels are coming off a win at Duke, their fourth road win of the season. Their most memorable win, however, was a 63-61 season-opening thriller with Appalachian State. North Carolina’s only loss came at home to Notre Dame. The Tar Heels have a two-game lead in the ACC Coastal and are tied with Duke and Miami. 19 Brett Bielema turned things around in Champaign in fairly short order. The Illini rode a tough game and a lackluster defense to the top of the pile that is the Big Ten West; however, they have the worst loss of any team on this list. It was the season-opening loss at Indiana. Their best win and only one away from home came at Wisconsin, which led to Paul Chryst being fired. The Badgers haven’t lost since, but I digress. 20 The Wildcats are off to a great start with five straight wins, including one at Florida. Then QB Will Levis sprained his finger. He played it in a loss to Ole Miss and sat out the loss to South Carolina. He returned two weeks ago to lead the Wildcats to a victory over Mississippi State. 21 The Green Wave are the only Group of Five team in this projection. They have a win at Kansas State, which until Saturday was the Wildcats’ only loss. Tulane’s loss hosts Southern Miss, which is having a decent season, but that’s what keeps Tulane down in these rankings. 22 Jonathan Smith has built a nice program in Corvallis, but no one is paying much attention. The Beavers beat USC, but ultimately couldn’t hold off the Trojans. Their other loss was in Utah and not a close one. They have wins over Washington State and Boise State as well as Fresno State before losing their QB Jake Haener. 23 The Gamecocks are the seventh SEC team to appear in these rankings. Such a number is unlikely to be sustainable. South Carolina has wins at Kentucky and over Texas A&M along with losses at Georgia and at Arkansas. None of those losses were close games. The Gamecocks have two must-wins against the bottom of the league. 24 The Wildcats have only lost at home to Tulane and TCU, two teams that are ranked ahead of them here. Their best wins are at Oklahoma and at home against Texas Tech. 25 The Wolfpack lost to Clemson and Syracuse, so there’s no real shame in that. Their biggest loss, however, is Leary. Jack Chambers led the Wolfpack to three field goals but no touchdowns in the loss to Cuse. NC State had a week off to prepare for homecoming.

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