We had 31 teams in our first edition of the College Football Playoff Pool last week, but it was a tough week on contenders. Just one week later, we’ve pared it down to 22 teams in our top three groups.
Group 1, of course, belongs to the undefeated teams from Power 5 conferences, and there are still nine teams in this group. The reality is, whether you’re Alabama or West Virginia, if you finish undefeated as the champion of one of these leagues, you will receive top consideration from the playoff selection committee, and you will almost certainly be in the playoff. All five of these leagues still have at last one team that’s undefeated, and that leaves open the possibility that there still could be five undefeated teams from the Power 5 leagues. That’s just about the only scenario where one of them would be left out, but the ACC and Pac-12 are both down to one undefeated team halfway through the season. For that scenario to develop, both Clemson of the ACC and Washington of the Pac-12 would have to win out. The Big 12 has two undefeated teams so either Baylor or West Virginia would have to win out. Ditto for the SEC where Alabama and Tennessee are the only unbeatens. Finally, the Big Ten has three undefeated squads remaining with Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio State sporting unblemished records.
Three Group 1 teams lost last week, however, as Tennessee lost at Texas A&M, Miami (FL) lost to Florida State and Maryland fell at Penn State. Those three teams are now part of Group 2 along with the rest of the one-loss teams from Power 5 conferences. The reality is, it’s more likely that we’ll have to dip down into this group as history suggests it’s highly likely that at least a couple of our playoff contenders will be one-loss champions from Power 5 leagues. Louisville, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Utah, Virginia Tech, Florida, NC State and Wake Forest round out the rest of the teams in this group.
Finally, that brings us to Group 3 where we look at the undefeated teams from the Group of 5 conferences. Houston was in solid position to challenge for a spot in the playoff if they had finished off an undefeated run, but the Cougars’ loss at Navy has knocked them out of our pool of teams being considered for now. Air Force also lost leaving us with just two teams nicknamed the Broncos here — traditional mid-major powerhouse Boise State from the Mountain West along with newcomer Western Michigan of the MAC. Both remain long shots, although an undefeated Boise State always attracts attention and will again if the Broncos are 13-0 come December. But they would still have to have a lot of things go in their favor, and for now, it’s unlikely they would receive serious consideration. Western Michigan is an even longer shot, but theoretically, every FBS team is eligible for the playoff so there has to be some scenario in which the Broncos could be considered. For example, they would have to win the MAC and finish undefeated for it to even be possible, and they would likely need a couple of upsets in Power 5 championship games resulting in champions with four or more losses. Even then, they would be bypassed by one-loss Power 5 teams that didn’t win their conference so, in reality, only the most remote scenarios would open a door for Western Michigan to be included in the playoff.
Currently, all of our projected playoff participants come from the Power 5 leagues, and we’ve got the Top 4 ranked as Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama and Washington based on their performances to date. (Of course, Michigan plays at Ohio State in the regular season finale, and that would open up a slot for No. 5 Clemson if the Tigers were undefeated.) The bottom line is, it’s early so don’t fret where your team is ranked. If they’re undefeated and they keep winning, then if they are in a Power 5 league, it will all work out.
THIS COMING WEEKEND
There are no games involving two undefeated teams or two one-loss teams in our CFP Pool this weekend. But there is a trio of games spread throughout the day that are worthy of your attention.
First of all at noon ET, NC State will visit Clemson with the hosts looking to extend their record to 7-0. In fact, Clemson has won 21 straight regular-season games with their last loss coming on November 15, 2014 against Georgia Tech, and the Tigers are expected to win this one. They probably will, but NC State showed some grit beating Notre Dame in the remnants of Hurricane Matthew and could make things interesting for awhile in Death Valley. Then at 3:30 p.m. ET, undefeated Alabama pays a visit to Tennessee in what could be a preview of the SEC Championship Game. Everything says Alabama finds a way to win this — everything except the gut feel that this Tennessee squad still has some magic left after falling short in double overtime at Texas A&M. Finally, at 8 p.m. ET, the Ohio State Buckeyes face their first true challenge of the 2016 season with a road trip to Wisconsin to face a Badgers team that is ranked No. 8. The Buckeyes have played as well as anybody in the country, but they are still young and untested on the road.
Battles of the Unbeaten
There are no games between undefeated teams this weekend.
There are no games between one-loss teams in our CFP Pool this weekend.
Other Games between two CFP Pool teams
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Noon ET: NC State (4-1, Group 2) at Clemson (6-0, Group 1), ABC
3:30 p.m. ET: Alabama (6-0, Group 1) at Tennessee (5-1, Group 2), CBS
8 p.m. ET: Ohio State (5-0, Group 1) at Wisconsin (4-1, Group 2), ABC
Other Games involving CFP Pool teams
Friday, October 14, 2016
7 p.m. ET: Duke (3-3) at Louisville (4-1, Group 2), ESPN
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Noon ET: Minnesota (3-2) at Maryland (4-1, Group 2), ESPNU
Noon ET: West Virginia (4-0, Group 1) at Texas Tech (3-2), FS1
3:30 p.m. ET: Wake Forest (5-1, Group 2) at Florida State (4-2), ESPN
3:30 p.m. ET: Western Michigan (6-0, Group 3) at Akron (4-2), CBSSN
3:30 p.m. ET: Kansas (1-4) at Baylor (5-0, Group 1), FS1
3:30 p.m. ET: Nebraska (5-0, Group 1) at Indiana (3-2), ABC/ESPN2
3:30 p.m. ET: North Carolina (4-2) at Miami FL (4-1, Group 2), ABC/ESPN2
3:45 p.m. ET: Virginia Tech (4-1, Group 2) at Syracuse (2-4), ESPNU
4 p.m. ET: Missouri (2-3) at Florida (4-1, Group 2), SECN
4 p.m. ET: Utah (5-1, Group 2) at Oregon State (2-3), PAC12
8 p.m. ET: Arizona State (5-1, Group 2) at Colorado (4-2), PAC12
10:15 p.m. ET: Colorado State (3-3) at Boise State (5-0, Group 3), ESPN2
CFP Pool teams on bye week
Michigan, Texas A&M and Washington
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