Week 10 Football Roundup

With 10 weeks gone in the college football season, playoffs are looming for four teams in the Top 10. (credit: Courtesy of gnokii via OpenClipart) With 10 weeks gone in the college football season, playoffs are looming for four teams in the Top 10. (credit: Courtesy of gnokii via OpenClipart)

Week 10 was a down week in college football with no Top 10 matchups, but nobody told the teams playing.

As a recap, #10 Auburn only managed a field goal while being blown out against Texas A&M; #9 Wake Forest lost a 58-55 thriller to UNC; #4 Michigan State fell to Purdue on the road by 11 in a game that ended 40-29 in favor of the Boilermakers, taking out the Big Ten’s last undefeated team. #5 Cincinnati barely held off Tulane, while #3 Ohio State had a scare against Nebraska, winning with a nine-point margin. #1 Georgia, #2 Alabama, #7 Oregon, and #8 Michigan all won handily, and #6 Oklahoma had a bye week. With that, here are our rankings for this week:

1 Georgia (9-0)

2 Alabama (8-1)

3 Ohio State (8-1)

4 Cincinnati (9-0)

5 Oklahoma (9-0)

6 Oregon (8-1)

7 Michigan State (8-1)

8 Michigan (8-1)

9 Notre Dame (8-1)

10 Texas A&M (7-2)

Georgia maintained their #1 spot by crushing Missouri 43-6. An undefeated regular season is a distinct possibility for the Bulldogs, who haven’t really struggled yet this season — their closest win came against a Clemson squad that they held to a field goal.

Alabama, at #2, narrowly survived a scare against LSU thanks in large part to a fourth-quarter goal-line fumble by the Tigers. Their performance has been underwhelming recently, but with three games to go in the regular season, Nick Saban’s squad looks poised to qualify for the SEC Championship against Georgia, should they be able to win out.

At #3 comes Ohio State, who survived Nebraska in a 26-17 slugfest on the road. The Buckeyes have played well enough this season that they should be in a position to make the playoffs, but they aren’t in the clear yet. Scheduled to face a Purdue team that has already ruined two playoff-bound seasons (those of Iowa and Michigan State) next week, the Spartans in Week 12, and the derby against Michigan in Week 13, Ohio State will have to play their hearts out to end the season with only one loss.

Below these three, with Michigan State’s loss, two undefeated teams living life on the edge — Cincinnati and Oklahoma — take the #4 and #5 slots, respectively. #6 Oregon, still held back by their bad loss to Stanford, sits at 8-1. Michigan State, after losing to Purdue by 11, sits at #7; and Michigan, who lost to the Spartans last week, is at #8. Notre Dame returns to the Top 10 at #9 and, after beating Alabama and Auburn in incredible upsets, Texas A&M slides into the #10 spot.

Next Week

1 Georgia at Tennessee

2 Alabama vs. New Mexico State

3 Ohio State vs. Purdue

4 Cincinnati at South Florida

5 Oklahoma at Baylor

6 Oregon vs. Washington State

7 Michigan State vs. Maryland

8 Michigan at Penn State

9 Notre Dame at Virginia

10 Texas A&M at Ole Miss

Week 11, despite no Top 10 matchups, poses some risk to half of the Top 10. While teams like Alabama, Cincinnati, and Oregon should be fine against their lackluster opponents, Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, and Texas A&M all face difficult matchups.

It's expected that #1 Georgia should beat the Tennessee Volunteers on the road, but there’s no guarantee against the feisty team that almost took out the Crimson Tide two weeks ago. A win for Georgia would cement their #1 spot, but if Tennessee can win, they have the chance to put themselves into the Top 10 and drop Georgia to #2 or #3.

It also seems that #3 Ohio State should be okay next week, but Purdue has been underrated all season, and, despite their 6-3 record, has taken out two teams widely seen to be playoff contenders. If the Boilermakers can knock Ohio State off as well, they should be a ranked team. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, could solidify their top-three spot by beating Purdue, but a loss could punish them. While they’ve been given some leeway with the playoff committee for their loss to Oregon, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be so kind the second time.

Perhaps the marquee matchup of the week will be #8 Michigan at Penn State. While the Nittany Lions (6-3) went on a three-game conference skid recently, they’re still in the running for a New Year’s Six and could pick one up by beating the Buckeyes, beating the Spartans on the season’s last day, and ending the year 9-3. Michigan, meanwhile, is still very much in the playoff hunt, but a loss in Happy Valley could end their season. This one should be close, and could be a great game.

Finally, #10 Texas A&M, who have pulled off two SEC upsets already, play Ole Miss in Oxford next week. Neither of these teams is very deep into the playoff hunt, but it should be a physical, exciting game. The winner will almost beyond doubt be in the Top 10, while the loser should drop five to 10 spots.

With just three weeks left in the regular season, the time has come to talk seriously about the playoff. Only four teams can make it. Right now, #1 Georgia seems to be nearly a lock to make it — a 12-0 regular season, even followed by a loss to Alabama, should be enough to keep them in. #2 Alabama and #3 Ohio State, on the other hand, are probably each a loss away from falling out of the playoff. The two have played comparably, with their sole losses coming to #10 Texas A&M and #6 Oregon, respectively, and impressive (but not dominant) wins aside from that. #4 Cincinnati and #5 Oklahoma are in the same boat too, as both are undefeated, but neither has performed at a level you’d expect out of an undefeated team — they’ve had close calls and every week seem to get closer to a loss. Further down, #6 Oregon and #7 Michigan State both have a bad loss to Stanford and Purdue, respectively, but they look like they could still make it. #8 Michigan, with wins in State College and Columbus, could squeak in, and everybody behind the Spartans looks dead in the water. It should be an interesting next few weeks in college football, as these eight teams are whittled down to four.