So the group of remotely viable playoff contenders is all the way down to single digits, although they’re not created equal.
Safely in by profitable out: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 TCU. The calculus is similar as ever. An undefeated energy convention staff isn’t getting excluded from a four-team playoff, and these 4 all enter the weekend at 10-0.
Should win out and may need assistance: No. 5 Tennessee. Would the Volunteers get in at 11-1 over both Michigan or Ohio State at 11-1? It’s a hypothetical that might grow to be actual in a pair weeks. It’s onerous to think about the Volunteers falling exterior the highest 5 in the event that they deal with their enterprise from right here.
Should win out and undoubtedly need assistance: No. 7 Southern California, No. 9 Clemson, No. 13 North Carolina. The Pac-12’s Trojans are in higher form than both of the ACC groups, however every of those 9-1 groups would profit from the likes of TCU and Tennessee taking a loss down the stretch, to not point out even larger chaos.
The wild card: No. 6 LSU. No two-loss staff has made the playoff, however an 11-2 Tigers staff with defeats of Alabama and Mississippi within the common season after which Georgia in subsequent month’s SEC title recreation can be an attention-grabbing case. How may the committee take care of the triangle of LSU beating Georgia, which beat Tennessee, which beat LSU — particularly if there are undefeated champs within the Large Ten and Large 12?
Bother lurks for Pac-12 After Darkish
The tried-and-true method to produce a playoff staff is to have one program run roughshod annually, a way the ACC perfected first with Florida State on the daybreak of the playoff period and ultimately to a lot larger impact with Clemson.
The Pac-12 appeared to inadvertently latch onto the next-best factor: Have a clear-cut high 4 dominate the remainder of the league earlier than a string of late-season video games determined the entire thing and produced a 13-0 or 12-1 champion.
Heading into final Saturday, the quartet of Oregon, Southern California, UCLA and Utah was a mixed 32-5 general, 23-3 within the Pac-12 and 20-0 towards the underside two-thirds of the convention. It will have been useful if Utah might have gained at Florida on Labor Day weekend (Oregon toppling Georgia the identical day was most likely by no means lifelike), nevertheless it was shut sufficient to excellent.
All of the league wanted was to get by means of final Saturday, and it had Southern California-UCLA and Utah-Oregon arrange as titanic conferences this week, with the winners probably assembly in subsequent month’s league title recreation.
So what occurred? Oregon fell, 37-34, to Washington in a recreation with a bonkers last 5 minutes. UCLA then additionally misplaced at house, a forgettable 34-28 displaying towards an improved Arizona bunch. Each groups’ title hopes are successfully executed, and the Pac-12’s closing stretch (whereas probably nonetheless a bunch of enjoyable) has misplaced a few of its luster from a nationwide perspective.
A have a look at groups with loads to play for within the penultimate weekend of the common season
1. Southern California. The Pac-12’s final one-loss staff, the Trojans head throughout city to face UCLA with an opportunity to assert a spot within the convention title recreation. Fairly simple arithmetic right here: USC stays within the playoff race with a victory, whereas a loss all however ensures the Pac-12 is shut out from the playoff (once more).
2. TCU. The Horned Frogs (10-0, 7-0 Large 12) are three victories away from a playoff berth, and solely a type of should be earned in a street venue. That comes Saturday at Baylor (6-4, 4-3), which didn’t get pleasure from a lot of a home-field benefit final week in a 31-3 loss to Kansas State.
3. Tennessee. The Volunteers (9-1, 5-1 SEC) gained’t play within the SEC title recreation, so that they have solely two extra video games to win to shine off their playoff profile. Saturday’s a tough journey to South Carolina (6-4, 3-4), which has proved to be spunky and opportunistic — however was additionally blown out 38-6 at Florida final week. A victory retains Tennessee very a lot within the playoff combine.
4a. Clemson and 4b. North Carolina. The eventual ACC champion — and it is going to be both Clemson (9-1, 7-0) or North Carolina (9-1, 6-0), since each have clinched their respective divisions — goes to want loads of assist to earn a playoff nod. However it gained’t matter except that league winner is 12-1. Clemson (towards Miami) and North Carolina (towards Georgia Tech) each want house victories Saturday.
5a. Michigan and 5b. Ohio State. Neither undefeated staff will get knocked out of playoff competition with a loss, however life will get easier from a nationwide perspective if each enhance to 11-0. Michigan welcomes fading Illinois (7-3, 4-3) to Ann Arbor, whereas Ohio State visits Maryland (6-4, 3-4). If each win Saturday, subsequent week’s assembly in Columbus might resemble a play-in recreation for the nationwide semifinals.
A weekly have a look at the race for school soccer’s favourite stiff-arming statue.
1. QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (2,750 yards, 34 TDs, 4 INTs passing; 83 yards dashing). Bounced again from a lackluster passing recreation towards Northwestern to torch Indiana for 297 yards and 5 touchdowns. His greatest check awaits subsequent week towards Michigan, however a visit to Maryland (with its No. 42 move effectivity protection) might current some complications. (Final week: 1)
2. QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee (2,888 yards, 24 TDs, 2 INTs passing; 405 yards, 5 TDs dashing). Accounted for 4 touchdowns towards Missouri final week because the Volunteers bounced again from their first loss. Hooker’s already had his signature recreation — Oct. 15 against Alabama — and he can solely be helped a lot by journeys to South Carolina and Vanderbilt. (LW: 2)
3. QB Caleb Williams, Southern California (3,010 yards, 31 TDs, 2 INTs passing; 283 yards, 6 TDs dashing). Williams threw his first interception in additional than a month final week towards Colorado, however regardless of. He’ll be judged closely on the following three weeks, which can see the Trojans go to UCLA, play host to Notre Dame after which (maybe) play within the Pac-12 title recreation. (LW: 3)
4. QB Drake Maye, North Carolina (3,412 yards, 34 TDs, 3 INTs passing; 584 yards, 5 TDs dashing). Had his finest yardage recreation but final week towards Wake Forest, amassing 448 yards and three touchdowns by means of the air whereas dashing for 71 yards and a rating. He might have an enormous day towards Georgia Tech’s second-worst-in-the-ACC protection (forward of solely North Carolina). (LW: 6)
5. QB Bo Nix, Oregon (2,774 yards, 24 TDs, 5 INTs passing; 512 yards, 14 TDs dashing). One of many season’s what-ifs will revolve round whether or not the Geese might have escaped with a victory over Washington had Nix not gotten harm. Nix’s Heisman hopes have been most likely dashed with the loss, however he still has a solid case for a top-five end — particularly if Oregon could make a run at a Pac-12 title. (LW: 4).
6. RB Blake Corum, Michigan (1,349 yards, 17 TDs dashing; 9 catches, 41 yards, 1 TD receiving). The Wolverine star has piled up seven consecutive 100-yard dashing days and has run for a landing in each recreation this season. He’ll must take care of Illinois and its seventh-ranked dashing protection (85.9 yards per recreation) in Michigan’s house finale. (LW: Not ranked)