- With uncertainty running wild around college football, we could be looking at some unprecedented playoff participants—oh yeah, and Alabama.
Blowout losses suffered by two of the top three teams in the country have shaken up the playoff picture as the dust settles on Week 11. A two-loss team making the playoff is seeming like a more realistic possibility all the time. Who knows—maybe two of them will get in. Here’s how the top 10 teams in the country stack up:
1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide needed a fourth-quarter rally in Starkville, but they got a nice win, their best of the season. Alabama is very banged up on defense and definitely looks vulnerable, but who else in college football do you have more faith in at this point than Nick Saban and his program?
2. Miami: I’m holding off on saying The U is back, but one thing is now for certain: The U is for real. After destroying Notre Dame to remain undefeated, Miami has outscored back-to-back Top 15 opponents 69–18 this month. The Canes looked fast and focused, and they’re playing with a ton of confidence right now.
3. Oklahoma: TCU came to Norman allowing under 14 points per game and 284 yards per game. The Sooners hung 38 on them, racking up almost 400 yards in the first half alone. The Sooners’ much-maligned defense also played well, and star quarterback Baker Mayfield is cruising to the Heisman Trophy.
4. Clemson: The Tigers took care of Florida State, which now drops to 3–6, and they still have to take care of a pretty good South Carolina team on the road to end the regular season before taking on Miami. That Week 2 win over Auburn looks better and better all the time.
5. Wisconsin: A week after Iowa blew out Ohio State, the Hawkeyes were completely shut down by a salty Wisconsin defense that held the visitors to only 66 total yards. This was the best win the Badgers have had this year. Don’t let anyone fool you: If Wisconsin wins out, it will have a spot in the playoff set aside, although it certainly didn’t hurt the cause that the Buckeyes looked so impressive routing Michigan State, setting up a Big Ten title game that gives the Badgers another shot at a statement win.
6. Auburn: Running back Kerryon Johnson was spectacular as the Tigers blew out No. 1 Georgia 40–17. Auburn pulled off the first step of their daunting three-step push to make the playoff. If the Tigers can knock off Alabama and then take care of UGA again in the conference title game, they will have a great case for the top four.
7. Georgia: A terrific defense got wrecked at the hands of an inspired Auburn offense. If the Bulldogs can knock off the SEC West champion on Dec. 2, they probably still make the playoff, but the thumping Notre Dame took in South Florida took some air out of their biggest win of the season to date.
8. Ohio State: Can a team that was blown out twice, once at home and once by an unranked opponent, still make the playoff? It’s looking a lot more plausible for Ohio State, especially after the way it hammered Michigan State in every facet of the game Saturday. If the Buckeyes run the table in impressive fashion, the hunch here is that they’ll end up in the playoff.
9. Notre Dame: The Irish were blown off the field by the Hurricanes, 41–8. A regular-season finale win at Stanford (the Cardinal look formidable again coming off an upset win over Washington) would be nice, but I don’t think Notre Dame had the margin for error to survive a second loss in the eyes of the committee.
10. USC: The Trojans have won three in a row since getting embarrassed in South Bend. Their best wins are over Stanford and Arizona, and they will likely be favored over the Pac-12 North champ in the conference title game, but at this point it seems almost impossible the Pac-12 will get a team into the playoff. The Trojans are the league’s best shot.