Week 10 College Football Playoff picture: Four in, two out and six to watch
November is for contenders.
There are four weeks left in the 2018 college football regular season, and the first set of College Football Playoff rankings will be unveiled on Tuesday.
There also are four unbeaten teams remaining, and eight Power 5 teams have one loss. That is the 12-team field of Playoff contenders, considering no two-loss team has yet reached the Playoff. The schedule turns into a momentous Nov. 3 that has several big-time matchups.
MORE: Biggest Playoff games in Week 10
Dec. 2 — when the final pairings are announced — will be here before you know it. With that mind, here are the four teams in, the first two out and four to watch heading into November:
1. Alabama (8-0)
The Crimson Tide are 34-6 in November under Nick Saban the last 10 seasons, including a 15-1 record since the College Football Playoff started. LSU has handed Alabama two of those losses, but the last one was in 2011. Saturday’s game is the biggest one between them since the 2012 ensuing BCS championship. The Crimson Tide have won the last seven meetings. Will Tua Tagovailoa throw a pass in the fourth quarter?
2. Clemson (8-0)
Shocker, right? The Tigers look like the team best-equipped on both sides of the ball to challenge Alabama for the fourth consecutive year. Clemson disposed of Florida State 59-10 in a game that used to be a lot more competitive, and the only remaining road game is a trip to Boston College on Nov. 3. The Tigers are college football’s fun bunch, and the next step is Louisville at home. Trevor Lawrence is getting better with each week, too.
3. Notre Dame (8-0)
The Irish jumped out to a big first-half lead against Navy for a 44-22 victory in San Diego, and that sets up a November where the mission will be to prevent the big upset. Dexter Williams and Jafar Armstrong give the Irish at 1-2 attack in the backfield behind Ian Book, and that running game will be valuable against Northwestern. Notre Dame has managed to avoid the chaos beneath them. If that continues, then the Irish will crack the four-team field with ease.
4. LSU (7-1)
This is LSU’s big opportunity. Beat Alabama, and the Tigers have the inside track on the SEC West race and would be a sound bet to reach the SEC championship game in Atlanta. Lose, and the Tigers likely will have to settle for a New Year’s Day Six berth at best. Tiger Stadium will be rocking. LSU has allowed 14 points per game in four home games this season, but Alabama poses the challenge of all challenges.
MORE: Playoff debates to get ready for
First two out
5. Michigan (7-1)
Michigan leads the FBS in total defense and pass defense, and the Wolverines rank sixth in scoring defense. Jim Harbaugh has Michigan playing with an edge, and this team has an opportunity to finish what the 2016 team started before a late-season flop. There are big games against Penn State and Ohio State that will determine whether the Wolverines can reach their first Big Ten championship game.
6. Oklahoma (7-1)
The offense continues to put up big numbers around Kyler Murray, and the Sooners are coming around on defense under new coordinator Ruffin McNeill. Oklahoma is in decent position to make another Big 12 championship run, too. That continues at Texas Tech in what should be an offensive battle on the road. As far as Big 12 contenders go, the Sooners are even better position now that Texas has a conference loss.
MORE: Were Texas’ feats a house of cards?
Six to watch
Georgia (7-1) redirected its season with a strong second-half performance against Florida in a 36-17 victory. Jake Fromm looked more like the quarterback who nearly led the Bulldogs to the national championship last season in that half, and they can take control of the SEC East with a victory at Kentucky on Saturday. Georgia is in good shape again. You could argue they should be ahead of the Sooners, but it’s a coin flip we’ll give to Oklahoma for now. … UCF (7-0) enjoyed an off week before another November run in the American Athletic Conference that begins with a test against an improved Temple team. Pay attention to the Knights’ placement in the first CFP rankings. If it’s in the top 10, they will have a chance. If not, it might not happen no matter what. … Ohio State (7-1) needed a bye week to recover from a blowout loss at Purdue, and it’s one that won’t be easy to overlook no matter what happens in November. Just keep in mind the Buckeyes are 21-2 in November under Urban Meyer since 2012. Ruling them out would be a mistake. … West Virginia (6-1) bounced back after the bye week with a 58-14 blowout victory against Baylor in preparation for the trip to Texas. The Mountaineers are very dangerous when they aren’t plagued by turnovers. … Kentucky (7-1) survived with the help of a controversial call against Missouri in a 15-14 victory, and that sets up a winner-takes-the-SEC East scenario in Lexington. … Washington State (7-1) beat Oregon and Stanford in back-to-back weeks, and the Cougars play three of their last four games at home. Mike Leach news conferences should be even more fun in November.
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