Every week potentially is elimination week in college football. Someone’s going to move on in hopes of capturing the CFP championship and someone is going to realize that they are playing out the rest of the season for fun.

Last week I put the spotlight on two games that should be considered “elimination games.” Ohio State all but ended Penn State’s Playoff hopes with a comeback 27-26 win at Happy Valley.

And Notre Dame continued its charge toward the top 4 with a 38-17 home win against Stanford.

If I had to project the CFP top 10 right now it would look like:

1) Alabama
2) Georgia
3) Ohio State
4) LSU
5) Notre Dame
6) Oklahoma
7) Clemson
8) Auburn
9) Washington
10) West Virginia

My projected CFP Top 10 is a little different from the playoff predictor:

But my projected Top 10 is what I feel the committee would vote as the Top 10 if they had to vote today. My fearless editor, Chris Wright, thinks LSU is a little low still.

Of course the AP Poll matters about as much as a fan poll at this point so we really don’t know where anyone is. Luckily three of the top four on my projections play each other in some form and will shake things out. As it is the SEC still has around a 50 percent chance of getting two teams into the CFP.

No more time to waste, let’s get into the conference breakdowns. One change, however, rather than project beyond the CFP Top 10, we will just use the AP Top 25 for the breakdowns.


Teams in AP Top 25 (6): Alabama (1), Georgia (2), LSU (5), Auburn (8), Kentucky (13), Florida (22).

LSU’s next four: at Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama. Despite the 18th most difficult strength of schedule and second-hardest strength of record, the Tigers are 11th in the FPI. With three ranked opponents in the next four games, that FPI ranking doesn’t matter, but LSU is getting all kinds of disrespect. As long as LSU wins in The Swamp on Saturday it will be hard to call their showdown with Georgia on Oct. 13 an elimination game because both teams have the opportunity to bounce back from a loss.

Alabama and Auburn should get through October without a hitch. Kentucky has an intriguing road game this week at Texas A&M. If they win, the Wildcats get closer to an 8-0 start going into the Nov. 3 game against Georgia. Florida actually has a nice path to contention if they win. But that’s a massive if.

Big Ten

Teams in the AP Top 25 (5): Ohio State (3), Penn State (11), Michigan (15), Wisconsin (16), Michigan State (20).

The Buckeyes get a October of breathers (Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska) before things pick up against on Nov. 10 at Michigan State. By then Nick Bosa might be back in the lineup making a good defense even better. While Ohio State is sure to rack up blowout wins this month, Penn State has Michigan State this week, Michigan on Nov. 3 in the Big House and Wisconsin on Nov. 10. The Nittany Lions need to win those games and get help to get in the Big Ten championship game. Michigan and Wisconsin play each other on Oct. 13 in primetime and someone’s slim CFP hopes will evaporate that night.

The more I look at the Big Ten, this conference’s CFP hopes are Ohio State or bust.


Teams in the AP Top 25 (4): Clemson (4), Miami (17), N.C. State (23), Virginia Tech (24).

Let me say this for Clemson, the Tigers showed a lot of character in Saturday’s 27-23 win over Syracuse. First of all, Syracuse should have been a Top 25 team and it was bad on the voters for not ranking them there. But it was a tough week for Clemson and with the injury to Trevor Lawrence it looked like Dabo Swinney’s decision to make the true freshman the starter and lose Kelly Bryant to transfer would backfire. But trailing by 10 in the second half, Clemson got tough and they played big-man football to earn the victory. Travis Etienne has been a part of the machine for much of his time at Clemson, but Saturday he was thrust into the spotlight and delivered.

Also a shout out to Clemson backup QB Chase Brice, who went from third string on Monday to being asked to save the season Saturday. He wasn’t perfect, but he made some throws — including a 20-yard dart on 4th-and-6 to keep the game-winning drive alive — and proved the moment wasn’t too big for him.

N.C. State’s one chance to impress will be at Clemson on Oct. 20 because the rest of the Wolfpack’s schedule is horribly weak. It’s nice that N.C. State and East Carolina were able to agree to a game to make up for Hurricane Florence cancellations, but that won’t help the Wolfpack’s strength of schedule if they need it to.

Virginia Tech’s win against Duke climbed them back into the Top 25 and that’s a good thing for Notre Dame.

Big 12

Teams in AP Top 25 (4): Oklahoma (7), West Virginia (9), Texas (19), Oklahoma State (25).

It’s been a while since the Red River Shootout had some real two-way interest, but Texas has bounced back from an opening week loss to Syracuse to become a quality opponent for the Sooners. Oklahoma is clearly the Big 12’s best chance for the CFP, but if Texas wins they will get back in the picture with games against West Virginia and Oklahoma State remaining and solid wins against USC and TCU under their belt.

West Virginia’s October schedule is pretty easy with Kansas, at Iowa State and Baylor, but the November slate include Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State so we’ll keep an eye on the Mountaineers and Will Grier for future reference.


Teams in AP Top 25 (4): Washington (10), Stanford (14), Oregon (18) and Colorado (21).

Did Stanford’s loss eliminate the Pac-12 from CFP contention? It doesn’t look good …

That being said Washington still has a road game at Oregon and home games against Stanford and Colorado — all potential chances to catch the committee’s eye. The game against Auburn has proven to be a risk worth taking. The loss didn’t really hurt the Huskies and had they won they would likely be in the top 4 or right outside of it now.

Is Colorado for real? The schedule, ranked 124th in the nation, says no. Of the Buffaloes’ four victories their opponents are a combined 1-16.

Independents and Group of 5

Teams in AP Top 25 (2): Notre Dame (6), UCF (12).

If you don’t like hearing or reading about Notre Dame’s chances in the Playoff picture, then close your eyes and cover your ears because the Irish are right in the thick of things.

The second half of the schedule isn’t very strong so for Notre Dame to get another game against a Top 25 opponent is a big deal. After this week’s game against Virginia Tech, the Irish are unlikely to face another ranked team this season unless Syracuse and USC go on a tear.

As for UCF, it did beat a Power 5 team this past weekend, but Pitt is at the bottom of the ACC. Although CFP Director Bill Hancock appears willing to give the Knights a look, that 128th-ranked schedule will continue to be held against them. Best bet for the Knights: Root for Cincinnati and USF to continue to win.