With three weeks left in the regular season, the race for the College Football Playoff is as tight as ever. Only one of the top six teams, #1 Georgia, looked impressive this weekend, and #3 Michigan State’s undefeated season was derailed at Purdue. Here are my picks for the College Football Playoff after ten weeks of football.
#1 Georgia Bulldogs (9-0)
The Bulldogs dominated the Missouri Tigers at home. The Bulldogs racked up over 500 yards of offense on their way to a 43-6 blowout. Stetson Bennett passed for 255 and two scores on only 13 completions. Their defense registered two sacks and a safety while holding their opponent out of the endzone for the fourth time this season. Their defense gives up only 6.6 points per game and is full of guys that will soon be playing on Sunday. They are by far the best team in the country and should be a lock for the Playoff even if they do lose a game.
Who’s Next: @Tennessee (5-4)
#2 Oregon Ducks (8-1)
The Ducks survived a rainy game in Seattle with a 26-16 victory over the Huskies. Oregon got off to a slow start that saw Anthony Brown throw an interception and Travis Dye tackled in the endzone for a safety. The Ducks turned it around thanks to the tough running of Dye. He ran for 211 and a score while averaging 7.5 yards per carry. While Dye was running all over Washington, the Ducks defense was lights out. The Huskies managed only 166 total yards and had only seven first downs. If the Ducks are to make the Playoff it is going to be because of their defense and run game.
Who’s next: vs. Washington State (5-4)
#3 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-1)
The Tide survived a scare in their 20-14 victory over LSU. Bama was far from perfect and had to survive a last-second heave by Tigers’ quarterback Max Johnson, but came away with the win nonetheless. Bryce Young had a pedestrian game, passing for 302 yards and two touchdowns, but the story of the game was Bama’s inability to run the ball. They had 6 rush yards, the lowest ever under Nick Saban. Their run game has been lackluster all season, which could back to bite them against better competition. This team has lots of holes, but don’t ever count Bama out.
Who’s next: vs. New Mexico State (1-8)
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes (8-1)
With Michigan State’s loss, the Buckeyes move into the top 4. The Buckeyes took down Nebraska on the road 26-17 but didn’t look great doing it. CJ Stroud had another 400+ yard performance but also had two picks. With star receiver Garrett Wilson out with an injury, Jaxon Smith-Njigba went off to the tune of 15 catches for 240 yards and a score. Wilson, Smith-Njigba and Chris Olave make up the best receiving corps in the country and are a nightmare for any defense. The Buckeyes have come back down to earth the past few weeks but are still the team to beat in the Big 10. The Buckeyes have a gauntlet of a schedule to finish the year which starts with Purdue and ends with games against Michigan State and Michigan.
Who’s next: vs. Purdue (6-3)
First Teams Out
#5 Cincinnati Bearcats (9-0)
If Cincy wanted to prove to the College Football Playoff committee that they belonged in the top 4, Saturday’s game did not help. The Bearcats survived a wild finish in their 28-20 win over Tulsa. They appeared to have closed out the game when they stopped Tulsa two yards short of the endzone, but they gave the ball right back to the Golden Hurricanes when Desmond Rider fumbled trying to run out the clock. A second goal-line stop sealed the victory. Cincinnati has one of the best wins of the season, on the road over Notre Dame, but their strength of schedule (99th) significantly hurts their chances of making a run at the Playoff. The Bearcats need to start winning with style if they have any hope of making the Playoff.
Who’s next: vs. South Florida (2-7)
#6 Michigan State Spartans (8-1)
Michigan State’s Playoff hopes take a hit with their 40-29 road loss to Purdue. The Spartans are the second top 3 opponent to lose to Purdue this month (#2 Iowa). Michigan State fell behind early again but they weren’t able to mount a comeback like they did last week vs. Michigan. Kenneth Walker III had another great game vs. Purdue. He had 146 yards and a score. The Spartans’ largest problem exists with their defense. The Boilermakers had 536+ passing yards and moved up and down the field with ease. Michigan State can still make the Playoff if they win out, but they need to be perfect.
Who’s next: vs. Maryland (5-4)