10. Baylor Bears 10-1 (14)
Call this a big projection and guess – the committee will finally bump up the chronically under-ranked Bears after the terrific bounceback performance and win over Texas. Now the Bears are off to the Big 12 Championship with another shot at Oklahoma. Win that, hope for Oregon to win the Pac-12 Championship, cross fingers for an Auburn win over Alabama, and … it’s still possible.
Up Next: at Kansas
9. Florida Gators 9-2 (11)
No, there’s no chance of getting into the College Football Playoff, but being ranked in the top ten matters. If the Gators can roll past Florida State and finish up in somewhere close to eight, that means the SEC will almost certainly get four teams – LSU, Alabama, Georgia and Florida – in College Football Playoff/New Year’s Six bowls.
Up Next: Florida State
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers 10-1 (10)
The ranking doesn’t matter. Beat Wisconsin, beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, go to the College Football Playoff as a 12-1 Big Ten champ – no question whatsoever. This is one of the few teams that controls its own destiny.
Up Next: Wisconsin
7. Oklahoma Sooners 10-1 (9)
There just isn’t a big enough win on the slate, and even worse, the team is struggling too much. It took too much of a fight to get through TCU, Baylor, and Iowa State, but the Sooners are off to the Big 12 Championship again, and a blowout win over Baylor in the rematch would give them a shot. Oklahoma State being ranked helps the resumé, but don’t be stunned if there’s an upset coming in Stillwater.
Up Next: at Oklahoma State
6. Utah Utes 10-1 (7)
The Utes are dominating. They haven’t allowed more than seven points in five of their last six games, and if they keep this up and beat Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship – assuming there’s no whiff against Colorado – flip a coin on whether or not the committee goes with what would be a 12-1 Power Five champ over …
Up Next: Colorado
5. Alabama Crimson Tide 10-1 (5)
DO NOT GET COMFORTABLE with the idea that Alabama will automatically slide into the top four if Georgia loses the SEC Championship. This year, even more than past seasons, this is probably going to shake up after the conference title games. To get in, that would mean the CFP would have to set a brand new precedent by putting in a team that didn’t win its own division over a 12-1 Power 5 champion – if there is another one from the Big 12 and/or Pac-12. With that said, now it’s on – obliterate Auburn, and the case might be made.
Up Next: at Auburn
4. Georgia Bulldogs 10-1 (4)
After beating Texas A&M in a fight, the spot at No. 4 will only be solidified. All that matters is beating Georgia Tech and then taking down LSU. Do that, and in. Don’t do that, and out.
Up Next: at Georgia Tech
3. Clemson Tigers 11-0 (3)
There’s still that little problem of not beating anyone who’s any good. Once again, there won’t be a win on the slate against a team that’s currently ranked, but there’s no falling from third – which in this race, might as well be second.
Up Next: at South Carolina
2. Ohio State Buckeyes 11-0 (2)
The Buckeyes have a beef after beating No. 8 Penn State and improving the all-around resume. If they destroy Michigan, even though LSU gets Texas A&M, there will be more of an argument next week.
Up Next: at Michigan
1. LSU Tigers 11-0 (1)
There won’t be any wavering for the No. 1 spot, even after Ohio State’s big win over Penn State. The overall body of work for the Tigers is still too good to overcome, and the spot should be cemented if they can get by the Aggies next week without a problem.
Up Next: Texas A&M