The College Football Playoff picture got a bit clearer on Saturday.
No. 9 Oklahoma lost at Oklahoma State in what could be the final Bedlam game for quite some time while No. 12 Missouri lost at No. 2 Georgia. With the Sooners and Tigers now both at 7-2, it’s safe to assume that both are out of playoff contention.
Their losses leave us with 11 Power Five teams with one loss or fewer entering the final three weeks of the regular season. Five of those teams are undefeated. And some teams have far better chances of making the four-team playoff than others.
Here is how we’d rank those 11 teams in order of their chances of making the playoff. We like the chances of the Big Ten East getting two teams into the CFP for a second straight season.
Ohio State (9-0)
The Buckeyes haven’t looked invincible this season but were at No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night thanks to wins over Notre Dame and Penn State. Ohio State trailed Rutgers 9-7 at halftime on Saturday but a pick-six by Jordan Hancock early in the third quarter sparked the easy 35-16 win.
With games at home against Michigan State and Minnesota over the next two weeks before a trip to Michigan, Ohio State could be locked into the playoff at 11-0 before the massive rivalry game to win the Big Ten East for a final time.
The Wolverines are slightly behind Ohio State thanks to a game against Penn State in Week 11 and the looming possibility of discipline from the sign-stealing scandal that’s been the talk of college football over the past two weeks. Michigan rolled again on Saturday night against Purdue and now faces ranked two ranked teams over the next three weeks.
After Penn State, a trip to Maryland looms before playing Ohio State. And much like the Buckeyes, Michigan’s probably in the playoff if it’s 11-0 entering the final week of the regular season.
The Bulldogs outlasted Missouri for a second straight season in a 30-21 win on Saturday. Georgia wasn’t overwhelming in any facet; it simply had the better team and it showed in the second half. The Bulldogs have won 26 straight games since losing to Alabama in the 2021 SEC title game and have No. 10 Ole Miss in Week 11 before a trip to No. 17 Tennessee. Georgia will be favored in both contests before ending the season against Georgia Tech.
Florida State (9-0)
The Seminoles have a great chance of finishing the season undefeated. That could be both a blessing and a curse. Florida State had a sluggish start against Pitt on Saturday before an easy 24-7 win that clinched a spot in the ACC title game. FSU hosts Miami in Week 11 before playing North Alabama and Florida to end the season.
Outside of a Week 1 win over LSU, a now-unranked Duke team is the only other ranked opponent Florida State will have played in 2023 until the ACC title game. That could work against the Seminoles if there are three other undefeated teams and an 11-1 Michigan or Ohio State at the end of the season.
The Huskies shredded USC’s defense in a 52-42 win to move to 9-0 on the season. Washington was fifth among the five undefeated teams in the CFP rankings and is fifth here simply because of the strength of the Pac-12. Washington has games against Utah and Oregon State before finishing the season against Washington State.
If Washington runs the table and beats Oregon (or someone else ranked) in the Pac-12 title game, the Huskies are in the playoff. There’s no doubt about that. We just have doubts that Washington can make it through the Pac-12 unscathed.
The Crimson Tide are a win over Kentucky away from a spot in the SEC title game after taking down LSU on Saturday night. Alabama should finish the season at 11-1 despite road trips to Kentucky and Auburn over the last three games and will likely meet Georgia in the SEC championship game. If Alabama and Georgia are both at 11-1 (or better, in Georgia’s case), the winner of that game is not going to get left out of the playoff.
The Ducks continued their post-Washington revenge tour with a 63-19 dismantling of Cal on Saturday. QB Bo Nix had six total touchdowns and isn’t out of the Heisman mix by any stretch if Oregon keeps winning and wins the Pac-12 title.
The Ducks have a big contest against USC in Week 11 before visiting Arizona State and hosting a ranked Oregon State. Oregon will make the Pac-12 title game at 11-1 overall and a win over Washington (or someone else) could be enough to get the Ducks into the playoff for the first time since the 2014 season.
Texas flirted with a monumental collapse in a 33-30 overtime win over Kansas State on Saturday. The Longhorns were up 27-7 in the third quarter before Kansas State scored 20 straight points and UT needed a fourth-down stop in OT for the win.
The Longhorns’ playoff chances hinge mostly on the health of Quinn Ewers and Texas’ vulnerability without him was on display against Kansas State. The Longhorns should be OK against TCU next week, but a trip to Iowa State in two weeks could be tricky with or without Ewers.
Ole Miss (8-1)
Could Ole Miss make the playoff without winning the SEC West? The path is there, though the Rebels may need some help from other teams. The first priority would be upsetting Georgia in Athens and then beating Louisiana-Monroe and Mississippi State to end the season. That would put Ole Miss at 11-1 and possibly out of SEC title contention if Alabama wins the division.
Would an 11-1 Ole Miss have a comparable resume to that of an 11-1 Ohio State or Michigan? We think so.
Penn State (8-1)
Like Ole Miss, Penn State’s path to the playoff disappears with a loss as an underdog in Week 11. The Nittany Lions worked out some frustrations against Maryland in a 51-15 win that featured a 27-point outburst in the fourth quarter. Penn State needs to beat Michigan and have the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes to have a chance to win the Big Ten East. If that happens and Penn State wins the Big Ten with a 12-1 record, put PSU in the playoff.
The Cardinals quashed any hope Virginia Tech had of being a realistic contender in the ACC in a convincing 34-3 win on Saturday. Louisville’s hopes of making the playoff are extremely slim, but they exist. And that’s a lot more than you can say about any other team in college football not on this list. To get to the playoff, Louisville needs to beat Virginia, Miami and Kentucky and also knock off Florida State in the ACC title game, while hoping there are some other upsets over the next four weeks too.
Here are the winners and losers of Week 10:
Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State got to ruin the national championship hopes of its biggest rival in the final edition of Bedlam before Oklahoma departs for the SEC. The Cowboys beat the Sooners 27-24 in front of a raucous crowd in Stillwater. Ollie Gordon rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns while Alan Bowman had 334 passing yards in the win. The Cowboys have won five consecutive games and now are tied atop the Big 12 standings with Texas. The path to the Big 12 title game is very viable.
Clemson: It’s been a brutal season for Clemson, so Dabo Swinney’s squad deserves some praise for upsetting No. 15 Notre Dame at home on Saturday. On the heels of losing back-to-back regular season games for the first time since 2011, the Tigers jumped on the Irish early and were able to hang on for a 31-23 win. Clemson had a 24-6 lead midway through the second quarter and got a huge performance from Phil Mafah. With Will Shipley out, Mafah had a heavy workload — 36 rushes, 186 yards and two TDs. He accounted for 65.2% of Clemson’s yardage. Shoutout to Tyler from Spartanburg for the inspiration.
Penn State: After multiple shaky performances, Penn State’s offensive display in Saturday’s win over Maryland was very encouraging with the showdown vs. Michigan coming next week. The Nittany Lions hadn’t topped 400 yards of offense vs. a Power Five opponent since the season-opening win over West Virginia but had 404 yards in the 51-15 win over the Terps. And that happened even as PSU had its backups in for most of the fourth quarter. Drew Allar threw for 240 yards and four TDs, Kaytron Allen rushed for 91 yards and a score and the defense forced four Maryland turnovers. PSU’s Big Ten and CFP hopes are still alive.
Kansas: There was no hangover effect for Kansas after the big win over Oklahoma. The Jayhawks were in a tough spot traveling to Ames to face an Iowa State team on a three-game winning streak on the heels of such an emotional win. But Lance Leipold did not let his team lose focus as KU pulled out a 28-21 road win. Kansas had a 21-3 lead in the third quarter and withstood a comeback attempt from the Cyclones to improve to 7-2 on the year. It’s the first time KU has gotten to seven wins since 2008.
Utah: Utah rebounded from its loss to Oregon in emphatic fashion. The Utes destroyed Arizona State, 55-3. After Trenton Bourguet, ASU’s starting QB, was knocked out early in the game, the Sun Devils had no chance. Backup Jacob Conover was held to 5-of-22 for 41 yards by the Utah defense. In all, Utah outgained ASU 513 yards to 83. Yes, ASU had only 83 yards of offense. With the win, Utah improved to 7-2 (4-2 Pac-12) on the year.
Liberty and James Madison: There are seven undefeated teams remaining in college football and two of them are Liberty and James Madison. Liberty improved to 9-0 with a 56-30 win over Louisiana Tech while JMU is also 9-0 after a 42-14 road win over Georgia State.
Texas State: How about Texas State? The Bobcats are bowl eligible after beating Georgia Southern 45-24 on Saturday. Since moving up to the FBS in 2012, Texas State has just one winning season and has never played in a bowl game. Now 6-3 in Year 1 under coach G.J. Kinne, the Bobcats are on the verge of accomplishing both.
Air Force: Air Force is no longer undefeated after a surprising loss to Army. The Falcons were 8-0 and No. 25 in the first CFP rankings, but may have cost themselves the chance for a New Year’s Six bowl appearance and potentially the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy with the 23-3 loss to the Black Knights. In the loss, Air Force had six turnovers and twice failed on fourth down. Air Force is still unbeaten in Mountain West play, but this was a disappointing result for Troy Calhoun’s team.
Florida: Florida may have blown its best chance to achieve bowl eligibility. The Gators went 5-2 to open the season before falling last week to top-ranked Georgia. With LSU, Missouri and Florida State games on the horizon, the Gators really needed to take care of business against Arkansas at home on Saturday to get that sixth win. They couldn’t do it. Arkansas, which entered the weekend on a six-game losing streak, went into Gainesville and upset Florida 39-36 in overtime. It’s the first time Arkansas has ever won in the Swamp. The Razorbacks entered the weekend at No. 122 nationally in total offense, averaging 305.9 yards per game. Following a coordinator change and a bye week, Arkansas put up 481 yards on the UF defense.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin is really banged up, but that’s no excuse for going into Bloomington and losing to Indiana. The Hoosiers had won just one of their previous 13 Big Ten games, but they upset the Badgers 20-14 on Saturday. Wisconsin was behind 17-14 for the majority of the second half, but just could not get over the hump. The Badgers’ final five drives resulted in two punts, two fumbles and a turnover on downs. UW, now 5-4 on the year, has fallen well below expectations in Year 1 under Luke Fickell.
TCU: It’s not a surprise that TCU took a steep step back compared to last year’s magical run to the national title game. But now the Horned Frogs are in danger of missing a bowl game after losing to Texas Tech on Thursday night. TCU is now 4-5 overall and 2-4 in Big 12 play with three games remaining — vs. Texas, vs. Baylor and a trip to Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs need to win two of three just to get to six wins. That’s a significant step back for the program.
Syracuse: Syracuse is in free fall again. Last year, the Orange started 6-0 and then lost five straight before closing the regular season with a win. A loss in the bowl game followed, resulting in a 7-6 season. This year, the slide started earlier. Syracuse opened the season with four wins, but has since lost five straight and all but one of those losses have come by a double-digit margin. On Friday night, the Orange had four turnovers in a 17-10 home loss to Boston College. A bowl game is looking very unrealistic.
Baylor: Baylor has lost eight consecutive home games vs. FBS opponents. Not including the Week 3 win over FCS Long Island, the Bears haven’t beaten an FBS team in Waco in over a year. The last one was on Oct. 22, 2022, when BU beat Kansas, 35-23. The streak nearly ended on Saturday, but Houston won 25-24 with a two-point conversion in overtime. The Bears are now 4-5 and in danger of missing a bowl game.
Cincinnati: Cincinnati is the only Big 12 team without a conference win. The transition to the Power Five has been a rough one as the Bearcats fell to 2-7 overall and 0-6 in conference play in Year 1 under Scott Satterfield with a 28-26 home loss to UCF. Moving into a more difficult conference amid a coaching transition was never going to be easy, but it’s safe to say the Bearcats have been even worse than anticipated. UC lost despite putting up 515 yards of offense on Saturday and now will miss a bowl game for the first time since 2017.