Playoff Picture - Week 6
by Aaron Lynn and Jonny Gaunt
#1 Georgia Bulldogs
Aaron: I can't believe I'm writing this but, Georgia did a good job of not overlooking an SEC West test in Auburn ahead of their big showdown against... Kentucky?? The SEC took a wild turn last week and Georgia can cement their top position even more with a win against the Wildcats.
Jonny: Auburn did expose some chinks in the armor of this Georgia team but lacked the playmakers to take advantage (few in the SEC or country do against this defense). The Bulldog offense gets a real challenge next week as Kentucky travels between the hedges.
#2 Iowa Hawkeyes
Aaron: Did Iowa only win this game because Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford got knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter? I'm not going to go that far because the defense is tremendous and creates turnovers seemingly at will, but it certainly helped. I personally don't necessarily believe Iowa is the second best team in college football, but at the same time they 100% deserve the #2 ranking. And, as long as they handle business, the Hawkeyes should be able to coast to the Big Ten Championship game.
Jonny: It wasn't pretty, but the Hawkeyes had just enough on offense to finish the job at home against Penn State. They will continue to lean on that NFL caliber secondary to suffocate opposing passing games. The path ahead is clear for Iowa to reach the Big Ten title game.
#3 Cincinnati Bearcats
Aaron: It's the highest ranking ever for the program (and absolutely deserved). Whoever says style points don't matter is wrong; UC will need them to get to the Playoff. They'll probably needs some help from other teams still, but as long as the Bearcats take care of business (which means blowing out inferior opponents like they did against Temple), they can make as good a case as any team.
Jonny: After such a big win for their program against Notre Dame last week, it was understandable that the Bearcats sleepwalked through the first half. The Bearcat defense held the Temple offense until the Bearcat offense woke up.
#4 Oklahoma Sooners
Aaron: I don't really know how, but somehow the Sooners keep on winning. It appears the Spencer Rattler era is over, but, for his sake and the sake of the team, let's hope he stays engaged. Maybe he'll have another shot similar to Jalen Hurts with Alabama in his final season. Meanwhile, it should be (key word "should") be four weeks before the Sooners face any kind of challenge.
Jonny: Without a doubt the wildest game of the season was played between Oklahoma and Texas. The Sooners benched Rattler and overcame a 21-point deficit in the Red River Rivalry. There are enormous concerns on both sides of the ball, but there certainly is something to be said about the resilience this team shows when their b ack is against the wall, which seems to happen on a weekly basis.
#5 Alabama Crimson Tide
Aaron: Few things are better than Twitter after an Alabama loss, especially when the team that hands the loss to Alabama is unranked. That being said, a reminder that, prior to last season, the Crimson Tide have had one SEC lost along the way to their last four national championships. In other words, it's a fun story, a great win for Texas A&M, but the Crimson Tide still control their destiny to the Playoff and will be extra motivated the remainder of the season.
Jonny: In the craziest day of this season yet, the Crimson Tide were blindsided by the 12th Man at College Station. Despite catching several breaks and a heroic effort from Williams at WR, the Aggies and QB Calzada would not be denied. We welcome chaos back to college football with open arms.
#6 Ohio State Buckeyes
Aaron: Ohio State has played next to nobody since their loss to Oregon. However, that has given young playmakers a chance to gain experience and C.J. Stroud is looking more and more confident and putting up scary numbers. OSU will use this bye week to prepare for a road trip to Indiana and then a big challenge at home against Penn State.
Jonny: Stroud and the Buckeyes are back on track as they have righted the ship before they enter the gauntlet of Big Ten play coming up. The defense still has room to improve, but count this team out of the Playoff discussions at your own risk.
#7 Penn State Nittany Lions
Aaron: The injury to quarterback Sean Clifford was worse than the loss at Iowa. Clifford was a legitimate Heisman candidate. Sure, the loss hurts, but that loss at Kinnick is arguably the "best" loss in terms of harm done to a Playoff resume. It does mean that Penn State would need to run the table against Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State, which seems unlikely at this point. If it does happen, the defense will lead the way.
Jonny: Losing to Iowa will be a tough pill to swallow for the Nittany Lions as their demise was in part due to Clifford going down in the first half. The defensive dam eventually broke late in the fourth quarter as Iowa was able to steal the game. Ultimately, without their QB, their goals maybe out of reach.
#8 Michigan Wolverines
Aaron: Michigan handled their most difficult opponent and test and have completed the first half of the season without a loss. We've seen this story plenty of times, and more often than not the Wolverines trip up down the stretch. The four-most difficult East teams still remain, so Jim Harbaugh, who was pumped after their win against Nebraska, will have plenty of chances to prove they belong.
Jonny: That was not the same Cornhusker team who lost to Illinois in Week 0. The Wolverines survived, albeit with some good fortune, which has utterly escaped Nebraska. Still, much like the Sooners, this run-dominant team continues to win, which is all that matters at the end of the day.
#9 Oregon Ducks
Aaron: Oregon's playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread. Considering star running back CJ Verdell is out for the season with an injury, that thread continues to get thinner and thinner. If the Ducks do manage to run the table, that Week 2 win against the Buckeyes in Columbus will be a lifesaver. That possibility seems extremely unlikely due to mounting injuries and a extremely weak conference.
#10 Michigan State Spartans
Aaron: Give all the credit in the world to Mel Tucker. He has the Spartans in the Top 10 and has doubled the wins I predicted. I'm not going to say Michigan State hasn't faced anybody, but certainly the biggest challenges will present themselves in the coming weeks. A road trip to Indiana should be intriguing next week. Oh, and Kenneth Walker is still running.
Jonny: Sparty looks plenty explosive to have a shot against anyone in the vaunted Big Ten East. While they haven't played any heavy hitters yet, they have taken care of business like a contender should.
#11 Kentucky Wildcats
Aaron: There's some 2007 vibes going on and those vibes will be confirmed if Kentucky can get what might be their biggest win in school history with a win on the road against #1 Georgia. That win would legitimately vault the Wildcats into the Top 5. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but Kentucky has looked really good so far this season.
Jonny: Clearly the defense carries Mark Stoops' team. However, it has been the recent revelation on offense that makes this team so dangerous to the SEC titans in their path. A chance to throw the SEC into total chaos looms with a potential upset against Georgia.
#12 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Aaron: The Cowboys are undefeated, and their win against Boise State on the "Smurf Turf" is beginning to look better and better. They'll take on their biggest challenge yet with a road trip against a Texas team who you would think would be pretty angry after that wild loss to Oklahoma. The defense has historically been the Achilles' heel of seasons past, we'll see if that happens again.
Jonny: After early season struggles on offense, the Pokes have slowly improved while lead by their defense. Now, this team had the bye week to prepare for a showdown against the Longhorns. Perhaps this team can finally answer the Sooners and win the Big 12 title that has eluded them.
Jonny's Week 4 Top 25
1. Georgia (6-0)
2. Iowa (6-0)
3. Cincinnati (5-0)
4. Oklahoma (6-0)
5. Kentucky (6-0)
6. Ohio State (5-1)
7. Alabama (5-1)
8. Oregon (4-1)
9. Penn State (5-1)
10. Michigan (6-0)
11. Michigan State (6-0)
12. Oklahoma State (5-0)
13. Mississippi (4-1)
14. Notre Dame (5-1)
15. Arizona State (5-1)
16. Coastal Carolina (6-0)
17. Wake Forest (6-0)
18. Arkansas (4-2)
19. Texas A&M (4-2)
20. Florida (4-2)
21. BYU (5-1)
22. NC State (4-1)
23. SMU (6-0)
24. Baylor (5-1)
25. Texas (4-2)
Arkansas - The Razorbacks ended up on the wrong end of a shootout against Ole Miss. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, Pittman has Arkansas trending in the right direction.
Texas - Prior to a meltdown against Oklahoma, the Longhorns were trending up, especially considering that big loss to Arkansas didn't look so bad considering the success of the Razorbacks. That all came crashing down and we'll see how the Longhorns respond.
BYU - I know we never had the Cougars on our list of actual contenders, but a loss to Boise State spoiled any chance for absolute chaos if BYU were to win out. There's still enough Power 5 opponents for the Cougars to crash the NY6 scene though, beginning with a game against Baylor.
On the Verge
#15 Coastal Carolina - I don't foresee any situation where Coastal can crash the Playoff, but that doesn't mean they aren't an excellent team with serious NY6 aspirations.
#16 Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons won't face a true test until they are likely 9-0. That's not a given considering they needed overtime to beat Syracuse. Still, it's an entertaining story and quite literally the last gasp of the ACC Playoff hopes.
#14 Notre Dame - The Fighting Irish don't have a championship game to gain another key victory like one-loss Ohio State, Alabama, and Oregon do. But, in the off-chance that utter chaos breaks lose, expect Notre Dame to be in the discussion as long as the Irish run the table.
#18 Arizona State - The loss against BYU took a hit with the Cougars loss, but the real issue is a lack of opportunity to claim big wins the rest of the season compared to other one-loss teams. Quite frankly, the PAC-12 is very bad, and that hurts the Sun Devils.
#23 SMU/UTSA - No, there's really no Playoff hopes for either of these undefeated teams, but let's just take a minute to talk about how Texas is the third-best college football team in Texas (and maybe fourth if they lose to Baylor).