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Playoff Picture - Week 8

by Aaron Lynn and Jonny Gaunt

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Contenders

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#1 Georgia Bulldogs

 

Aaron: The regular season comes down to the annual rivalry against Florida. I'm anticipating the Bulldogs to take care of business, but in a rivalry game, anything is possible. The Florida QB duo of Emery Jones and Anthony Richardson are talented but prone to turnovers.

Jonny: A bye week before the "World's Largest Cocktail Party" should ensure the Bulldogs are prepared for their last real test before the SEC title game against what should be Alabama. The Gators will be the best offense Georgia has faced so far this season.

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#2 Cincinnati Bearcats

 

Aaron: Cincinnati struggled against a gritty Navy team which is a problem for a team that needs every bit of help they can get (including blowing out opponents). Thankfully for the Bearcats, Oklahoma's near loss and the losses from Oklahoma State and Penn State took away the spotlight. Time to regroup for UC.

Jonny: For the first time this season, the Bearcats struggled against an inferior opponent, in this case, Navy. When style points are critical, this was not great for Cincinnati. However, they survived and now it's time to advance.

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#3 Alabama Crimson Tide

 

Aaron: The offense is as explosive as ever, but Tennessee showed some definite issues with the Bama defense. A bye week and then a date against New Mexico State (which is basically another bye week) should get the Tide set for their final two games against Arkansas and Auburn. 

Jonny: Tennessee was able to push the Tide for three quarters, but were eventually overwhelmed by the offensive tidal wave. Clearly, there are issues with the Alabama defense and while Young has been great at QB, there are extended freshman moments that occur.

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#4 Oklahoma Sooners

 

Aaron: Oklahoma was literally a spot away from quite possibly losing to one of football's most disparaged teams in the last decade, Kansas. The biggest issue continues to be the defense. Kansas was able to dominate time of possession and kept the OU offense on the field. As great as Caleb  Williams will probably be in his career, his is extremely inexperienced and mistakes sometimes follow. It could have been a disaster, but at the end of the day, the Sooners are still undefeated and still have a straight shot to the Playoff.

Jonny: We all thought Oklahoma's problems were solved with Williams at quarterback, right? Wrong. This defense is still awful and they perhaps should have lost to one of the worst Power 5 teams in the country. The Sooners take great joy in making easy games look really difficult. They will pay eventually.

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#5 Ohio State Buckeyes

 

Aaron: The development of C.J. Stroud has been impressive. He connected on some beautiful passes against Indiana and with a strong rushing attack led by TreyVon Henderson. The offense faces a tough challenge against a Penn State defense that hasn't allowed more than two touchdowns in a game all season. If the defensive line continues to create chaos, it could be a long day for QB Sean Clifford.

Jonny: This may be the best team in the country outside of Georgia. The Buckeyes just haven't faced the opponents to prove it in after the loss to Oregon. While the offense is incredible, it's the defensive improvement that should raise eyebrows around the country.

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#6 Michigan Wolverines

Aaron: Harbaugh has really struggled in big games as coach of the Wolverines. Michigan could be in for another painful reminder if Harbaugh can't guide his undefeated squad against their undefeated state rivals Michigan State. At some point, the offense will need to step up (specifically, the passing game). 

Jonny: Special teams and defense continue to lead the Wolverines against inferior opponents. Michigan will finally have the opportunity to make a statement that they are to be taken serious while traveling to their fellow top ten in-state rival. The offense will have to make plays to keep up with the Spartan's offense.

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#7 Oregon Ducks

 

Aaron: After several weeks of sheer survival, the Ducks put together a good win at UCLA. Injury issues means that there is still concerns for Oregon moving forward. However, the PAC-12 is relatively week, and if Oregon wins out, they will have a real argument at the Playoff, where that early season win over Ohio State might be the difference.

Jonny: Oregon plays to the level of their competition, but are capable of so much more. Defeating the Bruins on the road gives the Ducks complete control of the PAC-12 and allows them to remain the conference's only hope. Brown needs to eliminate critical errors and create more plays earlier in the game if they are going to survive their schedule.

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#8 Michigan State Spartans

 

Aaron: Mel Tucker and company had a bye week to prepare for the Wolverines. State gets the benefit of hosting this rivalry and will need their offense to have a season-best game considering the strength of the Michigan defense. That being said, if the Spartans can slow down the rushing attack of the opposition, they could be very successful.

Jonny: Michigan State will have the advantage of preparing to host Michigan with a bye. The upstart Spartans can go from a nice story to legitimate contenders in just one win, now that Penn State is out of the mix in the Big Ten.

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#10 Mississippi Rebels

 

Aaron: The Rebels are just waiting for Alabama to slip up. If that happens, Ole Miss could control their destiny all the way to the playoff. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely, but anything is possible. In the meantime, the Matt Corral Heisman campaign continues.

Jonny: Matt Corral continues to impress and leads the Heisman conversation. If only Ole Miss could have another shot at the struggling Alabama defense. The fact of the matter is, unless the Tide lose again, it will be extremely tough for the Rebels to get into the playoff conversation.

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#13 Wake Forest Demon Deacons

 

Aaron: Remember a few weeks ago we said the Demon Deacons were the 0.1% chance that the ACC had to get into the Playoff? Well, they are still hanging around at 7-0, and, as the rest of the conference continues to fall apart, their chances look better and better. Wake Forest hung 70 points in less than 20 minutes of possession against Army last week, so that's something. Do I think Wake Forest can actually complete an undefeated season? No I don't, and even if they do Cincinnati has an argument their strength of schedule is better. Still, until Wake Forest loses, we have no choice but to add them here.

Jonny: This team is the potential wrench in the system. Despite the Black Knights' best efforst, the Demon Deacons passing attack was too much to overcome. Wake is undefeated and warrants playoff contention as long as they continue to remain so. Each week that passes will make the selection committee sweat a little more.

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#15 Oklahoma State Cowboys

 

Aaron: The undefeated season is no more. Still, the playoff chances aren't completely gone. To get there, it likely means the Cowboys would need back-to-back wins over Oklahoma, and considering the Pokes' struggles in Bedlam, that seems extremely unlikely. 

Jonny: A controversial ending spoiled the Pokes' undefeated season, but they had it coming. You can only play with fire so long before it burns you, and in this case everyone told you so. Saunders has to be more consistent throwing the ball or this team won't even make the Big 12 title game.

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#16 Baylor Bears

 

Aaron: Look, if Oklahoma State is on this list as a Big 12 team with one loss, then you kind of have to put the Baylor Bears on the list as well. This is especially true since Oklahoma State, Baylor's only loss, lost their first game, which means that technically, another Cowboys loss means that Baylor controls their own destiny. Don't sleep on Baylor, who does host Oklahoma later in the year.

Jonny: Perhaps the most well-rounded team in the Big 12, Baylor all of a sudden has an excellent opportunity to make a run at the Big 12 Title. Already getting past Iowa State, the Bears will get their shot at the Sooners, which could be a title game preview.

Jonny's Week 8 Top 25

1. Georgia (7-0)

2. Cincinnati (7-0)

3. Ohio State (5-1)

4. Alabama (7-1)

5. Oklahoma (8-0)

6. Oregon (6-1)

7. Michigan (7-0)

8. Michigan State (7-0)

9. Mississippi (6-1)

10. Iowa (6-1)

11. Oklahoma State (6-1)

12. Kentucky (6-1)

13. Notre Dame (6-1)

14. Wake Forest (7-0)

15. Texas A&M (6-2)

16. Baylor (6-1)

17. Pittsburgh (6-1)

18. SMU (7-0)

19. Penn State (5-2)

20. Auburn (5-2)

21. Iowa State (5-2)

22. San Diego State (7-0)

23. Coastal Carolina (6-1)

24. UTSA (8-0)

25. Arizona State (5-2)

Heisman Standings

 

Matt Corral - QB

Ole Miss Rebels

1,913 YDS, 15 TD/1 INT

474 Rush YDS, 9 TD

Kenneth Walker - RB

Michigan State Spartans

997 YDS, 9 TD

Bryce Young - QB

Alabama Crimson Tide

2,453 YDS, 26 TD/3 INT

Kenny Pickett - QB

Pittsburgh Panthers

2,236 YDS, 23 TD/1 INT

195 Rush YDS, 3 TD

Desmond Ridder - QB

Cincinnati Bearcats

1,620 YDS, 15 TD/3 INT

Others:

C. Stroud - QB - OSU

J. Williams - WR - BAMA

T. Henderson - RB - OSU

B. Robinson - RB - TEX

ELIMINATED

Penn State - In the longest college football game ever, the Penn State offense completely stalled against Illinois. A second loss means the Nittany Lions are out. A win against Ohio State and winning out still could mean a New Year's Six,  but it seems that Penn State is trending down, and is James Franklin looking for greener pastures?

On the Verge

#9 Iowa - Sure, if Iowa wins out, they probably end up in the Playoff. However, I am so confident that the offense will prevent them from doing so that I don't consider Iowa to be a true contender.

#14 Notre Dame - It's hard to believe, but Notre Dame's schedule just isn't good enough to overcome a loss in which they were dominated by the Bearcats at home. The lack of consistency at QB has hurt the Irish, but they deserve credit for finding ways to win in spite of controversy.

#19 SMU/#21 San Diego State/#23 UTSA - A special shoutout to our beloved undefeated Power 5 teams.

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