Playoff Picture - Week 4
by Aaron Lynn and Jonny Gaunt
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Aaron: Two weeks removed from a less-than-comfortable win at Florida, the Crimson Tide face their next big test against the Rebels. Matt Corral is the current Heisman favorite by our count and Alabama will need to slow him down. If they do, it might mean that Bama QB Bryce Young takes that top spot.
Jonny: Alabama got back to their dominant ways as WR Jameson Williams continues to shine on offense and special teams. The pesky Rebels are next and with it the toughest test of the season for the Tide defense.
#2 Georgia Bulldogs
Aaron: Georgia will welcome Gameday in their showdown against the Razorbacks. Considering that Clemson has fallen apart, the Bulldogs still have something to prove in my mind, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and will have every opportunity to do so on Saturday.
Jonny: As Georgia continues to overwhelm inferior teams, there is finally a real test emerging in Arkansas. In what should be the hardest hitting game of the season, the Bulldogs have a chance to prove they're Alabama's biggest threat in the SEC.
#3 Oregon Ducks
Aaron: "Help me Oregon, you're my only hope." -The PAC-12. I'm just going to keep writing this until Oregon faces a tough PAC-12 opponent, which is... almost an oxymoron? That being said, don't sleep on Stanford, especially when the Ducks have to travel.
Jonny: Oregon is truly on an island in the PAC-12. While the Ducks may have been solid in their last outings, they have lacked the explosiveness needed on offense to be a true Playoff threat.
#4 Penn State Nittany Lions
Aaron: I'm actually putting Penn State on upset alert this week against Indiana. Hoosiers QB Michael Penix Jr. looked more like his old self after he spent most of the offseason recovering from a torn ACL. If he is on his game, I worry that Penn State doesn't have the offense to keep up. Of course, if we see the Sean Clifford we saw against Auburn, Penn State can beat anybody.
Jonny: The Nittany Lions spent the weekend taking it easy against an FCS team in a very SEC-like fashion. Indiana is next, but the Hawkeyes loom in what would be a massive Big Ten collision next week.
Jonny's Week 4 Top 25
1. Alabama (4-0)
2. Georgia (4-0)
3. Oregon (4-0)
4. Iowa (4-0)
5. Penn State (4-0)
6. Cincinnati (3-0)
7. Oklahoma (4-0)
8. Notre Dame (4-0)
9. Arkansas (4-0)
10. Ohio State (3-1)
11. Mississippi (3-0)
12. Florida (3-1)
13. Michigan (4-0)
14. Texas A&M (3-1)
15. BYU (4-0)
16. Baylor (4-0)
17. Fresno State (4-1)
18. Coastal Carolina (4-0)
19. UCLA (3-1)
20. Maryland (4-0)
21. Oklahoma State (4-0)
22. Michigan State (4-0)
23. Boston College (4-0)
24. NC State (3-1)
25. Wake Forest (4-0)
#5 Iowa Hawkeyes
Aaron: It was a very inauspicious win for the Hawkeyes over lowly Colorado State. I 100% agree with Jonny, a Friday night trap game at undefeated Maryland could be very interesting, and if I'm putting Penn State on upset alert I might as well add Iowa to that list too. (Although for the sake of the game next week I'm rooting for both teams to win).
Jonny: Iowa continues their habit of playing to the level of their opponent. However, once again, this Hawkeye defense is phenomenal and will give them a fighting chance against anyone. A major trap game at night in Maryland this week is on the way.
#6 Oklahoma Sooners
Aaron: The Sooners are still undefeated... for now. But major progress will need to be made in order to stay that way. Fans voiced their displeasure of the QB play from Spencer Rattler, the preseason Heisman favorite. Kansas State has had the Sooners' number the past two seasons and the discontentment from fans will be deafening if OU drops this game a week before the Red River Rivalry.
Jonny: In a frenzied home match against Auburn, QB Sean Clifford finally stepped up and showed he is capable of taking the Lion offense to the next level and could perhaps guide Penn State to win the Big Ten East.
#7 Cincinnati Bearcats
Aaron: If Cincinnati wants to become the first Group of 5 team to make the Playoff, a win (and perhaps even a convincing win) is absolutely necessary in South Bend against the Fighting Irish.
Jonny: The trip to Bloomington had been circled on the Bearcats' schedule for a year. After a slow start for the offense, the Bearcats rallied for an impressive victory against a better-than-their-record Hoosier team.
#8 Arkansas Razorbacks
Aaron: I had Arkansas pegged dead-last in their division in the preseason (as did many media members), and here they are at #8 fresh off a win against Texas A&M. College football is amazing. Now they head to Georgia in a big SEC showdown (who knew?). A win would likely vault Arkansas into the Top 5.
Jonny: The surprise team of the season now owns the state of Texas and with it perhaps the most impressive resume of the season so far. The Hogs have been tougher and more physical in every game this season, but that won't be true this weekend in Athens.
#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Aaron: Notre Dame ran up the score late against Wisconsin to claim their first big win of the season. Now comes a daunting test against Cincinnati, who had a bye week to prepare for the game. Can Notre Dame put together back-to-back Top 25 victories? If so, there's a distinct possibility the Irish can run the table the rest of the regular season.
Jonny: Notre Dame finally looked like the top ten team many believed they could be as their defense dominated against the turnover prone Wisconsin. The Bearcats now come to town for the Irish's toughest test yet.
#10 Florida Gators
Aaron: A win over Tennessee just means another win on the way to the de facto East championship game against Georgia on October 30th. The Playoff picture will obviously clear up for the Gators following that game.
Jonny: The Gators struggled to get going early against Tennessee, but eventually got their footing to rebound after the tight loss to the Tide a week ago. With a very manageable schedule, all of Florida's goals still lay in front of them.
#11 Ohio State Buckeyes
Aaron: Yes, Ohio State finally got a blowout win, but it was against Akron. We'll have to wait for better competition to determine what growth, if any, is occurring on this team. OSU did get Kyle McCord experience filling in for an injured C.J. Stroud.
Jonny: Even against one of the worst teams in the country, Ohio State still had some personnel issues on defense as a player quit mid-game. The Buckeyes enter the Big 10 schedule bleeding, and the sharks are starting to circle.
#12 Mississippi Rebels
Aaron: Can Lane Kiffin beat his former team in Alabama where he was an offensive coordinator? Probably not, but boy will this game be entertaining. (But, in the off chance they do pull of the upset, you might as well just hand the Heisman to Matt Corral).
Jonny: The Rebels high powered offense with Heisman contender Matt Corral have yet to be tested this season. In a matchup with the potential to shakeup the SEC West race, they go up against their old Crimson foe.
Clemson - The Tigers offense has been abysmal and NC State got the best of Clemson to effectively eliminate them, and perhaps the rest of the ACC, from the Playoff. Can Dabo salvage the season and still guide Clemson to another ACC Title?
Iowa State - Despite outgaining the Baylor Bears by 200 yards on Saturday, the Cyclones could not get a key road win and saw their Playoff hopes slip from their hands. A Big 12 Championship is still in reach however, and could further descend the Playoff discussion into chaos.
Wisconsin - It seemed unlikely that the Badgers offense was going to improve enough to get them to the Playoff and that was proven in a loss to Notre Dame.
On the Verge
#13 BYU - If Cincinnati loses at Notre Dame, all of the sudden the Cougars get the full spotlight as the most likely Group of 5 Playoff crasher. They'll have enough Power 5 wins to build a resume if they go undefeated, but we'd argue that they'll need to add some style points as well along the way.
#14 Michigan - Could this finally be the year for Harbaugh to breakthrough and win the Big Ten? It's tough to tell, considering the Wolverines haven't truly been tested.
#16 Coastal Carolina - The Chants will make the "verge" list as long as they are undefeated. It's hard to see them actually in the Playoff scenario given their schedule, however.
#19 Oklahoma State/#21 Baylor - Oklahoma has serious flaws, which means that one of these two teams could move up the rankings quickly, especially considering these two undefeated programs play each other this week. An undefeated Big 12 team gets in the Playoff regardless of the program, right?... right?
#24 Wake Forest - There's a 99.9% chance the ACC is eliminated from the Playoff (in September, no less). The Demon Deacons are the 0.1%.