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Playoff Picture - Week 7

by Aaron Lynn and Jonny Gaunt




#1 Georgia Bulldogs


Aaron: Georgia handled business at home against a tough Kentucky team. The defense was outstanding once again, and it's hard to imagine the Bulldogs would have much problem against any other team remaining on their schedule until they reach the SEC Title game. Sure, the Florida game is on the horizon, but I'm saying you can pencil Georgia into the SEC Title game and probably the Playoff too.

Jonny: We are still waiting to see what this Bulldog offense looks like when trailing. The truth is, we may not see that until the Playoff when the defense is truly tested. Kentucky had good fight, but did not have the offensive weapons to make Georgia sweat.


#2 Cincinnati Bearcats


Aaron: Cincinnati did their part in a blowout win over UCF and moved up to #2 following Iowa's upset loss to Purdue. The Bearcats must continue to handle their business and pray that the SEC, Big Ten, or Big 12 don't find a way to get two of their teams into the Playoff. As long as that doesn't happen (and there's still plenty of dominoes that need to follow to make sure it doesn't), then the path is there for UC to be the first Power 5 team in the Playoff. 

Jonny: If only this Bearcats team was in the Big 12 this season. They have decimated every conference opponent at this point and until a later date with SMU, that should continue. Style points absolutely matter for this team for every remaining game.


#3 Oklahoma Sooners


Aaron: It took the entire first half of the season, but it appears the Sooners have finally found their footing, thanks in large part to Caleb Williams stepping into the quarterback role. In theory, OU should coast for the next couple weeks until tough matchups against Iowa State and Oklahoma State. If the Sooners have aspirations of not only reaching the Playoff but finally winning a game, the defense simply must improve.

Jonny: Clearly, Caleb Williams should be the quarterback going forward for the Sooners. This team looks more explosive and reacts to his leadership qualities better. The main question will now return to whether Oklahoma has enough on defense to compete if they reach the Playoff, as they were once again exposed by TCU.


#4 Alabama Crimson Tide


Aaron: You knew the Tide were going to take out their anger on Mississippi State, and that's pretty much exactly what happened. Assuming Alabama doesn't get tripped up against LSU or Auburn, that loss to Texas A&M may simply be a tool for Saban to use to motivate his team. The next few weeks will be all about improving ahead of a likely clash of titans between this Tide team and the #1 Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC title.

Jonny: Nick Saban won't be satisfied, but the Crimson Tide looked refocused on defense, albeit against a one-dimensional Bulldog team. All of Alabama's goals are still in front of them if they can continue to improve on that side of the ball.


#5 Ohio State Buckeyes


Aaron: Even though the Buckeyes host Penn State on the 30th, I don't expect Ryan Day's team to overlook a tough Indiana team that gave Ohio State all they could handle last season. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they are riddled with injuries, which means that the Ohio State offense that has felt more and more comfortable in recent weeks should shine once again.

Jonny: Ohio State had a bye week before Indiana who challenged them in last year's matchup. Penn State and the Big Ten East gauntlet (including Michigan and Michigan State) await the reinvigorated Buckeyes who will look to defend their crown.

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#6 Michigan Wolverines

Aaron: We're about to see if Jim Harbaugh's team is a legitimate contender this year. Michigan will face the four best East teams in just five weeks following this week's matchup against Northwestern. The Wildcats have struggled this season following the loss of key seniors and other talent to the NFL, but could sneak up on the Wolverines if Michigan is too focused on a game against their in-state rivals Michigan State next week.

Jonny: Michigan has a tuneup game against Northwestern before the questions we've been asking all season will start to be answered. A win against Michigan State would go a long way to cool Harbaugh's coaching seat.

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#7 Penn State Nittany Lions


Aaron: The goal this week is to take care of business against Illinois and get healthy (especially quarterback Sean Clifford). Considering the Nittany Lions' lone loss occured against West opponent Iowa, Penn State would undoubtedly earn their first Playoff bid by winning out, but that's a tall task considering the opponents left on their schedule and an impossible task without Clifford.

Jonny: The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the wounded Nittany Lions. Hopefully Clifford will be healthy enough to play, as the offensive production clearly suffered in the loss to Iowa without him.

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#8 Oklahoma State Cowboys


Aaron: The Pokes claimed a big win over Texas on the road last week in dramatic fashion, and it's suddenly time to talk about Oklahoma State as a real option to win the Big 12. Still, it's odd to see the Cowboys leaning on their defense more than offense. Jaylen Warren has been a beast in the running game and should be considered a real Heisman contender. I have a feeling the warm, fuzzy feeling from this season will go away following a loss to unranked but favored Iowa State this week.

Jonny: Spencer Sanders simply has to be better at quarterback. While the Cowboys have one of those teams who seem to have nine lives, each week, a reckoning is coming if improvement doesn't come soon. Still, the Pokes put together a remarkable comeback against a damaged Longhorn team.

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#9 Michigan State Spartans


Aaron: The Spartans survived in an ugly game against Indiana. It wasn't pretty, but the name of the game is survival. No game will be as important as the huge rivalry showdown against Michigan following the bye week (happening this week for Sparty). Strap in folks, it should be a good one. Whatever happens the rest of this season, Mel Tucker should be coach of the year.

Jonny: Surviving road tests is one of the defining traits of a great team. The Spartans haven't faced stiff competition yet, but their improvement from last year on offense led by running back Kenneth Walker has been remarkable. Now, a bye week before a huge matchup with their in-state rival.


#10 Oregon Ducks


Aaron: Unfortunately, due to more and more mounting injuries, it's a matter of when, not if, the Ducks sustain their second loss of the season which would eliminate them from Playoff contention. I happen to think the "when" this week will be against UCLA on the road, the host of GameDay.

Jonny: Oregon has not looked remotely like the same team that knocked off the Buckeyes since that huge upset. Partly due to the cluster of injuries inflicted, the Ducks won't sniff the Playoff if they can't turn around the offense quickly.

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#12 Mississippi Rebels


Aaron: The Rebels escaped (literally) from Knoxville with a win amidst a very concerning and dangerous exhibition from Volunteers fans. Lost in the chaos is the fact that the Rebels are just one Alabama slip-up away from controlling their destiny in the West. Of course, that's a gigantic "if", but it's not impossible. More realistically, Ole Miss is eyeing a historic 11-1 season with a New Year's Six as a reward.

Jonny: Mustard, beer cans, and golf balls were just a few of the items thrown at the Ole Miss Rebels in what was a ridiculous finish on Rocky Top. What was lost in the mayhem was how great Matt Corral was both in the air and on the ground. If the Rebels keep fighting, they can still help him secure the Heisman and a NY6 Bowl.

Jonny's Week 7 Top 25

1. Georgia (7-0)

2. Cincinnati (6-0)

3. Oklahoma (7-0)

4. Ohio State (5-1)

5. Alabama (6-1)

6. Penn State (5-1)

7. Oregon (5-1)

8. Michigan (6-0)

9. Michigan State (7-0)

10. Oklahoma State (6-0)

11. Iowa (6-1)

12. Mississippi (5-1)

13. Kentucky (6-1)

14. Notre Dame (5-1)

15. Coastal Carolina (6-0)

16. Wake Forest (6-0)

17. Texas A&M (5-2)

18. Baylor (6-1)

19. NC State (5-1)

20. SMU (6-0)

21. Auburn (5-2)

22. Pittsburgh (5-1)

23. Purdue (4-2)

24. Utah (4-2)

25. Arizona State (5-2)

Heisman Standings


Matt Corral - QB

Ole Miss Rebels

1,728 YDS, 14 TD/1 INT

450 Rush YDS, 8 TD

Kenneth Walker - RB

Michigan State Spartans

997 YDS, 9 TD

Bryce Young - QB

Alabama Crimson Tide

2,082 YDS, 24 TD/3 INT

Desmond Ridder - QB

Cincinnati Bearcats

1,444 YDS, 13 TD/2 INT

118 Rush YDS, 3 TD

Kenny Pickett - QB

Pittsburgh Panthers

1,731 YDS, 19 TD/1 INT

142 Rush YDS, 2 TD


T. Henderson - RB - OSU

B. Robinson - RB - TEX

S. Clifford - QB - PSU

J. Williams - WR - BAMA

G. McCall - QB - CCU

C. Stroud - QB - OSU

J. Warren - RB - OKST

K. Brooks - RB - OU


Iowa - I know that technically the Hawkeyes could win out and have a real argument at a spot in the Playoff. But their 7-24 loss to Purdue showed me (Aaron) that there's no chance they win out, as that offense simply can't produce at a competitive level. The 4 or 5 turnovers produced by the defense in practically every game finally came to an end and the result was disastrous. Iowa can still salvage the season with a West title, but both Jonny and Aaron have serious doubts.

Kentucky - Yes, the Wildcats make this list, but make no mistake, UK could still be well on their way to one of their best seasons in conference history. An 11-1 record would certainly give them a spot in the New Year's Six and they could be the third-best team in the conference before it's all said and done. The Wildcats would need two Georgia losses to get back into Playoff contention and that simply won't happen.

On the Verge

#16 Wake Forest - Syracuse nearly knocked off the Demon Deacons a week before the Orange gave Clemson a run for their money. Now, Wake Forest heads to a challenging Army squad, where I believe we will see the end of the perfect run from the ACC's last undefeated team.

#14 Notre Dame - It's an uphill climb for the Fighting Irish considering there aren't a lot of quality win opportunities left on the schedule. Sure, there's the big rivalry against USC this week, but the Trojans might be lucky to sniff a bowl game this season. The Irish need Cincinnati to lose again and probably need additional chaos to have a chance.

#21 SMU/#24 UTSA - The honorary mention for two undefeated Group of 5 teams who, as it turns out, will be conference opponents in a few years.

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