Sport Ranking the College Football Teams Most Likely to Enter December Unbeaten
Winners and losers in College Football Playoff first rankings include Big Ten and Clemson
The College Football Playoff committee released its first rankings of the seasons. There were winners and losers including the Big Ten and Clemson.Another two SEC teams, No. 10 Florida and No. 11 Auburn, led all two-loss Power Five teams and even led unbeaten Baylor, due to the Bears’ weaker strength of schedule. The Big Ten put two teams into the top four, including No. 1 Ohio State, while the Pac-12 saw its two frontrunners, No. 7 Oregon and No. 8 Utah, seeded in position to take advantage of any chaos from the SEC, Big Ten and ACC.
Just seven undefeated college football teams remain after SMU lost at Memphis on Saturday night.
Those seven programs come from four different conferences and there are still three upcoming games in the regular season between those seven currently undefeated teams, so at the most, there will be no more than five undefeated teams left in the sport prior to conference title games.
Last month, webased on the likelihood that their perfect record would survive October. We correctly forecasted Clemson (No. 2 in our rankings), Alabama (No. 3) and Ohio State (No. 5), while whiffing on Georgia (No. 1) and being too low on Penn State (No. 15).
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Now we’ll do the same exercise for the month of November. Since Week 10 included two undefeated teams playing on Halloween night, we’ll define the game weeks in the month of November as Week 11 through Week 14.
We’re trying to answer the following question: Based on the next four weeks, which of the remaining undefeated teams are most likely to still be undefeated on December 1?
7. Minnesota (8-0)
With all due respect to Minnesota’s undefeated start, we’re going to sell short on the Gophers’ chances of entering the Big Ten Championship with a perfect record. They host No. 5 Penn State on Saturday, travel to No. 18 Iowa the week after that and host No. 16 Wisconsin in their season finale.
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That’s a worst-case scenario of a 9-3 regular season and missing the Big Ten Championship despite their current two-game lead in the Big Ten West with four games left. The SP+ rankings are higher on Penn State (by 4.6 points) and Wisconsin (1.5 points) than Minnesota, so even though the Gophers will host both schools, advanced analytics say they’re probably not as good as those two opponents.
Penn State opened as a 6.5-point favorite over Minnesota, according to Vegas Insider, so there’s a good chance the Gophers’ undefeated season comes to an end on Saturday, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they lose to at least one of Iowa or Wisconsin.
6. Penn State (8-0)
Maybe you could make the case that Penn State deserves to be last on this list because the Nittany Lions are the only remaining undefeated team that has to travel to face two of the other remaining undefeated teams this month. They go to Minnesota in Week 11 and play at Ohio State in Week 13.
AP Top 25: LSU landslide No. 1; Minnesota jumps into top 10
LSU is an overwhelming No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll after beating Alabama in a 1-2 matchup, and Minnesota moved into the top 10 for the first time in 57 years. After two weeks of historically close voting at the top of poll, LSU received 54 first-place votes in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank. Ohio State was No. 2 with five first-place votes and Clemson was third with three first-place votes. Alabama fell two spots to No. 4. RELATED: POLLSGeorgia was fifth, followed by Oregon and Minnesota at No. 7. The Gophers won Saturday's other matchup of unbeaten teams, defeating Penn State at home. The Nittany Lions slipped four spots to No. 9.No.
Sandwiched in between is a home game against Indiana, which is knocking on the door of being ranked and won’t be a push-over. Even if Penn State is the second-best team in the Big Ten East (and the conference overall), the SP+ rankings see Ohio State as being 9.3 points better, which doesn’t include the home-field advantage of the Horseshoe.
5. Baylor (8-0)
The Bears finish the regular season with three games against top-35 opponents, according to the SP+ rankings, most notably No. 9 Oklahoma in Week 12. They have two road games left – at TCU in Week 11 and at Kansas in Week 14 – with a pair of home games against the Big 12’s two biggest brands – Oklahoma and Texas – sandwiched in between.
On a game-by-game basis, that’s a navigable schedule. Sure, from a single-game viewpoint, Baylor could win at TCU, it could upset Oklahoma at home and it could beat a disappointing and injured Texas team.
But can the Bears win all three of those games in consecutive weeks?
It’s unlikely, but if they do, they could earn their– topping the No. 5 ranking they earned in 2014.
AP Top 25: Georgia edges past Alabama to No. 4; OU up to 8
Georgia edged past Alabama to No. 4 in The Associated Press college football poll after the Bulldogs had a quality road victory and the Crimson Tide lost star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the season. LSU remained No. 1 in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank, receiving 54 first-places votes. No. 2 Ohio State (five first-place votes) and No. 3 Clemson (three first-place votes) maintained their spots. Georgia moved up one place after winning 21-14 at Auburn.
4. LSU (8-0)
Is it unfair, or at the very least unwise, to have the AP poll’s No. 1 team this low in the rankings?
Well, we’ll find out on Saturday. Among national title contenders (sorry, Minnesota), only Oklahoma and Oregon’s defenses ranks worse (No. 30 and No. 19, respectively) in the SP+ rankings than LSU’s defense (No. 18), and the Tigers travel on Saturday to face a rival that they haven’t beaten in almost a decade, so it’s OK to be cautious about LSU’s chances of going 12-0.
The Tigers opened as a seven-point underdog to the Crimson Tide, according to Vegas Insider.
LSU’s second-toughest remaining game is at home against Texas A&M, which beat LSU 74-72 after seven overtimes last season, but the SP+ rankings see the Tigers as almost a 14-point favorite on a neutral field, so Alabama is likely the only game left on the Tigers’ schedule that should be a serious challenge.
An 11-1 LSU team could still potentially make the College Football Playoff, so we’re not selling on the Tigers, just potentially their chances of going 12-0.
3. Alabama (8-0)
The Crimson Tide will host No. 1 LSU this weekend, and Alabama opened as a seven-point favorite, according to Vegas Insider. The SP+ rankings see the Crimson Tide as 4.5 points better on a neutral field, so the sharps and the computers say that Alabama is the better team.
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Sporting News sizes up Week 10. Can Trevor Lawrence make a late run at the Heisman Trophy?The biggest game is a SEC East clash between No. 6 Florida and No. 8 Georgia (3:30 p.m., CBS). That battle of one-loss teams will serve as a College Football Playoff elimination game. The prime-time matchup between No. 15 SMU and No. 25 Memphis (7:30 p.m., ABC) has huge implications for the Group of 5 representative in the New Year's Day Six.
That all depends on the health and availability of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. (If it doesn’t depend on Tua, who hypothetically somehow doesn’t play Saturday and Alabama’s offense is just as lethal with Mac Jones, then the rest of the country better watch out.)
LSU hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2011, which is pretty crazy for a rivalry of this magnitude, so this year’s data and recent historical trends suggest that the Crimson Tide will win this year.
But that’s far from a guarantee.
Alabama closes the season at No. 12 Auburn, which has a top-10 defense and has beaten the Crimson Tide twice in the last six years.
2. Ohio State (8-0)
It speaks to the dominance of the Buckeyes that they can close the regular season against two top-15 teams that are probably the second- and third-best teams in the division, including one on the road, and they still have an excellent shot at going 12-0.
The next two weeks should be a cake walk. Ohio State opened as a 44-point favorite (!) over Maryland this week, and if you think that’s a big spread, just wait until the Buckeyes go to Rutgers in Week 12.
Then it’s the two big ones: home against currently undefeated Penn State and at Michigan. ESPN’s FPI currently gives Ohio State an 80.5 percent chance of victory against the Nittany Lions and an 80.8 percent chance in Ann Arbor. So not only would the computers expect Ohio State to finish 12-0, they’d say it would probably take five games against both of the Buckeyes’ last two opponents for them to lose once to either.
1. Clemson (9-0)
If you’re still referencing Clemson’s narrow win over North Carolina, you need to get a new talking point.
No. 13 Minnesota stays unbeaten by taking down No. 5 Penn State
Minnesota continued its surprising season as the 13th-ranked Golden Gophers beat No. 5 Penn State in a matchup of Big Ten unbeatens.But the Golden Gophers pulled another surprise during a surprising season that has the 13th-ranked team in the country at 9-0 with a 31-26 defeat of the Nittany Lions.
No, the defending national champs haven’t faced a murderers’ row of opponents, but they’ve won each of their last four games by at least 31 points. Maybe Trevor Lawrence hasn’t lived up to his billing as the Heisman Trophy frontrunner but the Tigers are currently No. 5 in the SP+ rankings with the No. 7 offense and No. 5 defense.
They only have three games left – at NC State in Week 11, home against No. 22 Wake Forest in Week 12, a bye week, then a road trip to South Carolina. Maybe one of those last two games, if not both, are at least competitive for a quarter or two but the Demon Deacons rank No. 46 in SP+ so you can argue they’re maybe not as good as their record, and the Gamecocks, despite beating Georgia on the road, are a fringe top-40 team, according to SP+.
Prepare yourself for a 13-0 Clemson team being in the College Football Playoff once again.
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Penn State is favored on the road at Minnesota in the other battle of unbeatens this weekOct 26, 2019; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron celebrates with players after defeating the Auburn Tigers 23-20 at Tiger Stadium.
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