It’s November, and the College Football Playoff rankings are coming up.
Michigan State will be the hot topic after recovering from a 16-point delay to beat Michigan 37-33 on Saturday. The Spartans are the only team unbeaten in the Big Ten, and a resume that includes a win without a conference in Miami cannot be overlooked. The Spartans have made their case to be a top-four team in the last standings, even if it comes at the expense of contenders like Cincinnati, Oregon and Ohio.
That last spot would be controversial in the first set of rankings. Sports News continues to rank these teams based on how the contenders are ranked. The first set of CFP ratings will be on Tuesday.
MORE: What to Know About Tuesday’s CFP Ratings
Each week, we’ll break down the playoff picture based on how we think the CFP will (or should) rank the top 10 teams. Unexpected future results:
Four in the college football playoffs
1 – Georgia (8-0)
Remaining table: Opposite Missouri, in Tennessee, opposite Charleston South, in Georgia Tech
There won’t be much to reveal in the top spot considering Georgia has four wins over the seeded teams. The Bulldogs continued their defensive dominance in a 34-7 win over Florida. Georgia turned three turnovers in the first half into a 24-0 lead at halftime, and the Florida TD didn’t score until the last quarter. Zamir White put his 42-yard TD final touch on a victory that brought the Bulldogs three turnovers. Quarterback Stetson Bennett continues to manage the attack, and Georgia won the SEC East Championship after Kentucky lost to Mississippi State.
2 – Oklahoma (9-0)
Remaining table: Bye, at Baylor, against Iowa, at Oklahoma
It took nine games and Texas Tech reeling, but it quickly unleashed a 52-21 blast in the Big 12. This was the Oklahoma team we’d been expecting to see all season. Freshman Caleb Williams made his broadcast by hitting 23 of 30 passes for 402 yards and six TDs. Recipients Marvin Mims Jr. (4 grabs, 135 yards, 2 TDs) and Mario Williams (5 grabs, 100 yards, TD) made the big plays, and Oklahoma didn’t need a football run. Williams appears as the best quarterback in FBS. Yes, we said it. Baylor and Oklahoma State should be ranked when Oklahoma plays them this weekend. They will have to maintain perfection given the four teams behind them.
3 – Alabama (7-1)
Remaining table: Opposite LSU, Opposite New Mexico State, Opposite Arkansas, In Auburn
Alabama had a farewell week to get ready for another November. Crimson Tide will likely take second place despite some objections. Miami, Florida and Ole Miss were ranked opponents at the time, however, Crimson Tide have their own set of rules. So what’s next? Alabama 30-3 November/December in the CFP era under Nick Saban, and that includes five flawless runs during the SEC Championship game. Three consecutive home games leading up to the Iron Bowl mean Alabama probably won’t fall out of this spot either.
4 – Michigan State (8-0)
Remaining table: In Purdue, opposite Maryland, in Ohio, opposite Pennsylvania
This is an argument Cincinnati may not be able to win. The Spartans boosted their rankings with a 37-33 win over rival Michigan, and they are the only unbeaten Big Ten remaining. That win weighs slightly more than Cincinnati’s win at Notre Dame, and the Spartans beat Indiana as well. Furthermore, Kenneth Walker III jumped back in the Heisman debate with 197 yards and five TDs. Spartans also have more meat left on the table. A big jump in the rankings is coming.
MORE: Questionable calls in the middle of the Michigan-Michigan State game
two out of
5 – Cincinnati (8-0)
Remaining table: Opposite Tulsa, In USF, Opposite SMU, In East Carolina
The Bearcats remained undefeated with a 31-12 victory over Tulane, a game in which Cincinnati was briefly behind in the second quarter. Desmond Reader recalibrated, however, and finished with 227 yards, three TDs and an interception. Cincinnati’s defense limited Tulane to a pass for 93 yards, and now the question became a matter of respect with the CFP. The Bearcats finished eighth in the preliminary classification last season. They can be ranked anywhere between #3 and #7, and we’ll split the teams into fifth.
6- Oregon (7-1)
Remaining table: In Washington vs. Washington State in Utah vs. Oregon
We wouldn’t be surprised if Ohio ranked ahead of Oregon despite the fact that the Ducks won 35-28 at Ohio Stadium on 9/11. 52-29 victory. Quarterback Anthony Brown passed for 307 yards and three TDs, and freshman Byron Cardwell rushed with seven stands for 127 yards and a TD. It’s the answer for CJ Verdell, who lost this season. Perhaps the Buckeyes will win a second match with the potential Pac-12 champion. Ohio probably has a better schedule, too. But this head-to-head rivalry is significant, and the ducks should be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes for now.
Four to watch
7- Ohio State (7-1)
Remaining table: In Nebraska, versus Purdue, versus Michigan State, in Michigan
Should the Buckeyes be ranked in the top four? If we’re going through talent and an “eye test,” maybe. However, Ohio State lost to Oregon and never had a top-ten win like Cincinnati. The Buckeyes scored a victory against a ranked opponent by defeating Penn State 33-24 at Ohio Stadium. CJ Stroud finished 305 passing yards and a TD, and freshman TreVeyon Henderson added 152 rushing yards and a TD. It was a three-point game heading into the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes may not like their place in the preliminary standings, but victories against Michigan State and Michigan will do the trick. The Big Ten champion will jump by one loss to the Bearcats. Would you do the same with ducks?
Bender: Ohio State’s monster might be too much for James Franklin
8. Michigan (7-1)
Remaining table: vs. Indiana, in Pennsylvania, vs. Maryland, in Ohio
Michigan could fall even more given that their best win on the road in Wisconsin. The Wolverines’ road to the Big Ten requires help after losing 37-33 to Michigan State on the road. A heavy loss from the point of view, the Wolverines blew a 16-point lead, and now this puts pressure on Big Ten rival East Penn State on the road ahead of the annual referendum against the Buckeyes. Jim Harbaugh is now 2-13 against the top 10, and letting one of them get away on Saturday would still be in a home game against Indiana.
Bender: Jim Harbaugh’s heat returned after broken leads at MSU
9. Wake Forest (8-0)
Remaining table: In North Carolina, opposite North Carolina, in Clemson, at Boston College
Deacons are the only ones undefeated in the ACC, the Power 5 conference, and they should be considered among the top 10 bills given this impeccable track record. The upside? Sam Hartmann continues to lead an impressive attack that has racked up at least 35 points per game this season. Hartmann passed for 402 yards and three TDs in a 45-7 blast against Duke. He has 860 passing yards and eight TDs in the last two weeks. What is the downside? Wake Forest has yet to beat a seeded opponent this season, and there may not be an opponent in the table. This can’t become a distraction as the North Carolina Tobacco Road Tour continues into Week 10.
10 – Notre Dame (7-1)
Remaining table: Opposite the Navy, in Virginia, opposite Georgia Tech, at Stanford
The Irish are not dead yet. Cincinnati would like to see the Irish top the top ten list. Notre Dame has three straight wins after a 44-34 win over North Carolina. The resume features just one win against a ranked team, a blowout of the neutral spot against Wisconsin, and the Irish barely have the look they deserve to be in the CFP. But at least they didn’t incur a second loss, as Ole Miss and Kentucky did at the Securities and Exchange Commission on Saturday. On that note, don’t be surprised if loser Texas A&M takes 10th place in the rankings based on this Alabama annoyance.