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Yep, this college football season has fewer contenders than usual. Look on the bright side!

This could mean one hell of a Playoff.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Four of five power conferences have one unbeaten team, and the top teams in the polls — Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, Washington, Louisville, Ohio State — align with stats and eyeballs.

There was a usurper of sorts last week, in that Texas A&M was ranked fourth by the CFP committee but hadn’t matched that standard per either computer rankings or general sentiment. Mississippi State took care of that outlier with a 35-28 victory.

As things stand ahead of new Playoff rankings, the top six teams in the AP are also the top six teams in the S&P+ rankings. The order is slightly different, but the cluster is the same.

That isn’t typically the case. In 2015, for instance, only four of the AP top six were in the S&P+ top six. In 2014, it was only three.

Typically by this point, there is disagreement between numbers and polls. A team like 2015 Iowa or 2014 Florida State is undefeated despite iffy peripherals, while a team like 2014 Oklahoma or 2015 Michigan grades out well but gets dinged in the polls because of an unlucky bounce. But sometimes stats, eyeballs, and loss columns all match up neatly.

At the moment, that means an extremely shallow pool of CFP contenders.

After 10 weeks, only seven teams in the AP top 25 are either unbeaten or one-loss power-conference teams. That is by far the lowest since 2009.

AP top 25 makeup

(Note: I’m using AP polls instead of CFP rankings, because this week’s CFP rankings aren’t out yet and the CFP rankings have only existed for two years. I wanted a larger sample.)

From 2013-15, there were between 13 and 15 such teams at this point in the season. From 2010-12, there were between nine and 11. You have to go back seven years to find another instance like this.

Here’s the AP top 10 after 10 weeks of the 2009 season. What can we learn from this?

  1. Florida (9-0)
  2. Texas (9-0)
  3. Alabama (9-0)
  4. TCU (9-0)
  5. Cincinnati (9-0)
  6. Boise State (9-0)
  7. Georgia Tech (9-1)
  8. Pitt (8-1)
  9. LSU (7-2)
  10. Ohio State (8-2)

First, let’s take a moment to marvel at this list.

The only one-loss teams in the title race were Georgia Tech and Pitt. The only other one-loss teams in the top 15 were No. 13 Houston and No. 15 Iowa.

Meanwhile, you had two or three unbeaten non-powers. TCU and Boise State were in the Mountain West and WAC, respectively, and Cincinnati was in the Big East, typically considered the weakest BCS conference. Even if you counted Brian Kelly’s Bearcats as an undefeated power program, that still only gives you seven such teams with zero or one loss.

At the end of the regular season, Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinnati, and Boise State remained undefeated, and only a single power-conference team had one loss: Florida, which had lost to Alabama in the SEC title game. This would have been a fascinating test for a Playoff committee. There would have been almost no choice but to select a mid-major, two if you count Cincinnati.

That won’t be the case this year.

Only Western Michigan remains unbeaten from the Group of 5 ranks, and the Broncos have no chance of moving up much in the committee’s eyes. But in 2009, TCU and Boise State had built years of goodwill.

We usually end up with one or two undefeated teams. It seems increasingly likely that we’re going to end up with a few this year, as in 2009.

  • With LSU in the rear-view, Alabama now has a 76 percent chance of reaching 12-0, per S&P+, and will have at least an 87 percent chance of winning the SEC title game.
  • S&P+ gives Clemson an 80 percent chance of finishing 12-0. The Tigers would have about an 80 percent chance of beating either North Carolina or Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship.
  • Michigan has a 64 percent chance of beating Ohio State in Columbus, a 60 percent chance of finishing 12-0, and at least an 85 percent chance of winning the Big Ten title game.
  • Washington has a 55 percent chance of finishing 12-0; that has gone down thanks to USC’s recent surge. But the Huskies still have a 72 percent chance of beating the Trojans, thanks to home field advantage. They would have a 66 percent chance against Colorado in the Pac-12 title game, 84 percent against Utah.
  • If one of these teams slips up, the teams waiting in standby should be able to fill in. If Michigan loses, it will probably be to one-loss Ohio State, and if Washington, Clemson, or Alabama lose, Louisville (78 percent chance of finishing 11-1) could pounce.

Though we could still see craziness if Auburn wins the SEC or Wisconsin wins the Big Ten, the chances for a massive, “two-loss teams in the Playoff!” story line have diminished in recent weeks.

Our title contenders are our title contenders. Chaos will have to wait another year. (What? I’m attempting to jinx chaos into happening, you say? How dare you insinuate such a thing.)

Title contenders 303, Opponents 40

Alabama needed three quarters to solve LSU’s rugged defense in a 10-0 win in Baton Rouge. The other five primary contenders outscored their opponents by a combined 293-40 on Saturday.

  • Washington cruelly allowed Cal to think it had a chance, then dashed to the finish line, 66-27. Or basically, did this on the scoreboard:
  • Michigan wiped the floor with Maryland, 59-3.
  • Clemson made Syracuse question its existence, 54-0.
  • Louisville spit in Boston College’s food and made the Eagles eat it, 52-7.
  • Ohio State said, “Your mama is so stupid, when they said, ‘Order in the court,’ she asked for fries and a shake,” to Nebraska, and Nebraska had to sit there and take it, 62-3.

2016 has perhaps lacked chaos — JIIIIINNNNXXXX — but we don’t have to wonder why.

Sure, it makes sense that teams coached by Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Jim Harbaugh would be near the top of the rankings. This isn’t the only year for that.

And if you want to use this as a referendum on the Big 12’s draining quality, go for it (though I disagree).

Really, the only difference between this year and others is that the chaos has only almost struck.

  • Sept. 3: Clemson needs a late stand to survive Auburn, 19-13.
  • Sept. 10: Clemson barely outlasts Troy, 30-24.
  • Sept. 17: Alabama needs three return scores to beat Ole Miss for the first time in three years, 48-43.
  • Sept. 24: Washington allows a touchdown with 17 seconds left against Arizona and needs overtime, 35-28.
  • Oct. 1: Michigan blows scoring opportunities and is tied with Wisconsin until a touchdown with eight minutes left and two picks ice a 14-7 win.
  • Oct. 14: Louisville needs a late penalty to ice a 24-14 win over Duke.
  • Oct. 15: NC State misses a reasonable field goal at the end of regulation, then loses to Clemson in overtime, 24-17.
  • Oct. 29: Louisville needs a last-minute touchdown to beat Virginia, 32-25. Ohio State, having lost to Penn State, allows Northwestern to get within 24-20. And Washington needs a punt return with 3:25 left to ease ahead of Utah, 31-24.

Chaos is never far away.

The last time we had a title pool this shallow, the number of title contenders increased in almost linear fashion over the next six years. The year after 2009 produced a little pool of unbeatens, 2010 gave us upsets of No. 1 teams — South Carolina over Alabama, Wisconsin over Ohio State, Missouri over Oklahoma — in three consecutive October Saturdays.

If we are destined to have a semi-orderly finish, we will accept it for two reasons:

  1. That means one hell of a CFP. It’s like those years of March Madness when we complain about chalk in the first couple of rounds, then get three heavyweight slugfests in the Final Four.
  2. We’ll say that just means the sport is saving its extra upset karma for 2017. We’ll enjoy that, too.