Below, let’s keep track of Week 8’s ranked games in a way similar to the College Football Playoff committee’s perspective.
For the committee, it’s not about what you did this week. It’s about what your entire schedule did all year long. Beating a team in Week 8 that finishes .500-plus is better than beating a team that doesn’t, no matter where either team is ranked at kickoff. The same goes for a team that finishes in the Playoff’s Top 25.
Committee rankings won’t be out until Oct. 31, so we’ll stick with AP Poll rankings for now.
We’ll have fun stuff and gameplay analysis elsewhere and later on. This post is only about how these results are likely to impact the Playoff picture.
Win projections are via S&P+. Final scores are in bold.
Probably big deals!
- No. 2 Penn State (7-0) 42, No. 19 Michigan (5-2) 13: Sudden onset JIM HARBAUGH IS OVERRATED arguments aside, the rebuilding Wolverines are probably still going 8-4, meaning a quality W for PSU. Now it’s Penn State-Ohio State Week.
- No. 13 Notre Dame (6-1) 49, No. 11 USC (6-2) 14: Are you ready to resume the annual debate about whether the Irish should be Playoff-eligible despite being independent? Anyone who’d assured themselves the Irish were out of the Playoff race because they lost one game: I have bad news. Beating the Pac-12 South favorite and then giving NC State its second loss would likely give the Irish one of the 10-best résumés as of Halloween, with two to four more ranked opponents after that. If ND wins out, I’m convinced ND is in, unless Georgia’s the other team battling for No. 4. UGA would have head-to-head and likely at least a division title to claim, something else the Irish can’t match.
Should at least have some impact
- No. 1 Alabama (8-0) 45, Tennessee (3-4) 7: Memes aside, Tennessee is probably still a 6-6 team, barely. Bama covered, lol.
- No. 8 Miami (6-0) 27, Syracuse (4-4) 19: The Orange project as a borderline bowl team, but I think they’ll make it in.
- No. 9 Oklahoma (6-1) 42, Kansas State (3-4) 35: K-State still has a shot at a bowl. A road win, if nothing else.
- No. 10 Oklahoma State (6-1) 13, Texas (3-4) 10 in OT: A road win over a team I think will make a bowl.
- No. 18 Michigan State (6-1) 17, Indiana (3-4) 9: IU projects around 6-6, even with yet another grueling Hoosiers loss.
- No. 24 LSU (6-2) 40, Ole Miss (3-4) 24: Yes, beating a .500 Ole Miss would count as beating a .500 team, even though the Rebels can’t make a bowl.
- Mississippi State (5-2) 45, Kentucky (5-2) 7: MSU’s unlikely to climb a whole lot higher, but this should still be a solid W.
The mid-major New Year’s Six race
- No. 20 UCF (6-0) 31, Navy (5-2) 21: The Knights will be the committee’s top-ranked mid-major on Halloween. Unbeaten USF has no quality wins, and all the others have losses.
- No. 25 Memphis (6-1) 42, Houston (4-3) 38: Absolutely, the Tigers could be the NY6 rep. They’ve now beaten Houston, Navy, and UCLA, and an AAC title game would likely be against a ranked UCF or USF.
- No. 16 USF (7-0) 34, Tulane (3-4) 28: USF has two New Year’s Six options: either (1.) go unbeaten or (2.) hope every other mid-major champ has multiple losses and fringe teams like Tulane reach 6-6. Bulls fans are tired of this story line, but I didn’t set the schedules nationwide.
- Fresno State (5-2) 27, No. 26 San Diego State (6-2) 3: Against all odds, this was for first in the MWC West. SDSU beat Stanford, and Fresno’s only losses were to 2016 Playoff teams.
- Marshall (6-1) 38, Middle Tennessee (3-5) 10: The 2014 Playoff rankings earned the internet nickname of “the f*** Marshall rankings” for their refusal to rank the 10-0 Herd. This season is a nice return to form, but Marshall’s schedule still probably isn’t good enough.
- Toledo (6-1) 48, Akron (4-4) 21: Good chance this will count as a .500 win for Toledo.
- No. 4 TCU (7-0) 43, Kansas (1-7) 0
- No. 5 Wisconsin (7-0) 38, Maryland (3-4) 13: If Playoff rankings were out today, UW would probably slide below Clemson, Miami, and maybe Oklahoma. Maybe Ohio State, too. But UW still controls its destiny.
- No. 14 Virginia Tech (6-1) 59, North Carolina (1-7) 7
- No. 15 Washington State (7-1) 28, Colorado (4-4) 0: CU could still make a bowl.
- No. 21 Auburn (6-2) 52, Arkansas (2-5) 20
- No. 23 West Virginia (5-2) 38, Baylor (0-7) 36: What I wrote here before this game: “Why is WVU ranked? The committee would probably have the ‘Eers behind five or 10 more teams right now.” Just gonna leave that be.
- Boston College (4-4) 41, Virginia (5-2) 10: Well, there goes UVA’s extremely slim Playoff hope!