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How Week 11’s top-25 games changed the New Year’s picture

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Keeping track of top-25 results, with postseason notes on each game as it goes final.

Kentucky v Tennessee Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

This wasn’t expected to be the biggest weekend on the college football calendar — quite far from it — but with just a few Saturdays left, it narrowed the picture further. A bit. Not much.

Below, we’re keeping track of each top-25 game’s impact, both before and after final scores, mostly paying attention to CFP committee business, not highlights and stuff.

Remember the things the committee has mostly demonstrated it rewards: wins over final top-25 teams, wins over bowl teams, road wins, dominant wins, weirdly excusable losses, being Alabama, and not being a mid-major. It does not care what your opponent’s ranking was at kickoff.

All times ET. All days Saturday, unless noted. Final scores in bold.

Probably important

Games in which the winning team should have a high-quality victory by season’s end or games that could define a Power 5 division race. Or: really meaningful upsets.

  • No. 1 Alabama 24, No. 16 Mississippi State 0: Yet another obliteration. An 8-4 MSU would likely count as a ranked win for the Tide, not that they particularly need those.
  • No. 2 Clemson 27, No. 17 Boston College 7: A dominant road win over a team with a really good shot at finishing in the top 20 should fend off some complaints about Clemson’s schedule. Clemson’s schedule will probably end up fine.
  • No. 10 Ohio State 26, No. 18 Michigan State 6: The Buckeyes are still in the Playoff race and come away with an impressive road score, though the game itself was a thing of hideous glory.
  • Tennessee 24, No. 11 Kentucky 7: An NY6 spot might’ve just opened up.
  • Wake Forest 27, No. 14 NC State 23: Down goes one of the ACC Atlantic’s 17,000 New Year’s Six contenders. Clemson’s suddenly shiny resume (in terms of top-20 wins) loses some shine.
  • Northwestern 14, No. 21 Iowa 10: Northwestern just clinched the Big Ten West despite a non-conference loss to Akron lmao.

Maybe important

Games in which the winner should have something to show for it, such as at least a win over a decent bowl team.

  • No. 3 Notre Dame 42, Florida State 13: I include this here not because FSU is good (it’s probably not bowling anyway), but because the committee would think highly of the Irish for performing well minus starting QB Ian Book, who’s reportedly out with injury. The committee has publicly cited injury considerations several times in the past.
  • No. 5 Georgia 27, No. 24 Auburn 10
  • No. 6 Oklahoma 48, Oklahoma State 47: BEDLAM lives up to its name (it doesn’t usually), and the Sooners are still in really good shape.
  • No. 8 Washington State 31, Colorado 7: The Pac-12’s sole hope abides.
  • No. 15 Florida 35, South Carolina 31: The Gators still have a New Year’s shot, but could use some help.
  • No. 19 Texas 41, Texas Tech 34: A classic ending that referenced an even classic-er ending! Only really matters in the grand scheme if WVU starts losing.
  • No. 20 Penn State 22, Wisconsin 10: Unlikely to have significant postseason effects beyond the Big Ten Championship, which the Badgers are probably not gonna make.
  • No. 22 Iowa State 28, Baylor 14: Well, a ranked team beat a somewhat likely bowl team.

Important for the Group of 5 race

Since the committee’s showed for years that non-power teams have a REALLY long path to the Playoff, let’s have a separate section for the race to be the top-ranked mid-major champ.

  • No. 12 UCF 35, Navy 24: Basically nothing to gain here, but the undefeated Knights probably only need to win out in order to make the NY6 again anyway.
  • Boise State 24, No. 23 Fresno State 17: I doubt UCF really needed help to get into the NY6, but this makes it certain that the Knights control their destiny (well, not their Playoff destiny, but you know what I mean). The Mountain West champ will either be a Utah State team the committee’s yet to rank or a team with two losses.
  • Buffalo 48, Kent State 14: The 9-1 Bulls probably don’t have a real shot and didn’t gain a ton from this win, but it’s hard to rule them out until we know for certain, since the rankings only go to 25. If we enter conference title weekend with two one-loss teams in the Mountain West title game, then Buffalo’s definitely out, for example.
  • Cincinnati 35, USF 23: Cincy vs. UCF next week is now quite a big game.
  • UAB 26, Southern Miss 23 in OT: UAB is an awesome story, but a C-USA title is almost certainly the ceiling.
  • Utah State 62, San Jose State 24: Nothing to gain for USU here. Blow out a terrible team and keep moving toward Boise.

Probably not important

The committee tries not to care much about your wins over teams that finish with bad records, though you can get some credit for winning on the road or really laying it to folks. So for the ranked teams here: just don’t lose!

  • No. 4 Michigan 42, Rutgers 7
  • No. 7 LSU 24, Arkansas, 17
  • No. 9 West Virginia 47, TCU 10
  • No. 13 Syracuse 54, Louisville 23