Following a rare week in which no Top 10 teams suffered a loss, the top 40 percent of the 25-team College Football Playoff rankings remain unchanged. Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Michigan are Nos. 1-4 in that order and those are also our projected playoff teams once again.
One could argue that the most unpredictable thing about college football is when everything goes according to plan in a given week. We’re so accustomed to the chaos that a Saturday without any major upsets is almost as much of a shock to our system as seeing the No. 1 team go down.
The biggest upset of the week was No. 11 Kentucky barely even showing up in a 24-7 loss to Tennessee. And while that does nothing to affect the playoff picture, it did have a big impact on the projections for the New Year’s Six bowls.
We are already down to only 11 teams in a Power Five conference with two losses or fewer, and there’s a good chance that number drops to 10 after two-loss Syracuse plays Notre Dame this week as a 10-point underdog. Even if UCF runs the table and locks down a spot in an NY6 bowl, it will probably play a three-loss team from either the SEC or Big 12. The Knights deserve better than that, but it’s the direction things are trending.
If UCF happens to slip up in the next three weeks, though, could Utah State sneak into the Top 16? The Aggies are leading the nation in scoring and have destroyed most of the competition during their nine-game winning streak. And at long last, the selection committee decided to rank Utah State at No. 23 this week.
With games remaining on the road against new No. 25 Boise State and likely a showdown with Fresno State in the Mountain West Conference championship game, USU should have enough quality opportunities to climb ahead of some of those four-loss teams it is currently ranked behind.