Last year, the top four were Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington, which left out 11-2 Penn State out despite its win over Ohio State, the Big Ten title and Washington having a softer schedule. The Buckeyes' win improved their record to 7-1 and vaulted them to No. 3 in the AP and coaches' polls, and they'll be in strong contention for a playoff berth.
The College Football Playoffs picture is beginning to take form, and while many people may disagree on which four teams should be in it as of this week, there are two clear candidates.
Purdue is the oddball of this group with a 3-5 record, but the Boilermakers still host IL and IN, who are a combined 0-10 IN Big Ten play. Presuming they can survive the next three weeks against Iowa, Michigan State, and Illinois (Michigan State is the only one of those teams now ranked, sitting at #24 in the AP poll but outside the coaches' poll), that could create even more anticipation for Ohio State-Michigan on November 25, and that game will be airing on Fox this year after a long run on ABC. Then there's the final regular-season game at Auburn. As this shows, the coaches aren't on the same page as the writers through the first nine weeks of the college football season.
But the what-ifs involving Georgia and Notre Dame could be in play for a while. OSU still has games at Iowa, vs. Michigan State and at Michigan. Next: at No. 16 Michigan State, Saturday. Unbeaten Miami and one-loss Oklahoma tucks in behind them. It'll probably end up more like 8-4 against 6-6, but it's one game where everyone will be riding the Pac-12 team. Clemson has a loss at Syracuse and hasn't played well on offense. The Big 12 won't be the only conference watching with angst, either.
Armed with exponentially more data and blessed with far more time, the panel will release its initial 2017 rankings Tuesday at 7 p.m. - I'll be trick-or-treating with Tiny Teel, so don't expect a blizzard of hot takes on Twitter. There are just five undefeated teams remaining, and a good chance that that number will continue to shrink as the season rolls on.
"Nothing precludes it", College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said, according to a report from the Athens Banner-Herald, before a weekend that included Penn State and TCU suffering their first losses. The Fighting Irish have only lost to Georgia, and they've got three victories against teams that are now ranked. N.C. State went to Notre Dame and got humbled a bit, so down it went as well.
A nervy win over Penn State brought the Ohio State Buckeyes up to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 College Football Poll.