UGA Football

A first look at the College Football Playoff contenders

Georgia wide receiver Terry Godwin comes up with a ridiculous one-handed catch in a win over Notre Dame.
Georgia wide receiver Terry Godwin comes up with a ridiculous one-handed catch in a win over Notre Dame. AP

In two weeks, the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season will be released.

No matter what, Georgia will be in the top 25. If the Bulldogs remain unbeaten with a win over Florida on Oct. 28, Georgia likely will get a spot in the top four.

Regardless of who appears where in the first College Football Playoff poll, there are still many games to play to decide the field.

In the meantime, here is where the contending teams stand at the moment.

Top four

Alabama (7-0)

This weekend: Tennessee

The Crimson Tide have had their way with just about everyone, sans a 27-19 victory over Texas A&M. But even then, the win over the Aggies never felt in doubt. Alabama is the cream of the college football crop once again and will be the favorite for the No. 1 seed until further notice.

Georgia (7-0)

This weekend: Bye

With its speed and athleticism on defense, Georgia has been the closest team to match Alabama’s ability on a football field this season. And with each game, quarterback Jake Fromm has improved while completing 62 percent of his throws as a true freshman. The strength on offense has been the rushing attack, however, which has averaged 282.9 yards per game.

Penn State (6-0)

This weekend: Michigan

Penn State hasn’t had too tough of a schedule to date. But beginning with Saturday’s game against Michigan, the Nittany Lions will embark on three consecutive weeks of ranked opponents. Penn State does feature a dynamic defense and has the Heisman Trophy front-runner in running back Saquon Barkley. If Penn State can get through Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State unbeaten, it will be a heavy favorite for a top-two seed.

TCU (6-0)

This weekend: Kansas

Who would have thought that last season’s Liberty Bowl matchup would place both teams in the AP top four at this stage of the 2017 season? Joining Georgia is TCU, which has established itself as the favorite to win the Big 12 at the moment. Of course, Oklahoma may have something to say about that on Nov. 11.

Next up

Wisconsin (6-0)

This weekend: Maryland

The Badgers have a late-season meeting against Michigan. Other than that game, Wisconsin has a favorable slate that could end with an undefeated regular season. Being fortunate to compete in the weaker West division, the Badgers have a clear path to the Big Ten title game.

Clemson (6-1)

This weekend: Bye

A year ago, Clemson suffered a midseason loss and still won the ACC, earned a playoff berth and won a national championship. Despite the upset loss to Syracuse, the Tigers are still favored to win the ACC. The Tigers get a well-timed bye as quarterback Kelly Bryant suffered a concussion during the first half of the Syracuse loss.

Ohio State (6-1)

This weekend: Bye

The Buckeyes suffered an early season loss to Oklahoma but are back in a favorable position. Win out, including the Big Ten title, and Ohio State is in the playoff. Quarterback J.T Barrett is playing with a lot more confidence and the Buckeyes have been rolling offensively.

Miami (5-0)

This week: Syracuse

Mark Richt’s Hurricanes happen to be the lone unbeaten ACC program. They are also coming off of miraculous wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech. Miami won’t face Clemson in the regular season but will have upcoming games against Virginia Tech (Nov. 4) and Notre Dame (Nov. 11). A Nov. 18 meeting with Virginia doesn’t appear easy either.

Ready to crash the party

Notre Dame (5-1)

This weekend: USC

Of all the major programs with a loss, Notre Dame has the best one, having fallen to Georgia by only one point. In every other matchup? The Fighting Irish have won by an average margin of victory of 28 points. That includes a 20-point win over No. 18 Michigan State. Notre Dame is about to run into a tough stretch of games, however, with No. 11 USC, No. 16 N.C. State, Wake Forest, No. 8 Miami, Navy and No. 22 Stanford on deck. That’s going to be a tough group to sweep. But if Notre Dame is able to win out, the Fighting Irish will have an incredible case for a playoff berth.

Oklahoma State (5-1)

This weekend: at Texas

Like Notre Dame, Oklahoma State has a quality loss on its record as the Cowboys lost to TCU on Sept. 23. Oklahoma State must see some improvement on the defensive side of the ball, although its offense has established itself as one of the best in the nation. While the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game on Nov. 4 will have a lot on the line, the Cowboys will have tough games with Texas and West Virginia in the next two weeks.

Oklahoma (5-1)

This weekend: at Kansas State

Oklahoma will probably be punished by the selection committee due its loss to Iowa State and for giving up 41 points in a win over lowly Baylor. At the same time, the Sooners have a great victory over Ohio State. Oklahoma is very much in the playoff race but must win out. If the Sooners are still a one-loss team and defeat Oklahoma State on Nov. 4, the Oklahoma-TCU game on Nov. 11 should decide the Big 12’s playoff team (if the conference gets one).

USC (6-1)

This weekend: at Notre Dame

The Pac-12 has done its part to keep each other from playoff contention early. But judging the schedules, USC has the best shot to stick with only one loss by the end of the regular season. The Trojans already have a win over Stanford and will face the Fighting Irish Saturday. As of now, Notre Dame is the last ranked opponent the Trojans will face throughout the rest of the regular season.

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