Sean Pendergast

Survivor: College Football Playoff Edition, Version 6.0

West Virginia up, Horns down on Saturday.
Screen grab from YouTube
West Virginia up, Horns down on Saturday.
And then, there were ten.

Once again, the weekend of college football we just experienced, while it may not have lived up to the hype in terms of in-game drama (aside from West Virginia-Texas, which was epic theater, on so many levels), it did deliver what we've come to expect in this "four team playoff" ecosystem we live in — the games all MATTERED.

LSU and Kentucky, two teams whose hearts would still be beating (not strongly, but beating nonetheless) if we watered this system down with four more playoff teams, are DONE. Season over, in soul crushing, utterly emasculating fashion. Hey, this system isn't for the weak of heart, and when I see Ed Orgeron calling for field goal attempts, down 22-0 in the fourth quarter, frankly, that guy doesn't deserve to still have his team's playoff heart beating! Sorry, Tiger fans.

The second set of College Football Playoff rankings come out tonight, so going forward, my posts on this topic will reflect my PREDICTION for where I think the committee will seed these remaining teams with a shot at one of the four spots. Whether that shot is real or theoretical (sorry, UCF) is up to you.

For a point of reference, and really just FYI, here are this week's AP rankings after Week 10:

1. Alabama(60) 9-0 1500
2. Clemson 9-0 1435
3. Notre Dame 9-0 1381
4. Michigan 8-1 1304
5. Georgia 8-1 1263
6. Oklahoma 8-1 1181
7. West Virginia 7-1 1065
8. Ohio State 8-1 1025
9. LSU 7-2 1020
10. Washington State 8-1 1010
11. UCF 8-0 1001
12. Kentucky 7-2 780
13. Syracuse 7-2 624
14. Utah State 8-1 586
15. Texas 6-3 559
16. Fresno State 8-1 506
17. Boston College 7-2 490
18. Mississippi State 6-3 486
19. Florida 6-3 400
20. Washington 7-3 342
21. Penn State 6-3 278
22. NC State 6-2 264
23. Iowa State 5-3 230
24. Michigan State 6-3 215
25. Cincinnati 8-1 141 
When they're unveiled tonight, here are the four playoff teams, as of Week 10:

1. ALABAMA (89-0, 6-0)

11/10 vs Mississippi State
11/17 vs Citadel
11/24 vs Auburn
* 12/1 SEC Title Game
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: The only rap on Alabama had been "They haven't played anybody." Well, now they've played LSU, who was ranked third, on the road, at night... and they destroyed them 29-0. I'm not sure if Alabama being THIS good is good or bad for college football, but people still seem to be watching. Man, avoiding the four seed has got to be a MAJOR goal for these next two teams....

2. CLEMSON (9-0, 6-0)
11/10 at Boston College
11/17 vs Duke
11/24 vs South Carolina
* 12/1 ACC Title Game
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: Since nearly losing at home to Syracuse a month ago, the Tigers have ripped through four straight opponents — Wake Forest, NC State, Florida State, Louisville — by an average score of 60-9. Crazy to think that the eyes of the college football world will be on Boston this weekend, as Clemson faces a ranked Boston College team, in what I'm guessing will be some chilly temps.

2. NOTRE DAME (9-0)
11/10 vs Florida State
11/17 vs Syracuse (at Yankee Stadium)
11/24 at USC
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: Notre Dame did well to get out of Evanston with a nice road win over Northwestern, who might be playing for a Big Ten title in a few weeks. Like Clemson, the biggest fly in the ointment for the Irish is a surprisingly ranked ACC squad with Big East roots, as the Irish will face Syracuse in Yankee Stadium. What's even crazier is that the other two teams on the Irish's remaining schedule are two blue bloods who are both mediocre in the same season, FSU and USC.

4. MICHIGAN (8-1, 6-0)
11/10 at Rutgers
11/17 vs Indiana
11/24 at Ohio State
* 12/1 Big Ten Title Game
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: Until one of Alabama, Clemson, or Notre Dame loses, this is the "beauty contest" spot —which one loss team is the most deserving? Michigan is playing very good football right now (ask Penn State, who lost 42-7 to the Wolverines this past weekend), and their loss is a road loss in Week 1 to Notre Dame. They will be fourth tonight.


5. GEORGIA (8-1, 5-1)
11/10 vs Auburn
11/17 vs UMass
11/24 vs Georgia Tech
* 12/1 SEC Title Game
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: Georgia's season is pretty simple — win out and find a way to beat Alabama for the SEC title, and they will be in the playoff. The more interesting question surrounding a battle of undefeated Alabama and 1-loss Georgia is "Could Alabama lose and still make the playoff?"


6. OKLAHOMA (8-1, 5-1)
11/10 vs Oklahoma State
11/17 vs Kansas
11/23 at West Virginia
* 12/1 Big XII Title Game
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: Oklahoma's defense is a sieve, so their offense is going to have to score every time they touch the ball, if they played Alabama. The thing is, they can score on anybody, and that's why I think Oklahoma might have the best chance against the Crimson Tide, if their defense could force a mistake or two, they still might be able to win while giving up 500 yards of offense to Alabama. West Virginia looms, potentially, twice, though. Speaking of which....

7. WEST VIRGINIA (7-1, 5-1)
11/10 vs TCU
11/17 at Oklahoma State
11/23 vs Oklahoma
* 12/1 Big XII Title Game
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: I like to see coaches rewarded for ballsy decisions, so the Mountaineers winning on a two point conversion on Saturday in Austin was FANTASTIC, especially when you consider that it led to Tom Herman's epic, five star (INCORRECT) whining about Will Grier taunting the fans before going across the goal line. Here's something I haven't seen discussed very much — West Virginia had a road game at NC State (currently ranked 21st in the playoff rankings) cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. That could be a crucial missed chance at a data point in this discussion if it comes down to, say, West Virginia, Washington State, and Ohio State all with one loss. (I think Michigan is clear cut in the driver's seat if they run the table, and inherently West Virginia would have to beat Oklahoma, maybe twice, so that clears out the Sooners.)

8. WASHINGTON STATE (8-1, 5-1)
11/10 at Colorado
11/17 vs Arizona
11/23 vs Washington
* 11/30 Pac-12 Title Game
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: How about Mike Leach? You know what's fun about Leach's inclusion in this conversation? Two of the coaches off of his tree are right in front of him in the rankings, Lincoln Riley, who played for Leach at Texas Tech, and Dana Holgorsen, who was an assistant for Leach early in his coaching career. Washington State needs help, though.

9. OHIO STATE (8-1, 5-1)

11/10 at Michigan State
11/17 at Maryland
11/24 vs Michigan
* 12/1 Big Ten Title Game
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: I still can't believe the committee plunked Ohio State as low as they did in the first set of rankings. I mean, it was deserved, I just thought that Ohio State would get a little preferential treatment. I'm glad the committee seems to see what we see — something is wrong with this version of the Buckeyes. They got blown out by Purdue a couple weeks ago, and then should have lost to 2-7 Nebraska on Saturday. Right now, the experts say they'd be a 3.5 point underdog at home to Michigan, if they played this weekend.

12. UCF (8-0, 5-0)
11/10 vs Navy
11/17 vs Cincinnati
11/23 at South Florida
* 12/1 AAC Title Game
PLAYOFF OUTLOOK: At this point, I'm basically just leaving the Knights in here as a talking point. I still think the committee would probably take a two-loss SEC team (and certainly a one-loss Notre Dame) before taking UCF. That's why I think the Knights will actually remain in place in the playoff rankings, as they will get jumped by West Virginia, and LSU will not fall far enough for UCF to jump them. (Kentucky will fall below UCF.)


LSU (7-2, 4-2)
Au revoir, Tigers.

KENTUCKY (7-2, 4-2)
Good job, good effort, Mark Stoops. Seriously, the job he's done at Kentucky has been amazing.

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