College Football Playoff Check-In: Week 3

This is a WAY too early look at the Championship Playoff and how the TOP contenders look after a few weeks and what might be some of the roadblocks ahead for each.

College Football Championship Trophy

It will be the question asked every day of every week from now through the end of the season. Who are the four? There will be four chosen teams, and a few upset fan bases along the way that will earn the right to face off for a national title. With a few weeks until the first poll will be released by the esteemed selection committee, there are mostly guesses and conjecture right now about how the four teams could be. Well, let’s not miss out on any of the fun and dive into each of the TOP contenders and see where everyone stands. We will go team by team through the most recent AP Poll.

1. Florida State (2-0)

The defending national champions are undefeated this year, but concerns are already starting to appear in terms of their ability to run the table. They play in the ACC, which 1 other team in the Top-25 (Clemson at 22nd), and only have one other Top-25 team on their schedule in 9th ranked Notre Dame. Both of those teams visit Tallahassee, along with Florida. Their toughest road game is at Louisville, who just lost to Virginia. Simply put, the Seminoles probably have to run the table or hope for a BUNCH of losses for everyone else, as a loss will pull them down quite a bit.

Good Wins – Oklahoma State

Big Games to Go – Clemson, Notre Dame, Florida, ACC Title game?

2. Oregon (3-0)

The Ducks have one of the best wins on any resume, a big win on a neutral field over 11th ranked Michigan State. The Ducks have dominated all three of their opponents and risen up to 2nd in the nation in the AP Poll. This is a team that could survive a loss in the regular season, as they will have at least three more games against Top-25 teams, including a possible 2nd showdown with UCLA or a matchup with USC. The winner of the South division will probably be at least a Top-15 team.

Good Wins – Michigan State

Big Games to Go – @UCLA, Stanford, Pac 12 Title Game

3. Alabama (3-0)

After a lackluster win over West Virginia on a neutral field, the Tide have blown out to lower conference teams handily. Their win over the Mountaineers is looking better and better, as they started to receive votes in the AP Poll this week and could be a team to watch in the Big 12. The slate of games gets tougher, especially after watching Ole Miss and Arkansas win games this weekend. As with most of the SEC teams, they could survive one loss pretty easily, but how many teams will be able to get through the slate of games with just 1-loss?

Good Wins – West Virginia?

Big Games to Go – @ Ole Miss, Texas A&M, @LSU, Auburn

4. Oklahoma (3-0)

The Sooners took care of business against a bottom half Tennessee team looking to rebuild. They destroyed Tulsa on the road and Louisiana Tech already. The good news for the Sooners is that the Big 12 has done a solid job in out of conference, and that they get their three biggest challengers at home in Baylor, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. The schedule sets up perfectly for the Sooners, and if Tennessee is better than most think, their schedule could look pretty solid at the end of the year.

Good Wins – Tennessee

Big Games to Go – Baylor, @Oklahoma State, Kansas State

5. Auburn (2-0)

Possibly the toughest schedule out there, the Tigers have a huge game at Kansas State this week, along with every contender the SEC has to offer. They do not get the benefit of loading up on the weaker sisters from the east, as they get both Georgia and South Carolina. They beat Arkansas handily, who just ran all over Texas Tech in Lubbock, to go along with an easy win over San Jose State. If the Tigers can get through this schedule with just 1-loss, there is no way you can keep them out of the Playoffs.

Good Wins – Arkansas

Big Games to Go – @Kansas State, LSU, South Carolina, @Ole Miss, Texas A&M, @Georgia, @Alabama

6. Texas A&M (3-0)

The Aggies had a statement win to open up their season (and the college football season) over South Carolina on the road. Scoring 52 points, even on an overrated defense, is impressive. The Gamecocks have been better than that game, so the Aggies might have been a little fortunate to play USC to open the year, but they took full advantage. They have five games against ranked opponents left, with the three toughest ones on the road.

Good Wins – @South Carolina

Big Games to Go – Ole Miss, @Alabama, @Auburn, Missouri, @LSU

7. Baylor (3-0)

It was three cupcakes to start the year, and the Bears outscored those three teams 178-27, and it took over 12 quarters to allow their first touchdown of the season. You can’t do it much better than that, even against a light schedule. They even scored those points overcoming some major injury attrition on offense, including losing start quarterback for 1.5 games. The real tests will come, but the Bears will need to be almost perfect to advance to the Final Four. The Big 12 did them some favors this weekend, so they might be able to lose a game and still make it in, but they will need a LOT of breaks.

Good Wins – None

Big Games to Go – @Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State

8. LSU

With a big season opening win against Wisconsin, a rebuilt LSU Tigers squad put themselves back into the conversation. They are breaking in a new quarterback to go along with a lot of new defensive stars. This year, the Tigers get the benefit of the Eastern Division rotation, missing out on Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina, while lining up Kentucky. The season ending stretch of Ole Miss, Alabama, at Arkansas and at Texas A&M will be a tough one for the Tigers.

Good Wins – Wisconsin

Big Games to Go – @Auburn, Ole Miss, Alabama, @Texas A&M

9. Notre Dame (3-0)

The Irish dominated the Michigan Wolverines at home in week 2, and took care of two lesser teams in Rice and Purdue, but none of those three teams are close to Top-25 material right now. The real test will be their west-coast trio of games against Pac-12 powers Stanford and USC, to go along with their visit to Florida State. A loss would drop the Irish down quite a bit, unless it was to the Seminoles. If that is their only loss, then a Top-4 spot could still be on the table with wins over the Pac-12 teams.

Good Wins – Michigan?

Big Games to Go – Stanford, @Florida State, @Arizona State, @USC

10. Ole Miss (3-0)

Welcome to the overrated SEC team that beat up on three overmatched teams and are now about 10 spots too highly ranked. It is an annual occurrence. The Rebels took care of business in a neutral field game against Boise State, though these are not the Kellen Moore Broncos. The Rebels will need to survive the SEC West to get any higher as the schedule amps up quickly with Alabama in just two weeks and then the Aggies the next week.

Good Wins – None

Big Games to Go – Alabama, @Texas A&M, @LSU, Auburn

11. Michigan State (1-1)

The only team on this list with a loss, the Spartans are also the lone Big-10 school represented. They are the best of Big 10, the worst conference out of the Power-5. They not only need to run the table to get in, they probably need at least one other Big-10 team to get hot and move up the polls. The Big 10 has just two other teams in the Top-25, with Nebraska and Ohio State at 23 and 24. Penn State is a team to watch that could really help the Spartans out now that they are eligible for the conference championship game and to be ranked.

Good Wins – None

Big Games to Go – Nebraska, Ohio State, @Penn State

12. UCLA (3-0)

The Bruins were a popular pick out of the Pac-12, simply because they get all of the other top Pac-12 teams at home. They would also get a fourth top level game in the Pac-12 championship, probably against Oregon. A split with Oregon and wins elsewhere would easily put the Bruins in the conversation for the Final-Four. UCLA has not looked very good so far this year, barely getting by Virginia and Texas, two teams that have better name brands than football teams this year.

Good Wins – None

Big Games to Go – Oregon, USC, Stanford

The Next few Teams – Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona State, Stanford, USC, Missouri, Wisconsin

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