College Football Playoff Outlook: Week 8
Four top 10 teams fell last weekend, making room for a couple of new faces among the top four. Here are our analysts’ rankings heading into Week 8.
This is a no brainer. This has become so regular for Nick Saban that it would be shocking not to see the Tide at the top of the rankings. No matter how much talent they lose from one year they just seem to reload with just as much talent the next year. The defense has been phenomenal once again, particularly against the run (75.7 yards allowed per game), and Jalen Hurts has been steady. They also have been great along the offensive line and have arguably the deepest group of running backs in the country. My concern with Alabama is that they probably will not be tested until as early as the last game of the regular season in the Iron Bowl. How will the Tide fare against better competition, particularly when it reaches the postseason?
Kirby Smart has turned the corner in a hurry in his second year as the Bulldogs’ head coach. Georgia has the best group of linebackers in the country and is allowing a nation-best 156.5 passing yards per game. The offensive line is vastly improved, and running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have been outstanding. Jake Fromm is also getting better every single week. Georgia really looks like they can challenge Alabama for the SEC championship. That will likely be the conference championship game in December. One has to think if both teams win out up until that point, there is a strong argument to be made that both teams should make the playoff.
Even though Clemson just suffered an embarrassing upset loss to Syracuse, Kelly Bryant was injured early and missed the entire second half. With a healthy Bryant that the Tigers are legitimate national title contenders. Clemson has a lot of playmakers on offense and a ton of talent on defense. The defensive line, particularly is second to none in college football. There is no more margin for error, but Clemson still has a pretty good chance to win out and return to the ACC title game with a trip to NC State being the toughest remaining game on their schedule. If they do so and win the conference again, they will be back in the playoff looking to defend their national title.
4. Penn State
The Nittany Lions have the best player in college football in Saquon Barkley. Trace McSorley is an excellent quarterback, and they have so many weapons on the outside. The defense has also played exceptionally well so far this season. My concerns with Penn State are its subpar offensive line and the fact that they have not faced a top 50-ranked offense yet. Penn State’s season will hinge on their next three weeks with tough tests against Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State. If the Nittany Lions are truly a top four team, they will prove it over these next three games.
6. Ohio State
This pick may seem obvious, but there is not another team more deserving of the top spot than the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide demolish week in and week out in one of the toughest conferences across the college football platform. Behind sophomore QB Jalen Hurts and a defense that never misses a beat, Alabama looks poised for another title run.
How about them Bulldogs? At a school that is coached by Alabama product Kirby Smart, he has brought over the Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban mentality with him. The Bulldogs are electrifying on defense and are unstoppable in their running attack with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Georgia is bullying its opponents and is rightfully the No. 2 team in the country.
3. Penn State
Penn State enters in at No. 3 because they have no proven yet that they can hang with the best. This could all change very soon, but the college football world has seen them struggle against teams like Iowa, and not dominate weaker opponents like Pittsburgh and Indiana. The Nittany Lions possess the talent and the coaching needed to make a run, but their next three games will prove if they are ready to be a top four team or not.
Based on quality of schedule, so far, the Horned Frogs have played the toughest schedule amongst the top teams. TCU took down a former No. 6 Oklahoma State squad in Stillwater and then turned around to beat a top 25 caliber West Virginia the following weekend. QB Kenny Hill has his school on the right track, as they average 41.3 points per game, which ranks No. 11 in the nation.
The Tide dumped Arkansas 41-9 en route to another SEC win, and an overall record of 7-0
It looks like another undefeated regular season and No. 1 ranking is on the way for Nick Saban’s team, as the toughest game remaining on the schedule for Tide is against No. 21 Auburn in November.
Going into a game against a troubled Tennessee, another blowout may be in line for Alabama. The Volunteers should pose no threat to Alabama, and the Crimson Tide will move to 8-0.
The Horned Frogs beat Kansas State soundly in a 26-6 victory following a three-hour lightning delay prior to the start of the game on Saturday.
As the only undefeated team left in the Big 12, TCU finds themselves in great position going into Week 8, with just one ranked team, No. 9 Oklahoma, left on the schedule.
TCU faces woeful 1-5 Kansas at home this week, and should run up the scoreboard against one of the worst defenses in the country.
3. Penn State
Coming off a bye week, the Nittany Lions face their first real test of the year as Jim Harbaugh and the No. 19 Michigan Wolverines come to Happy Valley.
While Penn State’s offense has yet to click on all cylinders, defense and special teams have been bright spots for the Nittany Lions, as they boast the best scoring defense in the country, allowing just 9 points per game.
Against a stout Michigan defense, look for Penn State to turn to stars Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley to carry the offense and beat the Wolverines.
Georgia has been the surprise team so far this year in college football, standing at 7-0 going into their bye week.
In a 53-28 beatdown of Missouri, the Bulldogs gained 696 total yards, the second highest total in team history.
Behind one of the country’s most underrated defenses, and an offense that has scored more than 30 points in all but one game this season, Georgia has a great chance to make it into the College Football Playoff this year.
Will Desautelle is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Zach Seyko is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in communication arts & sciences. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alex Loughin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com.
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