In the wake of last Saturday’s shocking results, with three of the four Associated Press (AP) top-ranked teams suffering upset losses, the college football landscape has been turned upside down.
Ranked number two last week, Michigan (9-1) struggled to move the ball against Iowa (6-4) in a Big Ten showdown, amassing only 201 total yards before losing 14-13 on a last-second field goal.
The third-ranked team in the land was Clemson (9-1), but the Tigers were outgunned in a 43-42 shootout against Pittsburgh (6-4).
As for previously fourth-ranked Washington (9-1), the Huskies couldn’t get anything going in a Pac-12 clash against USC (7-3) in a 26-13 disappointment.
Top-ranked Alabama (10-0), meanwhile, took care of its business in a 51-3 dismantling of SEC rival Mississippi State (4-6), as the defending national champions retained a firm hold on the number one spot.
Before Saturday’s slaughter, the second edition of the College Football Playoff rankings went Alabama-Clemson-Michigan-Washington, but this week the postseason hierarchy has shifted dramatically.
As expected, losing nail-biters to late comebacks has softened the blow for Michigan and Clemson, who clung on to the third seed and fourth seed, respectively. Alabama wasn’t going anywhere at number one, so the Selection Committee had one major task: deciding on the second-seed.
When the third set of rankings were released on Tuesday, it was Ohio State (9-1) that earned its way into the postseason discussion. The Buckeyes limited an overmatched Maryland (5-5) squad to just one field goal in a 62-3 rout. With their only loss coming to an impressive Penn State (8-2) team battling through the tough Big Ten conference, Ohio State was given the edge over Washington and its relatively weak Pac-12 schedule.
Looking to preserve their hold on a playoff berth, the Buckeyes visit struggling Michigan State (3-7) this Saturday. Despite playing on the road, the bookmakers at Bovada rate the Buckeyes as massive 22-point favorites in this appetizer for next week’s pivotal Big Ten showdown against Michigan.
The Wolverines host Indiana (5-5), but even after the Hoosiers acquitted themselves well in a 45-31 game that was actually much closer, Bovada has head coach Jim Harbaugh’s boys as big time 23.5-point favorites.
Clemson travels to Wake Forest (6-4) hoping to right the ship after the stunning upset loss to Pitt, and the Demon Deacons’ middling offense should have trouble keeping up with the Tigers’ relentless pace. They believe so over at Bovada, where Clemson is currently tabbed as 22.5-point road favorites.
The fifth-ranked team in the Playoff Rankings – and thus, the first team on the outside looking in – is Louisville (9-1), which visits a talented Houston (8-2) team that briefly entertained postseason aspirations after an exciting 5-0 start to the season. The Cardinals destroyed the aforementioned Demon Deacons last week in a 44-12 laugher, and Bovada has Louisville as 14-point road favorites against the mid-major monsters from Houston this week.
Washington is still hanging around at sixth in the latest Playoff Rankings, so the Huskies will need to win, and win big, over Arizona State (5-5) – while also hoping one of the top five happen to fall. The Sun Devils have lost four straight, and they’ll be traveling to Washington, which makes the Huskies consensus 27-point favorites.