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College Football Top 25: Playoff Projections

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Auburn v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Here’s your Top 25 complete with College Football Playoff projections.

Win and you’re in

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)

The Tide keeps on destroying everything in its wake and this week it was FCS Mercer. Next up is Auburn in a play-in to the SEC Championship. Bama is probably in the playoff whether they lose this week or next, but you never know.

2. Oklahoma Sooners (10-1)

Believe it or not, the story of the weekend was Baker Mayfield vs. Kansas football. The game started with Kansas refusing to shake hands with the soon-to-be Heisman winner, then it escalated with cheap shots and trash talk (“You have one win, stick to basketball.”), and then it culminated in this brilliance:

OU hosts West Virginia next week and likely TCU in the Big 12 Championship. They’re almost definitely in the Playoff if they win out.

3. Miami Hurricanes (10-0)

Miami struggled some with Virginia, but they curb stomped them in the fourth quarter to continue their undefeated run. They play at Pitt and have the ACC Championship against Clemson. Win out and they’re in. Just don’t mess up and forget to gameplan for Pitt.

4. Clemson Tigers (10-1)

Clemson is probably the second best team in the nation right now, but they’re docked for losing to a Syracuse team that hasn’t won since that fateful Friday night. Clemson should still make the Playoff if they win out. Assuming they beat South Carolina next week, the ACC Championship against Miami should be a play-in game.

5. Wisconsin Badgers (11-0)

Wisconsin dominated Michigan and they’re still undefeated. The only thing between them and the Big Ten Championship against Ohio State is a road game at Minnesota, which they should take care of easily. The Badgers are another win-and-in team.

6. Auburn Tigers (9-2)

Auburn is the only two-loss team that can make the Playoff. The Tigers play Alabama and can win the SEC West with an upset, then they would play Georgia in the SEC Championship three weeks after dominating the Dawgs. Bama could still theoretically get in over them, but Auburn would likely get into the Playoff in that scenario.

7. Georgia Bulldogs (10-1)

Like Clemson, Georgia is significantly better than their ranking, but they’re held back by an embarrassing loss. They didn’t lose to Syracuse, but they wete blown out by a team they could face in the SEC Championship. Assuming the Dawgs beat Georgia Tech, a win over Alabama or Auburn should warrant them a spot in the Final Four.

Out of the Playoff, but only just

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-2)

Notre Dame’s Playoff chances were alive far longer than anyone was comfortable with, but Miami saved the day when they decimated the Irish last weekend. The Irish are now playing for a New Year’s Six bowl when they take on Stanford on Saturday.

9. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-2)

The difference between Auburn’s two losses and Ohio State’s two losses is that Auburn didn’t lose 55-28 to Iowa. The Buckeyes are probably done, but they could have a fine end-of-season run if they blow out Michigan and play spoiler to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.

SB Nation suggests that if Ohio State wins the Big Ten Championship — which they will be favored in — the SEC or ACC will have two teams in the Playoff.

10. USC Trojans (9-2)

USC’s Playoff hopes died when they were blown out by Notre Dame a few weeks ago, but they’re still likely to win the Pac-12. They wrapped up the South division when they upset Colorado and now they await Stanford or Washington State in the championship game.

11. UCF Golden Knights (10-0)

Much to the delight of Nebraska fans, Scott Frost keeps UCF rolling through the AAC. The Golden Knights have a tough matchup against USF, but if they get through that, they will play Memphis in the AAC Championship with the winner going to a NY6 bowl.

12. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2)

Just four points separate Penn State from the Playoff and the Peach Bowl. Even with the Nittany Lions’ loss to Ohio State, they would probably have been in good shape if not for a loss to Michigan State the following week. It also doesn’t help that Ohio State beat Michigan State 48-3 the week after that.

13. TCU Horned Frogs (9-2)

TCU won’t make the Playoff, but they could play spoiler to Oklahoma in a rematch in the Big 12 Championship. Apologies to my editor, but it would be fitting for the Big 12 to miss out on the Playoff because they added a conference championship game to strengthen their Playoff chances.

Pretty good teams

14. Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-3)

Mississippi State is in a weird spot because they have three losses, but they were to Bama, Auburn and Georgia, and the rest of their games they’ve beaten the hell out of their opposition. The last game on their schedule is a mediocre Ole Miss, so the Bulldogs should end their season with another blowout.

15. Washington State Cougars (9-2)

Wazzu could make it to the Pac-12 Championship if they win at Washington this weekend. They’ve already knocked off USC this season, so a rematch for the conference title would be fun.

16. Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-3)

OSU was in good shape to maybe get into a NY6 bowl, but then they lost at home to Kansas State. They’re about to take out their anger on Kansas, so send your thoughts and prayers out east. (Or maybe not because they were targeting Baker Mayfield and deserve their destruction.)

17. Washington Huskies (9-2)

The Huskies suffer from “they ain’t beat nobody” as they’re only 2-2 against teams with winning records and it’s not like those two wins — Fresno State and Oregon — are particularly impressive. It also doesn’t help that UW only beat Utah because Kyle Whittingham channeled Jon Embree in his clock management.

18. Memphis Tigers (10-1)

Memphis has a surprisingly impressive schedule and they could make it to a NY6 bowl if they upset UCF in the AAC Championship.

19. Michigan State Spartans (8-3)

The Spartans were only recently decimated by the Persians Buckeyes, but they bounced back with a win over Minnesota. Michigan State now won games 17-10, 14-10, 17-9 and now 17-7. Don’t be surprised when they beat Rutgers 17-3 next week.

20. Northwestern (8-3)

Northwestern started the season 2-3, but they’ve run rampant through the Big Ten since and Illinois isn’t going to stop them. We’re very here for the Wildcats to make some noise.

21. LSU Tigers (8-3)

Besides getting blown out by Mississippi State and losing to Troy, LSU has been pretty decent and they’ve benefited from a down year in the SEC. Derrius Guice has been incredible and he’ll look to continue his dominance against Kevin Sumlin’s Texas A&M.

22. Boise State (9-2)

Needed an epic comeback and a blizzard to beat 6-5 Colorado State, but the Broncos are the Mountain West front runner. Boise State has lost a triple-overtime thrilled to Washington State and on the road against a surprisingly good Virginia team. With those quality losses, they could make it a NY6 bowl if chaos breaks out in the AAC.

Heisman contenders on decent teams

23. Stanford Cardinal (8-3)

Thanks to Bryce Love, the Cardinal could win the Pac-12 North if Washington takes care of Washington State. Love has been slowed by injuries, but he’s ran for over 100 yards in all but one game, and he’s still averaging 172 yards and 1.6 touchdowns per game. Besides maybe Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, there’s no one in college football doing more for their team than Love.

24. San Diego State Aztecs (9-2)

San Diego State should be ranked — a blowout loss to Fresno State is damning — but Rashaad Penny is too great to not write about. Last week, Penny had two rushing touchdowns of 23 and 67 yards, a 70-yard punt return touchdown, and a 100-yard kickoff return. He’s up to 1,824 rushing yards and 17 TDs and those were the 7th and 8th return touchdowns of his career. Hopefully he’ll be a Heisman finalist after he trashes New Mexico’s defense and surpasses 2,000 yards and 20 TDs.

25. Louisville Cardinals (7-4)

Louisville is here only because I want to write about Lamar Jackson. After having one of the most dominant seasons in college football history, Jackson is somehow better this season. Jackson is just as good as a runner this year (1,287 rushing yards and 17 TDs) and he’s an improved passer (3,273 yards and 23 TDs), the only differences are the play of Louisville as a team and that awards voters are somehow used to Jackson putting up absurd numbers.