College Football Playoff Predictions: Stanford, Utah, Baylor Take Huge Hits
College Football Playoff predictions reflect some huge upsets from November 14. The College Football Playoff was still thought to be possible for schools like Stanford, Utah, Baylor, and LSU, but those hopes may have come to a crashing halt. No. 7 Stanford hosted Oregon in a must-win game in the Pac-12 North. Stanford had been undefeated in conference play and needed just one more win to clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Instead, the Oregon Ducks pulled off a 38-36 upset to keep its own hopes alive.
The one-sided scores in favor of non-ranked underdogs didn’t end there. On Saturday, No. 6 Baylor lost its first game of the season, falling 34-20 to Oklahoma. No. 9 LSU lost at home (31-14) to Arkansas, quashing any hopes the team might have had to catch and possibly pass Alabama in the SEC West. Later on Saturday, No. 10 Utah lost to Arizona, possibly eliminating the entire Pac-12 from playing in the College Football Playoff.
Breaking things down further, the No. 6, No. 7, No.9, and No. 10 ranked teams in the College Football Playoff rankings lost on November 14. Three of the four schools are likely eliminated from consideration, with only Baylor still technically alive. Baylor would need to beat Oklahoma State (10-0), TCU (9-1), and Texas (4-6) over the next three weeks. Even then, Baylor might need Oklahoma to lose a game, and for one of the top four schools to lose before the final polls are released.
Within the latest College Football Playoff rankings, each of the top five schools won over the weekend. No. 1 Clemson improved to 10-0, Alabama is 9-1, Ohio State is 10-0, Notre Dame is 9-1, and Iowa is now 10-0. No. 8 Oklahoma State improved to 10-0, so the school will move at least into the top six. After that, things are going to start getting messy, as many of the top schools from just a few weeks ago now have two losses on the college football season.
New hope can be found with 9-1 Florida from the SEC and 9-1 Michigan State from the Big Ten. Those two schools will move into the top 10, and likely higher when the Week 12 college football rankings come out. Those new rankings are likely going to punish the Pac-12 Conference as well, because no school has fewer than two losses in the group. USC actually took over first place in the Pac-12 South with a 7-3 overall record. Stanford leads the Pac-12 North with an 8-2 record, and then Washington State, Oregon, and UCLA are each 7-3.
If anything, the field really got cleaned out over the weekend, making the selections for the College Football Playoff a bit easier for the committee. While there are still some very important games left on the schedule, it could be easy to argue that there are only really six schools competing for the four invites. Schools like Alabama saved a cupcake game for the final weeks, with the Crimson Tide playing the Charleston Southern Buccaneers on November 21. No. 1 Clemson has to just get past Wake Forest (3-7) and South Carolina (3-7) to finish the regular season undefeated.
If everything remains the same in the Big Ten, Ohio State should meet Iowa in the conference championship game. Both schools could be 12-0 at that point and have an automatic invite to the College Football Playoff on the line. Notre Dame (9-1) has a game against Boston College before traveling to play Stanford in the final game of its regular season. A loss to Stanford could knock the Fighting Irish out of the conversation, opening the door to the College Football Playoff to the Big 12 champion. If Oklahoma State did finish the season undefeated, the voters would have to bump the team up further than the No. 8 ranking it had.
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