Winners and Losers: How the Big Ten's bad day shakes up the top of the playoff rankings

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, right, walks on the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Well, Week 10 was crazy.

The top four teams in Tuesday’s first set of College Football Playoff rankings all did what they needed to do. Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson were all victorious. Behind them? Well, there was a bit of chaos.

We’re going to try to sort through that chaos.

Three of the seven teams immediately outside the top four lost on Saturday. And the playoff ranking ramifications are pretty significant. This week’s rankings are going to look a lot different outside the top four. Let’s try to make sense of just how different they could be.

Teams are ranked in their projected playoff ranking order.

1. Georgia
Previous ranking: 1
Record: 9-0
Saturday’s result: 24-10 win over South Carolina

The Bulldogs did nothing against South Carolina that should merit a drop from the No. 1 spot. No movement here.

2. Alabama
Previous ranking: 2
Record: 9-0
Saturday’s result: 24-10 win over No. 19 LSU

Alabama’s offense was far from spectacular vs. the Tigers. But it was plenty good enough. A convincing win over an LSU team that lost to Troy shouldn’t be enough for Alabama to move over Georgia. And that’s fine. The Bulldogs and Tide will likely meet in the SEC championship game anyway.

3. Notre Dame
Previous ranking: 3
Record: 8-1
Saturday’s result: 48-37 win over Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons scored most of their points late in the game and Notre Dame weathered minor injuries to quarterback Brandon Wimbush and running back Josh Adams. Having them healthy next week against Miami will be huge.

4. Clemson
Previous ranking: 4
Record: 8-1
Saturday’s result: 38-31 win over NC State

Clemson now controls its own destiny in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Tigers should head to the ACC title game for the third-straight season and will stay in the top four if they win out. Clemson might have benefitted the most from the other losses in the top 10 on Saturday.

5. Oklahoma
Previous ranking: 5
Record: 8-1
Saturday’s result: 62-52 win over No. 11 Oklahoma State

Since Clemson beat a top-20 team on the road, we’re not sure Oklahoma’s win over a No. 11 Oklahoma State team will be enough to vault the Sooners over the Tigers. But we wouldn’t be totally shocked if it did. Oklahoma controls its own destiny in the Big 12 and the winner of next week’s massive showdown between the Sooners and TCU could jump into the top four.

Miami quarterback Malik Rosier (12) runs for yardage during the first half of an NCAA College football game against Virginia Tech, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

6. Miami
Previous ranking: 10
Record: 7-1
Saturday’s result: 28-10 win over No. 13 Virginia Tech

Miami got its statement win. After a run of close wins to stay undefeated, Miami controlled the game vs. Virginia Tech on Saturday. And we expect the Hurricanes will get rewarded as a result. Miami badly needed a top-15 win and has an opportunity for another one in Week 11 when it hosts Notre Dame.

Look for the Hurricanes to be the biggest mover upwards at the top of the CFP rankings on Tuesday.

7. TCU
Previous ranking: 8
Record: 8-1
Saturday’s result: 24-7 win over Texas

TCU took care of business against Texas for a fourth-straight season. The Horned Frogs rebounded nicely from a road loss to Iowa State last week and will be the one-loss team that takes the most advantage of losses by other teams. Could the Horned Frogs stay ahead of Miami? It’s possible.

8. Wisconsin
Previous ranking: 9
Record: 9-0
Saturday’s result: 45-17 win over Indiana

Here’s where things get fun, but not if you’re a fan of the Big Ten. Wisconsin is now the conference’s best shot for a College Football Playoff berth and the Badgers’ schedule has been subpar at best.

The Badgers stayed undefeated with the rout of Indiana. Wisconsin led 24-17 after the third quarter but scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away. The margin of victory is a big deal, even if Indiana is 3-6. The Hoosiers played both Ohio State and Michigan close at home this season.

That subpar schedule does get a big boost next week as Wisconsin hosts a suddenly strong 6-3 Iowa.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning (3) passes against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

9. Washington
Previous ranking: 12
Record: 8-1
Saturday’s result: 38-3 over Oregon

Washington is still hindered by its strength of schedule, but the Huskies were incredibly convincing of top-10 status in a blowout win over Oregon. Washington may be on the same level as Oklahoma and TCU among one-loss teams but the Huskies’ bad night in Tempe a few weeks ago still haunts them.

10. Ohio State
Previous ranking: 6
Record: 7-2
Saturday’s result: 55-24 loss to Iowa

That Iowa team Wisconsin plays next week throttled the Buckeyes 55-24 on Saturday. Anytime you can make the offense of a Kirk Ferentz-coached team look explosive you’re in real trouble. And Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley threw five touchdowns against Ohio State. Brutal.

Ohio State was the Big Ten’s meal ticket to the playoff before Saturday. Now, the Buckeyes face a must-win game next week against Michigan State just to have a chance to win the Big Ten West. If Michigan State wins, the Spartans have a clear path to the Big Ten Championship Game.

We think Ohio State stays ahead of Penn State because of the head-to-head win. But don’t be surprised if the Buckeyes fall behind.

11. Penn State
Previous ranking: 7
Record: 7-2
Saturday’s result: 27-24 loss to No. 24 Michigan State

With Ohio State losing, a Penn State win in a weather-delayed game would’ve given Penn State both a chance in the Big Ten West and a chance to make the College Football Playoff.

Nope. Even though we don’t think Penn State will fall out of the top 10 in Tuesday’s playoff rankings, it’s hard to see how the Nittany Lions get anywhere close to the top four without absolute madness unfolding ahead of them. Penn State needs a Michigan State win next week and then for Maryland or Rutgers to take down the Spartans. That’s not the most plausible of scenarios.

12. Auburn
Previous ranking: 14
Record: 7-2
Saturday’s result: 42-27 win over Texas A&M

If you’re looking for a two-loss team to crash the playoff, Auburn’s the team to stake your hopes on. With games against No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama remaining in the regular season along with a possible rematch against the Bulldogs, Auburn is in the College Football Playoff if it wins out.

You can stop laughing now. The chances of Auburn winning out are far closer to zero than they are to 50 percent. But we’re not being sarcastic when we say Auburn controls its own playoff destiny. And the Tigers could be as high as No. 10 on Tuesday.

On to this week’s winners and losers.


UAB: In its first season after ending its football program in 2014 and taking two years off, UAB is now bowl eligible after a 52-21 win over Rice on Saturday. UAB is now 6-3 overall and has a 4-2 record in Conference USA. The two-year hiatus from football was announced shortly after UAB got bowl eligible in 2014, when university president Ray Watts announced the program would be shut down at the end of the year due to funding problems. Against Rice, UAB led 21-0 after the first quarter and was up 42-7 at halftime. UAB is now 5-0 at home. That calls for a dance celebration:

Baylor: The Bears earned their first win of the season — and the first of the Matt Rhule era — with a 38-9 victory over Kansas in Lawrence. Baylor freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer made his first career start and shined in his debut, completing 23-of-29 passes for 315 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. With the Bears out of the cellar, there are only two winless FBS teams remaining this season: UTEP and Georgia Southern.

Northwestern: The Wildcats made history Saturday, becoming the first FBS team to win three consecutive overtime games with their 31-24 overtime win over Nebraska in Lincoln. Northwestern improved to 6-3 overall (4-2 Big Ten) and became bowl eligible for the third-straight year. Last week, Northwestern knocked off Michigan State 39-31 in triple-overtime. The week before, the Wildcats beat Iowa 17-10 in overtime. With Purdue, Minnesota and Illinois left on the schedule, the Wildcats have a good chance to finish the regular season with a 9-3 record.

Army: With Army’s 21-0 win over Air Force, it became the first team since 2012 to win a game without attempting a pass. That’s right, zero. Not one. Army has picked up wins this season without completing a pass before, but without even attempting a pass? Saturday against the rival Falcons was a first. Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for a career-high 265 yards in the win, which ended Air Force’s 306-game scoring streak. Air Force had the fifth-longest scoring streak all-time in the FBS prior to the loss.

Virginia: In just its second season under Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia (6-3, 3-2 ACC) earned bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011 with a 40-36 comeback win over Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers bounced back from two straight losses when Kurt Benkert hit Andre Levrone for the winning 27-yard touchdown with 1:22 left in regulation.

Ole Miss: Ole Miss pulled out a dramatic victory at Kentucky by scoring the winning touchdown in the final seconds. Trailing the Wildcats 34-30 with 10 seconds to go, the Rebels faced third and goal from the seven-yard line. Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta’amu, starting for the injured Shea Patterson, lobbed one up to big D.K. Metcalf. The 6-foot-4 Metcalf went up and brought in the winning score in the corner of the end zone, increasing Ole Miss’ record to 4-5 on the year.

(via SEC Network)

Rutgers: Rutgers is making some serious strides in year two under Chris Ash. Being competitive in Big Ten games was a challenge for the Scarlet Knights last year. With a 31-24 win over Maryland on Saturday, Ash’s team now has three conference wins and is 4-5 overall. The Scarlet Knights can’t throw the ball much, but Miami transfer Gus Edwards has done a nice job at running back. He rushed for 109 yards and caught the game-winning 23-yard touchdown to beat the Terps. Edwards’ cut to break loose was a thing of beauty:

Toledo: Through nine games, Toledo is 8-1 with its only loss coming on the road at Miami (Florida). That’s pretty good. The Rockets held off Northern Illinois 27-17 on Thursday night to stay unbeaten in MAC play. In the win, Logan Woodside became the program’s all-time leading passer. Toledo is the only MAC team without a conference loss and now has a comfortable place atop the MAC West. The program hasn’t reached the MAC title game since 2004 but looks poised to do so in 2017.


Texas Tech: Remember when Texas Tech was ranked? Well since then the Red Raiders have lost four in a row to drop to 4-5 on the year. On Saturday against Kansas State, TTU blew a 35-24 fourth quarter lead and lost 42-35 in overtime. To make matters worse, Kansas State was playing with its third-string quarterback, Skylar Thompson, late in the game. Thompson rushed for a touchdown to cut TTU’s lead to 35-33 and then connected with Dalton Schoen on a two-point conversion to tie the game at 35-35 with 42 seconds left. The Wildcats then won the game in overtime. Time may be running out on the Kliff Kingsbury era in Lubbock.

Weather: While the snow was a delight in Laramie, rain and lightning wreaked havoc in the state of Michigan. The start Michigan’s game against Minnesota was delayed, but that did not compare to the situation in East Lansing for Michigan State’s home game against Penn State. Lightning caused a delay in the second quarter and the game did not resume for more than three hours. It was brutal for everybody involved and the game did not end until after 7 p.m., more than seven hours after it began.

The snow-filled Wyoming-Colorado State game was glorious (Video)

Colorado State: Two weeks ago Colorado State was undefeated in Mountain West play and was in a great position to play for the conference title. But then the Rams dropped a 45-27 home decision to an average Air Force team, which was shut out by Army on Saturday. CSU followed up the Air Force loss with another loss Saturday night at snowy Wyoming. The Rams led for almost all of the game but gave up a touchdown with 4:21 to go and lost 16-13. CSU is now behind Boise State and Wyoming in the Mountain Division, but has a chance to make up some ground when Boise comes to Fort Collins next weekend.

Arkansas: Yes, Arkansas won on Saturday. But is a 39-38 win over a previously 1-7 Coastal Carolina team really a win? Especially when a comeback was necessary to do it?

The Hogs had to score 14-straight points to end the game after Coastal took a 38-25 lead. Had CCU won the game, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema might not have made it to Monday as the Razorbacks’ head coach. Instead, Arkansas is now 4-5 and still dreams of going to a bowl game, any bowl game.

Colorado: The Buffs led 27-17 over Arizona State with five minutes to go in the third quarter.

Arizona State won Saturday 41-30. Ugh. Colorado gave up 24 points in the fourth quarter as ASU scored touchdowns on its final three drives of the game. The Sun Devils are now within a win of making a bowl game while Colorado is a win away at 5-5. With games vs. USC and Utah remaining, Colorado’s chances of making a bowl game got a whole lot slimmer.

Oregon: Saturday’s loss to Washington was the first time Oregon failed to score a touchdown since a shutout loss to UCLA on Nov. 24, 2007. Yes, nearly 10 years.

Things aren’t going well for the Ducks, who fell to 5-5 and lost a fourth game in its last five. With Arizona and Oregon State left on the schedule, the season-ending Civil War is probably Oregon’s chance to get bowl-eligible.

New Mexico: The Lobos fell to 3-6 after losing at home to Utah State. UNM can still make a bowl game with three-straight wins to close out the season. But two of those three games are against Texas A&M and San Diego State. Uh oh. A third-straight bowl game is not looking good.

Georgia Southern and UTEP: The Eagles and Miners are the only two winless teams at college football’s top level after Baylor’s win at Kansas. Georgia Southern lost to Georgia State while UTEP fell to Middle Tennessee State.

Both teams, not coincidentally, have also made midseason coaching changes this year. Georgia Southern probably has the best chance of winning a game this season, if only because it ends the season vs. 1-8 Coastal Carolina. But that’s the same CCU that nearly beat Arkansas.

Anybody who attended the Charlotte vs. Old Dominion game:

This game looked fun.