Athlon projects the CFB playoff.
College football’s playoff committee released its first set of rankings last Tuesday. While the top 25 rankings are expected to change each week and will look drastically different from the release of the first poll to the last one, the playoff committee's poll provided some insight into the process.
Each week, Athlon Sports hopes to replicate the playoff committee’s work by asking some of college football’s top media members to vote on their top eight teams. This poll will attempt to project how the playoff picture stacks up after each week until the end of the year.
Bobby Bowden (@TheBobbyBowden), Legends Poll
Gene Stallings, (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Don Nehlen (@LegendsPoll), Legends Poll
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), Athlon Sports
Braden Gall (@BradenGall), Athlon Sports
Zac Ellis (@ZacEllis), Sports Illustrated
David Fox (@DavidFox615), Athlon Sports
Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis), CardChronicle.com
Teddy Mitrosilis (@TMitrosilis), Fox Sports
Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey), SBNation.com
Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB), SportsonEarth.com
Rich Cirminiello (@RichCirminiello), Campus Insiders
Brad Crawford (@BCrawfordSDS), SaturdayDownSouth.com
Allen Kenney (@BlatantHomerism), BlatantHomerism.com
Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247), Eersports.com
Kyle Kensing (@kensing45), CFBHuddle.com
Adam Powell (@ACCSports), ACCSports.com
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) Athlon Sports
Josh Ward (@Josh_Ward), MrSEC.com
Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), CollegeFootballTalk.com
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR), Athlon Sports
Post-Week 10 Playoff Projection
Takeaways From Expert Poll Results
* For the third week in a row, Mississippi State and Florida State rank as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the playoff projection.
* However, the Bulldogs’ grip on the No. 1 spot slipped after a close win over Arkansas. The Bulldogs edged Florida State 163 to 149 after Week 9, and the gap closed to 153 to 149 following Week 10.
* Auburn was a big winner in this week’s playoff projection. The Tigers moved from No. 5 to No. 3 after a victory over Ole Miss and rank just 28 points behind Florida State for the No. 2 spot.
* Oregon and Alabama tied for the No. 4 spot in this week’s vote. The Crimson Tide received a first and second-place vote, while the Ducks did not receive a vote higher than third.
* The committee has identified a clear top five: Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn, Alabama and Oregon. After the top five is where things get interesting. TCU ranks No. 6 with 50 points, while Michigan State is No. 7 at 42 points. Those two teams will have a chance to climb in the rankings with key conference matchups in Week 11.
* Arizona State received a vote in a playoff projection poll for the first time in 2014.
* The SEC has four teams in the top 12. The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 are tied for second in conference hierarchy with two teams making an appearance in the committee’s rankings.
Group of 5 Rankings
The Thundering Herd was the biggest beneficiary of East Carolina’s loss to Temple. Marshall moves to the No. 1 spot in the Group of 5 rankings and will be a heavy favorite in each of its four remaining regular season games. The Thundering Herd travels to Southern Miss this Saturday and hosts defending C-USA champion Rice on Nov. 15. Marshall’s strength of schedule won’t do it any favors, but it has won all eight games by at least 15 points.
2. Boise State
There’s very little separation among the Group of 5 teams, and Boise State seems to have the best opportunity to pass Marshall for the No. 1 spot over the next few weeks. The Broncos play at New Mexico this Saturday, followed by a home date against San Diego State on Nov. 15. Strength of schedule is on Boise State’s side. However, can the two-loss Broncos pass an unbeaten Marshall?
3. Colorado State
The nation has started to take notice of coach Jim McElwain’s team, but the Rams need help to claim the Group of 5 bowl spot. With a head-to-head loss to Boise State, Colorado State is on the outside – for now. Conference champions are only eligible for the Group of 5 bowl spot, so the Rams need a loss by the Broncos in one of their four remaining conference games to have a shot at the Mountain West title.
4. East Carolina
The Pirates dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 on this list after their Week 10 loss to Temple. East Carolina is now one of five teams tied at 3-1 in American Athletic Conference play and needs a lot of help to get back into the conversation for a spot in a New Year’s Bowl.
Houston, Cincinnati, Memphis, UCF, Temple or Nevada each deserves consideration for the No. 5 ranking on this list. The Bearcats get a slight edge over the other five teams mentioned, largely due to the upcoming schedule. Cincinnati still has to play East Carolina, Temple and Houston. It’s a longshot, but Tommy Tuberville’s team still has a chance – with a lot of help – to claim the Group of 5 bowl spot.
Key Games With Playoff/Bowl Implications in Week 11
Georgia at Kentucky
Noon ET, ESPN
Bulldogs no longer in control of East Division, but coach Mark Richt’s team needs to win in order to keep the pressure on Missouri.
Baylor at Oklahoma
Noon ET, Fox Sports 1
This game was slated to be the must-see matchup in the Big 12 this preseason but has lost a little luster with a combined three losses between these two teams.
Notre Dame at Arizona State
3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
An intriguing (and rare) non-conference game in November. Fighting Irish need to an impressive win to move up in the playoff committee rankings, while the Sun Devils have emerged as the favorite in the Pac-12 South.
Virginia at Florida State
6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Seminoles lost their last meeting (2011) against Virginia, but barring a huge letdown by Florida State, this one shouldn’t be close. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team has one more tune-up before a showdown against in-state rival Miami.
UCLA at Washington
7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Myles Jack (UCLA) and Shaq Thompson (Washington) are two of the nation’s most-versatile players and will garner plenty of attention on Saturday night. This one is critical to UCLA’s South Division title hopes, as the Bruins need to win to keep the pressure on Arizona State.
Boise State at New Mexico
7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
With East Carolina’s loss, the door is open for Marshall, Boise State and Colorado State for the Group of 5 spot in a New Year’s Bowl. The Broncos nearly lost (32-29) in their last trip to Albuquerque.
Hawaii at Colorado State
7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Rams are dealing with injuries to quarterback Garrett Grayson and receiver Rashard Higgins, but even if both players are limited, it probably won’t matter against a struggling Hawaii team.
Louisville at Boston College
7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Cardinals gave Florida State all it could handle last week but fell short after a second-half rally by the Seminoles. Louisville needs a win in Chestnut Hill to keep its Orange Bowl hopes alive.
Kansas State at TCU
7:30 p.m. ET, FOX
This game marks the first of three tough road trips for Kansas State for the remainder of the regular season: at TCU, at West Virginia and at Baylor. And this game should go a long ways to determining the Big 12 champion, especially since the Horned Frogs will be heavy favorites to win each of their final three games: at Kansas, at Texas and Iowa State.
Alabama at LSU
8 p.m. ET, CBS
The annual matchup between the Tigers and Crimson Tide is usually one of the SEC’s marquee games each year. There’s no shortage of talent on either roster, and three out of the last five matchups were decided by four points or less. Alabama is on the playoff bubble in our committee rankings, but Nick Saban’s team has the schedule to make a move in November: at LSU and home games against Auburn and Mississippi State.
Ohio State at Michigan State
8 p.m. ET, ABC
This matchup is easily the biggest game of the year in the Big Ten and has major playoff implications. The last four meetings are split at two victories apiece, while two of the last three games were decided by three points or less.
Oregon at Utah
10 p.m. ET, ESPN
A letdown concern for Oregon? The Ducks put a lot into last week’s game against Stanford and now travel to take on a dangerous Utah team. The Utes’ defense will be a good test for Oregon quarterback (and Heisman favorite) Marcus Mariota.