College football playoff photo for week 10: Michigan state moves up to fourth place

It’s November and the college football playoff standings are coming.

Michigan State will be the hot topic after rallying from a 16-point deficit to beat Michigan 37-33 on Saturday. The Spartans are the only undefeated team remaining in the Big Ten, and a resume that includes an out-of-conference victory in Miami cannot be overlooked. The Spartans have argued to be one of the top four teams in the latest standings, even though that comes at the expense of rivals like Cincinnati, Oregon and Ohio State.

This last place will be controversial in the first series of rankings. Sporting News continues to sort these teams based on the ranking of contenders. The first round of CFP rankings will take place on Tuesday.

MORE: What you need to know about Tuesday’s CFP ranking

Each week, we’ll break down the playoff picture based on how we think the CFP committee would (or should) rank the top 10 teams. Future results are not projected:

Four in the college football qualifiers

1. Georgia (8-0)

Remaining time: vs. Missouri, Tennessee, vs. Charleston Southern, at Georgia Tech

There won’t be much to reveal at No.1 given that Georgia have four wins against ranked teams. The Bulldogs continued their defensive dominance in a 34-7 victory over Florida. Georgia turned three first-half turnovers into a 24-0 halftime lead, and Florida didn’t score any touchdowns until the final quarter. Zamir White’s 42-yard touchdown rush put the finishing touches on a victory in which the Bulldogs committed three turnovers. Quarterback Stetson Bennett continues to manage the offense and Georgia won the SEC East Championship after Kentucky’s loss to Mississippi State.

2. Oklahoma (9-0)

Remaining time: Goodbye, to Baylor, vs Iowa State, to Oklahoma State

It took nine games and a faltering Texas Tech, but the Sooners kicked off a 52-21 blowout in the Big 12. It was the Oklahoma team we’ve been expecting to see all season. Freshman quarterback Caleb Williams broadcast it by hitting 23 of 30 passes for 402 yards and six touchdowns. Receivers Marvin Mims Jr. (4 catches, 135 yards, 2 TDs) and Mario Williams (5 catches, 100 yards, TD) made the big plays, and Oklahoma didn’t need to lead the football. Williams is on his way to becoming the best quarterback in the FBS. Yes, we said it. Baylor and Oklahoma State are expected to be ranked when Oklahoma plays them out of the week off. They will have to stay perfect given the four teams behind.

3. Alabama (7-1)

Remaining time: vs. LSU, vs. New Mexico State, vs. Arkansas, Auburn

Alabama was given a week off to prepare for another November. The Crimson Tide will likely retain that # 2 spot despite some objections. Miami, Florida, and Ole Miss were ranked opponents at the time, however, and the Crimson Tide has its own set of rules. So what’s next? Alabama are 30-3 in the November / December CFP era under Nick Saban, and that includes five clear runs through the SEC Championship game. Three straight home games leading up to the Iron Bowl mean Alabama probably isn’t dropping from that location either.

4. Michigan State (8-0)

Remaining time: in Purdue, v Maryland, in Ohio State, v Penn State

It’s an argument Cincinnati might not be able to win. The Spartans solidified their standings with a 37-33 victory over rival Michigan, and they are the only undefeated Big Ten team. This victory weighs a little more than Cincinnati’s victory over Notre Dame, and the Spartans also beat Indiana. On top of that, running back Kenneth Walker III jumped into the Heisman debate with 197 yards and five touchdowns. The Spartans also have more meat on the schedule. A big leap in the rankings is coming.

MORE: Questionable calls at center of Michigan-Michigan State game

Two outside

5. Cincinnati (8-0)

Getty Images

Remaining time: vs. Tulsa, at USF, vs. SMU, at East Carolina

The Bearcats went undefeated with a 31-12 victory over Tulane, a game in which Cincinnati briefly lagged in the second quarter. Desmond Ridder however recalibrated and finished with 227 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Cincinnati defense limited Tulane to 93 yards passing, and now the issue becomes a matter of respect with the CFP committee. The Bearcats were 8th in the initial standings last season. They could be ranked anywhere between # 3 and # 7, and we’ll share the difference at # 5.

6. Oregon (7-1)

Remaining time: in Washington, against Washington State, in Utah, against Oregon State

We won’t be surprised if Ohio State is ranked ahead of Oregon despite the Ducks winning 35-28 at Ohio Stadium on September 11. a 52-29 victory. Quarterback Anthony Brown had 307 yards and three touchdowns, and running back Byron Cardwell had seven carries for 127 yards and one touchdown. He is the answer for CJ Verdell, who has been lost for the season. Maybe the Buckeyes would win a rematch with the potential Pac-12 champion. Maybe the state of Ohio also has the best calendar strength. But that one-on-one matters, and the Ducks should be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes for now.

Four to watch

7. Ohio State (7-1)

Remaining time: in Nebraska, v Purdue, v Michigan State, Michigan

Should the Buckeyes be in the top four? If we’re basing it on talent and the “eye test” then maybe. Ohio State, however, lost to Oregon and didn’t have a top 10 victory like Cincinnati. The Buckeyes clinched a win over a ranked opponent, beating Penn State 33-24 at Ohio Stadium. CJ Stroud finished with 305 passing yards and a touchdown, and running back TreVeyon Henderson added 152 rushing yards and a touchdown. It was a three-point game going into the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes might not like their place in the initial standings, but wins over Michigan State and Michigan would do the trick. A Big Ten champion at one loss would outshine the Bearcats. Would it do the same for the Ducks?

BENDER: Ohio State Monster Could Be Too Much For James Franklin

8. Michigan (7-1)

Remaining time: vs. Indiana, at Penn State, vs. Maryland, at Ohio State

Michigan could fall further as their best win is a road win at Wisconsin. The Wolverines’ path to a Big Ten championship requires help after a 37-33 loss to Michigan State on the road. It’s a bad loss from the perspective of the Wolverines who lost a 16-point lead, and now it puts pressure to beat Big Ten East rivals Penn State on the road ahead of the annual referendum against the Buckeyes. Jim Harbaugh is now 2-13 against the Top 10 teams, and letting one slip away on Saturday will linger in a home game against Indiana.

BENDER: The Heat Is Back On Jim Harbaugh After Exploded Leads At MSU

9. Forest of Wakes (8-0)

Remaining time: in North Carolina, against NC State, in Clemson, at Boston College

The Demon Deacons are the only unbeaten at the ACC, a Power 5 conference, and they must be counted for the top 10 given that spotless record. The bright side ? Sam Hartman continues to lead an impressive offense who has amassed at least 35 points in every game this season. Hartman had 402 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-7 blowout against Duke. He has 860 passing yards and eight touchdowns in the past two weeks. The wrong side? Wake Forest has yet to beat a ranked opponent this season, and there may not be one on the schedule. This cannot become a distraction as the Tobacco Road tour continues in North Carolina in week 10.

10. Notre-Dame (7-1)

Remaining time: against Navy, at Virginia, against Georgia Tech, at Stanford

The Irish are not yet dead. Cincinnati would love to see the Irish make the top 10. Notre Dame has a three-game winning streak after a 44-34 win over North Carolina. The resume only features one win against a ranked team, the site-neutral blowout against Wisconsin, and the Irish barely have the look of a team that deserves to be in the CFP. But at least they didn’t suffer a second loss, like Ole Miss and Kentucky did in the SEC on Saturday. On that note, don’t be surprised if two-game losing Texas A&M is ranked 10th in the standings based on that upset in Alabama.


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