2018 College Football Playoff Predictions After Week 8: Michigan Making Its Move

2018 College Football Playoff Predictions After Week 8: Michigan Making Its Move article feature image

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne

  • We're just nine days away from the first 2018 College Football Playoff rankings, so in the meantime, let's speculate as to what might happen.
  • Alabama and Clemson took care of business on Saturday, while Ohio State got steamrolled by Purdue to let Michigan into the top four.

We’re just nine days away from the first release of the 2018-19 College Football Playoff rankings. Until then … let’s speculate!

Alabama and Clemson both took care of business on Saturday, while Ohio State got smashed by Purdue. Michigan rolled, LSU won a slugfest and Washington State joined the CFP conversation.

Here are our College Football Playoff predictions after Week 8.

Percentages from FiveThirtyEight.com’s College Football Playoff prediction model.

2018 College Football Playoff Projections

1. Alabama

  • Record: 8-0
  • Playoff Chances: 68%

College football is weird. And nothing is a sure thing. But Alabama returning to the College Football Playoff for a fifth straight season feels like it.

The Tide have a week off before playing LSU in Baton Rouge on Nov. 3.

2. Clemson

  • Record: 7-0
  • Playoff Chances: 79%

Clemson passed maybe its toughest test remaining before the ACC championship game with a rout of N.C. State. That vaunted defense was as good as advertised against the Wolfpack.

3. Notre Dame

  • Record: 7-0
  • Playoff Chances: 53%

A week off for the Irish will do them plenty of good. They play Navy in San Diego this week.

4. Michigan

  • Record: 7-1
  • Playoff Chances: 25%

The Wolverines jump up into the No. 4 spot after Ohio State’s loss, though you certainly make the case that Oklahoma has just as good a case.

Michigan’s win over Michigan State on Saturday didn’t feel like a statement game. It was more of a “monkey off our back, we won’t let a worse team ruin our season again” win.

The Wolverines were dominant against the Spartans, holding them to 94 total yards. Ninety-four!

Outside Looking In, But Still Alive

5. Georgia

  • Record: 6-1
  • Playoff Chances: 20%

The Bulldogs play Florida in a game that should decide the SEC East. The Gators would jump into this No. 5 range with a win, while Georgia would stay here with a win and need to beat Alabama in the SEC championship game.

6. LSU

  • Record: 7-1
  • Playoff Chances: 19%

The Tigers didn’t lack any motivation in a third straight physical and emotional contest, beating Mississippi State 19-3. Next up, Alabama in Baton Rouge on Nov. 3.

You could also make the case that LSU right now deserves one of the top four spots, but Michigan has a much clearer path. The Wolverines won’t be a two-touchdown home dog in the next two weeks like the Tigers will be vs. the Tide, and LSU would be pretty much eliminated with a loss.

7. Ohio State

  • Record: 7-1
  • Playoff Chances: 21%

The Buckeyes are not dead yet, evidenced by two years ago when they lost to Penn State and still made the CFP. They play Michigan to end the season and the winner will have a great shot to represent the Big Ten.

8. The Big 12

I still believe a one-loss Texas would get in, assuming a reasonable amount of chaos ensues elsewhere. The Longhorns winning out isn’t as unlikely as you’d think after they survived Baylor.

Oklahoma rolled TCU this week and could also run the table, but its defense still needs serious work. Same with West Virginia, which had a week off after a loss to Iowa State.

This conference will cannibalize itself plenty down the stretch, but any one-loss team that emerges from it has a shot to reach the playoff.

9. Washington State

  • Record: 6-1
  • Playoff Chances: 6%

The Cougars take a spot Oregon occupied last week because, believe it or not, they’re in a decent spot. They have one loss, and play at Stanford and at Colorado in the next few weeks before closing the season against Washington at home.

10. Good Teams That Need Big Upsets

Power 5 teams with one or zero losses that will be sizable underdogs in at least one more game this season:

  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky

Hey … Iowa’s pretty good? The Hawkeyes have a favorable schedule after a meeting with Penn State this week.

Sorry, You’re Not Getting In

11. UCF

I will keep UCF at No. 11 until further notice. Just enough to be taken seriously, but at the same time not taken seriously at all.

Last season the College Football Playoff committee made it very clear that teams need quality wins to get in. UCF will not have many quality wins even if it runs the table this season.

The playoff just wasn’t designed for a team like UCF to get in.

All But Eliminated

Oregon played itself out with a blowout loss to Washington State, since it now has two losses.

And no one thought N.C. State actually had a chance, but the Pack are now just about dead thanks to a loss to Clemson.