2019 College Football Rankings: How the CFP Top 25 Would Look After Week 7

Oct 14, 2019 11:05 PM EDT
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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rodrigo Blankenship

  • We're projecting the 2019 College Football Playoff Top 25 after Week 7.
  • The first set of rankings won't come out until Nov. 5, but here's what the committee might do, with analysis below on how difficult each team's path to the semifinals really is.

We had our first real upset of the 2019 college football season, though it doesn’t necessarily eliminate anyone.

Georgia fell to South Carolina but like many other one-loss teams, the Dawgs still control their own destiny to the College Football Playoff. The main criteria for the CFP in the last five years have been A) be a Power 5 team and B) have one or fewer losses. That’s pretty much it.

The real College Football Playoff rankings don’t come until Nov. 5, but we’re projecting what the committee might do after Week 7. And it’s pretty difficult to do given there’s still so much to be decided.

These rankings are not meant to make a case for who the best teams actually are — we rank every team here in our oddsmaker-style betting power ratings. The full ratings (which easily allow you to create approximate point spreads between any two teams) are available to Action EDGE members.

Below that we broke down each team’s toughest games and what the point spreads will likely be to create a picture of how real each team’s College Football Playoff hopes are.

Projected College Football Playoff Rankings, Week 7

Our projections are based on five years of College Football Playoff rankings and try to mirror what the committee will do, not how good these teams actually are. For that, check out our betting power ratings.

There’s a reason the College Football Playoff committee doesn’t release its top 25 until November.

Most of these teams will knock each other out and make life much easier for the folks deciding the four semifinalists.

Below are the teams that still have some chance left, split into four groups — the true contenders, the contenders that will likely need to pull off at least one big upset, the teams that need to run the table and the teams that are unbeaten but have no real shot.

We’ve compiled each team’s toughest games (excluding conference championships) and the point spread for those games according to our oddsmaker-style power ratings, plus FiveThirtyEight.com’s playoff projection percentages.

The Contenders

Alabama

  • Record: 6-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 56%
  • Toughest Games: vs. LSU (-9), at Auburn (-13.5)

You will not find many college football rankings with Alabama not at the top, but you can make the case that the committee will put Ohio State as the top seed.

The Tide have only held the No. 1 spot in the first CFP rankings in two of the five years the playoff has existed (they were unbeaten in 2017 when the rankings debuted, and came No. 2 to Georgia).

The College Football Playoff committee tends to throw out preseason expectations early in the process, and the Buckeyes have arguably been the most impressive team in the country.

Ohio State

  • Record: 6-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 49%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Wisconsin (-13.5), vs. PSU (-15.5), at Michigan (-11.5)

The Buckeyes have dominated early on under new coach Ryan Day, and could be a double-digit favorite in all their remaining games.

Clemson

  • Record: 6-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 78%
  • Toughest Games: at South Carolina (-22.5)

Things haven’t been perfect, but Clemson is unbeaten and has the easiest path to the College Football Playoff of any real contender.

The Tigers should be a three-touchdown favorite in all their remaining games.

Oklahoma

  • Record: 6-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 51%
  • Toughest Games: at Baylor (-13.5), at OK State (-11.5)

The Sooners defense looks legit, and they’re the heavy favorite to win the Big 12 after beating Texas on Saturday, though there are still plenty of hurdles left.

Expect Oklahoma to be a double-digit favorite in all its remaining games.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts

The Contenders That Need an Upset or Two

LSU

  • Record: 6-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 31%
  • Toughest Games: at Alabama (+9), vs. Auburn (-12.5)

How do you not have this team among the top 4? The Tigers offense looks incredible, with at least 42 points in all six games.

Trouble is, LSU has to win in Tuscaloosa to guarantee itself a College Football Playoff spot. A loss to Bama doesn’t disqualify the Tigers (see Alabama in 2017, when it lost to Auburn and didn’t reach the SEC Championship Game but still ended up in the College Football Playoff), but LSU would need help elsewhere.

LSU will be a double-digit favorite in every game except vs. Alabama, which certainly bodes well for its chances.

Wisconsin

  • Record: 6-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 26%
  • Toughest Games: at Ohio State (+13.5), vs. Iowa (-7.5)

The Badgers have four shutouts this season. They’ve allowed 29 points in six games, and have improved their stock more than pretty much any team in the country.

But as it stands, Wisconsin will need to beat Ohio State in Columbus on Oct. 26 — we project the Buckeyes will be around a 14-point favorite in that game — then probably beat Ohio State again in the Big Ten Championship.

One regular season loss followed by a conference title could definitely get Wisconsin in, though. The inverse, probably not.

Penn State

  • Record: 6-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 17%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Michigan (-5), at Ohio State (+15.5), at Michigan State (-2)

The Nittany Lions haven’t looked anywhere near as impressive as Ohio State or Wisconsin, but they’re unbeaten and their College Football Playoff chances are tangible.

The Hangers On

Oregon

  • Record: 5-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 14%
  • Toughest Games: at Washington (+3), vs. Wash. State (-8.5)

The Ducks have to be kicking themselves for blowing that Week 1 lead against Auburn. Their defense is legit, allowing 25 points in the last five games, and the schedule is doable.

There are some tricky spots left — at USC, Arizona State and Washington, hosting Washington State — but the path to the playoff is there for Oregon.

Georgia

  • Record: 5-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 13%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Florida (-10), at Auburn (-6.5)

The Dawgs still control their own destiny to the College Football Playoff, but Saturday’s loss to South Carolina leaves them no room for error. It also shows that maybe this team isn’t all that good.

Notre Dame

  • Record: 5-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 13%
  • Toughest Games: at Michigan (PK), at Stanford (-12)

Notre Dame proved last season it could get in if it finished undefeated. But can a one-loss Irish team (with that one loss at Georgia) reach the College Football Playoff? It will need some chaos elsewhere in the country.

ND’s schedule really lightens up in the second half. The Irish will be a double-digit favorite against every team except Michigan, with its toughest games being at Duke and at Stanford.

Utah

  • Record: 5-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 9%
  • Toughest Games: at Washington (+2.5), at Arizona State (-7.5)

Like Oregon, the one-loss Utes will need to run the table and get some help from the rest of the country to have a shot.

Auburn

  • Record: 5-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 7%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Alabama (+13.5), at LSU (+12.5)

Like Florida or Georgia, the one-loss Tigers will need to pull some big upsets the rest of the way to have any shot.

Florida

  • Record: 6-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 6%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Georgia (+10), at Missouri (+1)

The Gators are for real, but the SEC is unforgiving. If they can upset Georgia, though, UF would have a chance at the College Football Playoff.

They’d need to survive at Missouri and South Carolina and then beat likely LSU or Alabama in the SEC Championship Game as a double-digit underdog.

Michigan

  • Record: 5-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 2%
  • Toughest Games: at Penn State (+5), vs. Notre Dame (PK), at Ohio State (+11.5)

The Wolverines aren’t eliminated — run the table and they’re in — but they go to Penn State this week, then host Notre Dame, and finish the season with Ohio State.

That’s a tough road, and that’s before accounting for the fact that this team has looked absolutely terrible all season.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jim Harbaugh

Contending, Somehow

Baylor

  • Record: 6-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 8%
  • Toughest Games: at Oklahoma State (+5.5), vs. Oklahoma (+13.5), vs. Texas (+3.5)

I was shocked to see Baylor with a greater than 2% chance to reach the College Football Playoff, but the Bears do get Oklahoma and Texas at home.

They go to Oklahoma State and TCU in the next three weeks, and I’ll be betting on at least one to knock Baylor off.

The Bears could be an underdog in at least half of their remaining games.

Minnesota

  • Record: 6-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 8%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Penn State (+8.5), vs. Wisconsin (+10.5), at Iowa (+11.5)

We talked all offseason about how nicely Minnesota’s schedule set up. The Gophers have not been impressive by most measures, but they’re 6-0 and should enter the home stretch at 8-0.

They could be at least a touchdown underdog three times in those final four games, though.

Eliminated This Week

Texas

Horns down.

Texas has fought hard in its two losses — by 7 points each to LSU and Oklahoma — but two losses mean the Longhorns’ chance at a national title is over.

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