2019 College Football Playoff Rankings: What the Top 25 Would Look Like After Week 9

2019 College Football Playoff Rankings: What the Top 25 Would Look Like After Week 9 article feature image

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: CeeDee Lamb

  • The first College Football Playoff rankings of 2019 will be released in nine days.
  • We're projecting what the CFP top 25 might look like after Week 9.

Before this week, there was chatter about what the College Football Playoff committee would do with four unbeaten conference champions and several one-loss conference runners up. And like every other year, things began to sort themselves out.

Oklahoma went down. Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Auburn all lost their second games of the season. Kansas won a Big 12 game! (sorry, not relevant here). There’s still so much football to be played, and we’ll get some answers on the College Football Playoff soon enough.

In this piece, we’re not actually trying to argue who the best teams in college football are — that’s what our Vegas-style power ratings are for. Those are available to Action EDGE members can be used to project point spreads between any two teams.

The first College Football Playoff rankings come out on Nov. 5, so we’re projecting what the Top 25 might look like in advance of the committee’s release.

2019 College Football Playoff Rankings

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 are four basic groups of College Football Playoff contenders right now.

  • The true contenders that will be favored in all remaining games.
  • The teams that control their own destiny but will need to pull off an upset or two as a sizable underdog.
  • The teams that need to win out and hope the contenders above them lose.
  • Baylor and Minnesota, who no one expected to be here but would be in if they win out.

We’ve also added some context with each team’s record, point spreads in their toughest remaining games via our oddsmaker-style power ratings, plus FiveThirtyEight.com’s playoff projection percentages.

The Contenders


  • Record: 8-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 54%
  • Toughest Games: vs. LSU (-7.5), at Auburn (-12)

Mac Jones and the Alabama offense (minus Tua Tagovailoa) rolled Arkansas. Ho hum.

The Tide have the week off before a pivotal showdown with LSU. Bama’s non-conference schedule was so weak this year that with a loss to LSU or Auburn, they probably don’t get into the College Football Playoff.

Ohio State

  • Record: 8-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 65%
  • Toughest Games: vs. PSU (-15), at Michigan (-15.5)

Ohio State rolled again on Saturday, trouncing Wisconsin in the rain to stay unbeaten.

The Buckeyes are the No. 1 team in our power ratings, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon with Tua sidelined for Alabama. OSU will be a double-digit favorite in all its remaining games.


  • Record: 8-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 87%
  • Toughest Games: at South Carolina (-21)

An undefeated Clemson gets in the College Football Playoff, no matter how bad the ACC is. And the Tigers will be a three-touchdown favorite in all their remaining games.

That’s a good recipe to reach the national semifinals, which is why the Tigers’ chances are north of 80%.

The Contenders That Need an Upset or Two


  • Record: 8-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 44%
  • Toughest Games: at Alabama (+7.5)

LSU will likely be a double-digit favorite in all of its remaining games but that road date with Alabama.

With Oklahoma’s loss, an 11-1 LSU (if that one loss comes to Alabama) has a realistic shot at the College Football Playoff.

Penn State

  • Record: 8-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 26%
  • Toughest Games: at Ohio State (+15.5), at Minnesota (-9)

There’s not a ton we can take from Penn State’s win in a monsoon at Michigan State, but the Nittany Lions just keep winning.

Next up? A bye, at Minnesota, Indiana, at Ohio State, Rutgers. There’s probably a loss in there to Ohio State, but the Rose Bowl is looking more and more realistic.

Teams Clinging to Some Hope


  • Record: 7-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 26%
  • Toughest Games: at Baylor (-12), at OK State (-16)

Every year, the same thing happens.

“This is the year the committee has to make a really hard choice.”

“There will be four unbeaten teams and three with one loss.”

And then, Kansas State beats Oklahoma outright as a 23-point underdog and everything sorts itself out.

The Sooners are by no means eliminated from the College Football Playoff after their loss on Saturday, but they can’t afford to slip up again.


  • Record: 7-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 23%
  • Toughest Games: at USC (-3)

Oregon has its toughest remaining regular season test this week — at USC. The Ducks survived a thriller against Washington State with a walk-off field goal.


  • Record: 6-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 15%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Florida (-7), at Auburn (-2.5)

The Dawgs still control their own path to the College Football Playoff, and it continues with a neutral site game in Jacksonville on Saturday against Florida.

But right now, it feels like everyone is focused on the wrong things with Georgia. We need to worry about improving and actually winning, not the College Football Playoff.



  • Record: 7-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 15%
  • Toughest Games: at Washington (-1.5)

The one-loss Utes will need to run the table and win the Pac-12, then get help from some other teams around the country.

Utah and Oregon could meet in the Pac-12 Championship Game (if USC starts losing), which would be a defacto elimination game, if they’re not already eliminated.


  • Record: 7-1
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 12%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Georgia (+7), at Missouri (-1)

Florida’s biggest game of the season is this coming Saturday, when the Gators play Georgia in Jacksonville. With a win, we can start taking this team’s College Football Playoff hopes seriously. They’d be in if they run the table.

Win Out And You’re In, Somehow

This group of teams would absolutely make the College Football Playoff if they win out. Trouble is, winning out will be very difficult.


  • Record: 7-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 14%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Oklahoma (+12), vs. Texas (-2)

Baylor is in sole possession of first place in the Big 12, two games clear of third and hosts both Oklahoma and Texas down the stretch.

The Bears will still be a big underdog to the Sooners, but could be favored in all their other remaining games.


  • Record: 8-0
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 11%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Penn State (+9), vs. Wisconsin (+9), at Iowa (+7.5)

Did you have unbeaten Minnesota meeting unbeaten Penn State in November on your 2019 College Football Bingo card? Same.

The Gophers will be a sizable underdog three more times, but if they win out, they will get to the College Football Playoff. That would include wins over Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio State.

A one-loss Minnesota that wins the Big Ten probably gets in, but a one-loss Minnesota that doesn’t win the conference will be left out.

Eliminated Saturday


  • Record: 6-2
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 3%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Iowa (-4)

Wisconsin went from serious contender to afterthought in exactly eight days. So it goes.

The Badgers got rolled by Ohio State, and while they can still win the Big Ten West since Minnesota has a tough road and the two teams play head to head, there won’t be any College Football Playoff in sight in 2019 unless we see unprecedented chaos.

Notre Dame

  • Record: 5-2
  • College Football Playoff Odds: <1%
  • Toughest Games: at Stanford (-15)

Notre Dame has a very light schedule the rest of the way, but a blowout loss at Michigan was enough to eliminate the Irish from the CFP discussion.


  • Record: 6-2
  • College Football Playoff Odds: 2%
  • Toughest Games: vs. Alabama (+12)

Auburn is the people’s national champion at 6-1 against the spread, but the Tigers won’t be vying for a national title this year.

If it did somehow win out by beating Georgia and Alabama, Auburn could get in. That’ the situation it was in two years ago when it lost to UGA in the SEC Championship Game.

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