2018 College Football Playoff Projections, Week 7: Chaos Reigns

2018 College Football Playoff Projections, Week 7: Chaos Reigns article feature image

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Miles Boykin

  • The first release of the 2018 College Football Playoff rankings is just a few weeks away, so we're projecting the four-team field in advance.
  • Week 7 was filled with chaos in college football, as four top-10 teams went down.

The College Football Playoff picture got a big shakeup Saturday in Week 7, and there could have been even more.

Top-10 teams Georgia, West Virginia, Washington and Penn State all lost, the latter two effectively eliminated from the College Football Playoff conversation.

Notre Dame got a good shot from Pitt but survived, and Texas needed to hold on during the last play against Baylor.

Here are your 2018 College Football Playoff projections after Week 7, with projections from FiveThirtyEight.com. We’re now just two weeks from the release of the committee’s first set of rankings.

2018 College Football Playoff Projections

1. Alabama

  • Record: 7-0
  • Playoff Chances: 65%

Ho hum. Alabama wins big again. The Tide could be tested in Baton Rouge on Nov. 3 against LSU, but I don’t see it.

Auburn is a mess. Mississippi State has serious issues. There isn’t a ton separating Alabama from a perfect regular season.

2. Clemson

  • Record: 6-0
  • Playoff Chances: 64%

Clemson had the week off, which is great because it lost to Syracuse during Week 7 last year. And this year’s Week 7 was an absolute mess for the top 10.

The Tigers host No. 20 N.C. State next week, and will probably be a favorite of more than two touchdowns. That might be their lowest spread until the ACC championship game.

3. Ohio State

  • Record: 7-0
  • Playoff Chances: 52%

The Buckeyes didn’t look good against Minnesota, but they’re in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten East. It will come down to two games — at Michigan State and home against Michigan.

4. Notre Dame

  • Record: 7-0
  • Playoff Chances: 51%

The Irish did what four teams in the top 10 couldn’t on Saturday. They won!

Notre Dame’s toughest remaining tests will still be tests, but at this point, wins are wins. Five more wins get the Irish in the College Football Playoff.

Outside Looking In, But Still Alive

5. Georgia

  • Record: 6-1
  • Playoff Chances: 22%

We had Georgia at No. 5 last week, and it stays there despite a loss. The Bulldogs need to run the table and win the SEC championship game, which was always the most likely way they got in, anyway.

Losing to LSU creates less margin for error, certainly. But Georgia is by no means eliminated.

6. LSU

  • Record: 6-1
  • Playoff Chances: 14%

The trouble with LSU is despite all its quality wins — Miami, Auburn, Georgia — it also has a loss. And the Tigers must beat Alabama in early November (and Mississippi State next week) to continue having only one loss.

No two-loss team has ever made the College Football Playoff, and if one were to get in, it would likely need to win its conference. Losing to Alabama would end that hope for LSU.

7. Michigan

  • Record: 6-1
  • Playoff Chances: 16%

Michigan’s dominant win over Wisconsin sets the stage for an epic second half of the season. The Wolverines play at Michigan State, home against Penn State and at Ohio State.

If they run the table and win the Big Ten championship, they’ll get in.

8. The … Big 12?

I 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 could do the same, but its defense needs serious work. Same with West Virginia, which lost to Iowa State on Saturday.

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. Oregon

  • Record: 5-1
  • Playoff Chances: 7%

Man, the Ducks really want that one against Stanford back. They’d be unbeaten and firmly positioning themselves in the College Football Playoff discussion.

Instead, Oregon needs to run the table (it’s at Washington State, Arizona and Utah in the next month) and win the Pac-12 championship game. No room for error.

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:

  • N.C. State
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Duke
  • Washington State
  • Colorado

No one expects these teams to win out, but if any did, they’d be squarely in the College Football Playoff conversation.

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 you 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

You just can’t lose two games. It’s that simple. Washington, Wisconsin and Penn State took their second L’s of the season Saturday, and played themselves out.