Week 9 College Football Playoff Eliminator: List of National Championship Contenders Dwindles

Week 9 College Football Playoff Eliminator: List of National Championship Contenders Dwindles article feature image

Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The College Football Playoff logo on a field goal pad.

Another week of Action Network’s Eliminator Column means another week where the list of playoff hopefuls continues to dwindle.

In the first edition, 79 teams were eliminated in Weeks 1-5. Twenty teams followed them after the results of Weeks 6 and 7. As for this week? Well, six more teams will have to turn their playoff hopes to 2023.

Of the 131 FBS teams in the nation, 26 schools are still holding onto some form of hope. As always, those 26 are sorted into our three distinct tiers.

But first, let’s take a look at the latest teams going home following Saturday’s action.

Eliminated From College Football Playoff in Week 8


Kansas Jayhawks


Minnesota Golden Gophers


Mississippi State Bulldogs


Pitt Panthers


Purdue Boilermakers


Texas Longhorns

Eliminated in Weeks 1-7

As always, here are the ground rules that will be in place all year:

  • Any loss eliminates a Group of Five team immediately. In the history of the CFP, there has only been one Group of Five team to make the playoff — last year’s undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats. A one-loss Group of Five team is simply not making the playoff in the current format.
  • Auto-elimination for any Power Five team that loses a third game. To this point, there has never even been a two-loss team that made the playoff. There have been a few that have been close over the years, but there will certainly not be a three-loss team among the final four.
  • Any two-loss Power Five team that has been eliminated from conference championship contention will also be eliminated in this column. Given that we’ve never seen a two-loss team make it to this point, it’s safe to assume a two-loss team would need to win its respective conference to have any chance.
  • Lastly, I reserve the right to eliminate any team that simply does not have a realistic path to the playoff. I took it easy on a few teams this week, as you'll see below, but I can’t guarantee that will be the case moving forward.

Here are the latest tiers:

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All "To Make Playoff" odds are as of Tuesday, Oct. 25 and via DraftKings.

Firmly in the Mix (7)

The seven teams in here remain in complete and total control of their destiny as we enter the stretch run of the season. Win out, and it’s hard to envision any scenario where any is left out.

Alabama Crimson Tide (+130)

The Tide rebounded from the Tennessee loss by blowing out Mississippi State in a game where the defense played much better. Alabama remains in control of the SEC West.

Clemson Tigers (-165)

Clemson found another way to win a close game, which has been a theme all year for the Tigers. I don’t think this is one of the best four teams in the country, but the likelihood of Clemson getting to the playoff increases with each win.

Georgia Bulldogs (-700)

It was a well-timed bye for the Dawgs as they are about to enter the meat of the schedule, starting with the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party against Florida.

Michigan Wolverines (+200)

The Wolverines were idle last week and now welcome in rival Michigan State. Keep winning, and there could be a pathway to the playoff for Michigan even with a loss in Columbus to end the year.

Ohio State Buckeyes (-650)

The safest bet of any on this list to make the playoff. It's hard to see Penn State having the firepower to hang with the Buckeyes even if the game is in State College.

Tennessee Volunteers (+220)

There was no hangover for the Vols against UT Martin. A real test emerges this week, though, with Kentucky coming to Knoxville.

TCU Horned Frogs (+700)

Another slow start, and another comeback win for the Horned Frogs. Max Duggan is playing the best football of his life, and he will need to continue to do so down the stretch.

Hanging in There (10)

Each team in this tier has suffered a loss of some variety. That said, there's still a clear pathway to the playoff — just less room for error the rest of the way.

Illinois Fighting Illini (+2200)

What a story Illinois continues to be. The Illini control their path in the Big Ten West, and the next stop is a road trip to Lincoln.

North Carolina Tar Heels (+2000)

The path is simple for the Tar Heels. Handle all Coastal opponents and then go beat Clemson in Charlotte. That starts with taking care of business against Pitt on Saturday.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (+1600)

The Pokes bounced back in an extremely impressive way after the loss to TCU. If OK State can survive a road test in Manhattan on Saturday, this becomes a team worth monitoring.

Ole Miss Rebels (+2500)

Ole Miss was embarrassed in the second half by LSU. The Rebels still technically control their destiny, but it’s more likely they lose two or three more games than win out.

Oregon Ducks (+650)

Oregon is the team in this tier that's really starting to open some eyes. The Ducks have been dominating opponents ever since the opening week loss to Georgia.

Penn State Nittany Lions (+2500)

Give James Franklin’s team credit for rebounding nicely from the Michigan disaster. PSU now has a golden opportunity to propel itself back into the mix if the it can somehow upset Ohio State.

Syracuse Orange

The magical journey came to an end for the Orange on Saturday despite Cuse leading for most of the game in Clemson. Next up? A tough turnaround game against Notre Dame.

UCLA Bruins (+1800)

The Bruins were completely gashed by Bo Nix and the Oregon offense on Saturday afternoon. It's hard to imagine this team running the table after the way it got beat.

USC Trojans (+450)

The Trojans no longer have any margin for error, but the road remains clear. Win out, and a likely showdown with Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship awaits.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake could be sitting in the driver’s seat if it had pulled out the overtime battle against Clemson. Instead, the Deacs will likely miss out on the ACC Championship game and need some help.

Would Need a Miracle (9)

It’s hard to see a path to the playoff for any group listed below. Frankly, I’m being generous by keeping a few of them on the page, but we will stick with our formula. To have a chance, any team in this tier would need to be perfect the rest of the way, and then get help in other leagues.

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