The first round of the College Football Playoff rankings are out and, finally, teams know where they stand in the eyes of the selection committee. While No. 1 Georgia has a clear path to the top of the field, as many as 12 teams can still play their way in.
There is only one top-25 matchup on the schedule in Week 10 and none between top-10 teams. At the same time, this sport thrives on low expectations; more than 30 ranked teams have been upset by unranked opponents thus far. Furthermore, a handful of games will give us “common opponent” context that will play a role when the season comes to a close.
Here are the games to follow that will affect the playoff race following the first round of rankings.
Whether you think Cincinnati’s ranking is fair or not (it’s not), all it has to do is dominate the rest of the schedule. Luckily, Tulsa is a rare common opponent. The Golden Hurricane played against both No. 5 Ohio State and No. 11 Oklahoma State. Both of those games were too close for comfort for the favorites, which means Cincinnati can make a legitimate statement to the committee by coming out strong and putting together a complete performance.
Is there a team in college football that enjoys wreaking havoc more than the Purdue Boilermakers? Michigan State is lucky that it landed at No. 3 and not No. 2, because Purdue has pulled twice as many upsets over No. 2 teams as an unranked squad as any team in college football history. The Spartans will be favored in this game — and taking care of business is enough, no style points are needed in the Big Ten — but Michigan State has to avoid a letdown after one of the biggest wins in program history.
The chances of either of these teams going to the playoff are slim, but this game could…