College Football

Playoff Picture Coming Into Focus

As we roll into November for college football, every major college conference will be underway. This week, the Mid-American Conference starts up with games mid-week, and the Pac-12 joins the fray this weekend.

While those conferences are just starting, other teams have separated themselves from the pack, while others have suffered losses that will be tough to bounce back from.

On Saturday, No. 1 Clemson survived a scare from Boston College. Playing without the Heisman frontrunner, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who was out with COVID-19, the Tigers found themselves down by double digits at home. But, they rallied for a 34-28 behind freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei.

Clemson will start November without Lawrence as it heads to South Bend, Ind., for a top-five showdown with Notre Dame. The No. 4 Irish beat Georgia Tech 31-13 on the road Saturday.

Whoever wins in South Bend on Saturday takes the inside track to the ACC Championship Game in December. And with No. 15 North Carolina being upset by Virginia this week, the teams are likely to be in position for a winner-take-all rematch.

Rolling Tide

No. 2 Alabama keeps on rolling through the SEC, as it blasted Mississippi State 41-0 this week. The Crimson Tide's upcoming game against defending national champion LSU doesn't look very daunting after the Tigers were blown out at Auburn Saturday.

Alabama still faces two-loss Auburn in November but would have to lose twice in the final month to miss out on an SEC Championship Game appearance.

The Tide's opponent in that title game could be decided this weekend with the big showdown between Top 10 rivals Georgia and Florida. Both teams won this weekend and will have potholes to navigate down the stretch, but the Saturday winner in Jacksonville will be in position to head to the SEC title game.

Big Doings

No. 3 Ohio State beat the best team on its schedule, No. 18 Penn State, Saturday night. The 38-25 road win, coupled with a Michigan loss to Michigan State, puts the Buckeyes in prime position to head to another Big Ten Championship Game.

With Wisconsin on COVID-19 hiatus with over 20 players testing positive, the Buckeyes may not face another stern test until the College Football Playoff.

The two big question marks left will be the Big 12 and the Pac-12. The Big 12 favorite, No. 6 Oklahoma State, suffered a home loss in overtime to Texas on Saturday.

All the contenders in the conference now have at least one loss, and the Big 12 faces another season of being left out of the playoff.

Getting Started

The Pac-12 hasn't had a game yet. The only ranked teams in the conference are No. 14 Oregon and No. 21 USC. Those teams can only meet in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The Ducks open with a home game against Stanford, while the Trojans face Arizona State at home Saturday afternoon.

If the Pac-12 and Big 12 champions are left out, this could be a season where a Group of Five team makes the final four. No. 9 Cincinnati from the American Athletic Conference and independent BYU, ranked 11th, are both undefeated.

BYU travels to No. 25 Boise State this week in a big showcase game for the Cougars.

Also, keep an eye on No. 8 Texas A&M from the SEC. The Aggies lost to Alabama but beat Florida and should be favored in every remaining game.

College Football