College Football Eliminator 2016-17: Week 4
A third of the way through the regular season and we are down from 128 to just 41, almost a third of the teams in the FBS. Makes sense, I guess. Clear front-runners have emerged from the SEC in Alabama, Texas A&M, and Tennessee. Ohio State and Michigan just might stay unbeaten until the last game of the year, which would make for the Game of the Century.
Either next week or two weeks from now, the In the Hunt category will be re-organized into Power Five teams and Group of Five teams because there are only two or three teams left In the Hunt in most of the conferences. Also, some one-loss Power-Five teams will get their chance to move back from On the Fence to In the Hunt (Ex. Florida State, Michigan State, TCU). For now, check out which 41 teams are still in playoff contention and which 11 did not make the cut this week.
The Four Playoff Teams
#1 Alabama, #3 Louisville, #2 Ohio State, and #4 Michigan are it. Nothing changes unless something changes. Louisville-Clemson and Michigan-Wisconsin are the most important games this week in the shaping of the playoff. Alabama expectedly crushed Kent State, but lost a few key players to injury over the course of the game. Louisville demolished Marshall with all eyes on Heisman front-runner Lamar Jackson posting over 400 passing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Ohio State had a bye week and Michigan took care of business at home against Penn State.
Outside Looking In
Welcome to the club, Aggies! Texas A&M is here for the first time after keeping a low profile in the hunt, beating UCLA, Prairie View A&M, Auburn, and now finally Arkansas. They have emerged as the team that will contest Alabama seriously in the SEC-West race, although every SEC-West team (with the exception of Mississippi State) looks like they could put up a fight with the Crimson Tide. Also, welcome back, Badgers! Wisconsin landed in my fifth spot after week 2, but completely fell out of this elite group after their scare against Georgia State at home. After a clobbering of Michigan State, the Badgers are not only staying alive, but thriving in this race. Wisconsin can switch positions with Michigan if they can knock them off in the Big House. If not, they sit with Michigan State as a strong Big Ten team on the fence. Both of those teams await meetings with Ohio State later on this season. #5 Clemson, #6 Houston, #8 Wisconsin, and #9 Texas A&M look like the next best teams to the four sitting in the playoff spots, a couple are even playing at playoff-caliber. Clemson faces Louisville in Death Valley in the most important game for the ACC this season. With this game, we'll find out who the front-runner in the ACC really is.
In the Hunt
Memphis - Ole Miss remembers what happened last year, guys. Highly doubtful that the Tigers can do it again, but who knows?
#14 Miami - The Hurricanes are ranked, but we have no reason to believe they deserve to be there--yet. They are 3-0 and coming off a bye week before nine ACC games in nine weeks. They open conference play this week against Georgia Tech, bring it on.
Minnesota - The Golden Gophers may not have any losses under their belt, but Penn State is very good at Beaver Stadium. It's certainly not an easy place to play, whether the Nittany Lions are 4-0 or 0-4. They are 2-2.
West Virginia - Both of these Big 12 teams in the hunt are favorites in their games this week. The Mountaineers are the ones that have an opportunity to eliminate their opponent: Kansas State.
The Army section is no more. See the Black Knights in the Eliminated section.
Toledo - BYU will be the biggest test for the Rockets. If they can win, Toledo and Western Michigan will have to win out then fight to the death in Kalamazoo in the last game of the year to get the playoff committee to notice. If not, their only job left (in the eliminator) is to kill off Western Michigan in that game.
#24 Boise State - The Broncos are ranked again and it feels so right.
#19 San Diego State
Arizona State - If you are a fan of football but don't have a specific team to root for, I've got you covered: root for the Sun Devils. They score a lot. Also, they just missed the AP Top 25 Poll, finishing 26th in voting, so get on this bandwagon before it leaves for Glendale in late December. Okay, that's a little bit of a stretch, but you never know. Turn on the Arizona State-USC game Saturday night, it will be a fun one.
#11 Tennessee - Last week, there were five SEC teams in the hunt. Now, there is just one! Texas A&M moved into the Outside Looking In group after a solid win over Arkansas at Jerry-World. Obviously, Arkansas lost that game, so they move down to the On the Fence category. Same goes for Florida, who lost to Tennessee for the first time since 2004. After an impressive second-half comeback win, the Volunteers look ahead to games against Georgia, Alabama, and Texas A&M. They technically control their own destiny, but this team doesn't look good enough to win two of these three games. Tennessee can run away with the SEC East title or lose a few games and leave the race wide open.
All around me are familiar faces.
On the Fence
#20 Arkansas - The real playoff picture was right in front of the Razorbacks. After a win over TCU, a win over Texas A&M would have shot them into the top ten. The door was open, but the pig was too fat to fit through it.
Colorado - The Buffaloes went into Autzen Stadium and upset the Ducks in an elimination game. They'll sit here for a week before a game at the LA Coliseum against USC.
#23 Florida - At least the Kentucky streak is still alive.
#12 Florida State - For anyone wondering why Florida State, who is ranked in the top fifteen, is still here: halfway through the season, most one-loss Power Five teams will move back into the hunt if they look sharp enough. The Seminoles would be the first team to move in, barring a loss to Clemson.
#25 Georgia - The Bulldogs (along with the rest of the SEC East) are involved in a game of catch-up, and Tennessee is it. Georgia is in control of their fate, unlike Florida and South Carolina. The Bulldogs would have to win out, including a win over Tennessee to win the East and have a shot to play for the SEC Championship Game.
Georgia Tech - If the Yellow Jackets win out the regular season then beat Clemson or Florida State or Louisville (oh my!) in the ACC Championship Game, their loss to Clemson Thursday night can be swiftly erased from our the playoff committee members' memories. Their two hardest games: next week vs. Miami and Week 12 @ Georgia.
Kansas State - Finally, the Wildcats play their first Big 12 game this week against West Virginia. They already have one loss coming into conference play; I can't see them leaving this section after their bouts with West Virginia and Texas Tech.
Indiana - ELIMINATION GAME ALERT! Michigan State hosts Indiana in a game between two one-loss Big Ten East teams. The Hoosiers couldn't beat Wake Forest; I don't expect them to beat the Spartans come Saturday.
#17 Michigan State - Don't mess this up.
North Carolina - We came back and won against Pittsburgh--hooray! We eliminated them--hooray! We're still alive--hooray! What's that thing off in the distance? Oh, Chief Osceola...and Renegade...and Dalvin Cook...and a burning spear.
#21 TCU - The Horned Frogs' offense was slow to get going, but it eventually did and SMU had no answer for it in the second half. TCU has won 15 of the last 17 Battles for the Iron Skillet.
#22 Texas - Bye week last for the Longhorns before Oklahoma State attempts to knock them out of playoff contention.
Texas Tech - No game for the Red Raiders last week either. They will have an early-week Thursday night contest against Kansas, instead.
Virginia Tech - Boy, did the Hokies dominate in this game. 38-0 score at half with exciting plays kept the home crowd pleased. Now comes the elimination game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Arizona - It's a shame that the Wildcats are here after a tough loss to BYU in Phoenix, then this overtime loss to Washington in Tuscon. Arizona will have to rely on their passing game for the rest of the season; halfback JJ Taylor broke his left ankle and won't see the field for a while.
Army - The season is not a lost cause for Army. Bowl eligibility is not a reach whatsoever, and ending Navy's 14-game win streak isn't too far-fetched either.
Central Michigan - Kudos to the Chippewas for fighting all the way back from down 28-0 to tie the game in the fourth quarter against Virginia, but CMU couldn't pull off another upset over a Power-Five team, giving Virginia their first win of the year by two touchdowns.
Georgia Southern - It was either the Eagles or Western Michigan.
LSU - Blame it on the center for not instinctively snapping the ball. Blame it on the hostile environments of Lambeau Field (against Wisconsin, so basically a home game for the Badgers) and Jordan-Hare Stadium. Blame it on those tough opponents in Wisconsin and Auburn. Don't blame Les Miles. Bad call, AD.
Oregon - The Ducks aren't the same team that won two Rose Bowls in the last five years. Same uniforms, same weird two-point conversion habits, not the same level of talent. Nebraska and Colorado beating Oregon?? Unheard of even last year. This year, they quietly fell out of the polls and will just look to hold their own in the tough Pac-12 North.
Penn State - The Nittany Lions couldn't amass total 200 yards of offense against Michigan in the Big House; their defense wasn't much better, allowing seven touchdowns.
Pittsburgh - Not this year, Panthers. It brings me joy to see James Conner carry the ball into the endzone after overcoming cancer, though. He already has five touchdowns this year, here's to many more.
South Carolina - I make a joke about the Gamecocks being happy they have Kentucky this week before certain elimination against Texas A&M, but they couldn't even Kentucky. Typical South Carolina.
South Florida - The Bulls held their own against Florida State, but Dalvin Cook and Deondre Francois were just too much for the wholly USF defense. Give them some credit for taking some shots and scoring on the first play from scrimmage of the game.
UCLA - It's almost embarrassing that the Bruins couldn't hold on to their four-point lead, allowing Stanford's only offensive touchdown with less than two minutes to go, then fumbling and letting a defensive lineman scoop and score to close on the last play to make it look like Stanford really handled business by nine points rather than just three, 22-13.
Eliminated in Week 3
Auburn, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Duke, East Carolina, Illinois, Iowa, Marshall, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Southern Miss
Eliminated in Week 2
Akron, Ball State, BYU, California, Connecticut, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, NC State, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Old Dominion, Purdue, SMU, South Alabama, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Troy, Tulsa, UCF, UNLV, Utah State, UTEP, UTSA, Western Kentucky, Wyoming
Eliminated in Week 1
Appalachian State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Charlotte, FIU, Fresno State, Georgia State, Hawaii, Iowa State, Kent State, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Massachusetts, Miami (OH), Mississippi State, New Mexico State, North Texas, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio, Oregon State, Rice, Rutgers, San Jose State, Southern California, Temple, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Washington State
Check back in next Wednesday to find out if your team has been eliminated in 'College Football Eliminator: Week 5'.