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Playoff Picture: Week 10

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We take a weekly look at what happened in college football and how it will affect the race for the College Football Playoff.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan State
Indiana has sprinted to an unlikely 4-0 start and gets a chance for a program-changing win at Ohio State this Saturday.
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

This week was about as uneventful a week as you will see in college football. In addition to Clemson’s open week, there were cancellations, no ranked matchups, and virtually no upsets to speak of. Things should be looking up, however, as the home stretch of the season begins and the first College Football Playoff ranking is released this coming Tuesday. It’s time for Playoff contenders to stake their claims.

BIGGEST WINNERS:

Indiana - Michigan State is not a good football team, so we aren’t applauding Indiana for beating the Spartans specifically as much as we are simply giving them credit for a good first performance as a newly minted top-10 team. Since their miraculous win against Penn State, the Hoosiers have performed much better on both offense and defense and now have perhaps their biggest football game ... ever??? ... when they travel to Ohio State for a game that could ultimately decide who will win the Big Ten’s East division.

Notre Dame - The Irish didn’t show any signs of a hangover coming off their big win over Clemson, and pretty much controlled their game against Boston College from the second quarter on. Notre Dame gets an open week before a tricky road trip to North Carolina that is probably their biggest remaining test before a potential ACC Championship Game. They would be wise to not overlook the Tar Heels.

Wisconsin - The Badgers finally got around to playing their second game of the season, and completely walloped a reeling Michigan team thanks to 341 rushing yards. Wisconsin now faces an unexpectedly tough game as they travel to Evanston to take on upstart 4-0 Northwestern in a very important Big Ten West matchup.

BIGGEST LOSERS:

The SEC - With not even a single ranked team losing this past week, there weren’t any Playoff hopes dashed or resumes damaged. So we will simply use this section to reiterate the fact that the SEC was forced to cancel four of its seven games due to COVID-related issues. Fortunately, only one game this week has been cancelled so far, so hopefully from the conference’s perspective this will be just a bump in the road. Nice when you have buffer weeks, eh Big Ten?

STORYLINES:

First CFP Poll - The first Playoff ranking of this tumultuous season will drop on Tuesday, and it will be interesting to see how the committee manages all the factors at play. How do you rank a (hypothetically) 3-0 Wisconsin vs. a 6-1 Miami, for instance? How much do you punish Clemson for its loss without Trevor Lawrence (and half the starting defense)? How much credit do you give Notre Dame for the win in that same game? Nobody knows how the committee will stack things up, but we know for sure we will have plenty to talk about.

GAMES TO WATCH:

No. 9 Indiana @ No. 3 Ohio State - Noon
Appalachian State @ No. 15 Coastal Carolina - Noon
No. 7 Cincinnati @ UCF - 3:30 p.m.
No. 10 Wisconsin @ No. 19 Northwestern - 3:30 p.m.
No. 14 Oklahoma State @ No. 18 Oklahoma - 7:30 p.m.