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Playoff Picture: Week 11

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We take a look at the College Football Playoff poll each week and break down the path to the Playoff.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Baylor
Baylor dominated Oklahoma in the game that finally exposed the Sooners.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been wanting to rid ourselves of Oklahoma for weeks now, and it appears we may to be able to finally do that. Sure, the Sooners still have just one loss, so we can’t rule them out of Playoff consideration entirely. But if this past week’s beatdown courtesy of Baylor was any indication, they may be fully out of the running in short order.

NOTE: We will only provide individual breakdowns for teams that have a reasonable shot to make the Playoff.

***“SOR” denotes strength of record

***“SOS” denotes strength of schedule

1. Georgia (10-0; SOR: 1; SOS: 42)

The Bulldogs took care of Tennessee to finish a perfect 8-0 in SEC play and now figure to be on cruise control until the SEC Championship Game, where we figure even just a competitive effort would assure them of a Playoff spot.

2. Alabama (9-1; SOR: 3; SOS: 27)

The Tide has an interesting two-game stretch to end the season, but it’s hard to say whether either opponent poses a legitimate threat. Arkansas has had a nice season compared to previous ones, but the Razorbacks lost to arguably the three best teams they played, including a 37-0 beatdown against Georgia. Alabama’s season-ending trip to Auburn was shaping up to be tough game, but with Tigers’ quarterback Bo Nix now out for the season it doesn’t project to be nearly as daunting. The Tide must navigate these two games and beat Georgia in the SEC Championship to firmly hold onto a Playoff spot in our estimation. We would never rule out some Bama shenanigans from the committee, but a two-loss team with no conference title would be a difficult sell.

3. Oregon (9-1; SOR: 8; SOS: 29)

Oregon finally got away from Washington State to move to 9-1 and now heads to Salt Lake City for its toughest game since the resume-making win over Ohio State more than two months ago. The Ducks can ill afford another loss, and this would be a nice feather in the cap heading into their rivalry matchup with Oregon State.

4. Ohio State (9-1; SOR: 9; SOS: 64)

Ohio State flexed its offensive muscle as it blew Purdue off the field, quickly letting the Boilermakers know they would not be notching their third top-5 upset of the season. The next two games will make or break the Buckeyes, as they host No. 7 Michigan State before capping the regular season at No. 6 Michigan. Losing either could put them in position to miss out on the Big Ten Championship, so winning out seems like an absolute must.

5. Cincinnati (10-0; SOR: 5; SOS: 102)

The Bearcats took care of business against South Florida and get one of their better quality win opportunities this weekend against an 8-2 SMU team. Cincinnati needs to stay the course while looking as impressive as possible to give themselves the best opportunity to pounce on a top-4 spot. They will be keeping a close eye on how the Big Ten East sorts itself out over the next couple weeks.

6. Michigan (9-1; SOR: 4; SOS: 31)

Michigan used a late touchdown to secure a 21-17 win at Penn State this past weekend to keep its Playoff hopes alive. The Wolverines get what should be a tune-up against Maryland before hosting Ohio State in what could be one of the rivalry’s most important editions in recent memory. They still need a Michigan State loss, however, to propel them to a Big Ten Championship berth, although an 11-1 finish would keep them in the running for an at-large candidacy.

7. Michigan State (9-1; SOR: 7; SOS: 59)

Sparty now gets its chance to vault convincingly over the Michigan team it already beat as they travel to Columbus to face Ohio State in a de facto Playoff elimination game. The Buckeyes’ firepower should be concerning for a Michigan State team that leans heavily on grinding out games via Kenneth Walker III’s running. Quarterback Payton Thorne has looked the part at times, but can he keep up if this one turns into a shootout?

8. Notre Dame (9-1; SOR: 3; SOS: 33)

The Irish nabbed an overlooked win this past weekend in a 28-3 pounding of Virginia on the road, and we are suddenly looking at a team with a No. 3 Strength of Record mark that the committee may not be able to ignore much longer. The big issue for Notre Dame, though, is that its two remaining opponents are 3-7 and can offer no boost whatsoever to a resume that is clearly not cutting it for the committee to this point. This team needs two more dominant performances and a whole lot of carnage.

9. Oklahoma State (9-1; SOR: 6; SOS: 40)

A team that may have some upward mobility, on the other hand, is Oklahoma State, which throttled TCU 63-17 this past weekend. A road trip to Texas Tech and a home date with Oklahoma could provide some extra data points that could push the Cowboys up the rankings if other chips fall in their favor. While the committee obviously has never respected Oklahoma (with good reason), it hasn’t been nearly as harsh on Okie State, which means they have a chance.

10. Wake Forest (9-1; SOR: 13; SOS: 75)

Credit to the Deacs, who could have packed it in after North Carolina likely ended their Playoff dreams, but instead held on to beat NC State in a critical ACC Atlantic showdown. Again, we have trouble carving out a realistic Playoff path here for Wake, but road wins at Clemson and BC, combined with an ACC Championship win over, say, a top-15 Pitt team would almost have to put them on the cusp of consideration. There is still probably a ceiling on their ranking, but we have three more weeks of potential chaos, which is always more than enough to leave the door cracked.

11. Baylor (8-2; SOR: 14; SOS: 35)
12. Ole Miss (8-2; SOR: 10; SOS: 12)
13. Oklahoma (9-1; SOR: 12; SOS: 74)
14. BYU (8-2; SOR: 20; SOS: 72)
15. Wisconsin (7-3; SOR: 23; SOS: 37)
16. Texas A&M (7-3; SOR: 25; SOS: 26)
17. Iowa (8-2; SOR: 15; SOS: 47)
18. Pittsburgh (8-2; SOR: 21; SOS: 76)
19. San Diego State (9-1; SOR: 18; SOS: 118)
20. NC State (7-3; SOR: 24; SOS: 41)
21. Arkansas (7-3; SOR: 16; SOS: 2)
22. UTSA (10-0; SOR: 11; SOS: 128)
23. Utah (7-3; SOR: 34; SOS: 78)
24. Houston (9-1; SOR: 22; SOS: 126)
25. Mississippi State (6-4; SOR: 30; SOS: 14)

GAMES TO WATCH:

No. 10 Wake Forest @ Clemson - Noon
No. 7 Michigan State @ No. 4 Ohio State - Noon
No. 21 Arkansas @ No. 2 Alabama - 3:30 p.m.
SMU @ No. 5 Cincinnati - 3:30 p.m.
No. 3 Oregon @ No. 23 Utah - 7:30 p.m.