We’re still a couple weeks from the first official CFP Poll release, but I have enough data available to post my computer rankings today with results through week 7:
The hottest teams right now are Alabama and Iowa, each coming off blowout road wins this week. Iowa’s road to 12-0 looks rather pedestrian, with their toughest remaining game at Nebraska (#49 in BoW) to close the regular season. Their weak strength of schedule will require them to go 13-0, with a win in the Big Ten Championship game, to ensure their playoff bid. Alabama also will need to win out, as the SEC has several worthy candidates for a playoff spot (but they’ll still only get one team in this year). This year, it’ll be the ACC whose champion is left out. The TCU/Baylor winner is in (if unbeaten, and maybe still at 11-1). The Big Ten, SEC, and PAC12 champions will likely round out the field of 4.
All teams in the top 13 are still in contention (including Memphis!), as well as Oklahoma St who gets both TCU and Baylor at home in November, and Texas A&M who has a huge game at Ole Miss next week. Nobody else really has a chance, barring mass chaos across the country. Memphis is the lone Group of 5 member who has a case to be made for inclusion after their convincing win over SEC contender and Alabama slayer Ole Miss. If Ole Miss runs the table, they will win the SEC West. If they then win in Atlanta they’ll be a strong candidate for the playoff, even with 2 losses. However, can you really put a 2-loss team in over an unbeaten Memphis, who has a win over the SEC champion on their resume? I’d love to see the committee justify leaving Memphis out in that scenario. Memphis still has to play at Houston, a very well coached team who is also unbeaten. Houston’s Power 5 win over Louisville and a presumed win over Vanderbilt in 2 weeks wouldn’t be strong enough to get them into consideration though, as each of those teams already have 4 losses.
Key wins in Week 7:
Stanford 56 UCLA 35. The lone blemish for Stanford in week 1 at Northwestern seems like a distant memory now. A home win over Notre Dame and Pac12 title game victory over Utah would be enough to get them in the field.
Alabama 41 Texas A&M 23. Statement road win for the Tide over the previously unbeaten Aggies. Alabama appears to be hitting their stride in advance of the first poll. Expect them to be in the field of 4 in the first official poll if they beat Tennessee at home next week.
Iowa 40 Northwestern 10. Blowout road win for Iowa was their last real test of the regular season. They should cruise to 12-0, with a shot at Michigan State or Ohio State to stake their claim for the post-season.
LSU 35 Florida 28. LSU is the last remaining unbeaten SEC team, after knocking off previously unbeaten Florida at home. The Tigers are in position to make a statement in two weeks in Tuscaloosa, but can’t afford to look past 6-1 Western Kentucky this week.
Michigan St 27 Michigan 23. In a monumental stroke of good fortune, Michigan State received a gift that bounced right into their hands in the waning seconds in Ann Arbor to save their undefeated season. The Spartans have looked vulnerable throughout the season, but continue to do just enough to keep winning. Will their luck run out in Columbus in November, or perhaps before? With no statement wins on the season, and a couple way too close of calls against terrible opponents, it seems it’s only a matter of time.
Key games of Week 8:
Utah at Southern Cal. The last real test for the Utes, until their title game clash with Stanford.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss. The Aggies have no margin for error after the home loss to Alabama. Get past the Rebels and it’s smooth sailing until the finale at LSU.