Eight Top 10 teams set to collide in what could be ‘the greatest Saturday in college football history’

Ralph D. Russo | The Associated Press

No need to wait until New Year’s Day. The playoffs start in college football this weekend.

For just the second time in the 81-year history of the AP college football poll, four games in one weekend will match teams ranked in the Top 10. That’s cool. What makes it even better is all of those games have major playoff ramifications for both participants. Basically, it is quarterfinals weekend, but adding to the intrigue is not everyone will advance.

You could call it the greatest Saturday in college football history.

And Alabama won’t be playing, though the Crimson Tide will loom large over the games. The Tide relinquished the top spot in the AP poll on Sunday after losing to Auburn the day before. Alabama, No. 1 since preseason, slipped to No. 5. The Tide was eliminated from Southeastern Conference championship contention but not necessarily from the College Football Playoff race.

One and two (Miami) both lost this past weekend, something that hasn’t happened since 2012. With that the AP poll voters got a chance to sort of take a fresh look at the rankings. Clemson is the new No. 1, taking a close vote with No. 2 Oklahoma. Wisconsin is No. 3 and Auburn moved up to fourth.

Heat check takes a look at the reboot.


No. 1 Clemson (11-1)

The Tigers are ranked No. 1 for the ninth time in the AP poll history. The first two came during their 1981 championship season. The last seven have been since November 2015.

Next: vs. No. 7 Miami, ACC championship.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 2 Oklahoma (11-1)

The Sooners just missed being No. 1, trailing Clemson by 18 points and three first-place votes (27-24). Maybe it’s better off. The last time the Sooners were No. 1 heading into the Big 12 championship was 2003 — when they were upset by Kansas State.

Next: vs. No. 10 TCU, Big 12 championship.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 3 Wisconsin (12-0)

Badgers have their best ranking since being No. 2 in the 1963 and they finished a regular season unbeaten for the first time since 1912.

Next: vs. No. 8 Ohio State, Big Ten championship.

Heat check: Still, just a touch too hot.

No. 4 Auburn (10-2)

The Tigers put up 896 yards against Georgia and Alabama in the last three weeks, teams that are allowing a combined average of 528 yards per game.

Next: vs. No. 6 Georgia, SEC championship.

Heat check: Little cold. Flip-flop with Wisconsin.

No. 5 Alabama (11-1)

Turns out, the Crimson Tide really were vulnerable.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 6 Georgia (11-1)

Expect a much better effort by the Bulldogs this time around against Auburn.

Next: vs. No. 4 Auburn, SEC championship.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 7 Miami (10-1)

Can the Hurricanes be the second straight team to lose to Pitt and win a national title?

Next: vs. No. 1 Clemson, ACC championship.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 8 Ohio State (10-2)

How many missed throws in the Big Ten championship game by J.T. Barrett before Buckeyes fans start calling for Dwayne Haskins?

RELATED: Which teams have been ranked the most in the CFP era?

Next: vs. No. 3 Wisconsin, Big Ten championship.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 9 Penn State (10-2)

Two losses by a combined four points, both on the road. Heat check is not endorsing expansion of the playoff, but Penn State is the reason you could argue to expand the playoff.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 10 TCU (9-2)

The Horned Frogs get a second chance at Oklahoma and the opportunity to make the Big 12 look foolish for bringing back its championship game.

Next: vs. No. 2 Oklahoma, Big 12 championship.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 11 Southern California (10-2)

USC probably would have preferred a chance to avenge its loss to Washington State in the Pac-12 title game rather than having to beat Stanford twice, this time with an improving quarterback.

Next: vs. No. 14 Stanford, Pac-12 championship, Friday.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 12 UCF (11-0)

Maybe the most entertaining offense in college football.

Next: vs. No. 16 Memphis, AAC championship.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 13 Washington (10-2)

The Huskies’ 10 wins lack the oomph of signature victories, but dominating Washington State and Oregon always makes for a successful season in Seattle.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 14 Stanford (9-3)

The Cardinal tend to get better as the season goes along. Though maybe coach David Shaw should have switched to QB K.J. Costello a little sooner.

Next: vs. No. 11 Southern Cal, Pac-12 championship, Friday.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 15 Notre Dame (9-3)

Still could snag a New Year’s Six spot. Could probably use Oklahoma to rough up TCU.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 16 Memphis (10-1)

Lost 40-13 to UCF in September, but Memphis has enough offense to make the return match far more competitive.

Next: at No. 12 UFC, AAC championship.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 17 LSU (9-3)

Sure, he’s a game-manager, but LSU got a pretty good season out of quarterback Danny Etling (14 TD pass, two INTs, 9.2 yards per attempt).

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 18 Oklahoma State (9-3)

A bowl victory would give the Cowboys three straight 10-win seasons.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 19 Michigan State (9-3)

The Spartans held the ball for almost 48 minutes against Rutgers, which seems next to impossible.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 20 Northwestern (9-3)

The Wildcats end the season with a seven-game winning streak and consecutive blowouts.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Just right.

No. 21 Washington State (9-3)

The Cougars’ losses have come by an average of 27 points.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Too hot.

UW upsets WSU

No. 22 Virginia Tech (9-3)

The Hokies’ winning streak against Virginia is now 14 games and it kind of feels as if they might never lose to the Cavaliers again.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Too cold.

No. 23 South Florida (9-2)

The Bulls lost to UCF, but might have played their best game of the season. But those special teams. Yuck.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 24 Mississippi State (8-4)

Star quarterback gets injured. Lose the rivalry game. Coach leaves. Tough weekend for Bulldogs fans.

Next: TBD.

Heat check: Too hot.

No. 25 Fresno State (9-3)

Welcome back, Bulldogs. First-year coach Jeff Tedford guided Fresno State to the best turnaround in the country, going from 1-11 last year to playing for the Mountain West title.

Next: vs. Boise State, MWC championship.

Heat check: Just right.

Instead of Mississippi State how about North Carolina State?

This article was written by Ralph D. Russo from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Check Also

Kaepernick, Eric Reid settle collusion lawsuits with NFL

NEW YORK (AP) — Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid have settled collusion lawsuits against the ...

Broncos turn over coach/quarterback duo again

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — In just about every season he’s been in charge of football ...

AP source: Broncos to acquire Joe Flacco from Ravens

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Joe Flacco has gone from Denver Broncos tormentor to savior. The ...