The first College Football Playoff rankings are five weeks away and for the first time since the inception of the four-team model in 2014, there appear to be few favorites outside of Alabama and Georgia. Here is a look at where the top teams stand and what lies ahead for them:


Rank: 1

Record: 5-0, 2-0 SEC

Quality wins: vs. No. 14 Miami, 44-13; at No. 11 Florida, 31-29; vs. No. 12 Ole Miss, 42-21

Toughest remaining games: No. 13 Arkansas (Nov. 20); at No. 18 Auburn (Nov. 27)

Path to the playoff: Clear

The Crimson Tide has appeared in the playoffs six of the past seven seasons and another trip to the semifinals seems imminent. Alabama has three quality wins over top 15 teams, the most of anybody in the country. The remaining schedule is among the toughest in the country and couple that with the possibility of playing in another SEC Championship and it’s easy to see why the Tide are one of the early favorites.


Rank: 2

Record: 5-0, 3-0 SEC

Quality wins: vs. No. 3 Clemson, 10-3; vs. No. 8 Arkansas, 37-0

Toughest remaining games: at No. 18 Auburn (Oct. 9); vs. No. 16 Kentucky (Oct. 16); vs. No. 20 Florida (Oct. 30)

Path to the playoff: Clear

Georgia cleared another hurdle on its journey back to the playoffs with a win over Arkansas. The Bulldogs have two quality wins over top 10 teams but it’s a date with Florida on Oct. 30 in Jacksonville that most likely will decide which direction Kirby Smart’s team goes this postseason. Beat the Gators and you claim the SEC East and a trip to the SEC Championship. Either way, a one-loss SEC team has a better than average chance of making the top four.


Rank: 3

Record: 5-0, 2-0 Big Ten

Quality wins: vs. No. 17 Indiana, 34-6; at No. 9 Iowa State, 27-17

Toughest remaining games: vs. No. 4 Penn State (Oct. 9)

Path to the playoff: A little rocky

Iowa has a much easier road to navigate even with a game against Penn State looming. The Hawkeyes could technically still survive if they lost to the Nittany Lions but they would need to win their remaining games and claim the Big Ten title to make that happen.


Rank: 4

Record: 5-0, 2-0 Big Ten

Quality wins: at No. 12 Wisconsin, 16-10; vs. No. 22 Auburn, 28-20

Toughest remaining games: at No. 3 Iowa (Oct. 9); at No. 7 Ohio State (Oct. 30); vs. No. 9 Michigan (Nov. 13); at No. 11 Michigan State (Nov. 27)

Path to the playoff: Obstructions ahead

It’s been a stellar start for the Big Ten. That’s good news for Penn State, which faces the toughest remaining schedule (11) of the five ranked teams from the conference. Four of the Nittany Lions’ final seven games are against ranked foes including three divisional matchups.


Rank: 5

Record: 3-0, 0-0 AAC

Quality wins: at No. 9 Notre Dame, 24-13

Toughest remaining games: vs. No. 24 SMU (Nov. 20)

Path to the playoff: Take an alternate route

Cincinnati’s win over Notre Dame pushed the Bearcats into the playoff discussion but with a remaining schedule ranked No. 89 by ESPN’s Football Power Index, they’ll have to do more to capture the attention of the College Football Playoff selection committee. Win out, look impressive doing it and hope the teams ahead of you stumble along the way.


Rank: 6

Record: 5-0, 2-0 Big 12

Quality wins: N/A

Toughest remaining games: vs. No. 21 Texas (Oct. 9); at No. 12 Oklahoma State (Nov. 27)

Path to the playoff: A little rocky

It’s been an uneven start for Oklahoma, which slipped past Tulane, Nebraska, West Virginia and Kansas State by a combined 21 points. The Sooners are one of three teams in the top 10 that don’t have a quality win on their resume. The rest of the Big 12 isn’t helping either but a win over newly-ranked Texas in the Red River Rivalry could go a long way in helping out.


Rank: 7

Record: 4-1, 2-0 Big Ten

Quality wins: N/A

Quality loss: vs. No. 3 Oregon, 35-28

Toughest remaining games: vs. No. 4 Penn State (Oct. 30); vs. No. 11 Michigan State (Nov. 20); at No. 9 Michigan (Nov. 27)

Path to the playoff: Obstructions ahead

Ohio State’s fate hinges on the final five weeks of the season. Since the loss to Oregon in the second week, the Buckeyes have underwhelmed, but they could get a boost if they win out and claim their fifth Big Ten title.


Rank: 9

Record: 5-0, 2-0 Big Ten

Quality wins: N/A

Toughest remaining games: at No. 11 Michigan State (Oct. 30); at No. 4 Penn State (Nov. 13); vs. No. 7 Ohio State (Nov. 27)

Path to the playoff: Obstructions ahead

Michigan started the season unranked but now finds itself in the thick of a run for a playoff spot. But the Wolverines need quality wins and those won’t come until the final five weeks of the season and to make matters even more difficult, there’s very little room for error with three games against ranked divisional foes standing in their way.


Rank: 10

Record: 5-0

Quality wins: vs. No. 21 Utah, 26-17; vs. No. 19 Arizona State, 27-17

Toughest remaining games: N/A

Path to the playoff: Take an alternate route

BYU finds itself in the top 10 for the second consecutive season after the Cougars defeated a pair of ranked Pac-12 opponents. The challenge is navigating the remaining two months with a schedule that ranks 76th in strength particularly without a conference championship game to give a late boost.


Rank: 11

Record: 5-0, 2-0 Big Ten

Quality wins: at No. 24 Miami, 38-17

Toughest remaining games: vs. No. 9 Michigan (Oct. 30); at No. 7 Ohio State (Nov. 20); vs. No. 4 Penn State (Nov. 27)

Path to the playoff: Obstructions ahead

The Spartans have been one of the early surprises of the season, off to their best start since 2015. Much like their Big Ten counterparts, the meat of their schedule comes in the final five weeks which could determine whether Michigan State can climb into the playoff race.


Rank: 12

Record: 5-0, 2-0 Big 12

Quality wins: vs. No. 25 Kansas State, 31-20; vs. No. 21 Baylor, 24-14

Toughest remaining games: at No. 21 Texas (Oct. 16); vs. No. 6 Oklahoma (Nov. 27)

Path to the playoff: A little rocky

The Cowboys have climbed into the playoff discussion after knocking off ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks for the first time since 2013. The rest of the schedule has challenges with a road contest against Texas before wrapping up the regular season against Oklahoma in the Bedlam game but OSU needs the Big 12 to get stronger in the coming weeks.

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