NCAA Football Playoff Predictions: Top Four Creating Distance

Top teams were involved in a number of close games this past weekend, but most emerged unblemished.

The leaders all held their ground heading into a two-week stretch where most teams enjoy a bye week, then start their conference schedule.

On paper, there don't appear to be a lot of good games coming up on the weekend slate, but those are usually the weekends that end up being the craziest. These 10 teams are hoping to avoid the upset as they've put themselves in prime position to impress the playoff committee.


10) Michigan State

Last Week: NR

The Spartans dipped a bit in a rankings after losing to Oregon, but they're back in our top 10 after dismantling Eastern Michigan - and after everyone ahead of them lost. They have another easy matchup against Wyoming before Nebraska comes to town, which is their next chance to prove themselves to the playoff committee.

9) Ole Miss

Last Week: NR

Ole Miss had a bye week, but they still enter our rankings for the first time. The Rebels also benefit from the likes of LSU losing (and they have their in-state rivals to thank for that), but also their solid schedule this early in the season. Wins over Boise State, Vanderbilt, and UL-Lafayette aren't earth-shattering, but they're better wins than most teams have on their schedule at this point. Similar to Michigan State, they have another very winnable game against Memphis before things get tough and they host Alabama.


8 ) Notre Dame

Last Week: 8

The Irish also had a bye week, they're still sitting at No. 8 in our rankings. After picking up three relatively easy wins, Notre Dame's schedule picks up as they begin their partial ACC membership. Syracuse should be another easy win, but then they host Stanford, a game that will tell us a lot about both teams.

7) Auburn

Last Week: 7

Auburn barely survived their Thursday night showdown at Kansas State, and their performance didn't make anyone confident about them going into SEC play. In the common theme of the day, the Tigers face Louisiana Tech before hosting LSU, which starts a murderer's row of games for Gus Malzahn's squad.

6) Baylor

Last Week: 6

The Bears took a week off after destroying the likes of SMU, Rice, and Buffalo, and now their schedule gets slightly tougher as they enter the Big XII schedule. Bryce Petty & Co. hit the road to face a struggling Iowa State team, and then get their first test (sort of?) against Texas. Baylor's schedule is weak until they face Oklahoma on November 9, so expect the Bears to keep dominating until then.

5) Texas A&M

Last Week: 5

The Aggies step back into SEC play this weekend with their matchup against Arkansas on CBS. The Razorbacks are an improved team, so it will be a good test to see if Texas A&M still has it after playing three straight cupcakes following their dismantling of South Carolina's secondary. A big win won't move them up, but it will look good if they can continue their hot streak going into the heart of their schedule.


4) Oklahoma

Last Week: 4

Oklahoma picked up a surprisingly impressive win in Morgantown over a tougher-than-expected West Virginia team, managing to pull away late and come out with the 45-33 victory. The Sooners are off this weekend before hitting the road again to face TCU, another potential slip up if Bob Stoops' squad isn't careful. However, this team has shown skill in all aspects of their game, and I don't see anyone beating them anytime soon.

3) Alabama

Last Week: 3

Blake Sims is officially the starting quarterback, and Amari Cooper is officially the best wide receiver in the country. That much was clear in the Tide's 42-21 thrashing of Florida, and it felt like a game that could springboard Alabama's season. They're going to need that confidence because after their bye week this weekend, they face an Ole Miss team on the road that is dangerous and looking to make a statement. That being said, the Tide looked awfully good on Saturday.

2) Florida State

Last Week: 2

Florida State didn't drop in our rankings because they still managed to get a win over Clemson despite missing their best player in Jameis Winston. However, they did not look good doing so. Luckily for the Seminoles, they don't face anyone remotely tough until their showdown with Notre Dame on October 18, but if they continue to play the way they did Saturday as a team, they might not be undefeated that much longer.

1) Oregon

Last Week: 1

Oregon survived a scare against Washington State, needing a superhuman performance from Marcus Mariota (329 yards passing, five touchdowns) and some late scores to beat the Cougars. The good news for the Ducks is that this was the type of game they've lost over the past few seasons - one night game on the road against a lesser opponent - and they managed to pull out the win this time. The bad news is that they can't afford for this to happen again if they want to keep the top spot in the College Football Playoff.

The Ducks are another top team that enjoys a bye this weekend, but faces a tricky test when Arizona comes to town on a Thursday night, October 2. A big win would right the ship and calm voters, but another close game could raise red flags.


Who do you think is a dark horse to make the College Football Playoff? What four teams would you put in? Tweet your thoughts to @brauf33 and leave a response in the comments!

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