2nd-tier contenders in spotlight before 1st CFP rankings
Before the first College Football Playoff rankings come out next week the spotlight is on the second-tier contenders trying to stay in the race with most of the top undefeated teams taking a break.
The selection committee reveals what it believes are the top 25 teams in the country on Tuesday. Idle this weekend are No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 5 Ohio State. No. 4 Clemson is taking a different kind of break by playing Wofford.
Trying to make an impression on the committee will be No. 6 Florida and No. 8 Georgia, who meet in their yearly rivalry game in Jacksonville, each having already lost a Southeastern Conference game.
No. 7 Oregon, with commanding lead in the Pac-12 North, is at Southern California trying to avoid a second loss. No. 9 Utah is in a similar situation, on the road at Washington looking to remain a one-loss team.
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 15 SMU (8-0, 4-0) at No. 24 Memphis (7-1, 3-1)
The stakes might be higher when it comes to the playoff race, but this matchup of American Athletic Conference contenders has the potential to be the best combination of important and really fun.
The winner emerges with an inside track to a division title and is a prime contender to reach a New Year’s Six bowl if it can go on to win a conference title. Plus, it features two of the country’s best big-play offenses.
Behind star freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell, the Tigers are fifth in the country in plays of at least 30 yards with 30. Quarterback Shane Buechele and SMU are fourth on that list with 31.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
Swift is out the Heisman race right now. The junior is a good year (752 yards rushing, 6.84 per carry and seven touchdowns) and Georgia seems to be leaning on him more as the SEC has gotten going. He’s cracked 100 yard rushing each of his last two games, including a season-high 179 against Kentucky.
A big game against a solid defense with a lot of folks watching on CBS at 3:30 p.m. ET probably won’t vault Swift past some of the leading Heisman contender, but it could get him into the conversation.
3.0 — The average margin of victory in the last five Miami-Florida State games. The Hurricanes are at the Seminoles on Saturday and both teams come in 4-4.
5 — Touchdown passes by Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book in five games against Power Five competition. He has thrown 10 in two games against New Mexico and Bowling Green. The 16th-ranked Fighting Irish try to bounce back from last week’s loss to Michigan at home against Virginia Tech.
10 — No. 22 Kansas State’s winning streak against rival Kansas in the Sunflower State Showdown.
14 — Numbers of points scored by Rutgers in five Big Ten games so far. The Scarlet Knights visit Illinois (4-4), which is on a two-game winning streak and is trying for its first three-game winning streak since 2011. The Illini, coming off victories against Wisconsin and Purdue, last won three straight Big Ten games in 2007.
UNDER THE RADAR
Army (3-5) at Air Force (6-2)
The Black Knights have won the last two Commander-in-Chief’s Trophies, but they are struggling this season. After winning 11 games last year, the Cadets are 3-5. Air Force has already lost to Navy and can do no better than share the trophy. If Army win, the winner of Army-Navy takes the trophy.
HOT SEAT WATCH
Two struggling SEC West teams with coaches in their second years meet when Mississippi State (3-5, 1-4) faces Arkansas (2-6, 0-5).
Razorbacks coach Chad Morris has yet to win an SEC game with Arkansas and has shown little progress in Year 2. Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead underachieved with a talented team last season and is now in danger of tumbling into the tie for last in the West Division with Arkansas.