There have already been significant upsets that changed the college football landscape – and it’s not even November. Three weeks ago, the Georgia Bulldogs lost at home to the South Carolina Gamecocks. The following week, Illinois Fighting Illini stunned the Wisconsin Badgers, who had recorded four shutouts before that point. Last weekend, the Oklahoma Sooners fell to the Kansas State Wildcats in a shocker and saw their playoff chances take a huge hit. With the calendar set to change, expect to see more upsets all the way until Nov. 30, the final weekend before conference championship play. The question remains – who are the top four teams heading into the final month?
LSU has passed every challenge this season with flying colors. The Tigers can win in a variety of ways – their offense is elite through the air and on the ground. Their defense hasn’t taken a step back, either – as demonstrated in their win over Auburn. In the process, they’ve put together the best resume in college football, including three top 10 wins over Texas, Florida, and Auburn.
The Bayou Bengals have one significant roadblock standing between them, the SEC Championship and a possible spot in the College Football Playoffs – Alabama. It’s possible LSU could still get into the four-team playoff despite a loss to the Tide on November 9th. The Tigers, who have lost eight consecutive games to Alabama, still want to exorcise their demons with a win.
For the moment, LSU has been the most impressive team in the land.
If there’s been a team that’s been LSU’s equal this season, it has been Ohio State. The Buckeyes have dominated their competition in all eight games this season, including in their 38-7 victory over Wisconsin. After a bye week, Ohio State will face Rutgers and Maryland before they have two difficult opponents in Penn State at home and Michigan in Ann Arbor.
It’s hard to put them above LSU at the moment due to the resume differences, but they have destroyed every team they’ve faced. Justin Fields has been better than advertised, and Chase Young is the best player in college football. It would be interesting to see Ohio State in the College Football Playoff against a team like Clemson, who has been inconsistent.
Yes, LSU and Alabama will play each other shortly, but the Crimson Tide are still one of the best four teams in the nation. This group of Crimson Tide players are led by their offense as they currently rank eighth in total offense as they’re averaging 506.6 yards per game. Despite Tua Tagovailoa being out against Arkansas, the Alabama offense didn’t skip a beat with Mac Jones under center. Alabama’s defense isn’t too shabby, either, as they rank 19th in the country in total defense.
The Crimson Tide schedule hasn’t been the most rigorous, as their best win came against a barely-ranked-at-the-time Texas A&M team. If Alabama and LSU have a close game on November 9, don’t be surprised to see only one of them to make the Top 4 in the committee poll after the conference championships are played, assuming Alabama defeats Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
Clemson finally looks like a contender after blowing out both a bad Boston College Eagles team and a downtrodden Florida State Seminole team. Before that, the Tigers looked shaky in games against Texas A&M and North Carolina. The final leg of Clemson’s schedule likely won’t be much of a challenge, although Wake Forest is currently ranked. As the ACC Coastal has been mediocre at best, the Tigers may not have a steep challenge until the postseason.
Despite their weak schedule, Clemson will get to the playoff based on name, record, and title defense. But the case could be made for Penn State as the fourth-best team in the nation.
There’s no real surprise on who my top four teams are so far this season. I thought about putting Penn State above Clemson, but will hold off on that until the Nittany Lions play Minnesota and Ohio State. As for who the best one-loss team is, it’s difficult to go against Florida. Their only loss came against LSU, and the Gators could find themselves in the playoff if they were to win their remaining games and the SEC Championship.