Another riveting Saturday of college football is in the books, and what happened in Week 8 directly affects the College Football Playoff landscape.
FULL RANKINGS: Week 9 AP Poll
Even if Ohio State is slumping, take a look at the most recent poll and one thing pops out: there is a clear drop off after the top six teams in the country. With all due respect to No. 7 Nebraska, the Cornhuskers feel a lot like 2015 Iowa; their most impressive victory to date might be against Indiana. The Hoosiers are feisty, but it doesn’t feel like Nebraska is in the same class as the top six.
And make no mistake: the top six teams in America certainly aren’t flawless. We saw what can happen to Ohio State on an off night, and Clemson was lucky to escape North Carolina State last weekend. But Alabama, Michigan, Washington and Louisville are all excellent squads, and it’s hard to see teams 7-25 seriously competing with any of them for a Playoff spot.
MORE: 25 takeaways from Week 8
Speaking of which, we still have two undefeated teams in the Big 12. No. 8 Baylor and No. 10 West Virginia have impressed this season, and they’re set to square off against each other on Dec. 3. Even if the winner of that matchup runs the table, does a Big 12 school have a realistic chance to make the College Football Playoff?
You can never rule it out, but it’s not looking too promising right now. The SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 will almost definitely each have a representative; right now, the Big 12 has to be rooting for Washington to stumble, because the other three conferences have at least two viable College Football Playoff options.
Lastly, a random SEC thought: at the beginning of the year, the ‘SEC is overrated' narrative reigned supreme. After last week, some said the SEC was actually underrated, and the public’s opinion just hadn’t adjusted itself quickly enough. Is it possible that the conference lies somewhere in between?
Alabama is awesome, and the SEC has a ton of depth; it has six schools ranked in the top 20. But perhaps that’s all you need to know about the SEC this season. It has one juggernaut, and beyond the Crimson Tide, it’s a league full of quality teams that aren’t quite strong enough to be considered national championship contenders. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to SEC narratives, it’s en vogue to take an extreme position one way or another.
Perhaps the truth is kind of boring. It has one great team, and while the rest of the league is solid, they’re still playing the same sport down south as they do in the rest of the country.