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Zach Pekale | | November 10, 2019

Examining the College Football Playoff outlook after Week 11

Mansfield's 2010 reenactment of the first-ever night football game in 1892

Week 11 of the college football season offered a slate of high-profile, highly anticipated games. More importantly, it potentially provided more clarity to the College Football Playoff picture.

Undefeated teams fell while others made statements. Here’s what you need to know about the CFP outlook after Week 11's top results.

Week 11 winners


The Tigers’ fourth win over a top-10 team came in grand fashion, snapping an eight-game skid against Alabama while ending the Crimson Tide’s 31-game home winning streak with a 46-41 victory. For reference, LSU scored 39 points in its past five meetings with Alabama.

END OF AN ERA: LSU snaps eight-game skid against Alabama

As gratifying a win as this likely is for LSU and Ed Orgeron, it’s possible that this could end up being the second or third-biggest win for the Tigers by season’s end. Not only do the Tigers have a case for the No. 1 ranking in the next CFP poll, but potentially the résumé to crack the end-of-season Top 4 even if it suffers a late-season loss.


P.J. Fleck's Gophers delivered a huge 31-26 win over No. 4 Penn State. Minnesota was No. 17 in the first CFP rankings and could see some lofty movement after a marquee victory. With a two-game lead in the Big Ten’s West Division, the conference championship game could end up as a bout between Minnesota and No. 1 Ohio State. 

The Gophers were undefeated and in need of a signature win. After Saturday's victory, they’re still unbeaten and off to their best start since 1904. 


The Bears were a down away from defeat before rallying to beat TCU in triple overtime. At 9-0 and No. 12 in the CFP rankings, Baylor could possibly find itself in the Top 10 with a few teams in front of them on byes this week. 

Baylor’s unbeaten record is highlighted by two victories over ranked opponents. Games against Oklahoma and Texas in the next couple weeks give the Bears a chance to bolster their résumé. 

Trending downward 


The Crimson Tide lost to LSU for the first time since 2011, which also ended a 31-game winning streak at home. That makes the path toward a sixth consecutive CFP appearance a little bit tougher. 

FULL SCHEDULE: Track every SEC football game this season

Alabama is 8-1, but its best win is over then-No. 24 Texas A&M. The Tide missed out on a chance to take control of the SEC West Division with a defining win over rival LSU. They close the regular season against Auburn in the Iron Bowl, which could be a late-season push to their postseason hopes.

Penn State

The Nittany Lions worked themselves into the red zone late against Minnesota before a Sean Clifford interception sealed a 31-26 Gopher victory in a matchup of undefeated teams. The timing of Penn State’s first loss comes after the program was ranked No. 4 in the first CFP ranking. 

Wins over Michigan and Iowa are both noteworthy, enabling Penn State to stand just a half game back of Ohio State in the division standings. The Nittany Lions visit the No. 1 Buckeyes on Nov. 23 in a game that could have significant implications on both the Big Ten and CFP races.

Kansas State

Texas edged Kansas State on a last-second field goal, handing the Wildcats their third loss of the season. Currently No. 16 in the CFP poll, KSU might experience a significant drop in the upcoming rankings. In the Big 12, two of the four teams in front of them own head-to-head tiebreakers.

Wake Forest

A week away from a huge showdown with No. 5 Clemson, the Demon Deacons were tripped up by Virginia Tech. A win over the Hokies would’ve meant the Clemson game could’ve determined the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Instead, Clemson clinched later in the evening with a 55-10 win over NC State. Wake Forest would likely be in contention for an Orange Bowl bid if Clemson ultimately reaches the Playoff.

1–loss party


As of Nov. 9, Georgia is 8-1. The CFP’s No. 6 team has an out-of-conference win over Notre Dame, leads the SEC East and owns head-to-head tiebreakers over the teams in second (Florida) and third place (Missouri). A Nov. 16 game against Auburn could help leverage the Bulldogs over other 1-loss teams later this season.

Should Georgia win out to reach the conference championship game, it could potentially pick up a win against a team such as LSU, Alabama or Auburn. With three, possibly four high-profile wins, the Bulldogs would have a legitimate CFP argument.


Oklahoma moved to 8-1 after knocking off Iowa State. With two idle teams in front of the Sooners, Lincoln Riley’s team could inch forward from its opening No. 9 ranking in the CFP Top 25.

UNDEFEATED TRACKER: When might each unbeaten team lose?

OU has sustained a regular season loss in each of the past three years. All three times, the Sooners have won out to reach the College Football Playoff. A win over No. 12 Baylor next weekend would double as a résumé booster. 


Well, the Pac-12’s CFP chances might have improved without its top two contenders playing. Alabama and Penn State both lost, possibly clearing two spots in the Top 4. Depending on how far both drop, No. 7 Oregon and/or No. 8 Utah could move up. 

The Pac-12 hasn’t had a representative in the CFP since 2016. Utah and Oregon could only meet in the conference championship game. If both still have one loss at the time of that matchup, the league could be in the thick of the discussion.

American watch

No Group of 5 champion has reached the Playoff in its first five years, instead accepting an invite to a New Year’s Six bowl. 

Prior to Week 11, Cincinnati was ranked the highest at No. 20 before the Bearcats beat Connecticut 48-3. The Bearcats are one of four ranked teams in the American Athletic Conference in addition to Memphis (No. 21), Navy (No. 24) and SMU (No. 25).

Memphis owns the tiebreaker on Navy and SMU in its division. The Tigers were off this week with two more games separating a Nov. 29 game against Cincinnati. That meeting could potentially be played again the following week at the AAC championship game with a New Year’s Six appearance possibly on the line.

Here were the first College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings, released Tuesday, Nov. 5:

1 Ohio State
3 Alabama
4 Penn State
5 Clemson
6 Georgia
7 Oregon
8 Utah
9 Oklahoma
10 Florida
11 Auburn
12 Baylor
13 Wisconsin
14 Michigan
15 Notre Dame
16 Kansas State
17 Minnesota
18 Iowa
19 Wake Forest
20 Cincinnati
21 Memphis
22 Boise State
23 Oklahoma State
24 Navy
25 SMU

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