This year more than others in recent memory seems to have a lot of standout teams. It feels like the top 10 squads have evaded missteps that they might normally fall prey to. We saw the Tide escape against Texas A&M, Georgia overcome a brain fart against Mizzou, USC barely get by Oregon State, the Vols survive OT against Pitt and their own demons against Florida, Clemson held off Wake Forest, Ohio State had a down half against Notre Dame, Penn State had similar early season trouble against Purdue, and so on and so forth with these undefeated schools.
After this week, there will be at least three fewer perfect Power 5 teams. No. 3 Alabama visits No. 6 Tennessee, No. 5 Michigan hosts No. 10 Penn State, and No. 8 Oklahoma State faces No. 13 TCU. Other top 10 teams getting tested include No. 7 USC going to No. 20 Utah, and No. 5 Clemson taking a trip to Florida State. Other than No. 1 Georgia (Vanderbilt), No. 2 Ohio State (bye), and No. 9 Ole Miss (Auburn), every top 10 team is getting tested.
The first college football playoff rankings come out on Nov. 1, and that’s probably because they need a few months to materialize. The selection committee would look as hapless as AP voters if they were asked to put out a top 25 without sufficient evidence, and it’s weeks like this that help.
So let’s take a look at the CFP candidates from each Power 5 conference, and kind of surprisingly, there is at least one legitimate contender from each of them, maybe two in some cases, and three if you really squint.