The dust has begun to settle. There are a clear six or seven teams who have their sights set on the College Football Playoff and about three or four teams who are currently outside looking in. Assuming Alabama and Georgia are undefeated when they play in the SEC championship game, they will both be in. The winner of the ACC should be in, too, and the final spot may come down to Notre Dame and the winner of the Big 12.
No. 1 Georgia versus No. 10 Auburn
Alex: Auburn is fresh off of a nice win in College Station, and Gus Malzahn’s team is firing on all cylinders. Georgia, however, jumped Alabama in the AP No. 1 overall spot — and for good reason. The Bulldogs are undefeated, and Kirby Smart is one of the league’s best tacticians. This will be a close game until the fourth quarter, when Georgia pulls away.
Josh: Auburn is the one outsider with a chance to reach the College Football Playoff. If it wins out, it will have wins over both Georgia and Alabama. Going back to his days at Alabama, Kirby Smart’s defenses have always struggled against spread offenses. Gus Malzahn finally has his quarterback in Jarrett Stidham. Add running back Kerryon Johnson, and Auburn has the pieces to beat Georgia. Jake Fromm and the Georgia running game will simply not be able to score enough to keep up with the Tigers. Auburn wins.
No. 5 Oklahoma versus No. 6 TCU
Alex: Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield storm into Fort Worth searching for another marquee win against TCU. The Horned Frogs have a tremendous defense, and they will need to show up and then some in order to slow down an explosive Sooner offense. Suddenly becoming a relevant Heisman candidate again, Baker Mayfield should keep the momentum alive and place Oklahoma in the conversation for that elusive fourth playoff spot.
Josh: TCU will be the toughest defense Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield and the Sooners have faced. But if Oklahoma can come up with a couple stops on defense, Mayfield will score enough to make a difference. Sooners win.
No. 2 Alabama versus No. 16 Mississippi State
Alex: People seem to forget that Alabama is still undefeated and a college football giant. It has yet to play a single close game so far, and this one should not break that trend. While Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is very capable, there is just too much talent for the Bulldogs to overcome. Alabama wins handily.
Josh: The narrative across the country is that Alabama is vulnerable after serious injuries to four linebackers. But the one program that can survive that many injuries is Alabama. When one player goes out, another five-star recruit is waiting to take his place. The Bulldogs’ front seven will give Jalen Hurts and Alabama’s stable of running backs a fit. Expect Brian Daboll to let Hurts throw the ball more to free up some passing. Nick Saban and Jeremy Pruitt will sell out to make Nick Fitzgerald beat them through the air. Alabama crosses off another challenge on its trek to the Iron Bowl.
No. 3 Notre Dame versus No. 7 Miami
Alex: Not many fans are talking about Miami. A huge stage under the lights in the Orange Bowl should give it the opportunity to make a statement against third-ranked Notre Dame. The luck runs out for the Irish, and Miami gets a statement win over its arch rival.
Josh: Both teams are finally back in the national spotlight after hiatuses, and both programs need this win to have a chance at the playoff. Notre Dame averages more than 300 yards on the ground per game behind the best offensive line in the country. Manny Diaz has the Hurricanes defensive line playing as well as any group in the country. Look for the Hurricanes to keep Brandon Wimbush in the pocket. The undefeated season does not end here. Hurricanes win a physical matchup.