2022 Terrific 12: Week Ten

Photo from cleveland.com

Welcome to a weekly series ranking college football teams based on their likelihood of making the playoff and/or a New Year’s Six bowl

Almost Famous: Oklahoma St, Coastal Carolina, Texas, Maryland, Liberty

The Not-Quite-Elite 8

20. Cincinnati It was inevitable that the Bearcats would get got at some point. But the carnage in the Group of 5 means UC’s reputation could still get them into the New Year’s Six with 2 losses. It’s just that there’s no margin for error now.

19. Ole Miss The Rebels probably need 10 wins to get the SEC’s slot in the Sugar Bowl, and that requires losing only one more game among Alabama, Arkansas and the always-chaotic Egg Bowl. It’s a tough ask.

18. UCF The Knights are back in the mix for the American title after ending Cincinnati’s 19-game conference winning streak. Gus Malzahn’s offense seems to work fine even if backup quarterback Mikey Keene comes in, and that was against arguably the best defense in the league. The first of potentially 2 meetings with Tulane this season is the last tough challenge before the American championship game.

17. North Carolina Tar Heel fans were firing up Heisman chants for freshman QB Drake Maye after he lit up Pitt. The numbers have been impressive, but the defense has been enough of a problem that, even if they best Clemson for the ACC, they’re going to find a way to lose again and blink out any faint playoff hopes.

16. Utah Who’s going to help the Utes out and open a spot in the Pac-12 title game? Oregon can clinch it with three more wins, and one of those is guaranteed with Colorado this week. It also feels like the winner of USC-UCLA is going to take the other slot. There’s hope for a return to the Rose Bowl, but it requires some assistance.

15. Kansas St The Wildcats absolutely demolished Oklahoma State. And with backup quarterback Will Howard throwing 4 touchdowns!!! They’re in the driver’s seat to go to the Big 12 title game, and boy, would it be fascinating to see how TCU handles a full game of Adrian Martinez at the controls of the offense.

14. UCLA There’s really only one game left that feels like a toss-up. But losing the Battle of LA will be more than enough to keep the Bruins out of the playoff. Staying out of the NY6 will take some help, but that’s also manageable.

13. Ilinois We’re one more Penn State loss away from having to seriously grapple with a world where the Illini go to the Rose Bowl. It’s a guaranteed thing if they make it to the Big Ten title game and both Michigan and Ohio State reach the playoff.

The Terrific 12

12. Tulane The Green Wave are going to earn the American title and a NY6 bid if they get it, as they’ll have to beat both UCF and Cincinnati head-to-head before seeing either team in the championship game. But if they haven’t been stopped yet, why say it happens now?

11. LSU Beating Alabama moves the Tigers to the top of the SEC West. Does that also get them back in the playoff conversation?

10. Penn St Maryland looks to be the last significant hurdle between the Nittany Lions and a New Year’s bowl. But Sean Clifford’s performance against Ohio State is a reminder that he’ll play on one extreme end of the spectrum and never in the middle.

9. USC If the Trojan defense struggles enough to let Arizona hang around for the whole game, then this team is not going to pass the committee’s eye test if they win out. But, even if it’s a product of an improved Pac-12, it does not feel like Southern Cal is escaping the rest of the season unscathed.

8. Oregon Bo Nix is the real deal in the Ducks’ offense. Nobody can slow them down. The rest of the Pac-12 must simply hope to keep up. It all sets up a delicious playoff argument if we’re starting to let in one-loss teams.

7. Alabama If we stopped evaluating the Crimson Tide like a dynasty and just looked at this team with a blind resume, you’d say to yourself, “Holy cow, this schedule is hard.” Tough games with LSU and Ole Miss not only remain but are also on the road. Bryce Young is a different dude, but can he carry an underachieving version of the Tide to Atlanta unharmed?

6. TCU The Horned Frogs saw an opponent’s starting quarterback for a full 60 minutes this week, one of the few times it’s happened in a conference game. Every game is tricky in the Big 12, but it helps when you keep ending up with backups. However, no guarantees that they’ll get lucky and avoid Quinn Ewers and Blake Shapen later this month.

5. Clemson Notre Dame can do the committee a solid this weekend and beat the Tigers, avoiding a looming conversation: if Tennessee-Georgia and Ohio State-Michigan are competitive, one-score games, do the losers still make the playoff over an unbeaten ACC or Big 12 champ?

The Playoff 4

4. Tennessee Until I actually see the Volunteers actually beat Georgia, I’m going to assume the best they do is play hard, win out otherwise and still make the playoff. But beating Kentucky with authority makes a good case for everything being possible with the Vols.

3. Michigan Even when Michigan State threatened to drag Big Brother into a vortex of weird that ends in a Spartan upset, the Wolverines still kicked 5 field goals and won going away. It may not feel like it, but it’s a good sign!

3. Georgia There’s plenty of reasons to think the Bulldogs might lose this week. But, unless they get blown out by Tennessee, there’s no reason to think the discussion is happening about keeping the ‘Dawgs out of the CFP.

1. Ohio St The Buckeyes went from down 21-16 to up 44-24 against Penn State. You can’t do that unless you’re a great team, and I’m not sure if any other team in the nation is also capable of it.

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