There are only two matchups between teams both ranked in the College Football Playoff top 25 this week, but they are both interesting. And they both kickoff at 5 p.m. (PDT). While No. 6 Ohio State is hosting No. 10 Nebraska in a crucial Big Ten showdown, No. 13 LSU takes its crack at No. 1 Alabama in Baton Rouge. Meanwhile, No. 2 Clemson is a 27-point home favorite against Syracuse, No. 3 Michigan is a 31-point favorite at home against Maryland, and No. 4 Texas A&M is a 13 1/2-point favorite at Mississippi State.
Yes, the first CFP rankings of the season were released on Tuesday, and the big news is that Washington, undefeated at 8-0, debuted at No. 5 — behind Texas A&M, which has a 7-1 record but a tougher schedule. All of that means precisely nothing at this point. The Huskies will be in the top four if they win the rest of their games. There is no question about that. But that won’t stop fans from setting a world record for hand-wringing over these next few weeks.
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Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson strengthened his grip on the No. 1 spot in pretty much everyone’s Heisman Trophy projections by leading his Cardinals team on a game-winning touchdown drive in the final seconds against Virginia. UW’s Jake Browning is holding steady at No. 2 in ESPN’s Heisman Watch, with Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey rounding out the top five.
PAC-12 GAME OF THE WEEK
Not exactly a sterling slate for the Pac-12 this week. There are no games between teams who both hold records above .500. So as hard as it might be to believe, UW’s trip to play at California probably looms as the most interesting, if only because the Bears are undefeated at home this season and the Huskies have a really big game against USC on tap next week.
GROUP OF FIVE
The highest team in the CFP rankings from the so-called “group of five” conference is currently No. 23 Western Michigan, a MAC member unbeaten through eight games. Boise State, from the Mountain West, is at No. 24. This is significant because the highest-ranked conference champion from a group of five conference is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game — this year, it’s the Cotton Bowl – and the CFP committee has seemingly made it clear that it does not think that much more of an undefeated Western Michigan team than a one-loss Boise State team. Of course, the Broncos need to find a way to win the Mountain West for this to matter. But folks who thought BSU’s loss last week to Wyoming eliminated the Broncos from New Year’s Six contention might not be right.
Christian Caple: firstname.lastname@example.org