Saturday, October 23

Week 5 College Football Playoff Image: Georgia Makes Strong Case for No. 1

After a month, the college football playoff is beginning to come into focus.

Alabama will be atop the AP Top 25 heading into the first week of October, but there is a case for Georgia after its first four games. Those two SEC powerhouses appear to be on a collision course, but a lot can happen during the next nine weeks of the regular season.

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Who else is in the mix? Oregon and Oklahoma are likely to have the next two spots based on their first month, but several other undefeated teams would be up for grabs.

The first set of CFP rankings will be released on Tuesday, November 2. Each week, Sporting News will break down the playoff image:

Four in the college football playoff

1. Georgia (4-0)

If the CFP rankings were released this week, then the Bulldogs would almost certainly be No. 1. Georgia continued to roll with a 62-0 Week 4 victory over Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs outscored the Commodores 532-77. Georgia has allowed 23 points in four games, and the Week 1 win against Clemson was no fluke. The Bulldogs can pull off another top-10 win against Arkansas at Sanford Stadium in Week 5.

2. Alabama (4-0)

Crimson Tide will remain number one in the AP poll after extending its winning streak to 18 games. Jameson Williams returned the kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown, and Alabama defeated South Mississippi 63-14 at home. Bryce Young hit 20 of 22 passes for 312 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. The Crimson Tide enters a powerful two-week streak against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. The Rebels have the highest-ranked offense on the FBS under former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Young has been brilliant up to this point. Now, you can make a Heisman Trophy statement in front of Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral.

3. Oregon (4-0)

Oregon walked away in the fourth quarter of a 41-19 win over Arizona in a game that was tense early in the second half. The Ducks made just eight plays in the third quarter and allowed Arizona to stay after building a two-touchdown lead at halftime. Anthony Brown, CJ Verdell and Travis Dye combined for 28 carries for 178 yards, and Brown added three touchdown passes. The Ducks also came up with five interceptions. Oregon resumes its Pac-12 North rivalry with Stanford below.

4. Oklahoma (4-0)

Oklahoma continues to live dangerously. The Sooners beat West Virginia 16-13; his third win by a score against an FBS opponent. Oklahoma has yet to get on track with Spencer Rattler at quarterback despite a loaded offense that had high expectations for 2021. That said, Oklahoma remains undefeated and remains the team to beat in the big 12. The Sooners have lost their last two meetings. against Kansas State and a trip to Manhattan, Kan., is next on the schedule.

MORE: OU Fans Boo Rattler After Early INT Against West Virginia

Two out

5. Penn State (4-0)

The Nittany Lions should be the first team out based on September’s wins against Wisconsin and Auburn. Penn State beat Villanova 38-17 in Week 4 and Sean Clifford threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns, but averaged 2.4 yards rushing in the victory. Next up is a home match against Indiana, the beloved preseason Big Ten, who won a 36-35 overtime thriller between teams last year.

6. Arkansas (4-0)

It won’t surprise us that the Razorbacks make this kind of jump in the polls. They dominated the first half in a convincing victory against Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium. Arkansas swept Texas and Texas A&M, doing so with an efficient rushing attack and flashy defense under second-year coach Sam Pittman. Can the Hogs defeat the Dawgs?

TROCCHI: Inside Pittman’s Arkansas Transformation Program

Four to see

7. Notre Dame (4-0)

Cincinnati will rank higher in their showdown with the Irish, but Notre Dame still has the inside court of the playoffs as long as it remains undefeated. The Irish walked away with 31 points in the fourth quarter in a 41-13 victory over Wisconsin that allowed Brian Kelly to overtake Knute Rockne for the most coaching victories in program history. Notre Dame has a serious question about the quarterback and problems managing football. The Irish will likely have to run the table as a result.

DeCOURCY: Kelly Recognizes Ireland’s Standards Remain High

8. Iowa (4-0)

Iowa trailed 14-7 at halftime to Colorado State, and the Rams limited Tyler Goodson to 57 yards on 18 carries. The Hawkeyes clamped down in the second half for a 24-14 win, but it was an uncomplicated performance heading into the Big Ten game. They can’t afford to look past a date in Maryland before a big crossover showdown against Penn State on October 9.

9. Cincinnati (3-0)

The Bearcats had a bye week to prepare for Notre Dame in what will be the Group of 5’s best case to have a team in the CFP. Former Bearcats coach Brian Kelly and defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman will be on the opposite side, and it’s no exaggeration to call this the most important game in school history. Luke Fickell has led the Bearcats to 11 straight regular season wins.

10. Ohio State (3-1)

Freshmen Kyle McCord and TreVeyon Henderson started in a 59-7 beating over Akron. Will that be the backfield combination for the rest of the season? The Buckeyes are the only team with a loss on this list, but the fact is, third-year coach Ryan Day has yet to lose a Big Ten game. Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana are the next three games on the schedule. Ohio State will be in the mix until they get a second loss.

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