Some teams have risen above expectations to rise to the top of their conferences and the polls, while others have seen a humbling fall from grace.
Some of the usual suspects are among the undefeated teams, such as Ohio State, LSU, TCU and Michigan State. However, some surprising teams have found themselves among the unbeaten. Schools such as Iowa, Oklahoma State, Toledo, Houston and Memphis are currently sitting without a blemish on their record, all looking for, at the very least, a New Year’s bowl berth.
On the other side, some schools have seriously underperformed based on their preseason expectations. A popular playoff pick, the Auburn Tigers are now struggling to stay above .500. Georgia has also suffered from yet another year of optimistic predictions, sitting at 5–3. Perennial powerhouse Oregon is sitting at the same record, far away from their run to the College Football Playoff last year. But probably the biggest disappointment of them all has to be Georgia Tech, who went from Orange Bowl champions to a measly 3–6 record.
Though they sit at such an abysmal record, they hold one of the most incredible plays of the year—a blocked field goal attempt returned for a touchdown, knocking off then-undefeated Florida State. But that hasn’t been the only last-second scores of the year. The Michigan State defense picked up a fumbled snap on a punt and returned it for a last-second touchdown, and just last weekend the University of Miami returned a kick for a touchdown to beat Duke, with the help of eight laterals and some help from the officiating crew, missing a few calls and reviewing a penalty that, by rule, they should not have.
Some teams didn’t need a last-second play to pull off the upset this season. Toledo went into Fayetteville and came out with a 16–12 victory over Arkansas. Utah went into Oregon and stomped the then-ranked Ducks team by 42 points. Texas proved yet again that things are different in rivalry games, as they gave Oklahoma their first loss of the year while winning only their second game. Memphis proved they were a legitimate threat when they beat a visiting Ole Miss by two touchdowns. Finally, Temple came within a few plays of beating Notre Dame.
The race for the individual awards is just as tight as the race for the top spots in the rankings. LSU’s Leonard Fournette has ran for over 1,300 yards, and seems to be at the top of the race. However, TCU’s Trevone Boykin, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield have made very strong cases. Dark horse candidates come out of the American, as Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. and Memphis’s Paxton Lynch have carried their teams to the polls.
With all the chaos that has ensued this year, there is still a lot to be sorted out. LSU and Alabama play in a pivotal SEC game this weekend. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU still need to play each other.
Clemson remains undefeated, but they still need to host dangerous Florida State. Ohio State and Michigan State still have yet to play, in a matchup that will likely determine who goes to the Big Ten Championship Game. Finally, Houston and Memphis will play to possibly determine who will get to play on New Year’s Day.
It’s already been an incredible college football season. However, there is still a lot of meaningful football left. Undefeated teams still need to face each other, and punch their respective ticket to their conference championship games. Then, out of all of this, the playoff committee must select only four teams to participate in the second College Football Playoff. It’s going to be a thrilling ride, so sit back and enjoy it.