Here are the games to watch from each Power-Five conference that have major CFP implications this Saturday:
NC State has an opening weekend loss to South Carolina, and their wins over Florida State and Louisville do not look as good as they once did. However, possible victories against the Irish, No. 7 Clemson and in the ACC Championship game should push them into the playoff.
Suffering a loss to Georgia seemingly knocked Notre Dame out of the conversation in the second week of the season. However, with the run the Bulldogs have gone on that lone loss no longer looks bad and may be the best loss on any CFP resume. The Irish blew out USC who was ranked No. 11 at the time last week, and victories over the Wolfpack, at No. 8 Miami and No. 20 Stanford will give them a resume that will push them ahead of any possible one-loss conference champions from the Pac 12 and Big 12.
Ohio State has bounced back from their loss to by beating five unraked teams by at least 30 points. However, Penn State is their first real test since then. If they can win out and get victory over the Nittany Lions, No. 16 Michigan State, rival Michigan and No. 5 Wisconsin in the conference championship, there will be little doubt that they are back in Top 4 at the end of the year.
Being the only undefeated team in the Big 12 TCU controls the conferences fate. A one loss champion from the conference would have a hard time getting in over one loss teams from other conferences or independent Notre Dame. With games against rival Texas and #10 Oklahoma looming one might think it would be easy to look past the Cyclones. However, like the Sooners found out in week 6, ISU is not to be taken lightly.
With two losses, the Cyclones have no shot of getting in the CFP hunt. However, the winners of three straight, have already forced Oklahoma out of the picture for now. The Horned Frogs will need to avoid the same fate and stay undefeated to get their first CFP bid.
The Cougars are another one loss team on the outside looking in and would need a little bit of chaos to happen. Mike Leach’s squad first need to beat the Wildcats and beat remaining ranked opponents, No. 20 Stanford and No. 12 Washington, then win the PAC 12 title game. Both Washington State and Washington are the only one loss teams in the conference and are the only legitimate threats to breaking into the Top 4 and would need multiple teams to get two losses for that to happen.
“The World’s Largest Cocktail Party” is yet another game in the afternoon slate featuring a team with CFP aspirations. The Bulldogs are the only ranked team SEC team playing this weekend and this rivalry game should not disappoint. The Gators have won the last three games in this rivalry and will be looking to spoil Georgia’s season. However, even with a loss the Bulldogs will be the only one-loss team in the East division and if they beat a top-ranked Alabama team in the SEC title game they will presumably still get into the final Top 4 ranking.