Chaos reigned in the Big Ten on Saturday, and the new College Football Playoff rankings reflect it.
Coming into the week, the conference had the sixth-, seventh-, and ninth-ranked teams in the country. That changed Tuesday, when former front-runners Ohio State and Penn State slipped to 13th and 14th after road losses to Iowa and Michigan State, respectively. That leaves no. 8 Wisconsin as the highest-ranked team from the conference, and the Big Ten’s best chance of continuing its streak of appearing in every playoff so far. No two-loss team has ever qualified for the playoff, though plenty of fans in Columbus and State College hope that changes. Further down the rankings, USC and Auburn are still holding out hope that if they run the table and get a few breaks, they can sneak into the field.
The mayhem did benefit one Big Ten team in a big way. Michigan State jumped from 24th to 12th after its upset of the Nittany Lions. The two-loss Spartans have bounced back from a 3–9 season last year, and are hoping to make it back to the playoff, where they appeared in 2015. But they have plenty of work left to do: Despite being ahead of Ohio State in the committee’s eyes, the Spartans are 15-point underdogs in their matchup against the Buckeyes this Saturday.
The top five remained unchanged from last week, with Georgia claiming the top spot, followed by Alabama, Notre Dame, and Clemson, with Oklahoma and TCU left as the first teams out. The Sooners won the Bedlam game against Oklahoma State on Saturday, while Clemson narrowly held off a pesky NC State team on the road. The Tigers will be favored in the final three games they’ll play this year, but Oklahoma could have its hands full this weekend when it welcomes sixth-ranked TCU.
Since the College Football Playoff replaced the BCS at the end of the 2013 season, Alabama has been ranked first or second in all but four iterations (it was ranked fifth or sixth over three weeks in 2014, and fourth for one week in 2015). Last week marked the first time Georgia claimed the top spot.
The SEC had five teams in the opening rankings, and has five this week. The Pac-12, which had no teams in the top 10 last week, but five in the top 25, made three appearances this week, headlined by no. 9 Washington. The Big Ten claimed six teams, up from four last week (hello, Iowa and Northwestern!), and the ACC and the Big 12 both check in with four teams for the second consecutive week.
The University of Central Florida appeared at 18th, making it the highest-ranked Group of Five team. The undefeated Knights are one of five teams in the country without a loss, and the only one not playing in a Power 5 conference.
With ranked matchups on the docket for five of the top six teams, there’s a chance that this Saturday could be as wild as the last. Georgia will visit no. 10 Auburn, Alabama will travel to no. 16 Mississippi State, Notre Dame will visit no. 7 Miami, and Oklahoma will welcome TCU. So cancel your weekend plans, tell your friends and family you’re busy, and carve out a few hours to sit and watch some football. #TeamChaos is coming, and you won’t want to miss it.
An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that Notre Dame will host Miami this Saturday; the Fighting Irish will visit the Hurricanes.