College Football Playoff watch: Week nine

By on October 30, 2016

By Dalton Ray–

Week nine was one of the biggest weekends of the season for college football. Seven of the nine remaining undefeated teams played on the road and there were three top 20 match-ups. Both teams just ahead of Louisville, fourth-ranked Washington and third-ranked Clemson, had nail-biting finishes.

U of L fans have been focused on other teams losing since coming up short against Clemson. But it was the Cardinals that nearly dropped the ball this weekend.

U of L trailed most of the game, regained the lead, then let up a late touchdown and two-point conversion. Lamar Jackson revived Louisville’s College Football Playoff hopes with a game-winning pass to Jaylen Smith.

The College Football Playoff picture could have been completely shaken up this weekend, but remains mainly intact.

Close, but no cigar

Louisville’s biggest threats to bump them out of the playoff picture is No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Washington and No. 6 Ohio State. All three teams won by one possession and nearly turned the playoff picture upside-down.

Washington is a team U of L fans have created a disdain for because of their soft schedule. Facing off against No. 17 Utah on the road, the Huskies faced their first true test. A game decided with the ground game, with neither quarterback showed great performances. A late punt return touchdown gave Washington the 31-24 win.

For the second straight week, OSU struggled with an unranked Big Ten opponent. Tied at 17 entering the fourth quarter, Ohio State used their defense to hold off Northwestern in a 24-20 win. The Buckeyes, like Louisville, nearly had their playoff hopes shot down.

Finally, Clemson escaped another close game. The Tigers are public enemy number one in Louisville and it’s not hard to find out why. Clemson seems to get calls and the lucky bounce late in games. Now 8-0, the Tigers have five wins that are decided by one possession. Deshaun Watson and company have proved they find a way to pull out tight games.

Undefeated no more

Louisville hasn’t felt much pressure from undefeated teams behind them. But having four unbeaten teams fall this weekend gives the Cardinals a sigh of relief.

U of L’s biggest threat from an undefeated team was tenth-ranked Nebraska. Like Washington, Nebraska hasn’t faced the toughest schedule and faced their first test. Eighth-ranked Wisconsin took the undefeated Corn Huskers to overtime after Nebraska scored 10 unanswered in the fourth. The Badgers used a defensive stop in OT to hold off Nebraska 23-17.

Just behind Nebraska in last week’s polls, No. 13 Baylor had their hands full against Texas. Louisville got some help from an old friend in Charlie Strong as the Longhorns knocked off the Bears on a field goal with 46 seconds left.

The second undefeated Big 12 team also suffered their first loss. No. 15 West Virginia had been building momentum over the past three weeks, but couldn’t get the road victory over Oklahoma State. Getting down early, the Mountaineers just couldn’t make up for lost ground in a 37-20 loss.

No. 24 Boise State was the final unbeaten team to lose this weekend. Wyoming upset the the Broncos 30-28 on a safety late in the game. No. 18 Western Michigan is the only unbeaten team not ranked in the top four.

New threats

Ohio State is breathing down Louisville’s neck and is hoping the Cardinals slip up. Aside from OSU, Texas A&M has reentered the picture and are currently ranked seventh. The Aggies sit at 7-1 with their lone loss against top-ranked Alabama.

Another familiar name coming into the playoff picture is No. 8 Wisconsin. Ohio State holds the tie-breaker over the Badgers but with the way OSU is playing, Wisconsin could step right into the playoff discussion.

Ninth-ranked Florida is perhaps Louisville’s biggest threat. The Gators are quietly building their case and lead a mediocre SEC East division. Florida can play their way into the SEC conference championship. An SEC championship is the golden ticket into the College Football Playoffs.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

About Dalton Ray

Sports editor (2016-2018) that is technically award winning.Email: dray@louisvillecardinal.com

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