The first official College Football Playoff rankings of the 2021 season won’t be released until November 2, but it’s never too early to start speculating about which fortunate four programs will be playing on New Year’s Eve.
Week 2 of the FBS schedule only had a handful of of marquee matchups with most of the AP Top 25 working out the kinks against lower FBS/FCS opponents. We did however get a few outcomes that will shake some things up for the immediate future.
While the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide and No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs handled their business on Saturday, it was the Ohio State Buckeyes who got tripped up with a 35-28 loss to the Oregon Ducks at the Horseshoe. The Bucks dipped in the AP poll from No. 5 to No. 9 on Sunday, but their long term CFP hopes are well in tact as long as they rip through their Big Ten schedule.
For Mario Cristobal and Oregon however, going into Columbus and taking down OSU is a huge boost to their resume and something to keep in their back pocket moving forward. That reflected in the new AP poll as they made a major jump from No. 12 to No. 4 this week. The Pac-12 hasn’t sent a team to the playoff since Washington in 2016, so the Ducks are in a good position to continue increasing their profile as long as they continue to march through their schedule.
Potentially inserting themselves into the mix as a darkhorse to keep your eye on are the Iowa Hawkeyes, who went into Ames and grounded rival Iowa State with a 27-17 victory. Iowa rose from No. 10 to No. 5 in the polls and this appears to be one of those once in a blue moon seasons where Iowa emerges as a Big Ten contender. Their next major test will come in early October when welcoming Penn State to Kinnick Stadium.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish needed a late-fourth quarter touchdown to slip past Toledo with a 32-29 victory on Saturday. The Irish are living dangerously with this coming just five days after edging a flawed Florida State team in overtime. They fell from eight to 12 in the AP and these are the type of performances that will ultimately ding Notre Dame when those playoff conversations are to be had by the committee
Also looking vulnerable were the Texas A&M Aggies, who lost starting quarterback Haynes King on Saturday and had to scrape by for a 10-7 win at Colorado. Given their positioning in the brutal SEC West, we’ll find out if No. 7 A&M’s status as a contender/pretender soon enough.
Week 3 Look Ahead
There’s a couple of games of note for this upcoming week that should factor into the long term playoff picture.
We’ll find out how serious the No. 11 Florida Gators will be in playoff discussions when welcoming Alabama to the Swamp. The No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners will have an opportunity to flex when hosting Nebraska while the No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats will have the chance to make a case for themselves when facing a respectable power five opponent in Indiana on the road.