After another wild week of upsets, the Amway Coaches Poll once again looks dramatically different atop the rankings.
Below, we'll break down the latest poll and look back at the Week 9 action.
1. Alabama (8-0)
2. Georgia (8-0)
3. Ohio State (7-1)
4. Wisconsin (8-0)
5. Clemson (7-1)
6. Miami (7-0)
7. Penn State (7-1)
8. Notre Dame (7-1)
9. Oklahoma (7-1)
10. Oklahoma State (7-1)
11. Washington (7-1)
12. TCU (7-1)
13. Virginia Tech (7-1)
14. Central Florida (7-0)
15. Auburn (6-2)
16. Iowa State (6-2)
17. USC (7-2)
18. Stanford (6-2)
19. NC State (6-2)
20. LSU (6-2)
21. Memphis (7-1)
22. Mississippi State (6-2)
23. South Florida (7-1)
24. Michigan (6-2)
25. Arizona (6-2)
Down goes Penn State. Down goes TCU.
Saturday was another rough week to be a Top Four team. The Nittany Lions traveled to Columbus and had their hearts broken by Ohio State's superb defensive line and the play of quarterback J.T. Barrett, losing 39-38 in a result that left the Nittany Lions playoff hopes on life support.
Because Ohio State's lone loss came out of conference and it holds the tiebreaker against Penn State, the Nittany Lions need to not only win out but also need Ohio State to lose twice to have a shot at reaching the Big Ten title game. While Penn State could still potentially reach the College Football Playoff without winning a Big Ten title, it's far less likely.
Dan Wolken of USA Today broke down the grim reality facing the Nittany Lions:
Dan Wolken @DanWolken
Penn State’s resumé stinks and isn’t going to get better. They have to win the Big 10 to get consideration. And that’s not happening. https://t.co/U9w61dL7d52017-10-29 15:12:00
Dan Wolken @DanWolken
Penn State’s three best wins will be: 1) Michigan 2) Iowa 3) Michigan State Even at 11-1 I just don’t see how they’ll be in the mix.2017-10-29 15:24:32
TCU's reality is probably even worse in a league devoid of a single unbeaten team, though head coach Gary Patterson remained optimistic after the loss.
"We've still got a chance to play for a Big 12 title," he noted, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "Does it hurt our chances for the playoff? Probably. We still played good enough defense to win."
Win out and TCU can still make a case. But that will mean beating Texas and Oklahoma, no easy task. And like Penn State, TCU likely no longer controls its destiny in the playoff hunt. Instead, the Horned Frogs will almost assuredly need a few of the teams ranked ahead of them to drop a game.
Ohio State, for instance, is in the driver's seat. The Buckeyes still have tough dates against Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan, but they control their destiny in the Big Ten. Win out and it's hard to imagine the Buckeyes being left out of the playoff.
The same can be said for Georgia, which remained undefeated after smoking Florida, 42-7. A fascinating wrinkle is developing in the SEC: If Alabama and Georgia remain undefeated heading into the SEC title game, would both teams essentially be guaranteed a shot in the playoff?
Imagine the uproar if Georgia—at that point likely the No. 2 team in the nation—loses to the No. 1 team in the nation, its lone loss of the season, but is kept out of the playoff. Barring a blowout, there arguably wouldn't be a "better" loss on the season than that loss outside of perhaps Penn State losing by a point in Columbus.
It could set up a fascinating conversation for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
There's plenty of football to be played before that conversation needs to be had, however, with next week laded slight of marquee games. The best matchups are Penn State at Michigan State, Clemson at NC State, Virginia Tech at Miami, Stanford at Washington State, Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, LSU at Alabama and Arizona at USC.