CFP Race - Week 9 - Playoff Picture Gets Clearer

By JusticeLee
Nov. 02, 2016

In the Hunt: Ohio State (24-20 win over Northwestern)

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes have really been slipping the past couple weeks after starting the year off red hot. This game against Northwestern was even tied at one point, but ultimately the Ohio State offense was able to grind out the clock for the victory.

One improvement from past weeks was the increase in usage of Curtis Samuel, who received 14 touches this week, going for 99 yards and a touchdown. J.T. Barrett was less than stellar, accumulating 294 total yards, but zero touchdowns.

Ohio State has one huge game left on their schedule, that being the season finale against Michigan. If they can emerge victorious, they are a good bet to re-enter the top four.

In the Hunt: Louisville (32-25 win over Virginia)

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Down 17-14 going into the fourth quarter, it looked to be the end of playoff dreams for Louisville. Then came an 18 point scoring explosion led by Lamar Jackson that saw the Cardinals score on all three of their final drives.

Jackson’s brilliance was on full display, once again the game-leader in passing and rushing yards. His four touchdown passes was his highest total since week four, however, he failed to score on the ground for the first time this season.

Even if Louisville runs the table, there’s a chance they will still miss the playoffs. Their goal should be to hang 70+ points on their opponents for the rest of the season, showing that they can play with the big boys come playoff time.

4. Washington (31-24 win over Utah)

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

This certainly wasn’t the type of runaway win we are used to seeing from Washington, but that was expected against a Utah team that always plays their rivals tough. However, you can’t argue with the victory.

The Huskies leaned on their running game, led by Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, who rushed for 151 and 60 yards, respectively. This game was tied with nine minutes left following a Utah touchdown. Then came a 58 yard punt return touchdown by Dante Pettis that secured Washington the victory.

There are several teams pushing for this number four slot and the Huskies will need convincing wins over the final four weeks to hold onto it.

3. Clemson (37-34 win over Florida State)

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers took it down to the wire this week against the ‘Noles, pulling out the victory after Florida State stormed back to take the lead with three minutes left in the game.

Deshaun Watson led a five play, 75 yard drive to score the game-winning touchdown. Jordan Leggett was instrumental on this final drive, reeling in three receptions for 70 yards, including the 34 yard game winner.

Clemson seems like a shoo-in for the playoffs at this point, with no remaining games against ranked opponents. They take on a Syracuse team next week that gives up 31 points and 450 yards per game.

2. Michigan (32-23 win over Michigan State)

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Spartans always seem to be a tough out for Michigan and this game looked to be following that trend, until a 20 point second quarter from the Wolverines. Two De’veon Smith touchdown runs helped give them a 27-10 lead going into the half.

Jabrill Peppers was all over the field in this game, playing quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, safety and returned kicks and punts. His diversity will be a huge x-factor for Michigan as they get closer to the playoffs.

Two big tests for Michigan await them at the end of the season. First a road game against Ohio State, then the Big Ten championship game, likely against a Nebraska team that’s picking up steam.

1. Alabama (bye)

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Crimson Tide retain their top spot despite the bye week and impressive wins from their competition. They look unbeatable at this point, but a fierce LSU team awaits them in week ten.

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