A week ago we took a look at all the remaining unbeaten teams left in FBS. There were 14 at that time. Now there are 11. The schedule tells us at least four more will fall, but history says it’ll be a whole lot more.
We’ve ranked the remaining 11 unbeaten teams not in order of excellence, but in how likely they are (or not) to remain undefeated.
11. Colorado (5-0)
The road ahead: at USC, at No. 7 Washington, vs. Oregon State, at Arizona, at Washington State, vs. Utah, at California
Prognosis: Sure, there’s only one ranked team left on the schedule. But it’s the best team in the conference — at their place. No one has ever run through a 10-0 Pac-12 season since the league expanded to 12 in 2011, and the five teams Colorado has beaten are a combined 6-21.
10. West Virginia (5-0)
The road ahead: at Iowa State, vs. Baylor, at No. 9 Texas, vs. TCU, at Oklahoma State, vs. No. 11 Oklahoma
Prognosis: Similar to Colorado, this is as much a comment on the schedule as it is the team itself. Since the Big 12 added a ninth regular season game and implemented a round-robin schedule in 2011, only one team — 2016 Oklahoma — has racked up a 9-0 league schedule, and those Sooners didn’t also have to play a conference championship game. Will Grier, David Sills and company give WVU the chance to win every game it plays, but those 10 giveaways through five games indicate the Mountaineers’ offense will also give their opponents a chance to win every game, too.
9. Cincinnati (6-0)
The road ahead: at Temple, at SMU, vs. Navy, vs. No. 23 South Florida, at No. 10 UCF, vs. East Carolina
Prognosis: Cincinnati has been one of the biggest surprises of the year (in fact, the Bearcats have already beaten their Vegas win total) and Luke Fickell is the obvious choice as the AAC’s Coach of the Year so far. But playing USF and UCF (in Orlando) in back-to-back weeks after playing Navy is bound to wear down your defense.
8. South Florida (5-0)
The road ahead: at Tulsa, vs. Connecticut, at Houston, vs. Tulane, at Cincinnati, at Temple, vs. UCF
Prognosis: I don’t know the answer to this, but it’s safe to say not many teams have run the table with a rush defense that ranks 114th or lower, as South Florida’s does right now. So either the Bulls get better at defending the run or they won’t remain on this list at season’s end.
7. NC State (5-0)
The road ahead: at No. 4 Clemson, at Syracuse, vs. Florida State, vs. Wake Forest, at Louisville, at North Carolina
Prognosis: The Wolfpack get a week off before going to Clemson. Win at Death Valley East and Dave Doeren’s bunch will shoot way up this list. That’s a tall ask, though.
6. Notre Dame (6-0)
The road ahead: vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Navy, at Northwestern, vs. Florida State, vs. Syracuse, at USC
Prognosis: You see that above? There’s not a single ranked team left on Notre Dame’s schedule and, outside of USC, a single team likely to become ranked between now and game day. That’s good and bad; good because the Irish will be healthy favorites in every game, bad because a loss will end their status as the CFP’s Chaos Candidate.
5. Clemson (6-0)
The road ahead: vs. No. 20 NC State, at Florida State, vs. Louisville, at Boston College, vs. Duke, vs. South Carolina
Prognosis: Winning close games is baked into Clemson’s DNA. The Tigers are 14-3 in one score games since 2015 — a span in which the program is 46-4 overall. But this year’s team doesn’t have the safety net those other Clemson teams did not absorb an in-season slip up — Pitt in 2016, Syracuse last year — the Tigers’ schedule isn’t nearly as strong as years past — largely in part to FSU and Louisville slogging through down seasons. So this team had better go undefeated if it wants to reach the Playoff.
4. Georgia (6-0)
The road ahead: at No. 13 LSU, vs. No. 14 Florida, at No. 18 Kentucky, vs. No. 21 Auburn, vs. Massachusetts, vs. Georgia Tech
Prognosis: The Bulldogs lost Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and got better offensively, or at least more explosive. Their yards per play are up from 6.7 to 7.48, and their scoring average is up a touchdown per game, to 42.8. And the defense is still No. 2 in scoring. This team absolutely could run the table, even with the most difficult schedule of the remaining unbeatens. That schedule is a hindrance and a benefit, because Georgia is most equipped to absorb a loss and still reach the Playoff — as long as it’s the right loss.
3. UCF (5-0)
The road ahead: vs. SMU, at Memphis, at East Carolina, vs. Temple, vs. Navy, vs. No. 25 Cincinnati, at No. 23 South Florida
Prognosis: UCF is on an 18-game winning streak. You knew that. But if you put the spread at UCF minus-20 over that span the Knights are 13-5, including 5-0 this year.
2. Ohio State (6-0)
The road ahead: vs. Minnesota, at Purdue, at Nebraska, at Michigan State, at Maryland, vs. No. 12 Michigan
Prognosis: The Buckeyes play three opponents in the regular season with a prayer of matching them athlete-for-athlete, and they’ve already beaten two of them. Michigan remains, but the Wolverines must come to Columbus, where they last won in 2000. The Buckeyes are 121st in plays of 30-plus yards allowed (20), but who can exploit that while also holding down Dwayne Haskins and company?
1. Alabama (6-0)
The road ahead: vs. Missouri, at Tennessee, at No. 5 LSU, vs. Mississippi State, vs. The Citadel, vs. No. 8 Auburn
Prognosis: Come on.