A month ago at this time, there were (more or less) 130 undefeated teams in FBS. As we sit now on the first day of October, roughly 10 percent remain. Fourteen teams made it through September without a loss. The schedule tells us at least half of those teams are guaranteed to lose at some point between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1, but history tells us it’ll be a whole lot more.
The road ahead: vs. Tulane, at Temple, at SMU, vs. Navy, vs. South Florida, at UCF, vs. East Carolina
Prognosis: Perhaps the most under-discussed undefeated team in the country, the Bearcats knocked off UCLA in Chip Kelly’s first game and have already surpassed the four wins they enjoyed in Luke Fickell’s first season. Cincinnati has been getting it done with defense: the Bearcats are No. 9 nationally in yards per play and No. 2 in scoring defense. Chances are they’ll lose at some point during their Florida Two-Step, but a defense like this will give them a shot in every game.
South Florida (4-0)
The road ahead: at Massachusetts, at Tulsa, vs. Connecticut, at Houston, vs. Tulane, at Cincinnati, at Temple, vs. UCF
Prognosis: Many expected the Bulls to drop off after losing franchise quarterback Quinton Flowers, but graduate transfer Blake Barnett has taken Sterlin Gilbert’s offense in a new direction. USF has won its last two games by single digits and beat Georgia Tech with the help of two kickoff return touchdowns. Chances are this team will run its record to 7-0 until we found out what it’s really made of.
No. 12 UCF (4-0)
The road ahead: vs. SMU, at Memphis, at East Carolina, vs. Temple, vs. Navy, vs. Cincinnati, at South Florida
Prognosis: The entire coaching staff left from last year’s claimed national championship team, but the players stuck around — and they’re still significantly better than anyone they’ve played to this point. The Knights have won every game by at least 20 points, and three by 31 or more. Considering this is largely the same team that finished last year ranked No. 6 in the AP poll with four first-place votes, it’s frankly insane they’re not in the top 10 right now.
No. 4 Clemson (5-0)
The road ahead: at Wake Forest, vs. No. 23 NC State, at Florida State, vs. Louisville, at Boston College, vs. Duke, vs. South Carolina
Prognosis: Everyone’s preseason pick to take down Alabama hasn’t looked it so far. Clemson has played two above .500 Power 5 teams and beaten them by six points. Combined. Sure, Clemson has won a dozen games over its ongoing streak of three straight ACC crowns and CFP trips, so winning close games is part of this program’s DNA. But those teams weren’t quarterbacked by a true freshman who’s currently hurt. And this year’s team also doesn’t have a schedule that would allow them to overcome a WTF loss (vs. Pitt in 2016, at Syracuse last year). Stay tuned to this one.
No. 23 NC State (4-0)
The road ahead: vs. Boston College, at No. 4 Clemson, at Syracuse, vs. Florida State, vs. Wake Forest, at Louisville, at North Carolina
Prognosis: Hurricane Florence robbed NC State of its chance to host No. 9 West Virginia, so you can bet Dave Doreen, fifth-year senior senior quarterback Ryan Finley and company are chomping at the bit for their trip to Clemson. I have no idea if they’re going to win, but they’ll give Clemson their absolute best shot.
No. 7 Oklahoma (5-0)
The road ahead: vs. No. 19 Texas, at TCU, vs. Kansas State, at Texas Tech, vs. No. 25 Oklahoma State, vs. Kansas, at No. 9 West Virginia
Prognosis: Blowouts of Florida Atlantic and UCLA appeared to show Mike Stoops fixed OU’s Achilles heel defense. Subsequent games against Iowa State, Army and Baylor erased such a thought. OU is 97th in pass defense — and that includes a game where Army threw for 40 yards. Remove that from the equation and they’re 124th. However, the offense is still the offense. Remember last year, when Baker Mayfield broke his own FBS passing efficiency record en route to the Heisman Trophy? Kyler Murray is more than 30 points ahead of him — while also running for close to 60 yards and a touchdown per game.
No. 9 West Virginia (4-0)
The road ahead: vs. Kansas, at Iowa State, vs. Baylor, at No. 19 Texas, vs. TCU, at No. 25 Oklahoma State, vs. No. 7 Oklahoma
Prognosis: The NC State cancellation barred us from knowing how good this team really is, though a 35-10 first half at Texas Tech showed us their potential. Will Grier could easily toss 30 touchdowns before he throws one that truly matters.
No. 3 Ohio State (5-0)
The road ahead: vs. Indiana, vs. Minnesota, at Purdue, at Nebraska, at No. 20 Michigan State, at Maryland, vs. No. 15 Michigan
Prognosis: TCU and Penn State came at the kings, and they both missed. Ohio State is not a perfect team, but how many teams will they play before Selection Sunday that has the firepower to expose those vulnerabilities?
No. 6 Notre Dame (5-0)
The road ahead: at No. 24 Virginia Tech, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Navy, at Northwestern, vs. Florida State, vs. Syracuse, at USC
Prognosis: Ian Book completely changes the equation for Notre Dame. In wins over Wake and Stanford, he hit 49 of 67 throws for 603 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions while the Irish racked up 94 combined points. Losing captain Alex Bars at left guard for the year will test the team’s depth and mettle.
No. 21 Colorado (4-0)
The road ahead: vs. Arizona State, at USC, at No. 10 Washington, vs. Oregon State, at Arizona, at Washington State, vs. Utah, at California
Prognosis: An apparent breakthrough of a 2016 season that saw CU win 10 games and take the Pac-12 South title washed away in a 5-7 season in 2017. But the yo-yo is on the upswing now; CU is up nearly 15 points a game to 40 points per game thus far. This is the part where we mention CU’s wins have come against Colorado State, Nebraska, New Hampshire and UCLA — who are not exactly lighting the world on fire. Those four are a combined 1-16.
No. 1 Alabama (5-0)
The road ahead: at Arkansas, vs. Missouri, at Tennessee, at No. 5 LSU, vs. Mississippi State, vs. The Citadel, vs. No. 8 Auburn
Prognosis: The defense may be an A instead of an A-plus, but who cares? It’ll be an upset when this team wins a game by less than two touchdowns, and the shocker of a decade if they lose a game.
No. 2 Georgia (5-0)
The road ahead: vs. Vanderbilt, at No. 5 LSU, vs. No. 22 Florida, at No. 13 Kentucky, vs. No. 8 Auburn, vs. Massachusetts, vs. Georgia Tech
Prognosis: It certainly appears that we’re all on a collision course where a 12-0 Alabama meets a 12-0 Georgia in an SEC Championship Game That’s a Rematch of Last Year’s National Championship Game And Also a De Facto National Championship Game Ahead of the Real National Championship Game. (We’ve got a couple months to come up with a snazzier title.) But at least Georgia will have to earn its trip to Atlanta.
No. 13 Kentucky (5-0)
The road ahead: at Texas A&M, vs. Vanderbilt, at Missouri, vs. No. 2 Georgia, at Tennessee, vs. Middle Tennessee, at Louisville
Prognosis: If this was Florida and not Kentucky, we’d be talking about them as legitimate national championship contenders and not just a nice story. No one has come within 11 points of these Wildcats, and Mark Stoops’s crew has a tried-and-true formula to win: defense and running game. Benny Snell leads the SEC in rushing and rushing touchdowns, and UK shares the SEC lead with Auburn in scoring defense. We’re officially neutral here at FootballScoop, but it’d sure be fun to see an undefeated Kentucky host undefeated Georgia.
No. 5 LSU (5-0)
The road ahead: at No. 22 Florida, vs. No. 2 Georgia, vs. Mississippi State, vs. No. 1 Alabama, at Arkansas, vs. Rice, at Texas A&M
Prognosis: LSU shoved it in the face of its many skeptics with a Labor Day Sunday blowout of Miami… and, let’s be honest, a chunk of those skeptics are still skeptical, especially after that miracle comeback at Auburn. Get by Florida, though, and LSU has a chance to make a run at a No. 1 ranking without leaving Baton Rouge.