Hard as it may to believe, Saturday marks the midway point in the college football season. By the time the sun rises Sunday morning, seven weekends will be behind us while seven will still lay ahead until Selection Sunday.
Eleven teams enter Week 7 with undefeated records. The maximum number of undefeated regular seasons is seven: Clemson, Baylor or West Virginia, one of Michigan, Ohio State or Nebraska, Western Michigan, Boise State, Washington, and Alabama or Texas A&M.
Recent history tells us that number will be much lower, probably as low as one or none. In fact, in each of the last three seasons only three teams have emerged from the regular season unscathed: 2013 Florida State, 2014 Florida State and 2015 Clemson. (There's a theme there.) In fact, over that span only 14 teams have posted perfect records in their conference's regular season -- and four of those squads tripped up in their respective conference title games.
Staying perfect from Labor Day to Selection Sunday is extremely difficult is what I'm saying here.
With the understanding that no one is likely to go unbeaten, here's how we've ranked the 11 unbeaten teams most likely to remain that way. Let's start from the bottom and work our way up.
11. West Virginia (4-0, 2-0 Big 12): The Mountaineers have managed to play only four games in six weeks. Guess what that means? Eight games over the next eight weeks, four of them on the road. West Virginia 7-11 in Big 12 road games and has yet to lose less than four games in conference play since joining the league in 2012.
Remaining schedule: at Texas Tech, vs. TCU, at Oklahoma State, vs. Kansas, at Texas, vs. Oklahoma, at Iowa State, vs. Baylor
10. Nebraska (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten): The best team Nebraska's beaten so far is.... Wyoming? Oregon isn't what Oregon was when that game was scheduled, and the Huskers' Big Ten draw has been extremely favorable so far. That changes soon with a road trip to a feisty Indiana team on Saturday, then back-to-back trips to Ohio State and Wisconsin two weeks later. Navigate through that barbed wire clean and Mike Riley's reward will be either Michigan or that same -- and in this scenario, pissed off -- Ohio State team again.
Remaining schedule: at Indiana, vs. Purdue, at Wisconsin, at Ohio State, vs. Minnesota, vs. Maryland, at Iowa, Big Ten Championship
9. Baylor (5-0, 2-0 Big 12): No team has ever run the table in the Big 12's 9-game, round-robin era, and the Bears' schedule is extremely backloaded. November opens with a rivalry game against TCU, then a trip to Norman, then a perpetually physical K-State team, which follows with a track meet against Texas Tech and a cold, possibly snowy trip to Morgantown.
Remaining schedule: vs. Kansas, at Texas, vs. TCU, at Oklahoma, vs. Kansas State, vs. Texas Tech (at AT&T Stadium), at West Virginia
8. Texas A&M (6-0, 4-0 SEC): Let's play a little devil's advocate here -- the Aggies get Alabama after a bye -- just as they did in 2012 -- plus Ole Miss and LSU in College Station, and the East division is down for the fourth year in a row. But, still, their path to an unbeaten season starts with winning in Tuscaloosa.
Remaining schedule: at Alabama, vs. New Mexico State, at Mississippi State, vs. Ole Miss, vs. UTSA, vs. LSU, SEC Championship
7. Western Michigan (6-0, 2-0 MAC): The trajectory of the Fighting Flecks has been astounding -- 1-11, 8-5, the first bowl win in school history and now this, two Big Ten victories and five wins by 15 points or more. The Broncos do have MAC East leader Akron on the road Saturday and a Black Friday finale against MAC West challenger Toledo, but this year's MAC isn't the MAC we've become accustomed to seeing.
Remaining schedule: at Akron, vs. Eastern Michigan, at Ball State, at Kent State, vs. Buffalo, vs. Toledo, MAC Championship
6. Washington (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12): This isn't a comment on the Huskies so much as it is the reality of what the Pac-12 asks its teams to do. The last Pac-12 team to run the table was Oregon in 2010, and those Ducks didn't have to play a conference championship game. That said, outside of a Halloween weekend trip to Salt Lake City, the Huskies will be heavy favorites from here on out.
Remaining schedule: vs. Oregon State, at Utah, at California, vs. USC, vs. Arizona State, at Washington State, Pac-12 Championship
5. Michigan (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten): Like Texas A&M, there's a ton to like about the actual team here. But there is the matter of the regular season finale at Ohio State. The last time Michigan won in Columbus, George W. Bush and Al Gore were arguing about hanging chads.
Remaining schedule: vs. Illinois, at Michigan State, vs. Maryland, at Iowa, vs. Indiana, at Ohio State, Big Ten Championship
4. Boise State (5-0, 2-0 Mountain West): There isn't one game you can point to here, but there's enough here to fear a capable underdog playing its best game while the Broncos play their worst, like BYU, a trip to an improved Wyoming and Hawaii, or the finale at Air Force. Win those and Boise's reward is probably defending MW champ San Diego State.
Remaining schedule: vs. Colorado State, vs. BYU, at Wyoming, vs. San Jose State, at Hawaii, vs. UNLV, at Air Force, MW Championship
3. Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC): We've now reached the hair splitting portion of the presentation. Outside of an Oct. 29 visit to Tallahassee, there isn't much resistance between now and the ACC Championship. There is, however, the matter of Clemson not winning at Florida State since 2006 and the odds of the same conference producing an undefeated team four years in a row.
Remaining schedule: vs. NC State, at Florida State, vs. Syracuse, vs. Pittsburgh, at Wake Forest, vs. South Carolina, ACC Championship
2. Alabama (6-0, 3-0 SEC): The Tide has played one game decided by 18 points or less, and even that was an 18-point game until a late run by Ole Miss. The A&M game does present a possible trap game though; the Aggies will arrive off a bye, while Alabama will be fresh off back-to-back road games. Also, it's possible Ed Orgeron lights a purple-and-yellow fire under LSU's backside knowing a win over Alabama would be required to keep his dream job.
Remaining schedule: at Tennessee, vs. Texas A&M, at LSU, vs. Mississippi State, vs. Chattanooga, vs. Auburn, SEC Championship
1. Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten): At some point it has to stretch beyond schedule analysis to a look at the actual team playing that schedule -- and this one has been flawless to this point. The Buckeyes are in the top five nationally in scoring offense, scoring defense and scoring margin. So, sure, there's a trip to Wisconsin Saturday, Nebraska and Michigan coming to the 'Shoe, but if Ohio State's offense takes a day off, the Bucks can rely on their elite defense, and vice versa. If both of those fail, they can jumpstart themselves with a ballhawk defense and a greedy offense.
Remaining schedule: at Wisconsin, at Penn State, vs. Northwestern, vs. Nebraska, at Maryland, at Michigan State, vs. Michigan