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College football playoff photo for week 3: Alabama leads five levels of contenders

We’re still seven weeks away from the unveiling of the first round of college football playoff standings.

A lot can happen in those seven weeks. Much has happened in the first two weeks already, with CFP regulars Clemson and Ohio State suffering their first losses. How did these upheavals affect the image of the playoffs?

Sporting News examines 16 schools that have the best odds of making the playoffs over two weeks. We then separated these contenders into five tiers based on their early season performance. That list will go down in the coming weeks, but we’ll still be there for the playoff prognosis.

MORE: Week 3 chooses against the spread

With that, a preview of the CFP image across two weeks:

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Level 1: Alabama

1. Alabama (2-0)

The Crimson Tide get their own group after an impressive two-week streak in which they average 46 points per game with new quarterback Bryce Young, who has a 180.1 passer rating. Everyone is saying it together now: “The season doesn’t start until Alabama has lost.”

Level 2: Three for the driver

2. Georgia (2-0)

The Bulldogs have allowed just 10 points and 177 yards per game in two weeks. This created the question of whether to start the season for everyone in the FBS. That is, “What if Alabama and Georgia reach the SEC Championship game with identical records of 12-0?” Answer: Both are going to the college football qualifiers.

3. Oregon (2-0)

The Ducks took home a huge CFP playoff chip with victory at Ohio State, the one that has the Pac-12 thinking of the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Three of their next four games are at home, and key will be to avoid this unforeseen event. regular season upheaval. Coach Mario Cristobal appears to have this team on track to stay the course.

MORE: Oregon plants Pac-12 flag amid playoff talk with upset Ohio State

4. Oklahoma (2-0)

Oklahoma got scared in Week 1, but the Sooners can’t afford to lose one and fall into this mix with Clemson and Ohio State. Iowa State and Texas suffered non-conference losses in Week 2, and the Sooners’ schedule strength is on par with the Tigers. If Oklahoma is in it, then can the SEC take credit for three teams?

Level 3: Win, and you are probably in

5. Ohio State (1-1)

The Ohio State loss was worse than Clemson’s because it was at home. You will hear this a lot, but the CFP committee appreciates the teams that beat the most. The Buckeyes are in the Big Ten East’s strongest division, and they need Penn State and Michigan to keep rolling. It wouldn’t hurt if Michigan State beat Miami this week, either.

6. Clemson (1-1)

To rule out the Tigers based on the Week 1 loss to Georgia would be insane. Clemson has the best shot to go 12-1, and a seventh ACC Championship would apparently be enough to bring the Tigers back.

Level 4: Six teams competing

Iowa (2-0), Cincinnati (2-0), Texas A&M (2-0), Florida (2-0), Penn State (2-0), Notre Dame (2-0)

Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Florida all have varying levels of quarterback discomfort. The Gators can make the biggest statement of this group by beating Alabama on Saturday; something they haven’t done since 2008. The Aggies will have their chance on October 9th.

MORE: ND Quarterback Puts Finger Up, Throws Winning TD

Iowa and Penn State are on a collision course for what could be an unbeaten battle on October 9. The Hawkeyes are the only FBS team with two wins over ranked opponents.

Cincinnati is the only Group of 5 school on this list, and the only way to stay on this one is to beat Indiana on Saturday. If they do, circle the October 2 game at Notre Dame on your calendar.

Level 5: Four teams on the sidelines for now

UCLA (2-0), Arizona State (2-0), Michigan (2-0), Auburn (2-0)

Which of these four teams is the best bet to make it to the college football qualifiers for the first time?

The answer has to be UCLA, right? Chip Kelly rolls the Bruins around with an offense that averages 233.5 rushing yards per game and a defense that allows 37.5 rushing yards per game. Run the ball, stop the run. It really is that simple sometimes. UCLA welcomes Oregon on October 23.

Speaking of rushing, Michigan is averaging 339 rushing yards per game over two weeks and Jim Harbaugh is dropping George Patton and Neil Armstrong. That means this is one of those years when the Wolverines are likely to stick around in the fight against Big Ten East ahead of the Ohio State game.

Arizona State is averaging 259 rushing yards per game with quarterback Jayden Daniels and running back Rachaad White. Auburn is averaging 340 rushing yards per game, and they can prove they belong to that list with a win at Penn State in the “Whiteout” on Saturday.

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