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December 8, 2019
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The Eliminator – There’s always next year, Nebraska and Florida State

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We’re five weeks into the 2019 college football season, and the rankings look a lot like they did a month ago.

The top six teams have remained the same though the first six polls — for the first time in the history of the AP Top 25, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Although the teams have moved positions, the top six teams have remained unchanged since the preseason.

If only that were the case for the 85 FBS teams that have already fallen out of contention for one of the four coveted spots in the College Football Playoff.

In the first 2019 edition of the Eliminator, 14 teams remain in contention for those four CFP berths, and nine of those are from the Big Ten or SEC, which means that crowd will continue to thin out. There are 31 other teams with work to do, but 85 teams have already been eliminated, including all of Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference.

Although the process is largely subjective, there are a few ground rules. Every team from a Group of 5 league with one loss is gone. So are teams from Power 5 leagues with three or more losses.

There are a few exceptions. Florida State already lost to Boise State and Virginia — and nearly lost to Louisiana Monroe. Nebraska isn’t coming back this season. Teams with multiple lopsided defeats (such as NC State and Syracuse) or an embarrassing Group of 5 loss (such as Illinois) are also gone.

Here’s the first edition of the Eliminator:

Still in contention

Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC)
Trending: Even
The Crimson Tide finally break a sweat in two weeks at Texas A&M.

Auburn Tigers (5-0, 2-0 SEC)
Trending: Up
If Gus Malzahn isn’t careful, he’ll end up with another seven-year contract extension.

Clemson Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC)
Trending: Down
The defending national champions sure don’t look like one of the top four teams right now.

Florida Gators (5-0, 2-0 SEC)
Trending: Up
The Gators play No. 7 Auburn, No. 5 LSU and No. 3 Georgia in three of their next four games. Ouch.

Georgia Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
Trending: Up
Why are the ends of Georgia games always closer than they should be?

Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Trending: Even
No, this isn’t a misprint. If the Hawkeyes can get through October unscathed, their Nov. 9 trip to Wisconsin looms rather large.

LSU Tigers (4-0, 1-0 SEC)
Trending: Up
With a potent passing game and frenetic pace, the Tigers look like a Big 12 team on offense — and defense.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-1)
Trending: Even
Notre Dame is counting on Michigan and USC being good to bolster its schedule strength. Yeah, the Irish aren’t making the CFP.

Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten)
Trending: Up
If the Buckeyes are still in the CFP hunt in late November, will they be penalized for playing Michigan on the final Saturday?

Oklahoma Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Trending: Up
Remember when everyone believed Jalen Hurts couldn’t throw the ball? I guess SEC defenses are that good, huh?

Oregon Ducks (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12)
Trending: Even
The Ducks are starting to look like an SEC team. They’ve allowed six or fewer points in each of their past three games.

Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Trending: Even
Thank goodness for Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi’s math skills.

Texas Longhorns (3-1, 1-0 Big 12)
Trending: Even
The Longhorns haven’t yet beaten a team that matters, but they also haven’t lost to a team they were supposed to beat, which wasn’t the case the previous few seasons.

Wisconsin Badgers (4-0, 2-0 Big Ten)
Trending: Up
What’s worse: being taunted by a crowd singing “Build Me Up Buttercup” or being trounced by an offense that still includes a fullback?

On the fence

Appalachian State Mountaineers (4-0, 1-0 Sun Belt)
Trending: Up
The Mountaineers beat North Carolina, which almost beat defending national champion Clemson.

Arizona Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12)
Trending: Even
The Wildcats beat UCLA 20-17 without quarterback Khalil Tate (hamstring) and running back J.J. Taylor (leg).

Arizona State Sun Devils (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
Trending: Up
Herm Edwards’ team has impressive road victories at Michigan State and Cal.

Baylor Bears (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
Trending: Up
Matt Rhule’s miracle work is nearly finished.

Boise State Broncos (4-0, 1-0 MWC)
Trending: Even
With UCF’s loss, the Broncos look like the early favorites for the Group of Five’s NY6 bowl bid.

California Golden Bears (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
Trending: Even
The Bears’ Pac-12 title hopes probably depend on the severity of quarterback Chase Garbers’ right shoulder injury.

Colorado Buffaloes (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12)
Trending: Up
Shorts-wearing Buffaloes coach Mel Tucker might be the only FBS coach who has figured out global warming.

Duke Blue Devils (3-1, 1-0 ACC)
Trending: Up
Maybe the Jets should draft Quentin Harris.


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