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December 8, 2019
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How Week 6 impacted the College Football Playoff picture

How Week 6 impacted the College Football Playoff picture
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The SEC and the Big Ten are still stealing the show after six weeks, with four undefeated teams in each conference.

Both conferences have risen above the rest because of their depth — at least for now. The Big 12 is boiling down to Oklahoma and Texas — which is actually its ideal situation (apologies to undefeated Baylor). The ACC is still Clemson and everyone else (sorry, undefeated Wake Forest). And the Pac-12 remains in the worst playoff position of the Power 5 conferences (sorry not sorry — no undefeated teams left).

It’s a narrative that can certainly change as the schedule gets deeper into conference play, but after Florida‘s win against Auburn on Saturday, the Gators remain undefeated along with Alabama, LSU and Georgia — three teams that can make a case for the top four right now. Holding more than one legitimate playoff contender is what separates the Big Ten and SEC from the others, and Florida has to face another one Saturday when it travels to Death Valley.

In the Big Ten, Ohio State has been the clear frontrunner, but Wisconsin has certainly made a case, leading the nation in defensive efficiency while also boasting a Heisman hopeful running back in Jonathan Taylor. Remember, the Badgers already manhandled Michigan, which earned an important win against Iowa on Saturday. Ohio State and Wisconsin play each other on Oct. 26, but they could also meet again for the Big Ten title.

Both division leaders have overshadowed undefeated Penn State, but the Nittany Lions’ true place in the conversation will soon be revealed, as they face three straight ranked opponents.

That’s the overall snapshot.

Here’s a closer look at how Week 6 impacted the playoff picture:

1. That was just the first step for Florida. Auburn was the first Power 5 opponent the Gators have beaten with a winning record. As big as the win was, it’s still a small step, considering Florida has two FCS opponents on its schedule (UT Martin and Towson). If Florida beats LSU, Georgia and Alabama to win the SEC, it probably won’t matter (though the committee has yet to consider such a résumé). If the Gators lose a game? The 13-member selection committee will most certainly debate the two FCS wins. In November, when contenders make some of their biggest impressions on the committee, Florida will end the season with Vanderbilt, Missouri and Florida State — opponents unlikely to give the Gators much of a boost. That makes Saturday’s showdown against LSU all the more important.

“It’s a big win tonight,” Florida coach Dan Mullen told reporters after the game. “It won’t mean a whole lot by tomorrow morning. We move on to LSU tomorrow morning. We’re building. … You have to learn and get that mindset that winning a big-time game like this means you have to show up tomorrow and get ready to win an even bigger one next week. That’s what it’s like in the SEC.”

2. Auburn isn’t out of it, but it will be if it keeps playing like that. The Tigers saw their playoff chances sink from 25% to 9% with the loss at Florida, according to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, but they have plenty of chances to redeem themselves. Auburn isn’t going to beat LSU, Georgia or Alabama, though, if its offense doesn’t improve. Quarterback Bo Nix finally looked like a true freshman, throwing three interceptions, and he was sacked three times — including once for a 22-yard loss. No doubt Florida’s defense deserves credit, but the unforgiving Swamp had Auburn rattled, and it’s not going to be any easier in Death Valley on Oct. 26. A well-timed bye week is next for Auburn, followed by the Oct. 19 trip to Arkansas.

It did help Auburn that Oregon pulled out the home win against Cal, because that means if Auburn does manage to play its way into the committee’s debate, the Tigers could still wind up with a win over the Pac-12 champs. It could stand as one of the best nonconference wins.

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