There are 13 undefeated college football teams left with eight weeks left to play in the 2021 season, including the all-important conference championship games. While history tells us that number will drop rapidly in the coming weeks, this point provides an opportunity to see how the teams without a blemish on their record stack up against each other.
Since the season has been defined by dozens of upsets of ranked teams and the kind of chaos that has fans invoking the spirit of 2007, it should come as no surprise that this number is down from where it was at the exact same point in 2019 (16 undefeated). All of the programs listed below enter the weekend believing that continuing their winning ways will provide the opportunity to compete for a College Football Playoff spot in November and early December. However, we know that not everyone carries the same margin for error, and even the first loss can lead to a swift drop from the category of playoff contenders.
We are guaranteed to see at least one of these undefeated teams lose in Week 7 as Georgia and Kentucky square off in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week. The Bulldogs are heavily favored in the game, as they will be the rest of the way, which is why Kirby Smart's squad leads off our power ranking-style breakdown of the remaining unbeaten.
|Few things in college football seem as universally agreed upon at the midseason point than Georgia being the No. 1 team in the country. That doesn't mean that everything is going to easy the rest of the way to 12-0, but the obvious obstacles are few and mostly center on Oct. 30 in Jacksonville against Florida. Win that and get out of Knoxville without a slip-up against Tennessee on Nov. 13. and everything else should add up to 12-0. Getting to 13-0 will be a tougher task, even with Alabama's recent stumble, but the odds favor the Bulldogs showing up on Conference Championship Saturday with the undefeated status they carry here heading into Week 7. CBS Sports 130: 1 | AP Top 25: 1|
|While Lincoln Riley remains mum on the status of the quarterback position, I'm giving the Sooners a boost in these rankings assuming that the Caleb Williams era has begun. We're too often enchanted by the shiny new thing in sports and it's doubly true with backup quarterbacks ... but Williams has appeared, all the way back to his recruitment, to be an elite talent at the position. I think his promotion raises the team's ceiling, which is why I'm higher on the Sooners than teams ranked ahead of them in the CBS Sports 130 and AP poll. CBS Sports 130: 5 | AP Top 25: 4|
|The Bearcats could be double-digit favorites in every game left on the schedule, starting with this week's test against UCF and potentially including SMU on Nov. 20. Win those two games and Cincinnati should be positioned to offer the best test yet to those who believe a Group of Five team cannot crack the top four at the end-of-year playoff rankings. With the way CB Ahmad Gardner and this defense have played all year, it's going to take something heroic for the Bearcats to be knocked off their path to 12-0. CBS Sports 130: 3 | AP Top 25: 3|
|When splitting hairs between the non-Georgia undefeated teams, everyone has shortcomings in the comparison that are balanced by the qualities that make them elite. Iowa has one of the two best defenses in the country, and the way that unit propels the team to success is impressive enough to think Iowa will finish 12-0. But we're power ranking here, and what Oklahoma and Cincinnati have going at the quarterback position gives those teams a slight edge. CBS Sports 130: 2 | AP Top 25: 2|
|There's been a remarkable consistency to the level of performance for most of Michigan's 6-0 start, with the only exceptions being the second half against Rutgers and the third quarter against Nebraska. For the rest of the season, the Wolverines have shown great defensive line play and run the ball at a top-10 level nationally. Piecing together the passing game leaves Michigan vulnerable, but the team is so strong everywhere else it hasn't cost Jim Harbaugh's team a game yet. This is a case in which I'm high on Michigan, but betting against it to finish 12-0 at the same time with Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State all left on the schedule. CBS Sports 130: 7 | AP Top 25: 8|
|The top challenger to Michigan for best ground game in the Big Ten is Michigan State thanks to All-American level of play from Kenneth Walker III. The Spartans have won games of all scores and even showcased some big-play ability through the air in last week's 31-13 trouncing of Rutgers. I've been very impressed with how Michigan State has exceeded expectations, but like Michigan, the Spartans have a ton of tricky spots left on the schedule before considering the prospects of 12-0. CBS Sports 130: 9 | AP Top 25: 10|
|Personally, I have Coastal as the third-most likely team from this group to finish the regular season 12-0, but the strength of schedule has to be taken into consideration when stacking the Chanticleers up against the rest of the undefeated teams. This is one of the most explosive and efficient offenses in the country, but running it up against opponents who mostly rank outside of the top 100 among the 130 FBS teams is going to leave something to prove. However, that opportunity to prove the doubters arrives soon with a date at Appalachian State on Oct. 20. The Mountaineers may have laid an egg at Louisiana in Tuesday night #FunBelt action, but they'll be charged up for the head-to-head that could decide the Sun Belt East Division next Wednesday. CBS Sports 130: 14 | AP Top 25: 15|
|Winning close games and winning the turnover battle are two aspects of football that some attribute to luck and fortune, but for Dave Clawson's Wake Forest program, it is essentially a key piece of the team's identify. The Demon Deacons lead the ACC and rank in the top six nationally in turnover margin, and those opportunities have helped them come out on top in back-to-back three-point wins. Considering the schedule, it's possible Wake Forest could still be undefeated heading into November. However, that's when its ACC title and CFP hopes will be tested with North Carolina, NC State, Clemson and Boston College in consecutive weeks -- a stretch that includes only one home game, against the Wolfpack on Nov. 13. CBS Sports 130: 16 | AP Top 25: 16|
|The team most likely to get bounced from the ranks of the undefeated deserves its flowers before heading to Athens on Saturday. There have been some changes on Mark Stoops' coaching staff, and with some of the particulars of the Wildcats' offense, but the identity of a team that wins at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and gets its offense from the ground game remains. Chris Rodriguez leads the SEC in rushing and played a key role in wins against both Florida and LSU. CBS Sports 130: 10 | AP Top 25: 11|
|The Cowboys have a tremendous opportunity to make their official arrival in the Big 12 title race at Texas on Saturday. A win could solidify a path to the Big 12 Championship Game and alleviate some pressure from the result of the regular-season Bedlam game against rival Oklahoma. I've got this team rated behind the likes of Wake Forest and Coastal Carolina because of its makeup and heavily reliance on defense, which might be more revealing of my offensive-centered bias. If it's been good enough to beat Boise State, Kansas State and Baylor, it can beat almost anyone in the Big 12, just not that one team Oklahoma State fans care about the most. CBS Sports 130: 11 | AP Top 25: 12|
|The most likely challenger to Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference has been lighting it up on offense. Quarterback Tanner Mordecai has an FBS-best 26 touchdowns, while his 71% completion percentage is good for top-10 nationally with a minimum of 15 pass attempts per game. The Mustangs were knocked a little after a closer-than-expected win against Navy. The path to 12-0 looks even tougher if this is going to be a team that plays to its competition. SMU still has to play at Houston, at Memphis, at home against UCF, and then on the road at Cincinnati. CBS Sports 130: 18 | AP Top 25: 23|
|There is a résumé argument that San Diego State should be ranked higher by a few spots thanks to two Pac-12 wins, one of them being against Utah. But SMU has its own quality Power Five win against TCU and tracking down Oklahoma State was going to be a reach. The big challenge for the Aztecs is maintaining this edge on the rest of a very competitive Mountain West conference with back-to-back road games at San Jose State and Air Force. CBS Sports 130: 26 | AP Top 25: 24|
|One frustrating aspect of this exercise is putting someone last, because there's absolutely no shame in being the 13th of 13 remaining undefeated teams. Even being included means you haven't lost! UTSA is the best team in Conference USA, and it will continue to prove it on a weekly basis will stellar play at the line of scrimmage and a running back in Sincere McCormick who's hotter than fish grease. CBS Sports 130: 27 | AP Top 25: NR|