Does anyone want to be No. 2? Put your hand down, Oklahoma. We'll address your situation in a moment.
No. 2 Ohio State barely avoided getting knocked out of the national title race by Michigan State for the third time in four years. No. 3 Michigan, now on its backup quarterback, almost saw its offense wake up too late before beating Indiana. At least Ohio State and Michigan avoided the fate of No. 5 Louisville, which got exposed in a beatdown by Houston on Thursday.
At this late stage of the season, every team faces the risk of getting exposed to some degree. The goal is to hide vulnerabilities for as long as possible. Some teams are talented enough to escape hiccups, while others get exposed like naked Yale students standing on top of a wall at the Yale-Harvard game.
With two weeks left, let's evaluate the College Football Playoff chances for the contenders:
No. 1 Alabama (11-0): The only undefeated Power Five team is in great shape. The Crimson Tide could lose to Auburn or Florida and still make the playoff, even if Alabama somehow doesn't win the SEC. If Alabama somehow loses two games, we can start discussing playoff scenarios without the Crimson Tide. But that's not happening, no matter how sloppy Alabama looked in the first half against Chattanooga.
No. 2 Ohio State (10-1): Leave it to Mark Dantonio to throw a monkey wrench into Urban Meyer's national title plans -- again. The Buckeyes survived 17-16 on Saturday, and a win is a win. But at no point in this particular game against a 3-8 Michigan State team did anyone think, "Ohio State is clearly one of the top four teams in the country." The Buckeyes may need the CFP Selection Committee to think that because they might not play for the Big Ten championship.
For the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten East, they need to beat Michigan next week and have Penn State lose to Michigan State. If not, the Michigan State win Saturday and Michigan next week are the committee's last impressions of Ohio State, which could make the playoff without winning the Big Ten given its top-10 road wins over Oklahoma and Wisconsin. The nightmare scenario for Ohio State: Alabama is in, Clemson wins the ACC with one loss, Washington wins the Pac-12 with one loss and two-loss Penn State wins the Big Ten championship. Could the committee really put the one-loss Buckeyes in over the Nittany Lions, who beat Ohio State and would be the Big Ten champion?
No. 3 Michigan (10-1): The Wolverines' scenario is very simple. If they beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten championship, the Wolverines are going to be in the playoff. There might be a way for a two-loss Michigan that loses the Big Ten Championship Game to sneak in given that it would have four top-10 wins (Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Colorado).
Saturday was the committee's first chance to see what Michigan looked like with John O'Korn, who could be the Wolverines' quarterback moving forward with Wilton Speight hurt. O'Korn was only 7 of 16 passing for 59 yards. He often had pressure in his face and hadn't taken a meaningful snap since 2014. O'Korn's 30-yard scramble ignited the offense so that's potentially a promising sign for the Wolverines, whose offense is sketchy but plays very good defense.
No. 4 Clemson (10-1): The one-loss Tigers will likely be in the playoff if they beat South Carolina and either Virginia Tech or North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. That's the easy scenario. The ACC could be left out if Clemson gets upset in the ACC Championship Game.
The more difficult question: What if Clemson gets upset by South Carolina at home and still wins the ACC with two losses? Then it will depend on what the national landscape looks like in other conferences. Two home losses to unranked teams ( Pittsburgh and South Carolina) would be a bad look.
No. 6 Washington (10-1): While the Huskies blew out Arizona State, this wasn't a great day for their playoff picture. Utah's loss at home to woeful Oregon hurts Washington's résumé some since that's the Huskies' best win. Colorado's win over Washington State will also dent Washington's future strength of schedule because the Huskies play the Cougars next week for the Pac-12 North title.
Washington can still certainly make the playoff as a one-loss Pac-12 champion. Getting ranked ahead of Wisconsin last week was interesting to see because those teams could compete at No. 4. The Huskies are the only Power Five team you can't feel comfortable saying they're in the playoff as a one-loss champion. Given how much the committee loves Southern California right now, Washington should hope the Trojans win the Pac-12 South so the Huskies could try to avenge their only loss. After beating UCLA on Saturday night, USC needs have Utah defeat Colorado next week.
No. 7 Wisconsin (9-2): I'm telling you, don't sleep on the Badgers. Wisconsin can win the Big Ten West by beating Minnesota or having Nebraska lose to Iowa. If the Badgers are in Indianapolis, they would be a dangerous opponent for Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State. The Badgers are averaging 232 rushing yards during their five-game winning streak and somehow making their quarterback situation work with Alex Hornibrook and Bart Houston sharing the workload.
The Badgers weren't helped Saturday when LSU, one of their best wins, lost at home to Florida. The question of whether Wisconsin is really a top-four team lingers because its best win now may be Nebraska, which lost 62-3 to Ohio State. To address that question, Wisconsin would be better off winning the Big Ten by beating Michigan or Ohio State -- the two teams that edged the Badgers -- rather than Penn State.
No. 8 Penn State (9-2): Penn State wasn't always pretty Saturday -- the score was 9-0 at halftime over woeful Rutgers -- but did what it needed in a comfortable 39-0 win. The Nittany Lions will stunningly play for the Big Ten championship if they beat Michigan State at home and Ohio State defeats Michigan.
Winning the Big Ten is the only path for Penn State to reach the playoff. Even doing so is no given for a spot, but the Nittany Lions would have to be in the conversation. They beat Ohio State head-to-head and have played much better since their defense was terribly banged up early, as evidenced by a 49-10 loss to Michigan that hovers over Penn State's résumé.
No. 9 Oklahoma (9-2): Sorry, Oklahoma. I'm still not buying you as a top-four team in 2016. Did the committee box itself into a corner by ranking Oklahoma too high before a quality win? Oklahoma has a terrific offense and has played better lately with a strong closing statement. The Sooners enjoyed a convincing 56-28 win Saturday at West Virginia. But even if Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State in two weeks, what exactly does going undefeated in the Big 12 mean this year?
The Big 12's best nonconference win was probably Oklahoma State over unranked Pittsburgh (7-4). The Sooners still have early losses to Ohio State and Houston and a suspect defense that can't be ignored. West Virginia gained 8.9 yards per play and Justin Crawford ran for 331 yards against Oklahoma, which will need more chaos to truly be in the conversation. By the way, if this was 2017, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would play next week as the league's top two teams ... and then meet again a week later in the Big 12 Championship Game.
No. 10 Colorado (9-2): The Buffaloes are a long shot, but they're on this list since they can still win the Pac-12. They had a good 38-24 win over Washington State. Colorado has losses to Michigan and USC and its best wins are over Washington State and Stanford.
If it wins the Pac-12 South, Colorado will root to play Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Any playoff hopes for the Buffaloes require having a high-ranked win. That still might not be enough.
What we learned this week
1. Texas is a weekly joke, not America's best job: The Longhorn Network's weekly soap opera, As Charlie Strong Turns, is finally coming to an end. Kansas 24, Texas 21 assures that Strong will be fired. There's no going back now. Not after Kansas won its first Big 12 game since Nov. 8, 2014, despite going 3 for 19 on third and fourth downs. Not after Texas committed five turnovers, couldn't close the game twice on offense with a late lead and again looked undisciplined.
Before the game, ESPN reported Texas administrators are receiving "extreme pressure" from prominent boosters to dismiss Charlie Strong and hire Tom Herman. Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News tweeted that if "extreme pressure" doesn't led to a change, the next step will be "ludicrous pressure." Herman, who made himself a lot of money with Houston's dominating win over Louisville, makes sense for Texas.
But don't forget why Strong -- and not someone with an elite background -- was Texas' coach in the first place. In case you wondered why Nick Saban was apprehensive to make the jump to Texas, how Strong has been treated shows why. Texas looks like Alabama before Saban: The boosters want to be in charge. Strong has faced opposition from some boosters since the start. He made his own bed. But it's a bad look for Texas, which should be America's No. 1 job given its money, history and recruiting base. Instead, the Longhorns are a weekly punch line.
2. Tennessee won the war and lost the battle: When this season ends, Butch Jones may try to spin 2016 as a successful year. He can point to finally beating Florida. He might be able to add to his brick-by-brick campaign a 9-3 regular season and a Sugar Bowl bid. But let's be clear: The Vols' inability to win the SEC East after beating both Florida and Georgia represents a major disappointment. We were told to finally believe in the Vols again given their veteran quarterback and talent, yet they disappointed again.
Undoubtedly, a rash of injuries hurt Tennessee. But this was a team riding luck early in the year even when healthier. Ironically, Will Muschamp's new team (South Carolina) ultimately got his old team (Florida) to Atlanta by beating the Vols and losing to the Gators. The good news for Tennessee is it doesn't have to be the team clubbed by Alabama at the SEC Championship Game. But the harsh truth is Florida has now won four SEC East titles since Tennessee's last one in 2007 -- even in a year when the Vols beat their two East rivals. There's no way to spin that.
3. LSU's athletic director lost the war and the battle: So many people lost when Florida made a goal-line stand to beat LSU. Ed Orgeron lost his shot to become LSU's permanent coach. Tennessee lost its shot at winning the SEC East. But no one took a worse loss than LSU AD Joe Alleva, who made a deal that has backfired from the contentious negotiations with Florida to make up their postponed game due to Hurricane Matthew.
Emails came out publicly showing Alleva told an LSU board member it was a "joke" that South Carolina and Georgia were postponed just a day in October. LSU believed it could play a day later as well in Gainesville, Florida. Alleva also wrote there was "no way" the Gators wanted to play as much as LSU did. Florida was clearly motivated by Alleva's handling of -- and words regarding -- the postponement. Alleva managed to acquire a home Florida-LSU game in 2016 for his interim coach in exchange for two straight trips to The Swamp over the next two years for LSU's new coach. Bad deal.
4. Mike MacIntyre should be national coach of the year: Colorado is 9-2. Let me repeat: Colorado is 9-2. The Buffaloes haven't had a winning record since Gary Barnett's last season in 2005, much a less nine-win year. The last time Colorado won nine games was 2002. This was a program with a 35-88 record over the past 10 years. The Buffaloes went 2-25 in the Pac-12 from 2013-15.
The Buffaloes' defense is playing with an edge. This is a smart, well-coached team that could find itself in the Pac-12 Championship Game. MacIntyre, the Buffaloes' fourth-year coach, deserves to be national coach of the year.
5. The AAC belongs in New Year's Six bowl talk: Boise State and Western Michigan keep getting deservedly ranked by the CFP committee. Western Michigan keeps rowing toward an undefeated season. Boise State still needs Wyoming to lose to reach a New Year's Six bowl. It's long past time to include the AAC in the conversation. Houston has two top-10 wins (Oklahoma and Louisville) and even though the Cougars will likely be ranked, Navy is the AAC's best hope.
That's because Navy, which beat Houston in October, clinched the AAC West Division. The Midshipmen lost record-setting quarterback Keenan Reynolds to graduation after 2015. Then in Week 1, new quarterback Tago Smith was lost for the year with a torn ACL. Will Worth, the latest quarterback, has six straight 100-yard rushing games. South Florida, which beat Navy, can only play for the AAC title by beating Central Florida next week and having Temple lose to East Carolina. If Navy is in consideration for a New Year's Six bowl, the Group of Five spot won't be decided on Dec. 3. It would get delayed until after the Army-Navy game Dec. 10.
Score of the day
Iowa State 66, Texas Tech 10: The Cyclones scored their most points since beating Colorado State 69-0 in 1980. Texas Tech was down 45-3 at halftime and this marked its low point under Kliff Kingsbury, who once lost 82-27 to TCU in 2014. "All I can do is apologize," Kingsbury said. "It's very disappointing."
Stats of the day
Some major records were broken Saturday. East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones broke the FBS mark for career receptions (388) held by former ECU receiver Justin Hardy. Dalvin Cook became Florida State's career rushing leader, breaking the record of 3,959 yards set by all-time great Warrick Dunn. Pittsburgh's James Conner broke the ACC career rushing touchdown and total touchdown records held by NC State's Ted Brown and Virginia's Wali Lundy. Texas running back D'Onta Foreman recorded his 12th straight 100-yard rushing game, breaking the school record held by legend Earl Campbell.
What was he thinking?
Did Leonard Fournette play hurt due to a pregame scuffle or was he not really that injured? Reports before the Florida-LSU game said Fournette would be inactive for his final home game due to a recurring ankle injury. Then a pregame scuffle occurred between the teams in which Fournette shoved Florida defensive backs coach Torrian Gray. After the incident, Fournette told coach Ed Orgeron he wanted to suit up, according to the SEC Network. Fournette ran for 40 yards on 12 carries. Fournette should be smart about how he uses his body when hurt given that he's unpaid before his NFL career. Still, how Fournette decides whether he should or shouldn't play has raised eyebrows all season.
Quote of the week
"It just shocks me that someone would question the Gators. The way I look at it, [LSU] got what they deserved. It should have been worse." -- Gators coach Jim McElwain on the aftermath of the Florida-LSU dispute to reschedule their postponed game from October