College football chaos giveth, college football chaos taketh away.
No. 3 Michigan State — just like No. 2 Iowa — found that out the hard way on Saturday, losing a 40-29 stunner to Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. The loss will shake up the College Football Playoff rankings heading into Week 11, and now gives the Big Ten East division three teams with one loss and just three games left to play.
All the more chaos to enjoy in this final stretch of the season.
But what will the loss mean for the next set of rankings, unveiled on Tuesday? There are several teams that stand to benefit from the Spartans’ loss, especially considering how lopsided it was (make no mistake; the game wasn’t nearly as close as the score suggests).
Sporting News breaks down what teams stand to move up and down the top 25 ahead of the second set of CFP rankings:
Rankings reflect Week 10 College Football Playoff top 25
BENDER: Heartbreaking loss to Ohio State for Scott Frost heats up his seat at Nebraska
Previous rank: 4
Oregon should climb to No. 3 in the latest set of Playoff rankings, assuming the Ducks take care of 4-4 Washington on the road. The bigger picture for Mario Cristobal and Co. is whether they can make the Playoff over a one-loss Big Ten champion.
The Ducks are rooting for the Big Ten to cannibalize itself, which has been accomplished in each of the last two weeks with the Spartans’ win over Michigan and, on Saturday, the Boilermakers’ win over Michigan State. Now each of the Big Ten East’s top three teams — including Ohio State — have one loss apiece. Michigan State and Michigan both have to face Ohio State left, creating the possibility for each team to suffer yet another loss. That’s the ultimate outcome for Oregon but, in the meantime, all it can do is win out.
Ohio State (8-1)
Previous rank: 5
Ohio State will move up into the fourth spot following its 26-17 win over Nebraska. It wasn’t an overly impressive victory, but the Buckeyes will move up as a direct result of Michigan State’s loss to Purdue. The Ducks are Ohio State’s biggest Playoff competition the remainder of the way. That said, Ohio State is in a good position: It controls its destiny in a tight divisional race and has ranked opponents in the Spartans and Wolverines to buff its resume.
Ohio State’s main focus is getting to Indianapolis with just one loss and winning the conference championship. A win there almost certainly sets the Buckeyes up for a Playoff berth.
Previous rank: 6
The Bearcats needed to use the “College Football Playoff” stage to show their Playoff worthiness to the selection committee. Instead, they won 28-20 over 3-6 Tulsa. To make matters worse, Golden Hurricane running back Steven Anderson nearly scored a touchdown that would have made the score 28-26 with 36 seconds remaining. But he fumbled the ball over the goal line , giving Cincinnati the ball and allowing it to run out the clock.
Every team has these types of wins occasionally. That said, the Bearcats needed to leave no doubt against a 3-5 Tulsa team. Instead, it gave the Playoff selection committee another reason to keep it at No. 6 in the latest rankings. Don’t be surprised if you see the Bearcats drop another spot, either.
Previous rank: 7
Michigan must still beat Indiana to take advantage over any losses in front of it. Assuming the Wolverines win — the Hoosiers won 38-21 last year in Bloomington, Ind. after all — they stand to move up one or more spots, potentially jumping Cincinnati to take over at No. 5.
Again, Michigan’s biggest priority is in the short term, not the long term. It must first get through Indiana, Penn State and Maryland before taking on Ohio State, a team it has not beaten since 2011. Jim Harbaugh and Co. are close to controlling their destiny, but it must overcome history to get there.
Previous rank: 8
Oklahoma was idle in Week 9, but should still move up a spot to No. 7 with Michigan State’s loss. Purdue’s upset of the Spartans was so thorough that there’s little chance Michigan State maintains a top-eight ranking.
Oklahoma appears to control its destiny. The Sooners have games remaining against No. 12 Baylor and No. 11 Oklahoma State — not to mention a potential rematch with one of those teams — to overcome their initial CFP ranking. Oklahoma has played considerably better with Caleb Williams at quarterback, and the Sooners will need him to continue that brilliance heading into the final stretch of the season.
Michigan State (8-1)
Previous rank: 3
Mel Tucker knew ahead of Saturday’s game that Purdue had a history of huge upsets against top-five opponents. Even so, his team couldn’t keep them from playing Spoilermaker in West Lafayette. The Spartans offense did their job, with Payton Thorne completing 20 of 30 passes for 276 yards and two scores plus an interception. Kenneth Walker III continued his Heisman Trophy campaign, adding 136 rushing yards off 22 carries and another score.
But the Spartans defense had no answer for quarterback Aidan O’Connell or receiver David Bell. O’Connell completed 40 of 54 passes for 536 yards and three touchdowns. Bell caught 11 passes for 217 yards and a score. That completely lackluster effort will knock Michigan State below Oklahoma in the latest CFP rankings. The question is, how low?
No. 9 Wake Forest lost 58-55 to unranked North Carolina and 11 Oklahoma State beat West Virginia 24-3, likely moving the Cowboys into the top 10. No. 12 Baylor lost to unranked TCU; No. 13 Auburn lost 20-3 to No. 14 Texas A&M. No. 15 BYU and 16 Ole Miss got fairly convincing victories as well. More than likely, the Spartans fall anywhere from 11 through 15 in the next top 25.
Like its fellow Big Ten East teams, Michigan State would have a strong playoff resume if it wins out and goes 12-1 as a Big Ten champ. But it can’t afford another loss — upset or otherwise — in its final three games.
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