Seven weeks of college football and there are even more questions than when the season began back at the beginning of September. There hasn't been a clear-cut powerhouse team so far in 2015, but there are plenty of contenders -- and plenty of teams vying for a spot in this year's College Football Playoff.
It's the Buckeyes who have remained atop the polls, having yet to lose a game since winning the title last year, but even they haven't been their typically-dominant selves. The almighty SEC has already dwindled down to just one unbeaten team in the LSU Tigers, thanks to Heisman-favorite Leonard Fournette, and both Oregon and Auburn - teams many considered to be contenders coming into the season - quickly played themselves out of the discussion altogether. And now Utah has reminded us that the sport we love so much can sometimes be incredibly unpredictable.
With everything we've seen, and keeping the second half of the schedules in mind, we have a good idea of which teams have the best chances of making it to the playoff. These teams have handled the first half of their schedules and have crucial, fate-sealing matchups down the stretch. They still have to earn it, but the College Football Playoff Committee may be calling their names soon enough.
These are the 10 teams most likely to make the College Football Playoff.
Stanford lost its season opener on the road against Northwestern and has been clawing its way back ever since, taking down two ranked opponents in the process. With a stubborn defense and a power offense, the Cardinal is back to where people thought it would be coming into the year - making a push for the postseason.
If Stanford wants a place in the College Football Playoff, it'll have to win out - and convincingly. But that may be easier said than done.
There are six games remaining on the schedule, and most of it should be a breeze for a physical Stanford squad. Washington, Washington State, Colorado and Oregon make up the next four opponents, but that's the easy part. While the Cardinal get them at home, two of those six games are against ranked opponents in No. 20 Cal and No. 11 Notre Dame. There is no room for error, not anymore.
Having already captured victories over USC and UCLA, Stanford has the possibility - with a Pac-12 Championship - to finish the season with wins against five ranked opponents, presenting quite the case to the committee.
It may have lost its season opener, but don't count the Cardinal out just yet.
9. Florida State
Florida State hasn't lost a regular season game since 2012, winning 33 of its last 34 games, including the postseason. People may have thrown the Seminoles on the backburner and forgotten about them, but they shouldn't have. A very young team is continuing to come into its own behind transfer quarterback Everett Golson, getting better every week. And if they pull out a win against Clemson, the 'Noles could be cruising to their fourth consecutive ACC Championship under head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Having wins over the likes of Texas State, USF, Boston College, Wake Forest, Miami and Louisville doesn't provide FSU with the strongest strength of schedule on this list, but with Clemson and Florida still to come, the Seminoles will have their opportunity to prove themselves.
It's simple - FSU will have to go undefeated if it wants a shot at the playoff.
Of the six games remaining on FSU's schedule, two of them will be on the road against ranked opponents in rivals No. 6 Clemson and No. 13 Florida, and there's no coming back from a loss against either team at this point. The Seminoles have to make a statement during both of these games if they want to be noticed, because they likely won't have the benefit of playing another ranked opponent in the ACC Championship Game for an extra boost.
It'll be an uphill climb for the Seminoles, but don't count them out yet.
As LSU running back Leonard Fournette goes, so do the Tigers. The youngster has carried the Tigers - and unwise defenders - on his back all season long, and if the College Football Playoff began today, they'd have a spot. But it doesn't begin today, and Les Miles and company have some formidable opponents in the headlights.
Of the five games remaining on the schedule, three of them are against ranked opponents in No. 8 Alabama, No. 24 Ole Miss and No. 15 Texas A&M, with both the Crimson Tide and Rebels having home field advantage in those meetings. And Arkansas, while it may seem unlikely this year, still has the talent to catch a team off its guard.
If the Tigers don't make it out unscathed, an SEC Championship will get them in the playoff. But they have an already impressive resume to help push their cause.
LSU already has wins against three ranked opponents, defeating Mississippi State, demoralizing Auburn and fashionably pulling the rug out from underneath Florida just last week. The best thing the Tigers have going for them with these games is that people were watching.
We know how good Leonard Fournette is. We know how difficult LSU's schedule is from top to bottom. And we know the Tigers will make it to the playoff if they make it through the season alive.
7. Michigan State
Michigan State's stunning victory over Michigan gave the Spartans another marquee win. It also saved the team's chances of reaching the College Football Playoff.
MSU's situation is pretty clear at this point. The Spartans have five regular season games left. Four of them are against unranked squads (Indiana, Nebraska, Maryland, Penn State). One isn't. Connor Cook & Co. will need to take down Ohio State on the road on November 21 if they want to play for it all. They'd also then need to win the Big Ten title game against whichever team from the league's West division winds up prevailing.
Michigan State has wins over Western Michigan, Oregon, Air Force, Central Michigan, Purdue, Rutgers and the aforementioned Wolverines. While the Spartans haven't played the sport's hardest schedule, it's been difficult enough.
To be clear, Michigan State will need to finish 13-0 to reach the playoff. An 11-1 record that doesn't result in a Big Ten title won't get it done. But they're in a situation where they control their own fate. Most teams can't say that right now.
Utah, like Michigan State, completely controls its own fate right now. But the Utes' most difficult game might not come until December, assuming it wins the Pac-12 South and draws Stanford in the league's title game.
As a member of the Pac-12, Utah, with an undefeated record, would be a shoo-in for the playoff. The Utes have wins over Utah State, Fresno State, Oregon, Cal, Arizona State and a surprising Michigan team. And for the most part, each victory has come in convincing fashion. Vegas isn't sold though.
This Saturday, USC, at home, is favored by a field goal over Utah. If the Utes can dodge that bullet, they'll close the year out with Oregon State, Washington, Arizona, UCLA and Colorado. All very winnable games.
Utah probably needs to run the table to feel comfortable about its chances. A 12-1 Pac-12 champ only gets in if it's posted a quality loss.
Alabama is the highest team on our list with a loss. Why? Because if the Crimson Tide runs the table and finishes as a 12-1 SEC champion, it'd be almost impossible to keep them out of the playoff, regardless of the team's loss to Ole Miss.
Against the Rebels, Alabama lost the turnover battle 5-0 and still had a chance in the game's final minute. Since, Bama has ripped off impressive wins against Louisiana-Monroe, No. 8 Georgia, Arkansas and No. 9 Texas A&M. They also still have LSU, the SEC's only undefeated team left, coming to Tuscaloosa on November 7.
Ole Miss needs to drop another game in-conference for Alabama to have a shot at winning the SEC West, but considering the Rebels lost to Memphis this past Saturday, it isn't that far-fetched. Remember - Alabama lost to Ole Miss last year and still got the College Football Playoff's overall No. 1 seed.
Okay, yes Baylor has played its traditional weak non-conference schedule. But they've also hung 60-plus points on all three Big 12 opponents this season. As usual, this offense is a bear to deal with (pun sort of intended), and wide receiver Corey Coleman is one of the top players in the entire country.
Unless the unthinkable happens against Iowa State or Kansas State, Baylor will be 8-0 heading into a rugged three-game stretch which starts with Oklahoma on Nov. 14. If they can get past the Sooners, road trips to Oklahoma State and TCU are next.
Will that match-up with the Horned Frogs be a battle of unbeatens? It very well could be, and if the Bears emerge victorious and then take care of Texas in the season finale, they will finish the regular season 12-0. It'll be hard to keep them out of the CFP if that is the case.
The Horned Frogs are 7-0, having escaped upset bids from Texas Tech and Kansas State. The five-game home stretch features four quality opponents, so an undefeated season will not be an easy task.
Everyone is pointing to the Nov. 27 showdown against Baylor, but TCU also has road trips to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in November. Like Baylor, the Horned Frogs must run the table, because the Big 12 doesn't have a conference championship game.
If TCU winds up in the playoff, a major reason will be the Trevone Boykin-to-Josh Doctson connection. Both have been outstanding thus far, and will have to keep it up to navigate the potential pitfalls on the horizon.
The Tigers are undefeated (6-0) with a couple nice wins already on their resume - home victories against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. They likely need to remain undefeated to make the College Football Playoff, but the path to a 13-0 campaign seems pretty doable.
Here's Dabo Swinney's squad's remaining schedule: at Miami, at NCST, Florida State, at Syracuse, Wake Forest, at South Carolina, ACC Championship Game. There are, of course, some potential losses in there, but the Tigers get their toughest test (FSU) at home. The rivalry game against the Gamecocks is on the road, but it'll be against a Steve Spurrier-less squad that probably won't make a bowl game. The ACC Championship Game opponent will likely be against Pittsburgh or Duke; a loss seems unlikely.
This might be the best team Swinney's had at Clemson and this season could be a special one.
1. Ohio State
We really like the now J.T. Barrett-led Buckeyes' chances of winning out and making the College Football Playoff field.
Like Clemson, Ohio State probably needs to be 13-0 to make it; it's possible a 12-1 Buckeye team could get in, but they'd need some help. Is a loss coming for Urban Meyer's team? We doubt it.
Ohio State has yet to look like the legitimate, No. 1 team in the country, but the talent is there and making the switch to Barrett at quarterback should pay off big time. The schedule sets up very nicely, too. OSU gets an easy contest against Rutgers this weekend followed by a needed bye week (the Buckeyes have some injuries that need time to heal). The stretch run plays out like this: Minnesota, at Illinois, Michigan State, at Michigan, Big Ten Championship Game.
The Buckeyes get their toughest opponent at home - Ohio State's lost just one game at home in the Meyer era - and the Wolverines will pose a tough test but we're not sure if Michigan has the offense to score with OSU. Then, in the league championship game, the Bucks will likely get an under-matched Iowa team.
A 13-0 season isn't just possible, we expect it.