One-third of the undefeated FBS teams entering Week 5 took their first loss of the year this weekend. A total of 21 teams was chopped down to 14, including a handful of College Football Playoff contenders.
Buffalo, Cal, Duke, North Texas, Penn State, Stanford, and Syracuse all experienced their first loss of the season this week. Penn State, Stanford, and Syracuse all lost to teams that were also undefeated entering the week (Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Clemson, respectively).
The remaining undefeated teams reaching Week 6 are Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, NC State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Florida, UCF, and West Virginia. Given this list and the remaining schedules for all, we know a number of these teams will have to suffer a loss at some point in time.
Georgia will play at LSU on October 13, meaning one of these teams is guaranteed to lose a game within the next two weeks. November 3 is also of note because Georgia will play Kentucky and Alabama will play LSU that day in SEC play. At least two of these teams will be taking a loss (Georgia beats LSU, Kentucky beats Georgia, LSU beats Alabama), and it is a possibility all four suffer a loss (though that may be unlikely). The possibility of an Alabama-Georgia SEC championship game also floats in the air, meaning either Alabama or Georgia is guaranteed a loss before the College Football Playoff selections are made (will it matter?).
Things could get interesting in the Big 12 with Oklahoma and West Virginia not playing each other until the regular season finale in Morgantown. If both teams avoid taking a loss before then, they could face each other in back-to-back weeks with a regular season matchup serving as a preview to the following week’s Big 12 championship game. One of these two will suffer a loss, but could they each hand the other a loss? And how might that impact the Big 12’s playoff picture?
The ACC has two undefeated teams left standing with Clemson and NC State, but one of those teams is going down on October 20 in a head-to-head matchup at Clemson.
The Big Ten (Ohio State) and Pac-12 (Colorado) each have one undefeated team in play, although the odds the Buffs finish the season without a loss do not appear great with games coming up at USC and Washington in back-to-back weeks. Ohio State stands a realistic chance after a big win at Penn State but they still must avoid slipping up at Michigan State and home against Michigan.
The AAC is where things are really of note. The conference has become the biggest contender to get a spot in the NY6 once again with three unbeaten teams in UCF, South Florida and Cincinnati. The bad news is all three reside in the same division and will have to face each other before the end of the year, so at least two of these teams will be taking a loss, and the round-robin victory triangle between them is plausible as well. Cincinnati hosts South Florida on November 10 and then travels to UCF the following week. South Florida hosts UCF in the regular season finale. And, just to make sure we are not forgetting about them, Houston is 3-1 and has a shot to knock off either team it could potentially face in the AAC Championship Game. Bottom line, the AAC is in a great spot to get a team back in the NY6 lineup for a second straight season.
And then there is Notre Dame. Fresh off a blowout of Stanford, the Irish now look forward to a schedule that is not too intimidating looking, so long as they get out of Blacksburg next week with a win at Virginia Tech.
At the end of the season, as many as seven teams could end the regular season without a loss. Odds are it will be fewer than that, but that would certainly create plenty of chaos.