A season that began as Alabama and Clemson but nobody else is now wide open

Starting Saturday with No. 7 Florida, No. 5 LSU and quarterback Joe Burrow will face four ranked teams in the second half of the season.Derrick E. Hingle/USA Today

As the 2019 season reaches the halfway point, at least a dozen teams still have a path to the College Football Playoff.

Here’s the funny thing about college football:

In June and July, you are absolutely convinced it will never get here. It’s just too hot and the last Saturday in August looks like a million miles away.

Then it finally starts. You put your head down and when you look up, it’s Week 7 and we’re halfway home. The next time we look up it will be Thanksgiving. It just goes by so fast.

Here’s a reminder that the first set of rankings from the College Football Playoff selection committee—the only rankings that matter--won’t be released until Tuesday Nov. 5. That’s still four weeks from now. And a lot is going to happen between now and then.

But here’s the good news as we reach the second Saturday in October: The preseason narrative that the 2019 college season was going to be about Alabama and Clemson and nobody else has already been shot down in flames. Big time.

Alabama is undefeated and ranked No. 1 and can certainly make the playoffs. But its defense is simply not vintage Alabama. Saturday’s game with Texas A&M is the first ranked opponent the Crimson Tide has played this season.

No. 2 Clemson (5-0) is a missed two-point conversion away from losing to North Carolina. And, dear readers, if Clemson loses a game in the struggling ACC, the Tigers will be hard-pressed to make it back to the playoffs.

As we sit here today there are at least a dozen teams that still have legitimate playoff hopes if they can run the table. But they all CAN’T run the table because a bunch of them play each other down the stretch.

To illustrate what we mean let’s take the Top 12 teams in the Associated Press Media poll and look at the remaining ranked games on their respective schedules. And from that we’ll glean 10 games that will decide the four teams that will the College Football playoffs.

Sure, we’ll leave out some good games. Feel free to mention any games you believe were slighted.

But here's the point of this exercise: We’re getting ready to have a whole lot of fun. Here we go.

REMAINING RANKED TEAMS FOR AP TOP 12

Team…………….Remaining ranked teams

1—Alabama (5-0): at No. 24 Texas A&M; No. 5 LSU; at No. 12 Auburn

2—Clemson (5-0): No. 19 Wake Forest

3—Georgia (5-0): No. 7 Florida (JAX); at No 12 Auburn; No. 24 Texas A&M

3—Ohio State (6-0): No. 8 Wisconsin; No. 10 Penn State; at No. 16 Michigan

5—LSU (5-0): No. 7 Florida; No. 12 Auburn; at No. 1 Alabama; No. 24 Texas A&M

6—Oklahoma (5-0): No. 11 Texas (Dallas); at No. 22 Baylor.

7—Florida (6-0): at No. 5 LSU; No. 3 Georgia (JAX).

8—Wisconsin (5-0): at No. 3 Ohio State; No. 17 Iowa.

9—Notre Dame (4-1): at No. 16 Michigan.

10—Penn State (5-0): at No. 17 Iowa; No. 16 Michigan; at No. 3 Ohio State

11—Texas (4-1): No. 6 Oklahoma; at No. 22 Baylor

12—Auburn (5-1): at No. 5 LSU; No. 3 Georgia; No. 1 Alabama

TEN GAMES THAT WILL DECIDE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS

1—No. 5 LSU at No. 1 Alabama, Nov. 9: If LSU beats Florida and Auburn at home, this will be another “Game of the Century.”

2—No. 7 Florida at No. 5 LSU, Saturday: Even if the Gators lose, they can still win the SEC East.

3—No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State, Oct. 26: Very likely a preview of the Big Ten championship game.

4—No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 7 Florida (Jacksonville), Nov. 2: If Florida beats LSU, this will be a Top 10 match-up for the second straight year.

5—No. 10 Penn State at No. 3 Ohio State, Nov. 23: The last three meetings have been decided by a total of five points.

6—No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas (Dallas), Oct. 12: These two will likely play again for the Big 12 championship.

7—No. 3 Georgia at No. 12 Auburn, Nov. 16: Last time Georgia visited Jordan-Hare the Bulldogs were No. 1 and lost.

8—No. 3 Ohio State at No. 16 Michigan, Nov. 30: Ohio State has won 14 of the past 15 meetings.

9—No. 1 Alabama at No. 12 Auburn, Nov. 30: If Auburn can beat LSU and Georgia, the Iron Bowl could be for the SEC West championship.

10—No. 9 Notre Dame at No. 16 Michigan, Oct. 26: Irish have to finish 11-1 to have any chance of returning to the playoffs.

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