College Football Week 10 Stock Exchange: Losses by Tennessee, Alabama Reshape Playoff Pool

    After an action-packed college football Week 10, here's who's on the rise and who's on the descent, with a look at a very different playoff picture.

    Three College Football Playoff contenders in the losing column. A new single-game scoring record. And a shocking overtime loss in the SEC East. The college football Week 10 slate was not uneventful by any means. We’re here to break down all the action with our Sunday Stock Report.

    Sunday Stock Exchange | College Football Week 10

    Stock Up: Georgia Bulldogs

    Both Georgia and Tennessee came into Week 10 as unstoppable titans. One of them was going to exit the week as who we thought they were. In the end, that team was Georgia.

    To most teams, the prospect of defending against Heisman front-runner Hendon Hooker and his explosive offensive attack would have been too daunting. But Georgia laughed in the face of this challenge, held Hooker to just 195 yards and an interception, and dominated the Volunteers through four quarters.

    Even the final score of 27-13 didn’t do enough justice to how dominant Georgia was in this game. The Bulldogs’ defense looks just as suffocating as it did with five additional first-round talents last season. Jalen Carter is a menace. But Kirby Smart’s scheme built around the blue-chip talent is just as overwhelming for college QBs.

    With this win, Georgia is the sole leader of the SEC East and surging full speed toward a one-seed berth in the College Football Playoff. This week proved: They’re still that team.

    Stock Down: Tennessee Volunteers

    Tennessee’s game against Georgia was a chance to prove that there was a new No. 1 team in college football — if Tennessee was ready for that honor. Against Georgia, however, they proved they were not.

    That’s not a slight to Tennessee and Josh Heupel. The 2022 campaign has been a massive success for the Volunteers — but Saturday’s lopsided loss was proof that Tennessee still has more work to do before it can join the ranks of Georgia at the top of the pecking order.

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    On both offense and defense, there are questions to answer. Once Georgia put Hooker under conflict with varied coverage depths and blitzes, the veteran QB crumbled. And the defense, outside of a few standouts up front, was largely herded all game by a Georgia offense that kept moving the chains.

    This loss now gives Tennessee its first loss in conference play, while Georgia remains undefeated. For a team with conference championship and playoff aspirations, that’s a crushing and potentially fatal blow.

    Stock Up: LSU Tigers

    Everyone owes Brian Kelly an apology — in a fake southern accent, of course. The polarizing and eccentric coaching figure’s debut at LSU was one to forget — a loss to out-of-conference opponent Florida State. Since then, however, the Tigers have gone 7-1 and just notched a major overtime win against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

    Out of seemingly nowhere, this win puts LSU at the top of the SEC West. The only other one-loss team in the division is Ole Miss — but LSU has a head-to-head win against the Rebels, giving them the tiebreaker. If LSU can go 3-0 against Arkansas, UAB, and Texas A&M in the final three weeks, they’re through to the SEC Championship.

    At that point, LSU would likely earn a date with the Georgia Bulldogs — a very unenviable fate. But the bottom line is this — Kelly’s Tigers are still playing these kinds of games. The stakes are still high, which isn’t something many expected from Kelly this year. An absolute best-case scenario includes a win against Georgia and a potential playoff berth.

    Does LSU have the firepower to beat Georgia? That’s a different story. Right now, on the surface, the answer is no. But LSU has played well enough that they can still have these conversations. That’s a win in and of itself, and it could lead to more.

    Stock Down: Alabama Crimson Tide

    It’s a palpable thought that’s at times lingered throughout the 2022 season. But it’s never been more poignant than it was last night in Alabama’s 32-31 loss to LSU. This isn’t the same Crimson Tide team we’ve been accustomed to seeing.

    That’s not to say there isn’t still top-end talent. Bryce Young remains a magician in the pocket and is one of the sole reasons Alabama kept it close. And Will Anderson Jr. is still a game-wrecker on defense.

    The highs are very high for this Alabama team. But the lows are very low. Too often, the Tide got in its own way on Saturday night. The receivers were plagued with drops and, at times, struggled with timing. Jayden Daniels was near impossible to stymy on the ground when stops were needed. And the offensive line struggled to hold back dynamic rushers like B.J. Ojulari and Harold Perkins.

    Alabama will look to rebound against Ole Miss next week, but the damage has already been done. Their playoff hopes are effectively quashed, and what was once anticipated to be an extended postseason stay is getting much, much shorter.

    Stock Up: TCU Horned Frogs

    TCU’s win against Texas Tech on Saturday won’t quiet the CFB Playoff Committee’s concerns about the Horned Frogs having too many close games or come-from-behind wins. But the most important thing is always the result. Just win. And by doing that, Sonny Dykes’ team kept itself alive.

    It wasn’t easy, of course. TCU unexpectedly lost first-round WR talent Quentin Johnston to a tweaked ankle injury in pre-game. That loss visibly constricted their offensive attack and allowed the Texas Tech defense to play with more speed and confidence.

    Entering the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders had a 17-13 lead and looked to be closing in on a top-ten win. But Max Duggan and Kendre Miller did just enough to pull the Horned Frogs back ahead and ultimately pull away.

    Like many of TCU’s wins, it wasn’t a pretty showing. But the Horned Frogs battled through adversity and came out on top, and they remain undefeated as a result. Taking into account the three CFP losses on the weekend, this was a massive stand for TCU.

    Stock Neutral: Michigan and Ohio State

    The SEC was a bloodbath in Week 10. The Big Ten, on the other hand, was fairly docile. But both of the conference’s top teams — Ohio State and Michigan — received scares from lesser teams.

    C.J. Stroud and Ohio State struggled to put away a 1-7 Northwestern team in 40-MPH winds, while Michigan trailed Rutgers 17-14 at the half. Both teams ended up putting away their opponents with respective ease down the stretch. But each game was a reminder that neither team is invincible — even if their records say otherwise.

    MORE: Week 10 College Football Team of the Week

    Nevertheless, Ohio State and Michigan are beneficiaries of their surroundings. The losses by Tennessee, Clemson, and Alabama free up CFP real estate for both teams. There’s more breathing room now for both teams — but it also makes the season finale between them all the more important.

    Stock Up: Oregon Ducks

    Much like Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten, Oregon has been a major beneficiary of the SEC and ACC in-fighting that’s taken place over the past several weeks. All of a sudden, the Ducks — after getting demolished by Georgia in Week 1 — are 8-1, undefeated in conference play, and in the national top 10.

    After losses by Alabama and Clemson, there’s a good chance Oregon enters the top six and becomes one of the first two teams outside the CFB Playoff quartet. The Ducks are right on the doorstep, and it’s not just a mirage.

    An immense amount of credit goes to Bo Nix, who’s now a Heisman front-runner with 2,495 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, and just five interceptions to go along with 13 rushing touchdowns and an additional score as a receiver. But Dan Lanning has also maximized the talent on defense, making this Ducks team a formidable foe.

    Oregon won’t be given anything over the next three weeks, with clashes against two ranked teams in Utah and Oregon State and an upset-minded Washington team with a prolific offense. But the Ducks are in the driver’s seat. All that’s left is to stay the course.

    Stock Down: Clemson Tigers

    Clemson had all the confidence of the CFB Playoff Committee heading into this week. Then they took that confidence and threw it into a wood-chipper with a 35-14 loss against Notre Dame.

    Clemson has by no means looked infallible this year against ACC competition. Close nail-biting wins against Syracuse, Florida State, and Wake Forest were hints that this Clemson team wasn’t quite the undefeated juggernaut it masqueraded as. The team’s loss to Notre Dame was just confirmation, in that sense.

    Now, Clemson moves down the board while remaining undefeated teams like Ohio State, Michigan, and TCU occupy the higher ranks. The Tigers aren’t out of playoff contention completely, but their margin for error is slim. They’ll likely get a conference championship berth, but North Carolina — their prospective opponent — will not be an easy out.

    Stock Up: AAC Offense

    Both the SMU and Houston offenses have been electric this season. But not even the stats in the lead-up to Week 10 could’ve prepared onlookers for the sheer offensive explosion that occurred Saturday night.

    SMU and Houston absolutely lit up the scoreboards in a super-charged conference scrum, with SMU winning by a score of 77-63. Mustangs QB Tanner Mordecai completed 28 of 37 passes for 379 yards, nine touchdowns, and zero picks. Cougars QB Clayton Tune, meanwhile, racked up 527 yards, seven scores, and three picks on 36-53 completion.

    MORE: Week 10 College Football Players of the Week

    There are video game numbers, and then there’s what SMU and Houston managed to produce in Week 10. The two teams combined for the most points in regulation in CFB history, and Mordecai and Tune also combined for a new single-game passing touchdown record with 16.

    Yes, the stock for AAC defense is going way down by extension here. But we’re more interested in the positive takeaways from this ordeal. SMU and Houston truly made history this weekend.

    Stock Up: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

    Remember when we were all panicking after Marcus Freeman’s 0-2 start with Notre Dame? Me, neither.

    It certainly didn’t start out pretty for Freeman and the Fighting Irish in 2022. A tough season-opening loss against Ohio State was stacked by a brutal stunner against Marshall. And just a couple of weeks later, the third loss to Stanford stung even more.

    Notre Dame has been a hard team to read at times. But the best thing we can say about Freeman’s first season is this: It looks like he’s very much ending on a high note. Since starting 3-3, Freeman has scored two ranked wins — one against Syracuse and one against CFP contender Clemson.

    After their latest win, the Fighting Irish are bowl eligible, with momentum to carry into season-closing contests against Navy, Boston College, and USC. And suddenly, the multi-year project ahead for Freeman to rebuild Notre Dame into a powerhouse has new life.

    Stock Down: CFP Clarity

    In a vacuum, the Georgia-Tennessee game was supposed to provide some much-needed clarity on the CFP front. And it did confirm that Georgia is the team to beat. But then Alabama lost to LSU. Then Clemson lost to Notre Dame. And now, it’s anyone’s guess how the field files in behind the Bulldogs.

    Ohio State and Michigan are both still in good position. But their season-ending clash will dictate who goes to the conference championship to get an extra win against the Big Ten West champion.

    The loser between Michigan and Ohio State may still have a chance to sneak into the playoff field, but that depends on so much more.

    Will TCU stay undefeated? Can Clemson rebound and ride an ACC title win to the postseason? Can 8-1 North Carolina and Drake Maye shock the nation in the same way? Are Oregon and USC potential spoilers in the Pac-12? What if LSU defies all the odds, reaches the SEC championship, and scores a massive upset?

    At this point, the permutations are endless. It’s a “stock down” moment for CFB clarity, but it’s also what makes this part of the college football season so very exciting.

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