Say goodbye to OU, ND and FSU, and say hello to Louisville and A&M

You thought you had it all figured out, didn't you?

Florida State and Clemson were the ACC's lone playoff contenders. Oklahoma was the Big 12's best. Michigan State? Once again playing the role of "little brother."

Then came Week 3.

Out with the old, in with the new. It was an elimination Saturday for several playoff contenders, but there was also a new wave of teams to be taken seriously. Here's a look at who got bumped from the conversation, and who emerged from the weekend with more legitimate College Football Playoff hopes:


Out of the playoff picture: Florida State. The Seminoles can say goodbye to the top four this week after being outplayed in every facet of a 63-20 loss to Louisville. The Seminoles aren't out of the CFP because they have one loss; they're out of the conversation right now because they simply don't look like a top-four team. FSU can still earn a spot in the ACC championship game, but now it needs Louisville to lose twice. The selection committee uses head-to-head competition as part of its criteria when ranking comparable teams, and Louisville left no doubt which team was better.

Into the playoff picture: Louisville. From dark horse to contender in four quarters, Louisville legitimized its place among the nation's elite with arguably the most impressive performance of the young season against the No. 2 team in the country. It was the kind of statement win against a ranked opponent that doubters or critics were waiting to see, and Louisville delivered. With a Heisman Trophy front-runner in Lamar Jackson, the Cardinals have now joined Clemson as the teams to beat in the Atlantic Division this fall.

Big 12

Out of the playoff picture: The Big 12. OK, maybe it's a little early to be so dramatic, but the Big 12's top two contenders both tumbled in Week 3, and the entire conference is officially in the long-shot category for the CFP. After Oklahoma lost at home to Ohio State, all eyes turned to Texas to carry the banner for the league, but the Longhorns came out on the wrong end of a thriller against Cal. The Sooners' playoff hopes are likely over after starting the season 1-2 and not having a conference championship game to compensate for it. The Big 12 title is still a realistic goal for both Texas and Oklahoma -- and TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State might have something to say about it -- but it's unlikely the league winner will have only one loss, like OU did last year, and an impressive nonconference win. Texas, there's still hope: cheer for Notre Dame.

Big Ten

Out of the playoff picture: Iowa. The selection committee will be aware that North Dakota State isn't your typical FCS program, as the five-time defending FCS champs have now won six straight games against FBS opponents and have nine wins over FBS schools since 2005. Still, Iowa lost at home (albeit on a field goal as time expired) to an unranked team. That's going to be tough for the Hawkeyes to overcome, especially since they're in the weaker of the two divisions.

Into the playoff picture: Michigan State. The Spartans continue to be at their best when expectations are modest. Jim Harbaugh and Michigan have continued to steal the limelight, but Michigan State now has a nonconference win that will resonate with the selection committee through November. Don't forget that the Spartans also have home-field advantage against Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. If they can survive the schedule, they're in.


Out of the playoff picture: USC. After dropping to 1-2 for the first time since 2000, USC simply doesn't look capable of winning the conference, let alone finishing among the nation's top four. The Trojans were embarrassed in their season-opening loss to Alabama and were outscored by a combined 79-16 in their two losses. The Trojans are struggling to find their offensive identity under first-year coach Clay Helton, and there's not much time to develop one with a road trip to Utah fast approaching on Friday night.

Into the playoff picture: Stanford (still). Stanford was a Pac-12 front-runner heading into the season, but Saturday's win over USC was only the Cardinal's second game of the year after having an early bye last week. The question is how long Stanford can stay in the picture, as three of the next four games are on the road, at UCLA, Washington and Notre Dame.


Out of the playoff picture: Ole Miss. That loss to Florida State no longer falls into the "good loss" category after the Noles got embarrassed by Louisville, and once again the Rebels squandered at least a 21-point lead, this time to Alabama. Ole Miss now needs to run the table and have Bama lose twice to get back into the SEC race. It's not impossible, but certainly seems unlikely considering the Rebels' performances in their past two losses and the schedule that lies ahead.

Into the playoff picture: Texas A&M. You were warned not to take the Aggies too seriously after their season-opening win (which hasn't amounted to much in recent years), but for the third straight season they're impossible to ignore after a 3-0 start. A&M relied on five field goals against Auburn and will need more in the red zone from its offense moving forward in the SEC West, but the Aggies join Alabama and Arkansas as the only undefeated teams remaining in the division.


Out of the playoff picture: Notre Dame. Losing in double overtime to Texas in the season opener was forgivable, but starting September 1-2 will be nearly impossible to overcome. The Irish know their status as an independent is a gamble -- they can craft the perfect playoff schedule, but it doesn't help if they can't get through it with one loss or fewer. After losing to Texas and Michigan State, Notre Dame's playoff hopes are likely over. The Irish don't have a "13th data point," so they have to impress the selection committee members with the 12 games they have, and a 1-2 start isn't the way to do it.

Into the playoff picture: Houston. The Cougars faced some real adversity at Cincinnati on Thursday night, trailing 16-12 early in the fourth quarter, but Houston's defense and Greg Ward Jr. woke up and rallied for their convincing 40-16 win. As long as Houston keeps winning, it should remain in the CFP conversation. The only game in which ESPN's Football Power Index doesn't favor the Cougars is Nov. 17 against Louisville.