Halfway through the 2021 season the CFP contenders have been numerous, and over a dozen teams can still run the table and get in.
If you’re a Power 5 team and finish with one loss and a conference title, odds are you’ll get in. If you’re a Group of 5 team or Notre Dame, the road is much harder, but as Cincinnati is trying to show us, isn’t impossible. It just involves a lot of winning.
Here’s all the teams that if they win out, or for some even take a loss, can still make the CFP:
Tier 1: Longshots
- Texas A&M
- Wake Forest
- Coastal Carolina
- Notre Dame
Any of these teams getting in would be bonkers. Wake Forest and Coastal Carolina won’t be able to build good enough resumes to get in, but if enough teams ahead of them lose the committee wouldn’t be able to ignore them.
An unbeaten SMU would have an easier time because they’d be 13-0 with two victories over Cincinnati. Notre Dame is in a really tight spot not having Michigan on the schedule. The three two-loss SEC teams would need wins over both Alabama and Georgia to jump into the discussion, and A&M already has one of those. It just needs Bama to lose again so they can face Georgia (or Kentucky???) in the SEC Championship game.
Tier 2: Win out and you’re in
- Ole Miss
- Oklahoma State
- Michigan State
- Penn State
- Ohio State
All of these are one-loss or unbeaten teams, and have much clearer paths. Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Alabama just need to win out (and the Rebels need Bama to lose again), but of the three the Tide definitely have the best odds since they control the West and Kentucky has to somehow topple Georgia this Saturday to get to the SEC Championship game.
Michigan and Michigan State are in great spots, but need to get past Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa in a very cannibalistic conference. Oregon winning out might be enough to get in, but it might not. Cincinnati and Oklahoma are in the inside lane to the CFP, but a loss would doom either of them.
Tier 3: Room to breathe
These two teams definitely are the safest. Both have clowned their leagues so far this year and even with a loss to a ranked would almost certainly make it in the CFP with room to spare. Iowa and Georgia both have very favorable schedules down the stretch, but whatever superteam emerges from the East alive will give Iowa a run for their money in the Big Ten Championship.
Also, undefeated Kentucky and feisty Florida will give Georgia everything they’ve got for the next two Saturdays, and Alabama will likely await them in the SEC Championship. Even with how invincible this Georgia team looks, they haven’t exactly beaten Alabama recently.
20 teams still have a chance at the halfway point. In the end, only four will remain.
Who’s in? We’ll find out over the next several weeks. This Saturday we’ll likely see a few more teams chopped from the list as it narrows down the stretch.