Eight teams are still in contention for the College Football Playoff going into Rivalry Week and the last week of the regular season.
All are either undefeated or have one loss, and there’s a good chance we’ll have at least one team make the playoff that’s never made it in before. This time they are ranked by their “odds” of making it from best to worst (odds calculated and projected by my football junkie brain), and some scenarios for how they can get in.
They’re basically locked in at this point, since there’s no way they’re losing to Georgia Tech in the finale and once the Bulldogs are 12-0, a loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game would barely make a dent in their resume.
Georgia is the only team except for maybe Alabama or Ohio State that can afford to take a loss at this point, but the Bearcats have the easiest remaining schedule to get in at 13-0. As long as they take care of business, they should be able to control their destiny now that they’ve finally reached the top four.
3. Ohio State
The Buckeyes need to get past Michigan in The Game this Saturday, but they should be well on their way to another playoff appearance and Big Ten title since they have the fortune of playing the Wolverines in Columbus and will likely be able to take care of Wisconsin to finish 12-1.
The Tide also control their destiny, but nobody’s come within a mile of Georgia all season and avoiding a second loss will be a tall order against the Bulldogs. In the rare event that Alabama is an underdog they are good at proving the doubters wrong, but if they can’t, it’ll be hard to convince the committee to put the first ever two-loss team in the playoff (and of course, they have to win the Iron Bowl first).
Michigan will get in if they win the Big Ten, but that involves beating Ohio State in Columbus, which is something that they haven’t been able to do in several eons. They also haven’t been able to beat Ohio State anywhere in several eons. Only one Big Ten team will make the playoff, and this Saturday we’ll find out which one it’s going to be.
The Cowboys have a better resume than the Sooners and are the furthest team in the rankings that still realistically controls their destiny more or less. The only problem is that they have to beat Oklahoma twice in two weeks to crash the CFP party, which will be a tall order even with the Sooners’ struggles.
7. Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish have the easiest path to winning out of all these teams, only needing to edge Stanford, but need a fair amount of outside help to squeeze in the top four. For Notre Dame to get in, they need to pass two teams ahead of them and not get jumped, so they need a two-loss Big 12 champion, Cincinnati to lose, and Michigan to lose to Ohio State. Alabama getting crushed by Georgia, or losing the Iron Bowl, wouldn’t hurt either.
I don’t think the Sooners can actually make the playoff, but I guess if they sweep Oklahoma State it can’t be ruled out. They’d need everything that Notre Dame needs though, as well as Notre Dame losing to Stanford. A team going from #10 to #4 in the rankings in these final two weeks seems pretty unlikely, and if the Sooners really wanted to be in contention right now then they needed to not almost lose to Tulane, Kansas, West Virginia, Texas, Kansas State, and Iowa State. Seriously—if they weren’t clutch and lucky, this team could be 4-7 right now and going through a Florida-style coaching overhaul. All that matters is winning, I know, but if Cincinnati needs to win lots of blowouts to get in then so do the Sooners.