It’s that time of year again where every fan base is looking at their teams remaining schedule and wondering – “Can we still make it to the playoff?” For the most part if you team is ranked the answer is yes, but the devil is in the details. To demystify the process here is the playoff committee’s top 10 teams best shot to make it in, and out of the playoffs:
Following this weekend Alabama sits atop the college football landscape with the clearest path to the playoffs – win and in. Easier said than done however since the Crimson Tide are on a collision course with rising Auburn in two weeks and then face Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama’s only weakness to date has been an injury riddled line-backing core but if that group can get healthy again they seem as close as a lock as any to make it to the playoff.
Clemson will need to do their part and win out before heading into the ACC Championship Game against Miami which will ultimately determine their fate. From there a few different possibilities remain: Beat Miami and they’re in or lose to Miami in a close game and hope that everyone else has beaten each other up enough that Clemson is the lone 2 loss team that makes it into the Playoff.
- Miami (FL)
Miami leaped from #7 in last week’s poll to #3 after absolutely decimating Notre Dame 41-8. The undefeated Hurricanes are three wins away from a playoff berth with their biggest challenge remaining being the ACC Title Game against #2 Clemson. However Miami will still need to beat Virginia and Pittsburgh first to keep their claim as a late loss would keep them on the outside looking in. Similar to Clemson there’s still a scenario in play where a close loss in the ACC Championship could send the Hurricanes along.
Without the benefit of a conference championship game, Oklahoma’s biggest game is behind them. With a terrible Kansas team this week and a good West Virginia team the following week the Sooners just need two wins to punch their ticket. The only scenario where a one loss Oklahoma team doesn’t make the playoff is if everything above them remains the same but a dominant Wisconsin Big 10 Conference Championship win over Ohio State propels the Badgers into their spot.
Wisconsin is currently the lone undefeated power 5 conference team left out of the playoff. The reason? They have played a very favorable schedule thus far. Because of that they are in one of the stickier situation when it comes to playoff seeding. If Wisconsin wins out they aren’t automatically in, instead they will need Ohio State to finish the season strong and then beat them in convincing fashion to take the loser of the ACC Championship Games playoff spot.
Auburn will need their meteoric rise to continue to catapult into the playoffs. A win over #1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl will help but then defeating Georgia again in the SEC Championship Game would theoretically punch their ticket to the big dance as the SEC’s representative in the 4th slot. They are on the outside looking in if they drop another game or if the committee decides the Big Ten Champion deserves their spot.
Georgia’s sole hope of reentering the playoff is Alabama beating Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Georgia beating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, the Big Ten knocking themselves out of contention, and Clemson knocking Miami out of the Top 4 teams. Sound like a lot? That’s because it is.
- Notre Dame
Without the benefit of playing in a conference Notre Dame needs utter chaos to get back into the playoff picture. What do we mean by chaos?
A) Auburn beat Alabama
B) Georgia beat Auburn in SEC Championship
C) Clemson beat Miami
D) Wisconsin lose one of next two games then beat Ohio State
E) Oklahoma lose one of their final two games
- Ohio State
Because of their loss to Iowa, Ohio State needs most of the following to happen:
A) Wisconsin finishing the season strong
B) Convincingly beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game and
C) Auburn beating Alabama then losing to Georgia
D) Clemson knock Miami out of the picture
- Penn State
In all likelihood Penn State will not make it back into Playoff contention, but just for fun here’s what would have to happen:
A) Ohio State to lose their next two games while Michigan wins their next two games sending Penn State and Wisconsin to the Big Ten Championship Game
B) Beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game
C) Notre Dame lose to Stanford
D) Clemson knock Miami out
E) Oklahoma lose one of their next two
Good luck Penn State fans, you guys need it.