College Football Playoff Outlook: How Each Contender Can Make It To the Big Stage

With only two more weeks left in the college football regular season, there are only a handful of teams remaining with a shot of making the College Football Playoff. In this article, I will take a look at each of those teams and how they can find themselves in the top 4 come December 2nd.

Alabama Crimson Tide: With two home games against Citadel and an unranked Auburn squad, we should assume Alabama will enter the SEC Championship Game undefeated. The Crimson Tide have been viewed by many as the unquestioned No. 1 team in the country this season. But even with a loss to Georgia in the SEC title game, a one-loss Crimson Tide is still deserving of a top 4 finish due to its dominance throughout the season.

Clemson Tigers: We should expect Clemson to win their final two regular season games, as well the ACC title game with ease. However, if the Tigers were to stumble, it could cost them. Because of how weak the ACC has been this year, the only one-loss team I would even consider putting Clemson over is Washington State.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: The Fighting Irish have been disrespected throughout this whole process. You could argue they should be ranked ahead of Clemson because they’ve faced a harder schedule while blowing out a large portion of their opponents. Many believe that the only way Notre Dame makes the playoff is if they finish the regular season undefeated, and I disagree because it would be hard to put Michigan over a one-loss Notre Dame squad since Notre Dame beat them in Week 1. If the Irish were to lose a game though, then they would be fighting with a one-loss Big 10 champ, a one-loss Big 12 champ and Washington State for the final two spots, assuming Alabama and Clemson win out.

Michigan Wolverines: If Michigan wins out, they’ll be in the top four unless a one-loss Georgia beats undefeated Alabama in the SEC title game. A one-loss SEC champion Bulldogs squad would leapfrog into the top four after their gigantic win, and like I said before Alabama would remain in the top four also.

Georgia Bulldogs: As mentioned before, if Georgia wins out they’ll be in the top four.

Oklahoma Sooners: Oklahoma has a road game against West Virginia and potentially a rematch with the Mountaineers in the Big 12 title game. However, even if the Sooners win out, they will likely need one or two of the teams currently ahead of them to lose to reach the Playoffs.

Washington State Cougars: Washington State is in the worst position among all of the one-loss teams. Because of how weak the Pac 12 is, there’s no way Washington State will jump any other of the one-loss teams if they win out. It’s also very unlikely that the Cougars will be in the top 4 come December 2nd.

West Virginia Mountaineers: West Virginia is basically in the same position as Oklahoma.

Ohio State Buckeyes: If Ohio State wins out, who would the committee favor between them and a one-loss Big 12 Champ? If Oklahoma wins out, then the committee may take the Sooners because of their lone loss (a three-point defeat to Texas) which looks way better than Ohio State’s 49-20 loss at 5-5 Purdue. On the other hand, a one-loss West Virginia would have wins at Texas, Oklahoma, including a Big 12 championship. Would the Buckeyes get the nod over all of them?

UCF Golden Knights: What? Really? This one would require a lot of chaos. With how dominant the Knights have looked the past two regular seasons, plus their win over Auburn in last year’s Peach Bowl, they should be a consideration. However,  because of their schedule, I wouldn’t put UCF over any one-loss team in the top 8, but I would put them over a two-loss team. Going by that criteria, here’s how an undefeated UCF squad could make the playoff:

  • Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame win out.
  • Michigan loses at Ohio State
  • The winner of the Oklahoma vs. West Virginia game loses in the Big 12 Championship
  • Washington State loses to No. 18 Washington in Apple Cup
  • Ohio State loses to Northwestern in the Big 10 Championship
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