With only one week of games left before the committee chooses the four teams for the first-ever college football playoff, there are still seven schools in contention for the championship.
Those seven schools — Alabama, Florida State, TCU, Oregon, Baylor, Ohio State, and Arizona − took vastly different roads to get to this point. But what is clear is that while it may help to have a strong ranking early in the season, it is by no means a requirement. Of the seven teams, TCU and Arizona were not even ranked for the first five weeks of the season, and a third team, Ohio State, had fallen out of the top 20 for several weeks.
We also see that it still helps to be playing better late in the season as all seven of the contenders are trending upwards over the last 4+ weeks of the season.
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