- Chaos is here as both No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Miami lost with one week to go.
- There are at least six teams that still control their own destiny depending on who wins the conference championship games.
- Alabama does not appear to be one of the teams and now needs help.
There is just one week to go before the announcement of this season’s College Football Playoff teams and thanks to some upsets, the chaos that so many fans desire is here.
Both No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Miami lost this week, sending the playoff rankings into a spinning mess. We still don’t know how far those teams will fall, but a quick scan of the teams still standing suggests that at least six teams still control their own destiny to get in.
Here are the teams that should be in the playoff if they win their respective conference championship games next weekend:
Clemson rebounded well from their loss to Syracuse and will likely ascend back to the No. 1 spot in the rankings this week. It became clear in recent weeks that the committee was giving Clemson a pass for the loss, possibly because starting quarterback Kelly Bryant was injured and possibly because the game was on the road and Clemson has won other tough games on the road this season.
Whatever the reason, one-loss Clemson will likely be No. 1 and will be in the playoff if they beat Miami in the ACC title game. If Clemson loses, all bets are off.
Like Clemson, OU rebounded well from their mid-season loss to an Iowa State team that turned out to be better than most thought at the time. OU struggled the following week against Texas, but has rattled off six straight wins since then by an average score of 49-28.
The Sooners and their Heisman-favourite quarterback, Baker Mayfield, could be as high as No. 2 this week and will be in the playoff if they win their rematch against TCU in the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma won the previous meeting 38-20, in Norman. If OU loses, they are out.
A lot of people thought it was crazy when people pointed out that two-loss Auburn was still alive for the playoff a month ago. But since then, they have taken down the No. 1 team in the country twice, in beating Georgia and then Alabama, on Saturday.
The Tigers now get a rematch against Georgia in the SEC championship game. Auburn will be ranked among the top four this week and a win will make them the first two-loss playoff team. A loss and they are out.
There were questions about Wisconsin’s schedule earlier in the year, and it is still not great. But they have added wins over Iowa and Michigan and blown out everybody else, including Minnesota, 31-0, on Saturday. While other teams in contention have lost to teams like Syracuse, Iowa State, and LSU, whenever the Badgers play teams like that, all they do is win.
Wisconsin should finally get into the top four this week, possibly at No. 4. But even if they don’t, they will be at No. 5 with either two ACC teams in front of them or two SEC teams. In either of those scenarios, a top-four team will lose next weekend or won’t be playing (if Alabama is still in the top four). Either way, Wisconsin will jump into the top four with a win over Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
Miami played with fire all season long and they finally got burned. Luckily for them, their blemish, an ugly loss to Pitt on the road, came after big wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Those wins should still be fresh in the minds of the committee.
Look for Miami to be sixth this week, behind Alabama, but still in contention. If they can take down likely No. 1 Clemson next week, that should be enough to vault them back into the top four, ahead of idle Alabama and the team they would have beaten, Clemson.
The Bulldogs are the big mystery team here. The fell from No. 1 all the way to No. 7 after a loss to Auburn. But now Auburn looks like one of the best teams in college football and that is still Georgia’s only loss.
It is hard to imagine Georgia leap-frogging undefeated Wisconsin, but they could be anywhere from fifth to seventh, depending on how the committee views the losses by Alabama and Miami. Those three teams are probably fairly interchangeable at this point. But even if Georgia is still No. 7, they should still get into the playoff if they are SEC champs. They would jump ahead of Auburn, idle Alabama (who would have the same loss to Auburn and no conference championship), and the loser of the ACC title game, who would have two losses.
The teams that need help.
There are some big names in this group, and none are bigger than Alabama. The idea of a 1-loss Alabama team missing the playoff would have seemed absurd earlier in the season. But it is hard to imagine a scenario now where they get in without some help.
Bama’s best shot at this point would be for the committee to keep them in the top four this week. More likely, they will be fifth or sixth and would need at least one upset in a conference championship game – certainly possible – and for the committee to take two teams from the SEC – less possible.
Ohio State would also seem to still be on life support, despite having two ugly losses and likely not being ranked higher than No. 8 this week. They need help, but a convincing win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game would at least get them into the conversation.
USC and TCU still have shots to win their conferences and be two-loss teams in consideration. TCU would seem to have the better chance of the two as they would add a win over a top-four Oklahoma team to their resume while USC is facing Stanford. The biggest problem for USC and TCU is that there are too many teams ahead of them playing either other.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.