Even though the College Football Playoff committee ranks 25 teams each week, there are only 10 schools that still have a legit shot to be in college football’s final four.
Two more playoff contenders and two other teams on life support were effectively eliminated from contention this weekend, with Kentucky, LSU, Penn State, and Utah all suffering losses they won’t be able to overcome. Meanwhile, three teams look like locks for the playoff if they win their remaining games and several teams are in a position to claim the final spot.
Below, we ranked the 10 remaining contenders based on who has the best chances to make the playoff.
Last week’s result: Beat Temple, 52-40
Last week’s playoff ranking: 12
Key games remaining: Navy and Cincinnati at home and USF on the road.
One thing to know: UCF is still alive, but barely. There just wasn’t enough support in the first playoff ranking, and their only hope is a lot of losses ahead of them.
9. West Virginia
Last week’s result: Beat Texas, 42-41
Last week’s playoff ranking: 13
Key games remaining: TCU, at Oklahoma State, and home against Oklahoma.
One thing to know: WVU has a shot to beat Oklahoma in back-to-back games if they meet in the Big 12 title game. That might not be enough, but it would put them in the conversation.
8. Washington State
Last week’s result: Beat Cal, 19-13
Last week’s playoff ranking: 8
Key games remaining: Washington at home.
One thing to know:Washington State was one of the big winners in the first playoff ranking, coming in ahead of Ohio State and higher than most expected. But they also took a hit when Utah lost to Arizona State. That was Wazzu’s last hope for adding an impressive win against a highly ranked team in the Pac-12 title game.
7. Ohio State
Last week’s result: Beat Nebraska, 36-31
Last week’s playoff ranking: 10
Key games remaining: At Michigan State and home against Michigan.
One thing to know:Ohio State was the big loser in the first playoff ranking. Even if they beat Michigan State and Michigan, and win the Big Ten, there is no guarantee they leap-frog over Washington State and Oklahoma.
Last week’s result: Beat Kentucky, 34-17
Last week’s playoff ranking: 6
Key games remaining: Auburn at home and Alabama in the SEC title game.
One thing to know: Of the contenders remaining, Georgia is the least likely to win all their remaining games since they still have to face Alabama in the SEC championship. But, unlike the four teams below them in this power ranking, Georgia still controls their playoff destiny.
Last week’s result: Beat Texas Tech, 51-46
Last week’s playoff ranking: 7
Key games remaining: Oklahoma State at home and West Virginia on the road.
One thing to know: Oklahoma still needs some help and are in danger of being the dreaded fifth team in the final ranking. If the top five teams all win out, the big debate will be between Michigan and the Sooners, and the Wolverines would likely get the edge. So OU’s best hope is for Ohio State to beat Michigan and then win the debate over the Buckeyes.
Last week’s result: Beat Penn State, 42-7
Last week’s playoff ranking: 5
Key games remaining: At Ohio State.
One thing to know: Michigan controls their playoff destiny. Win their remaining games and they are in.
3. Notre Dame
Last week’s result: Beat Northwestern, 31-21
Last week’s playoff ranking: 4
Key games remaining: Florida State at home, Syracuse at Yankee Stadium, and USC on the road.
One thing to know: Notre Dame is not in the same class as the teams above them, but they have a good shot to finish undefeated and an undefeated Notre Dame is never going to be left out of the playoff.
Last week’s result: Beat Louisville, 77-16
Last week’s playoff ranking: 2
Key games remaining: At Boston College followed by Duke and South Carolina at home.
One thing to know: Clemson has a better shot to finish undefeated than Alabama. But the Tigers are still No. 2 because the Crimson Tide still have a path to the playoff even if they lose.
Last week’s result: Beat LSU, 29-0
Last week’s playoff ranking: 1
Key games remaining: Mississippi State and Auburn at home and Georgia in the SEC championship game.
One thing to know: An Alabama loss to Georgia in the SEC title game is the most fascinating scenario that remains. If Notre Dame and Clemson both finish undefeated they are in the playoff. Georgia would also be in the playoff. Would the committee still take Alabama and leave the Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12 out of the playoff completely?