- Only nine teams still have a shot to make the College Football Playoff.
- We have ranked the nine teams based on which have the best shot to make the playoff.
- This week we have a new No. 1 team as Notre Dame now has the easiest path to the playoff.
Even though the College Football Playoff committee ranks 25 teams each week, there are only nine schools that still have a legit shot to be in college football’s final four.
While the committee looked at what teams have done so far, we looked ahead at which teams have the easiest and most likely paths to making the final four.
Below, we ranked the nine remaining contenders based on who has the best chances to make the playoff.
Last week’s result: Beat Cincinnati, 38-13
Playoff ranking: 9
Key games remaining: USF on the road and The American title game.
One thing to know: There is a path to the playoff for UCF, but here is what they need to happen: 1) Notre Dame loses to USC; 2) the winner of Michigan-Ohio State loses to Northwestern; 3) Georgia loses to Alabama; 4) Oklahoma loses to West Virginia or Texas; 5) Washington State loses to Washington or in the Pac-12 title game. That would leave Alabama and Clemson as playoff locks with UCF in the conversation for the final spots. Piece o’ cake.
8. Washington State
Last week’s result: Beat Arizona, 69-28
Playoff ranking: 8
Key games remaining: Washington at home and (if they beat the Huskies) a 3- or 4-loss team in the Pac-12 title game.
One thing to know: Wazzu deserves a better shot at the playoff than they have. Their issue is that they got on the radar too late in the season and now they don’t have a chance to add any signature wins under the spotlight.
7. Ohio State
Last week’s result: Beat Maryland, 52-51
Playoff ranking: 10
Key games remaining: Michigan at home and (if they beat the Wolverines) Northwestern in the Big Ten title game.
One thing to know: Ohio State is still behind Washington State and UCF in the ranking, but if they win out they would be adding two wins over ranked teams, including one currently in the playoff picture. That might not be enough to get them all the way into the top four, but they have a better path to getting into the conversation.
Last week’s result: Beat Kansas, 55-40
Playoff ranking: 6
Key games remaining: At West Virginia and (if they beat the Mountaineers and Texas beats Kansas) Texas in the Big 12 title game.
One thing to know: West Virginia’s loss to Oklahoma State hurts Oklahoma. The Sooners had a shot to add two wins over a top-10 team. Now they might be stuck playing a lesser Texas team that already beat them once this season.
Last week’s result: Beat UMass, 66-27
Playoff ranking: 5
Key games remaining: Georgia Tech at home and Alabama in the SEC title game.
One thing to know: Georgia’s path to the playoff is still not a good one, but they do control their destiny – beat Alabama and they are in.
Last week’s result: Beat Indiana, 31-20
Playoff ranking: 4
Key games remaining: At Ohio State and (if they beat the Buckeyes) Northwestern in the Big Ten title game.
One thing to know: Michigan probably controls their destiny. If they beat Ohio State and Northwestern, they should be in the playoff. But what if Georgia beats Alabama? Are we sure Michigan gets in over Alabama? That would be a feisty debate.
Last week’s result: Beat The Citadel, 50-17
Playoff ranking: 1
Key games remaining: Auburn at home and Georgia in the SEC title game.
One thing to know: For most of the season, we assumed that Alabama would be in even if they lost a game. The problem is, nobody knew there would be so many undefeated and 1-loss teams in the picture. An Alabama loss to Auburn or Georgia could be enough to knock them out. As it stands now, Clemson and Notre Dame have easier paths to the playoff even if the Tide are a better team.
Last week’s result: Beat Duke, 35-6
Playoff ranking: 2
Key games remaining: South Carolina at home and Pitt in the ACC title game.
One thing to know: We have seen the Tigers slip up to lesser opponents in recent seasons, including Pitt. But, Clemson sure looks like one of two locks for the playoff.
1. Notre Dame
Last week’s result: Beat Syracuse, 36-3
Playoff ranking: 3
Key games remaining: At USC.
One thing to know: All Notre Dame does is win games. Win one more over USC, and they are in the playoff. Even if they lose to USC, it wouldn’t necessarily be an elimination game. They would need some help behind them, but there is no easier path in the country to the playoff right now than the Irish.