What a weekend of college football. The #1 and #2 teams in the country go down in the final week of the regular season, but yet both are still alive for a playoff spot. There are only 10 teams that still have a shot of making the top 4, but I think realistically it’s actually only 8. The picture has gotten clearer for some, harder for others.
Here are is my personal opinion on the college football playoff rankings and where I would rank teams if it were up to me, along with what each team has to do and has to hope happens in order to make the final four.
1. Clemson (11-1)
Remaining games: Miami (ACC Championship)
There is no question Clemson should be #1. If you want to argue that they lost to Syracuse, I’ll counter with two points. First, it was a road game, during the week, and Clemson didn’t have their starting quarterback. Second, are you really going to rank Wisconsin ahead of them? Are you really going to rank Auburn ahead of them when Clemson beat them head-to-head this season? I didn’t think so.
Clemson is without a doubt the #1 team and if the committee says otherwise, they are 100% wrong.
How they make the playoff: Win the ACC title. Although they are definitely #1 as of right now, a loss to Miami drops them to two losses on the season, and ending the season with a second loss isn’t good enough.
2. Oklahoma (11-1)
Remaining games: TCU (Big 12 Championship)
Oklahoma finished off the season with a dominant win over West Virginia. The Sooners have the Heisman winner at quarterback and will have a chance to beat ranked TCU for the second time to move on. Iowa State is not a bad loss, and Oklahoma has a non-conference road win over Ohio State and conference road wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
How they make the playoff: Win the Big 12 title. If Oklahoma loses to TCU next week in Dallas, it will be hard to put them in with two losses and essentially erasing one of their marquee wins. The Ohio State win is still impressive, but is it enough to pull a non-conference champion, 2-loss team into the playoffs when there are already 3 spots most likely guaranteed? Probably not.
3. Auburn (10-2)
Remaining games: Georgia (SEC Championship)
Auburn has beaten the #1 team in the country in rivalry games two times in the last three weeks. I could see them not being ranked ahead of Wisconsin because of the two losses, one of which was to LSU, who Alabama beat. However, they are obviously on fire right now and are playing well enough to be deserving of this.
How they make the playoff: Win the SEC title. Auburn is the hottest team in the league right now, but if Georgia beats them, Auburn is done.
4. Wisconsin (12-0)
Remaining games: Ohio State (Big Ten Championship)
Don’t get me wrong, I am not super impressed with Wisconsin either. However, you can’t fault the team. This is where the argument gets into – is it the four “best” teams or the four “most deserving” teams. I feel like we have seem some of both make and miss the field in the short history of the four team playoff. However, Wisconsin has done everything asked of them and are at 12-0. If they end the season with a win over top 10 Ohio State, then they are 100% in, and if not, it will prove that the system is completely broken.
How they make the playoff: Win the Big Ten title. If they lose, Ohio State jumps into the conversation. Because of their schedule being weak, there is no room for error. But if they never slip up and run the table, they are easily THE MOST deserving team in the country, no question. You can’t fault a conference schedule, which isn’t decided by the school. The Big 10 West was just bad this year, they are kind of like the SEC East. Their “Power 5” opponent was BYU, which I don’t think should count, but it does.
5. Alabama (11-1)
Remaining games: None
Alabama is now the most interesting case to watch because of the fact that they are now done. Every other team in the top 8 still has a game left, but not Alabama. They will sit at home and wait and see what happens. If Auburn runs over Georgia again, then Alabama will be sitting here waiting on Wisconsin/Ohio State.
How they make the playoff: Hope Auburn and Ohio State win, then either A) hope the committee views them as the better team than Ohio State or B) hope Oklahoma also loses so they can just slide in with Ohio State or Wisconsin. If Georgia wins next week, I don’t know what the committee will think since the team Bama just lost to, turned around and lost.
6. Georgia (11-1)
Remaining games: Auburn (SEC Championship)
I do believe that Alabama would beat Georgia if they were to play next week instead of a rematch with Auburn. Georgia is in position right now to make the playoffs with a revenge win over Auburn, essentially wiping that road loss off their record. The interesting thing would be what that would make the committee think of Alabama.
How they make the playoff: Win the SEC title. If Georgia loses to Auburn again, they will not make it. They will end the season on a second loss, making two losses in four weeks to the same team. If Georgia loses, not only are they at 2-losses and will easily lose the tiebreaker to Auburn, but then Alabama is sitting there with only one loss from the SEC and no conference championship, so you have to take Bama instead if it comes to that.
7. Miami (10-1)
Remaining games: Clemson (ACC Championship)
Poor Miami. They were in perfect position to argue against 1-loss Alabama and 2-loss Ohio State if they had just beaten Pitt, then lost in the conference title game. Now they have to win or they are out. Miami looked dreadful on Friday and will fall at least this far, if not further.
How they make the playoff: Win the ACC title. If Miami loses, they are 100% out. If they win, then they will most likely bump Clemson out and jump in at #4 behind the SEC champion, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. If Ohio State wins, they could move to #3 with Ohio State or Alabama at #4.
8. Ohio State (10-2)
Remaining games: Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship)
Ohio State has a chance to put themselves into discussion with a win over undefeated Wisconsin. If they win, it comes down to them and Alabama for a final spot. If Oklahoma loses and Ohio State wins, then there is a chance both could get in.
How they make the playoff: Win the Big Ten title, then hope the committee likes your resume so much more than Alabama’s, that they will overlook the two losses. Ohio State’s resume is better than Bama’s, but only barely. They beat Penn State and Michigan State, and will add Wisconsin if they win to their ranked wins. Alabama beat LSU and Mississippi State, but we’ll see if State is ranked after losing to Ole Miss, despite losing their QB. Alabama has a better record against teams with a winning record as well. Ohio State is not 100% in with a win, but will be in good position.
9. Penn State (10-2)
Remaining games: None
Penn State ended with a huge win over Maryland today on the road, but they will not make the playoffs, even though I think they are a top 10 team.
10. USC (10-2)
Remaining games: Stanford (Pac-12 Championship)
USC may have a small, outside chance to make it, but don’t count on it. There are enough scenarios in front of them that it will be too hard. If they beat Stanford, it will be a nice ranked win, but a team they have already beaten once. They couldn’t jump a 1-loss ACC champion, whoever the SEC champion is, the Big Ten champion AND Oklahoma/TCU or Alabama.
11. TCU (10-2)
Remaining games: Oklahoma (Big 12 Championship)
Can TCU make it with a revenge win over Oklahoma. I don’t think so. They only have one ranked win, over #19 Oklahoma State. Beating Oklahoma would give them another one, but the same thing for USC holds true here, unless they view TCU as having a better resume than Alabama and put them in the fourth slot.
That’s it. No one else can make it. Here is how I think the committee will view things:
7. Ohio State
9. Penn State
Think of next week as essentially being the round 8 in the playoffs. The only difference is that Alabama will be in the top 8 and a team like TCU won’t. But you will have:
Clemson vs. Miami – winner advances
Georgia vs. Auburn – winner advances
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State – winner is in great position to advance
Oklahoma vs. TCU – Oklahoma advances with a win, TCU maybe not
Then poor Alabama is just sitting there, all alone, waiting for chaos to happen.
Here are my New Year’s 6 Bowl Projections:
Sugar (Semifinal): Clemson vs. Ohio State
Rose (Semifinal): Oklahoma vs. Auburn
Fiesta: USC vs. Wisconsin
Peach: Georgia vs. UCF
Orange: Miami vs. Alabama
Cotton: Penn State vs. Notre Dame
Now I’m going to go recover from a crazy Iron Bowl and being stuck on the field among the fans for like 30 minutes.