These are the teams that still have a legitimate shot at contending for a slot in the College Football Playoff:
ACC: Clemson (10-0) & North Carolina (9-1)
The Tigers might be the best team in the nation. By virtue of winning the Coastal Division, Carolina still has a shot at both spoiling Clemson’s season and making its own case to be in the CFP.
Big XII: Oklahoma State (10-0) and Oklahoma (9-1)
The conference without a true conference championship game will likely come down to the final game of the regular season between these two teams. The winner (probably) takes all and, unlike last season, punches a ticket to the playoff.
B1G: Ohio State (10-0), Iowa (10-0) and Michigan State (9-1)
Admittedly, Sparty’s position on this list is more precarious than others. They require a few things happening over the next two weeks; namely, beat Ohio State and watch Michigan beat Ohio State. For Iowa and Ohio State, the directive is simple: win every game left to play.
SEC: Alabama (9-1) and Florida (9-1)
Unlike every other Power 5 conference, the SEC still has the worst tradition in college football: scheduling cupcakes for the penultimate game of the regular season. Both ‘Bama and Florida have who-cares opponents at home this weekend for their annual in-season scrimmage before taking on their rivals in two weeks. Your best bet is to completely ignore the SEC this Saturday and come back to them on the 28th.
You had a good run, Utah, and I really thought you had a shot at a national championship this year. But losing to Arizona all but killed you. Same goes for Stanford’s loss to Oregon. Now, both schools are playing for the Rose Bowl. Stanford does have a shot at playing spoiler in two weekend when they travel to Notre Dame, but that’s as close to the CFP as it gets for this conference.
Baylor (8-1) and TCU (8-1)
Sorry, kids. It’s over. You just need to accept it now.
There are (delusional) people out there making the (preposterous) claim that Michigan could get to the playoff if a few (thousand) dominoes fall in their favor. In a word: no. Never. Not going to happen. There will be no two-loss teams vying for the championship.
Nor will there be two teams from one conference in the playoff, so let’s everyone take a deep breath and exhale out all the crazy talk. Michigan’s had a spirited season filled with cardiac moments, but that Michigan State loss crushed any crazy dreams that were out there. And that’s all right. Michigan got very good in a hurry, but they are not quite ready for primetime.
Every two-loss team in college football
You’re out. Period.
On the Bubble
Notre Dame (9-1)
With Utah and Stanford losing last weekend, the first set of dominoes fell in ND’s favor. But they still need one more Power 5 conference leader to stumble and fall before we can truly say they’re in.
Yeah, yeah. I know. The Week 11 CFP poll had Notre Dame at No. 4. it doesn’t matter. There are two more weekends of regular season games, plus conference championship games. A lot can happen. Notre Dame needs to win out and wait. If they’re 11-1, that guarantees them nothing. The Irish still need one of the Power 5 conferences that isn’t the Pac-12 to have a bit of a shakeup at the top.
If Ohio State loses this week and next week? If there are no undefeated teams in the B1G or Big-XII? That opens the door for Notre Dame. Until then, the Irish have to worry about their final two games first.
The Midshipmen have one, glaring loss on their schedule that looms larger and larger every day. Their loss to ND is a deep hole for Navy. Not only do the Middies need to win out (including a tough road game vs. undefeated Houston) and a rivalry game vs. Army, they need Notre Dame to lose another game, plus all the dominoes ND needs to fall. In other words, not likely. But the upside is Navy is heading toward a major bowl game. That’s kinda awesome.
THE Games to Watch This Weekend
You can guarantee there isn’t an SEC game this weekend worth watching—not one—unless you enjoy late-season, rest-the-starters, tuneup garbage games. Who cares if Alabama beats Charleston Southern by 10 or 100? It’s a BS tradition and I wish there was a way to punish the SEC for it.
That being said, here are three games this weekend that actually matter!
Michigan State (9-1 / 5-1) at Ohio State (10-0 / 6-0)—By far, the most anticipated game of the weekend. Before Michigan’s resurgence, this matchup of the B1G’s top two teams was circled in red by everyone. Now, given all the playoff implications, all eyes are on Columbus this weekend. My guess: Ohio State will be favored. But don’t be surprised if this one goes down to the wire.
Baylor (8-1 / 5-1) at Oklahoma State (10-0 / 7-0)
Even without its starting quarterback, Baylor proved last week it’s still a dangerous team. But it won’t be enough against the Cowboys. My guess: Cowboys win in a high-scoring affair.
TCU (9-1 / 6-1) at Oklahoma (9-1 / 6-1)
This could be the ultimate trap game for the Sooners. No, they’re not going to take a strong TCU team lightly, but this matchup is sandwiched between its road win at Baylor and season finale vs. in-state rival Okie State. TCU is still clinging to hopes of a CFP berth. A win in Norman would give them some cred with the committee. My guess: Not gonna happen. Oklahoma wins.