In all major conferences but the Big 12, the regular season is over. We know what the conference championship games are going to be, and we even have a de facto title game in the conference that refuses to add one, and we’re getting a clearer picture of what the college football playoff might be like.
Clemson, conference champions last season, completed a 11-1 regular season, with their only loss a one-point slip against Pittsburgh. They’ll be facing the 9-3 Virginia Tech in Orlando. The Hokies were the dominant force in the ACC from 2004 through 2010, but haven’t played for the conference title since. In any case, unless Clemson win the game, it’s hard to see the ACC sending a team into the playoff. A 3-loss Hokies team isn’t going to get in.
An interesting situation in the Big Ten. The championship game is between two teams with two losses, Penn State and Wisconsin. However, a one-loss Ohio State team is probably the best team outside of Michigan, who won’t make it in no matter what. I’m assuming the CFP prefers a two-loss Big Ten champion over Ohio State, but the Buckeyes have a shot of making it into the playoff as the second team from the conference, although I think it’ll need both Florida and Virginia Tech winning their conference title game.
Oklahoma play Oklahoma State in what will be the championship game for the conference. The Sooners might finish the season undefeated in Big 12 play to claim a second consecutive conference championship. However, unless Florida and Virginia Tech win their conference championship games, I don’t see Oklahoma making it into the college football playoff for a second consecutive year. The same goes for Oklahoma State.
A very simple situation, as one-loss Washington take on Colorado in one of the more surprising conference title games the conference has seen in recent years. If Washington beat the Buffaloes, they’re in the same position as Clemson – they’re in. If Colorado surprise Washington, it starts getting complicated, and it’ll depend on what other things happened around the nation, and maybe who does the best promoting in the ears of the college football playoff committee members.
Alabama vs Florida, a rematch from last year, without the great rivalry aspect to it during the Meyer vs Saban days (Saban is still running things like a boss thought in SEC country). If the undefeated Crimson Tide win, they’re in. If they lose? It depends on the rest of the results. As for Florida – if they somehow beat Alabama, I’m not sure they get in. It probably opens up a slot for Ohio State or one of the shakier candidates to win the conference in other leagues.
To simplify things – Alabama, Clemson and Washington are guaranteed to enter the college football playoff if they win their conference title. The rest? It’s all up to very different combinations and opinions, but Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Colorado, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are still in the picture.