At the moment, there are 11 teams remaining that can make the College Football playoff: Mississippi State, Oregon, Florida State, TCU, Alabama, Arizona State, Baylor, Ohio State, Auburn, Ole Miss and whoever wins the SEC East.
We’ll begin with the SEC East. Missouri has just one conference loss (two overall), so they’re in the lead to win the division. If by some chance they end up winning the SEC, even though they’re not ranked by the playoff committee, they should be in the championship game. As the committee guidelines suggest: Each week is a completely new piece of blank paper, although those are just words. The same goes for Georgia, who are ranked (#15), but they need Missouri to drop one game while they beat Auburn and whoever else comes out of the SEC West.
The SEC West champion is a given, if they do win the SEC eventually. Mississippi State are undefeated, Alabama have one loss, Ole Miss and Auburn still have a shot. All season long they’ve been the dominant force in College Football, or at least the one getting the most attention. However, the committee is clearing up things with their recent release, suggesting only one SEC team overall will be among the playoff teams.
Whoever wins the Pac-12 will be there as well, unless it’s a two-loss team. Oregon or Arizona State, that’s the deal right now. Oregon have the edge. Florida State is a given, as long as they’re undefeated. With one loss, they’ll be out of the picture. Anyone else who wins the ACC won’t get into the final four.
And what about Ohio State? If they win the Big Ten, they need some things to happen. A one loss Ohio State gets in over a one loss ACC team, that’s it. The same goes for TCU or Baylor, whoever comes out on top. They also need someone to lose among the four teams above them. Only conference champions will get in, but it also depends which conference you win.
SEC West – The one division everyone cares about
|* – Mississippi State||5-0||9-0|
|* – Alabama||5-1||8-1|
|* – Ole Miss||4-2||8-2|
|* – Auburn||4-2||7-2|
|* – Texas A&M||3-3||7-3|
|* – LSU||3-3||7-3|
The undefeated Mississippi State have the edge right now, obviously, but maybe it’s Alabama, who get to host both the Bulldogs and Auburn that are in the best position. Auburn are in a difficult spot as well, having to play at Georgia and the Iron Bowl on the road, while Ole Miss have a home game in the Egg Bowl and also a road game in Arkansas. It’s hard to see anyone but Alabama and Mississippi State finish on top.
SEC East – No one wants to win
|* – Missouri||4-1||7-2|
|* – Georgia||5-2||7-2|
|x – Vanderbilt||0-6||3-7|
Missouri aren’t ranked and have had an embarrassing shutout loss to Georgia this season, not to mention dropping a game to Indiana. But they’re in pole position. They have to play at Texas A&M (tough cookie), Tennessee and finish with Arkansas at home. Georgia, their one and only contender for the throne, have a tough game at home against Auburn, but need Missouri to drop at least one game while not losing theirs. Florida? Still have to play South Carolina, completely winnable, but need Missouri to lose all three games and for Georgia to lose at home.
ACC Atlantic – Florida State and six more
|* – Florida State||6-0||9-0|
|* – Clemson||6-1||7-2|
|* – Louisville||5-3||7-3|
|* – Boston College||3-3||6-4|
|North Carolina State||1-5||5-5|
|x – Syracuse||1-5||3-7|
|x – Wake Forest||0-5||2-7|
The Seminoles haven’t lost a game since 2012. They have Miami on the road and then Boston College at home before making room for their Florida rivalry game. The only way Clemson finish first is for FSU to lose twice, while Clemson need to win on the road against #22 Georgia Tech.
ACC Coastal – Duke???? Again????
|* – Duke||4-1||8-1|
|* – Georgia Tech||5-2||8-2|
|* – Miami (FL)||3-2||6-3|
Like last year, there are quite a lot of teams still in the race, with three or two games left to play for most teams. Duke are in control with one loss, and have three home games (Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Wake Forest). Georgia Tech have one more game left – a tough one against ranked Clemson. They need Duke to lose twice. Miami have Florida State, Virginia and Pitt, probably needing to win out in order to finish first and for Duke to lose, while North Carolina (Pitt, Duke, NC State) and Pittsburgh (UNC, Syracuse, Miami) need a miracle.
Big 12 – Still Wide Open
|* – Baylor||5-1||8-1|
|* – TCU||5-1||8-1|
|* – Kansas State||5-1||7-2|
|* – West Virginia||4-3||6-4|
|* – Oklahoma||3-3||6-3|
|x – Iowa State||0-6||2-7|
In theory, both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State can still win this, but it’s not going to happen. Kansas State are still in it, and will need to beat Baylor in order to make it happen. Baylor have three home games – the Wildcats in the end, following games against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. For TCU, it’s on the road against Kansas, on the road at Texas before a comfortable finish at home against Iowa State. Kansas State have to play West Virginia on the road, Kansas and then on the road at Baylor. While TCU have the edge in the playoff rankings, Baylor are in a slightly better situation.
Big Ten East – Ohio State’s to lose
|* – Ohio State||5-0||8-1|
|* – Michigan State||4-1||7-2|
|* – Maryland||3-2||6-3|
The only Big Ten team Ohio State have lost two in the last two years was Michigan State, and they overcame that obstacle last week. Now? Minnesota on the road, Indiana and Michigan at home, a comfortable finish. Michigan State need Ohio State to drop one while win out against Maryland (road), Penn State (road) and Rutgers. Maryland are mathematically still in the picture, but this isn’t a Disney movie.
Big Ten West – Three Way Gauntlet
|* – Nebraska||4-1||8-1|
|* – Minnesota||4-1||7-2|
|* – Wisconsin||4-1||7-2|
|* – Iowa||3-2||6-3|
|x – Purdue||1-5||3-7|
It’s going to be a very interesting finish in the West. Three teams tied at 4-1, all of them have to play each other now until the end. Nebraska play at Wisconsin in the ‘big one’, followed by Minnesota at home and Iowa on the road. Minnesota have a tough one: Ohio State, followed by playing at Nebraska and Wisconsin. Wisconsin have to play at Iowa as well. Who has the edge? Probably Nebraska, but only by a fraction.
Pac-12 North: Oregon Have Already Won
Pac-12 South: Arizona vs California
|* – Arizona State||5-1||8-1|
|* – UCLA||5-2||8-2|
|* – USC||5-2||6-3|
|* – Arizona||4-2||7-2|
|* – Utah||3-3||6-3|
|x – Colorado||0-7||2-8|
Arizona State are in pole position, with games against Oregon State (on the road) and Washington State before the big finish on the road against Arizona. UCLA have two home games that might not matter in the end: USC (which always matters) and Stanford. USC play California and UCLA before a finish against Notre Dame, while Arizona have a tougher finish: Washington at home, Utah on the road and the big Desert battle. ASU have the edge.