The first College Football Playoff Committee rankings were released and this is the perfect time to start the “Road to the CFB Playoff” series. I will examine every team with a realistic path to the top four and how they can get there. Every Sunday I release the College Football Top 10 Rankings As It Should Be. Nine of my top teams were there, and 1-5 were almost exactly like the committees, except mine, are ranked by three criteria: quality wins, schedule played, and dominance.
College Football Playoff Committee Rankings Week 11
From the Top 25 teams, there are 12 teams with ANY shot to make the top four. The entire top 10 is in play plus Baylor and Minnesota. Auburn is eliminated for now because they have no path to the SEC Championship game, and would need a lot of weird things to happen. Plus they would need to beat Georgia and Alabama. The same is true of Wisconsin. They have a path to the Big Ten championship, but chaos would have to happen for them to get in the top four.
As of this week here is how it appears the CFB Playoff Top 4 will shake out.
- Undefeated Big Ten Winner- Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota
- Undefeated or 1 loss SEC Champion- LSU, Alabama, Georgia
- Pac-12 Champion- Oregon, Utah
Now one to each team and their path(s)
Ohio State: Win and they are in. There is no scenario where they are undefeated and/or win the Big Ten Championship with one loss and don’t get in (it would be impossible for them to lose to Rutgers or Maryland). Even if the Buckeyes lost to Penn State in a couple of weeks, they would have a strong case compared to 1-loss Alabama, Oregon, Utah. The Buckeyes could make it undefeated to the Big Ten Championship and lose to Minnesota which would send college football into a tailspin.
LSU: Win and they are in. Beat Alabama, don’t get tripped up by Ole Miss, Arkansas (LOL), or Texas A&M. Ohio State and LSU are the only teams that could lose in their conference championship games and still have a playoff case.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide have NO room for error in 2019. Their awful non-conference schedule plus only playing no ranked teams before this weekend against LSU will hurt. Even if Alabama beats LSU and goes on to the SEC Championship and loses to 1-loss Georgia, they will be out unless Ohio State, Penn State, or Clemson lose in their conference game to a 1 or more loss team.
Penn State: Win out and no one can leapfrog them. Penn State has a better resume than Alabama but the CFB Playoff committee still put them behind Bama, so is there any way the Nittany Lions get in the pot four with a loss? I do not see a scenario that doesn’t involve Ohio State losing twice and PSU winning the Big Ten Championship which is far fetched.
Clemson: There are two ways Clemson gets in; win out and they are guaranteed a playoff spot, or pray for the unlikely demise of about 3-4 teams. We won’t even go down that rabbit hole, it’s too weird.
Georgia: There is only one way Georgia gets in, winning out. They cannot afford any more losses. The CFB Rankings already rewarded them for the Florida and Notre Dame wins more than it punished them for the horrendous S. Carolina loss. Even if UGA wins the SEC Championship but loses one of their last three games to Auburn, Texas A&M, or Georgia Tech they will be left out of a playoff of undefeated Big Ten champ, Clemson, 1 l-loss Pac-12 champ.
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Oregon and Utah: The Pac-12 is very alive even though people tried to bury them early in the season. Both teams are in nearly the exact same situation. If both teams are 11-1 when they meet in the Pac-12 championship it should be a top 5 or 5 vs 6 matchup. The winner will most likely get in the playoff. Oregon will have a better shot than Utah because traditionally, the committee has leaned toward named brand teams.
Oklahoma: Lincoln Riley’s team is sitting at #9. It is much lower than most people thought, but right about where I had them in the College Football Playoff Rankings As It Should Be (CFPRAISB). They need Oregon or Utah to lose and the other win the Pac-12. In addition, they need LSU to beat Alabama. They also need to beat Baylor twice and Baylor to finish 11-2. A Clemson loss wouldn’t hurt either.
Florida: Florida needs a miracle at this point. Their last three games are Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Florida State. None of those games move the needle. They would also need Georgia to lose two games to send Florida to the SEC Championship. If that happens they would need to beat an undefeated LSU or Alabama. And… nevermind. It’s not happening.
Baylor: The Bears are in the same situation they were in in 2015 when Ohio State jumped Baylor and TCU. They don’t have the respect of the nation. The difference is that they are still undefeated. Baylor needs to dominate Texas, beat Oklahoma twice, or beat K-State in the Big 12 championship.
Minnesota: Win out and they will make the playoff. They sit at #17 right now, but if they defeat Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio State over the next five weeks they will be the #1 team in the nation. No one will have run a gauntlet like that.
This playoff top four would be a lot easier to figure out and there would be no need for expansion if teams scheduled better. Imagine a college football world where everyone scheduled 10 or 11 Power Five games. Every Saturday would be power-packed. That is part of the reason there are some who believe the traditional conference model will go away and there will be one super conference of around 30 teams that only play each other.
The way this season is shaping up, everyone may be on board with an 8 team playoff. There will be so many 1 loss teams who will be deserving of a chance to play for a championship. Wouldn’t it just make more sense to have the five Power 5 champions and highest-ranked Group of 5 team to get automatic bids? There would still be two spots left for at-large bids. You would always get the best and most deserving teams in the tournament. That might actually cause teams to schedule better non-conference games because they would know they could still get in the CFB Playoffs with 1-2 losses. Fans would then get better games.