Top 5 College Football Playoff Storylines Heading Into Week 12

The “Game of the Year” lived up to the hype and then some. When the dust settled in Tuscaloosa, Joe Burrow and the top-ranked* LSU Tigers ended their 8-game losing streak against Alabama in an eye-opening 46-41 victory. The win secured the top spot for the Tigers in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. Do you think Coach O was happy with the win? If you’re an Alabama fan, can you earmuff it for me?

*Rankings used in this article are from the latest College Football Playoff Rankings.

Because of this win, LSU was rewarded with the top spot in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The final three spots went to No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson, and No. 4 Georgia. If you’re a fan of No. 5 Alabama, No. 6 Oregon, No. 7 Utah, or No. 8 Minnesota fan, you’re furious with the rankings. Don’t worry, these rankings will change. Chaos always happens. My playoff heading into Week 12 includes:

  1. LSU
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Oregon

I really wanted to put Minnesota at 4, but I rewarded Oregon for the tougher strength of schedule. To be honest, Minnesota should be in the fourth spot because they have the second-best win out of anyone in the top 10, but the committee seems to change their rules and qualifications on the fly so they’re only at 8 for now.

This weekend is highlighted by Georgia traveling to play the most important team in the country right now, Auburn. Plus, No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 13 Baylor battle for Big 12 supremacy. Here are the Top 5 CFP storylines heading into Week 12.

Auburn, The Most Important Team In The Country

The key to the College Football Playoff is Auburn. Without a doubt, they are the most important team in the country right now. For argument’s sake, let’s say LSU, Ohio State, and Clemson all win out and make the CFP. That leaves one spot left. Who gets it? Georgia, Alabama, and Oregon should be in the running for the fourth and final spot.^ Auburn controls the destiny for all three of those teams. Auburn plays Georgia this weekend. If Auburn beats Georgia, the Bulldogs will be eliminated from playoff contention and Oregon’s loss to Auburn will look a lot better on paper. If Auburn defeats Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Alabama will be eliminated from playoff contention and Oregon will be in the driver’s seat for the final spot. However, if Auburn loses one or both of those games, Oregon’s only loss will be to an 8-4 SEC team. There’s so much riding on the playoff and it all comes down to an Auburn team that probably can’t make it.

^I’m not counting a 12-1 Utah, 12-1 Oklahoma, or 13-0/12-1 Baylor team in this hypothetical because their chances of making the playoff are slim.

LSU Needs Two More Wins To Make The Playoff

(Two) Win(s) and in. That’s the scenario LSU faces to close their season. If they defeat Ole Miss and Arkansas to end the season undefeated, LSU will make the College Football Playoff regardless of what happens in the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers have the strongest resume in the country and no team will surpass it in the regular season if LSU is undefeated going into Atlanta in early December.

Row The Damn Boat

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

PJ Fleck could motivate me to jump out of an airplane without a parachute. In just his third season, Fleck has Minnesota at 9-0 after a monumental win against No. 9 Penn State. Minnesota jumped nine spots in the rankings from No. 17 to No. 8. Minnesota has no time to celebrate as the Golden Gophers travel to No. 20 Iowa in what will almost certainly be a close game. At this point in the season, Minnesota does not need any style points. Survive and advance is the motto as games against Wisconsin and potentially Ohio State loom in the distance.

Can The Big 12 Still Make The Playoff?

The good news is both Oklahoma and Baylor will have the chance to impress the committee on Saturday night when the play each other in Waco. The bad news is it may not matter towards the playoff. Oklahoma truly screwed themselves by losing to Kansas State. Even if they finish the season as the Big 12 champion at 12-1, I don’t think it will be enough to surpass other potential one-loss teams such as Oregon, Utah, or Alabama. The same rules apply to Baylor if they finish 12-1. However, Baylor has a not-so-secret playoff advantage over Oklahoma; they’re undefeated. Baylor may be outside the top 20 in the Football Power Index, but they’re 9-0. The Bears may win a lot of close games, but a win is a win. If Baylor runs the table, wins the Big 12 championship, and finishes the season 13-0, mark my words, they will make the College Football Playoff. There is “no chance in hell” that the committee will pass over an undefeated Power 5 champion for the playoff.

Penn State Is Still Alive For The Playoff

Penn State suffered a hiccup at Minnesota, but it’s not the end of the world. Unless complete chaos happens, a Big Ten team will make the playoff. If Ohio State or Minnesota goes undefeated, they will make the playoff. However, if Penn State wins the Big Ten with only one loss, they should make the playoff. The Nittany Lions have to get passed Indiana, who is having a tremendous year at 6-2, but if they win Saturday, Penn State will have a chance to take over the Big Ten East if they defeat Ohio State in Columbus. A win over Ohio State would allow the Nittany Lions to control their own destiny to the playoff. Beat Indiana first, and then worry about Ohio State.

What are your top College Football Playoff storylines for Week 12? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow, or email us at immad@unafraidshow.com.