We are less than a month before the College Football Playoff committee comes together for the final time to determine college football’s top four teams. Last season, fans saw two teams from the same conference make the playoffs for the first time. This year, there is still much to work out entering the second week of November football.

Current Top 15

  1. Alabama (9-0)
  2. Clemson (9-0)
  3. Notre Dame (9-0)
  4. Michigan (8-1)
  5. Georgia (8-1)
  6. Oklahoma (8-1)
  7. LSU (7-2)
  8. Washington State (8-1)
  9. West Virginia (7-1)
  10. Ohio State (8-1)
  11. Kentucky (7-2)
  12. UCF (8-0)
  13. Syracuse (7-2)
  14. NC State (6-2)
  15. Florida (6-3)
General impressions

The committee did well with the first ten teams this week. It was surprising to see LSU still ranked seventh after being shutout at home, but they do have some of the strongest wins in college football. Kentucky ranked 11, ahead of undefeated UCF, was baffling. Otherwise, a strong showing by the CFP committee.

For arguments sake with these paths to the playoffs, assume that a two-loss team will not be selected. It will happen eventually, but it will take an unusually low number of zero or one-loss teams combined with an incredible strength of schedule. Neither of those factors fit this season.

Alabama

Verdict: Win out and you’re in. Can afford a loss.

Lose one game, and the Tide is probably still in. If that one loss comes in the SEC Championship, that would complicate things for Alabama’s résumé. However, the committee likely will not want to push Alabama out of the College Football Playoff with one loss. Whether that is right or not, it is reality.

Clemson

Verdict: Win out and you’re in. Can afford a loss.

A loss to Boston College this weekend could throw a wrench into the College Football Playoff race. With a win, Boston College would take control of the Atlantic in the ACC. Though, like we saw with Ohio State and Alabama, winning one’s division is not necessary to make it to the College Football Playoff. The one thing that could hold a one-loss Clemson back would be a weak strength of schedule.

Notre Dame

Verdict: Win out and you’re in. Loss would hurt.

Without a conference championship game, an 11-1 Notre Dame would have difficulty getting in over a one-loss conference champion. Especially since a loss at this point would come in the final weeks of the season. If it comes down to a one-loss Notre Dame and Michigan, Notre Dame could get the nod due to head-to-head. But I would expect the committee to view the more recent body of work in an 12-1 Michigan as more deserving.

Michigan

Verdict: Lose and you’re out. Win out and you have a good chance.

With Michigan sitting at one loss, another loss would put them out of the College Football Playoff conversation. Finishing 12-1 would likely put them in the Playoff, but perhaps being compared to a 12-1 Big 12 champion could be the only trouble. The Big 12 has been stronger than the Big Ten this season, and that could come into play.

Georgia

Verdict: Lose and you’re out. Win out and you’re locked in.

A one-loss SEC champion will not miss the Playoff in the immediate future. If Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC Championship Game with one loss, they will be making another trip to the College Football Playoff.

Oklahoma

Verdict: Lose and you’re out. Win out and you’ll need some help.

If the Sooners are able to win out, they will have an impressive résumé at 12-1 with a Big 12 title. However, I envision the committee putting in a 12-1 Michigan over a 12-1 Oklahoma. The Sooners likely need Alabama to win out and Michigan to lose. The Sooners would not have as good of a win as a possible 12-1 Ohio State, but the Buckeyes would have a 29 point loss to Purdue.

Washington State

Verdict: Lose and you’re out. Win and you’ll need some chaos.

The abysmal out of conference scheduling is what really hurts Washington State for the College Football Playoff. I do not see Mike Leach’s Cougars winning out. If they do, they will need a lot of help from above. Notre Dame would have to lose, while the Big Ten and Big 12 champions both have at least two losses. This should be enough to put Washington State in the Playoff, and I doubt a one-loss, non-conference champion Alabama would get in over the Cougs.

West Virginia

Verdict: Lose and you’re out. Win out and you’ll need some help.

Honestly, I could copy and paste the entire Oklahoma section and put it here. The Mountaineers are in a very similar position as the Sooners when it comes to their College Football Playoff bid.

Ohio State

Verdict: Lose and you’re out. Win out and who knows.

Ohio State is a weird team — both on the field and in the College Football Playoff race. If the Buckeyes win out, surely a one-loss Big Ten champion will make the playoffs, right? Frankly, Ohio State also has the blue blood status that could play into the minds of some of the voters. However, they also lost by 29 points on the road to a 3-3 team. Granted, that is a very good Purdue team that could be ranked by the end of the year. Still, that loss in unacceptable. So — to put it simply, who knows?

UCF

Verdict: So very sorry.

Look, the committee has made it clear that they are not going to put an undefeated, Group of Five team into the College Football Playoff. Now, is there a scenario where complete madness hits college football, and the committee is forced to put UCF in? Sure. That would require almost everyone ahead of them to lose. Will it happen? Almost certainly not. Do the Knights deserve to make the Playoff? Yes and no. Two straight undefeated seasons should mean something, but so should strength of schedule.

Predicted final rankings

  1. Alabama (13-0)
  2. Clemson (13-0)
  3. Michigan (12-1)
  4. Notre Dame (11-1)
  5. Oklahoma (11-2)
  6. Georgia (11-2)
  7. West Virginia (11-2)
  8. Ohio State (10-2)
  9. UCF (12-0)
  10. Kentucky (10-2)

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My name is Collin Ginnan and I am majoring in Journalism and Spanish at The Ohio State University. I grew up playing baseball year-round from t-ball through high school and am a diehard Cincinnati Reds fan. Coming from a family of Buckeyes, I was raised living and breathing Ohio State football. To the best of my memory, I have not missed a single game to date. Ohio State vs. Penn State during Homecoming? That’s what the Watch ESPN app is for. Besides the Buckeyes and Reds, I follow the Blue Jackets, Browns, Cavaliers, FC Cincinnati, and Liverpool FC.
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My name is Collin Ginnan and I am majoring in Journalism and Spanish at The Ohio State University. I grew up playing baseball year-round from t-ball through high school and am a diehard Cincinnati Reds fan. Coming from a family of Buckeyes, I was raised living and breathing Ohio State football. To the best of my memory, I have not missed a single game to date. Ohio State vs. Penn State during Homecoming? That’s what the Watch ESPN app is for. Besides the Buckeyes and Reds, I follow the Blue Jackets, Browns, Cavaliers, FC Cincinnati, and Liverpool FC.

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