Their Resume: They’ve dominated everyone. The closest win this year has been by 22 points. In addition, they have quality wins with LSU and Mississippi State, along with Texas A&M and Missouri ranked right outside the top 25. The whole “they haven’t played everybody” just isn’t true. Alabama has the best resume in the country.
Road to the playoffs: Beat Auburn and Georgia in the SEC championship and they’re in. Alabama could lose to Auburn and beat Georgia and they’d most likely still be in. The only way it would get close is if they lose to Georgia in the SEC Championship. It’d be tough to leave out a 12-1 Alabama team. I think they’d be in over a 12-1 Washington State, Ohio State and Oklahoma. A 12-1 Michigan team would be close however and it would test the committee how much a Conference Championship game is worth.
Their resume: Along with Alabama, Clemson has also separated themselves from the rest of the group. They haven’t had a win by less than 20 points since September. However, the ACC is bad this year and they lack quality wins. Syracuse is their best win and they’re a fringe top-20 team. They have a few other wins that could sneak into the top 25 including NC State, Texas A&M, Boston College and Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship game.
Road to the playoffs: Beat South Carolina and Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship. A loss to either of these teams will put Clemson at the risk of missing the playoff due to their lack of quality wins.
Their Resume: Notre Dame has turned it on as of late and actually has more quality wins than Clemson. A win against Michigan is the most impressive of the playoff contenders and they have also beat ACC and Big Ten Divisional champions Pittsburgh and Northwestern. However, the eye test favors Clemson as Notre Dame has a 8 point win against Ball State, 5 point win over Vanderbilt, and close wins against Pittsburgh and Northwestern.
Road to the Playoffs: Notre Dame’s road is simple. Beat USC and they’re in. Lose and they’re most likely out unless they get some help.
Their Resume: Pretty solid. They have quality wins against Penn State and Northwestern with just one loss against Notre Dame. The problem is they are anchored by Notre Dame. Meaning they cannot be ranked above Notre Dame due to the head-to-head loss.
Road to the Playoffs: If they beat Ohio State and Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship they are most likely in. The only scenario where that is not the case is if Georgia upsets Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Then the question becomes 12-1 Michigan or 12-1 Alabama? Alabama would have the eye test, but Michigan would have the conference championship, solid resume and quality loss against Notre Dame.
Their Resume: They have quality wins against Kentucky and Florida, but the 20 point loss to LSU isn’t great. It does help that LSU is a quality opponent. They do have a monumental showdown with Alabama that will decide everything.
Road to the Playoffs: They control their own destiny. Just beat Georgia Tech and Alabama and they are in.
Their Resume: They have one quality win over Utah and a close loss to USC that doesn’t look great. However, they have some blowout victories and an upcoming matchup in the Apple Cup with Washington. Washington State is hurt because the Pac 12 is bad this year.
Road to the Playoffs: Win out against Washington and Utah in the Pac-12 Championship is a start. They then need Alabama to win out, Oklahoma to lose a game, and Northwestern to win the Big Ten. It’s going to take a miracle.
Their Resume: They have a great win against Georgia and quality win over Mississippi State. The Florida loss isn’t terrible and they get a small increase to the resume for the non-conference win against Miami.
Road to the Playoffs: They need a miracle that includes: Alabama winning out, Clemson losing out, Northwestern winning the Big Ten, Oklahoma losing, Washington State losing a game. They would then have a shot at the playoffs. Oh, they have to beat Texas A&M too.
Their Resume: No quality wins yet, but they will have West Virginia and Texas (if they beat West Virginia) left on the schedule. The Texas loss isn’t bad and only have one loss, but the problem is they’re not passing the eye test. Giving up 40 points to Kansas does not help.
Road to the Playoffs: Win out and then have Northwestern win the Big Ten. Notre Dame losing would be an interesting debate, as well as a 12-1 Oklahoma or 12-1 Ohio State debate. I think they could get in over Ohio State if it came to that.
Their Resume: Just like Oklahoma they’re not passing the eye test. They have a quality win against Penn State, but a terrible blowout loss to Purdue. Beating Michigan would give them a great quality win, but the way they’ve been playing that is looking unlikely.
Road to the Playoffs: Win out and have Alabama win the SEC Championship would be a great start. Oklahoma losing a game would also solidify their spot in the playoff.
Their Resume: Pittsburgh could be a quality win, but the rest of their schedule hurts them. If they blew everybody out that’d be one thing, but they barely won against Memphis by one point and the defense has looked bad. They do not have a resume that earns them a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Road to the Playoffs: Chaos. They need absolute chaos. They need to blowout their next two opponents to make this possible. But after that they’d need:
- Georgia losing last two games to Georgia Tech and Alabama
- Ohio State beating Michigan and losing to Northwestern
- Washington State losing a game to either Washington or Utah
- The winner of Oklahoma and West Virginia losing to Texas in the Big 12 Championship
- LSU losing to Texas A&M