1. LSU Tigers
Best Wins: #5 Alabama, #10 Florida, #16 Auburn
Remaining Schedule: Arkansas, #24 Texas A&M, SEC Championship (#4 Georgia)
LSU has by far the best resume with wins over #5 Alabama, #10 Florida, and #16 Auburn. They have also looked dominant against inferior opponents except for their lackluster defense. If LSU finishes the year undefeated they will have the #1 or #2 spot on lock. LSU has also built their resume enough where they can afford one loss and still be firmly in the playoffs.
Path to the Playoff: Don’t Lose Twice.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
Best Wins: #14 Wisconsin, #17 Cincinnati
Remaining Schedule: #9 Penn State, @ #14 Michigan, Big Ten Championship
Ohio State has dominated everyone on their schedule. Their best quality opponents will happen at the end of the year (no Cincinnati and Indiana are not quality wins). Ohio State has done enough to get in as a one loss Big Ten champion as long as they win the Big Ten.
Path to the Playoff: Either 1. Finish regular season undefeated; or 2. One loss and Big Ten Champs
3. Clemson Tigers
Best Wins: #24 Texas A&M
Remaining Schedule: @ South Carolina, ACC Championship
Clemson has killed everyone on their schedule… except for a one point win against North Carolina. Since the Tar Heel game, Clemson hasn’t had a scare by any of their opponents. Clemson will finish the season without playing a Top 25 team (that’s how bad the ACC is). As long as Clemson wins out they’re in.
Path to the Playoff: If they don’t win-out, they’re out.
4. Georgia Bulldogs
Best Wins: #10 Florida, #15 Notre Dame, #16 Auburn
Losses: South Carolina 20-17 OT
Remaining Schedule: #24 Texas A&M, @ Georgia Tech, SEC Championship
The South Carolina loss is looking worse every week especially after the loss to Appalachian State. The wins against Florida and Notre Dame have them currently as the best 1-loss team. A second loss will knock them out of the playoffs and that second loss is likely with Texas A&M and LSU still left.
Path to the Playoff: If they win-out they are in
5. Alabama Crimson Tide
Best Wins: #24 Texas A&M
Losses: #1 LSU 45-40
Remaining Schedule: Western Carolina, @ #16 Auburn
They’ve won big against everyone except #1 LSU. Alabama will need to win out to have a chance. In that case, their best win will be against Auburn. What may trip up Alabama is a 1-loss Conference Champion. Some will say Bama doesn’t have a great win, but their Auburn win may be better than any of the other 1-loss conference champions. If Alabama wins out, you have to like their chances of getting in.
Path to the Playoff: Win out with Mac Jones looking dominant, Georgia loses once, and get ranked above the other 1-loss conference champion(s).
Win out with Mac Jones looking above average, Georgia loses once, two loss Big 12 Champion, and a two loss Pac 12 Champion.
6. Oregon Ducks
Best Wins: None
Losses: #16 Auburn 27-21
Remaining Schedule: @ Arizona State, Oregon State, Pac 12 Championship
Oregon’s only chance at a good win is against Utah in the PAC 12 Championship. The resume isn’t great as they played some average teams really close including Washington and Washington State. A loss to Auburn may end up being the tie breaker between Alabama and Oregon depending on what happens in the Iron Bowl with Mac Jones. Still, I think Oregon is in a position where if they win out they are in.
Path to the Playoff: Win Out and Georgia loses.
7. Utah Utes
Best Wins: None
Losses: USC 30-23
Remaining Schedule: @ Arizona, Colorado, Pac 12 Championship
The Utes have a cake walk to end the regular season. A seven point loss to USC remains a dagger in the resume and their only chance at a quality win is in the PAC 12 championship against Oregon. Utah will be in the discussion if they win out, especially with their recent blow out wins. I believe a one loss Utah with a win over Oregon beats out a one loss Big 12 champion.
Path to the Playoff: Win out and Georgia loses.
8. Oklahoma Sooners
Best Wins: #13 Baylor
Losses: Kansas State 48-41
Remaining Schedule: TCU, @ #22 Oklahoma State, Big 12 Championship
Oklahoma may finish the year with a bad loss and not many impressive wins. The Big 12 has eaten itself alive. Oklahoma did have an impressive comeback win over Baylor, but their playoff chances would take a major hit if Texas beats Baylor next week. Oklahoma is in a position where they are behind a one loss Pac 12 champion right now.
Path to the Playoff: Win Out, Georgia loses, two loss Pac 12 Champion
9. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Best Wins: #10 Penn State
Losses: #20 Iowa
Remaining Schedule: @ Northwestern, #15 Wisconsin, Big Ten Championship
Yes they are undefeated and have looked impressive the past few weeks, but what hangs over the Golden Gophers is winning 3 terrible non-conference games by a total of 13 points. They now have a loss to an average Iowa team as well. However, winning out with wins over Wisconsin and Ohio State would probably put them in.
Path to the Playoff: Win out (this would create some chaos for the committee)
10. Penn State Nittany Lions
Best Wins: #9 Penn State
Remaining Schedule: @ #2 Ohio State, Rutgers, Big Ten Championship
The loss against Minnesota wasn’t really that tough of a blow. The fact remains Penn State still has to beat the Buckeyes for a chance. They would also get a chance to revenge their Minnesota loss in the Big Ten Championship. The close game against Indiana won’t do them any favors for the eye test though.
Path to the Playoff: Win out (Creates Chaos)
11. Baylor Bears
Best Wins: #22 Oklahoma State
Losses: #10 Oklahoma 34-31
Remaining Schedule: Texas, Kansas, Big 12 Championship
Baylor blew it against Oklahoma. What Baylor needs is Oklahoma to win out and beat them in the Big 12 championship. Even after this I still think they need some help mostly because of their bad non-conference schedule and close games with bad teams (Texas Tech, West Virginia, TCU). Baylor doesn’t pass the eye test so they have to win out and receive some help.
Path to the Playoff: Win out and need a lot of help