Week 13

College Football Playoff: Who's Still Alive? What Does Each Team Need To Do?

Path To The Playoff: Breakdown of the 2016-2017 College Football Playoff Chase


What does each team still realistically in the hunt have to do to get into the College Football Playoff? What needs to happen? 11 teams still have a shot – including Michigan – but there are different paths to get there.


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And now we’re down to ten.

We’re really down to seven, with Michigan, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Colorado still needing a miracle, but there’s still a way for each of them to find a way into the College Football Playoff – maybe.

There’s no Western Michigan involved, no Florida after last week’s loss to Florida State, and no Virginia Tech, considering its three losses. Those three will play key roles in the process this week, but they’re more involved in the New Year’s Six world.

So what’s it going to take to get in? Forget about what’s about to happen on Tuesday night with the latest College Football Playoff rankings – those don’t matter – considering conference championships change everything.

The one thing everyone but Clemson can agree on – Virginia Tech needs to win. And it wouldn’t be a bad thing for several teams if Colorado beats Washington, too. Other than that, teams mainly need to win, and do it impressively.

Ranked in order from the least likely to get in – toughest path – to the most likely, here are the 11 teams and their Paths To The College Football Playoff.

Michigan (10-2)

– Alabama gets in over Michigan, even with a loss to Florida. Ohio State gets in over Michigan, and so does the Big Ten champ. The Wolverines need the ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 out of the way, and even then it’ll be next to impossible, considering it’ll mean three Big Ten teams would make it.

– Colorado has to win the Pac-12 championship. The Wolverines beat the Buffs 45-28.

– Virginia Tech has to beat Clemson, effectively knocking out the Tigers.

– It would help if Penn State wins. It doesn’t matter that much either way in the Big Ten Championship, but it would help the argument considering the Wolverines won the head-to-head matchup 49-10.

– Oklahoma State needs to beat Oklahoma, and it can’t be impressive. The Cowboy losses to Central Michigan and Baylor are far, far worse than the Wolverine losses to Iowa and Ohio State. It would help if Baylor lost to West Virginia this week, too.

Oklahoma State (9-2)

– Destroy – and by destroy, absolutely annihilate – Oklahoma. It’s a road game, and a win would get everyone talking and bringing up the possibilities.

– Virginia Tech has to beat Clemson, effectively knocking out the Tigers.

– Colorado has to beat Washington, making it a Big 12 champ vs. Pac-12 champ debate.

– Penn State has to beat Wisconsin. All of a sudden, Pitt matters. The Cowboys beat the Panthers, who beat Penn State. If it comes down to a Penn State vs. Oklahoma State argument, the Cowboys have a case.

– Hope the College Football Playoff committee sees the Central Michigan loss as an officials’ screw-up.

– It wouldn’t be a bad thing if West Virginia obliterated Baylor. It would turn out to be OSU’s second-best win of the season.

Oklahoma (9-2)

– Alabama, Big Ten champ and Ohio State are all in over the Sooners. Oklahoma needs the ACC and Pac-12 out of the way.

– Destroy – and by destroy, absolutely annihilate – Oklahoma State. This would then make Oklahoma one of the hottest teams in the country with the offense ripping everything apart over the second half of the season. The Sooners have won each of their last six games by double digits. That has to continue.

– Virginia Tech has to beat Clemson, effectively knocking out the Tigers.

– Colorado has to beat Washington, and it can’t be an amazing performance. A 16-13 uggo win would be helpful.

Colorado (10-2)

– Destroy – and by destroy, absolutely annihilate – Washington in the Pac-12 Championship. Make everyone talk about you, Colorado.

– Virginia Tech has to beat Clemson, effectively knocking out the Tigers.

– Penn State has to blowout Wisconsin. 11-2 Colorado doesn’t get in over 11-2 Wisconsin, but if Penn State wins in amazing fashion, that might kill Ohio State’s argument to get in over the Nittany Lions. Then – if Virginia Tech wins – it comes down to Colorado vs. Ohio State vs. Big 12 champ for two spots. 11-2 Colorado likely gets in over a 10-2 Big 12 champ.

Wisconsin (10-2)

– Destroy – and by destroy, absolutely annihilate – Penn State. Go all 2014 Ohio State-over-Wisconsin Big Ten Championship on the Nittany Lions and look way too good to keep out.

– It would be really, really helpful if Virginia Tech beats Clemson in the ACC Championship. And/or …

– It might not be necessary, but it would be really, really helpful if Colorado beats Washington for the Pac-12 Championship. However …

– Wisconsin is absolutely, no question, no doubt about it in if it wins and Colorado AND Virginia Tech both win their respective conference championships.

Ohio State (11-1)

– Virginia Tech has to beat Clemson and/or Colorado has to beat Washington. If either one of those two things happens, Ohio State is in. But if both Clemson and Washington win …

– Wisconsin has to beat Penn State, and it can’t be amazing in doing it. Ohio State doesn’t have a case if Penn State is the Big Ten champ, but it does – thanks to the head-to-head win in Madison – if the Badgers win.

– It’s not a must, but it would be nice if Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State. Because of the 45-24 Buckeye win in Norman, they would be a no-brainer choice if it comes down to them vs. the Big 12 champ.

– The College Football Playoff committee has to go off of resume, and not necessarily the top conference champs theory. If Alabama, Clemson and Washington win, the committee will have to make a statement that a team that didn’t win its own division should be in over a team that wins the best conference in college football this year.

Penn State (10-2)

– Destroy – and by destroy, absolutely annihilate – Wisconsin. Go 2014 Ohio State on the Badgers, and they might make this easy on the committee.

– Beat Wisconsin, and get in if Virginia Tech beats Clemson and/or Colorado beats Washington.

– Somehow hope this gets into an Ohio State vs. Penn State side-by-side debate. Head-to-head win and conference championship would matter.

Washington (11-1)

– Beat Colorado convincingly, and there shouldn’t be a problem. However, there will be some who’ll want to argue that Ohio State deserves to be in over the Huskies based on resume. Blowout the Buffs, and the argument is over. The College Football Playoff committee will absolutely take a 12-1 Pac-12 champion.

Clemson (11-1)

– Beat Virginia Tech – margin of victory doesn’t matter – get in no matter what. Lose, and be out.

Alabama (12-0)

– Beat Florida – margin of victory doesn’t matter – get in no matter what.

– Lose to the Gators, and Alabama is still probably in ahead of a Big 12 champion and Ohio State. However, it would be easier – with a loss – if Clemson and/or Washington loses.