The Path to the College Football Playoff: Even with the loss to Oregon, there’s still a shot to be in the mix by winning out. The Ducks are going to lose again, and if the Bears can go 12-1 and get at least one of the other Power Five champions to have two losses – and if Notre Dame doesn’t go unbeaten – it’s in.
What Will Happen: This is a plucky team – and it gets Washington, Stanford and Colorado in Berkeley – but no.
The Path to the College Football Playoff: Win out, hope for a Notre Dame loss and one of the other Power Five conference champs to have a loss, and get in. And don’t start with a. one-loss SEC Championship loser to get in over an unbeaten Pac-12 champ … no way, no how. If the Buffs win at Washington and at USC, the path is right there to do this.
What Will Happen: It’s not as insane as you might think. This is a very good team with a very great quarterback in Steven Montez. In the same way Iowa found a way to get to the Big Ten Championship unbeaten three years ago with a shot at getting in, the Buffs might have a shot. But they’re not going to beat both USC and Washington, and they’ll drop one game at home – like against Washington State or Utah.
The Path to the College Football Playoff: If the Ducks win out, the collapse against Stanford will be seen as an aberration. They’re going to need help – there can’t be four other options from the other Power Five chaps, but beat Washington this week, hope the Cardinal lose twice, and everything is on track.
They have the quarterback, and they have the defense, and best of all, they have the schedule. But it doesn’t work without getting by the Huskies and Washington State over the next two weeks.
What Will Happen: They’ll lose once more along the way, and/or Stanford won’t lose twice in the Pac-12. The Arizona State game will be tricky, and going to Utah will be tough. It’s set up for this to be possible, but they’ll have to settle for being in the fight to go to the Rose Bowl.
The Path to the College Football Playoff: The Cardinal have to win out and take down the Pac-12 Championship at 12-1. Notre Dame has to lose at least once, if not twice, and there can’t be four other Power Five champions with one loss or unbeaten. However, if the Cardinal win at Washington and at Arizona State – to go along with the win at Oregon – the resume stacks up.
What Will Happen: They’re not going to win at Arizona State and Washington, and they could lose at Cal, to Washington State, or to Utah.
The Path to the College Football Playoff: Win out. The loss to Auburn in Atlanta to open the season is more than forgivable. The Huskies would need there to be one other Power Five conference champion with two losses or more, Notre Dame has to lose, and it would be dicey if the loser in the SEC Championship has one loss, but this is the best team in the Pac-12. 12-1 would get it into the discussion.
What Will Happen: The Huskies will win the Pac-12 Championship, but they’ll be the odd team out. The Pac-12 just won’t have the cachet of the other Power Five conferences.
Washington State (4-1)
The Path to the College Football Playoff: Win out, and with wins over Oregon, at Stanford, at Colorado, and Washington along the way, along with a Pac-12 championship, the Cougars would be deep in the hunt. There wouldn’t be a non-conference game to point to as anything interesting, and they’d need help from the other Power Five champs to not be all that great, but they’re still alive.
What Will Happen: Getting the Ducks and Huskies at home is a big help, but they’re not running the table with the road game at Stanford to deal with, too.