The Path to the College Football Playoff: Okay, Michigan. Here we go. Win out and get in.
Unlike Ohio State – who’ll be dragged down by the loss at Purdue if it all comes down to a fight between more than four available teams – the Wolverines control their own destiny. That loss at Notre Dame at the beginning of the year is more than acceptable, and now, if it finishes 12-1 with a Big 12 title, only Alabama, Clemson and the Irish can keep them out.
12-1 Big Ten champ Michigan gets in over 12-1 Big 12 champ Oklahoma or 12-1 Pac-12 champ Washington State.
Get through Penn State, at Rutgers, Indiana, at Ohio State, and Northwestern, Iowa or Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, and they’re in.
What Will Happen: Michigan will lose once more along the way – likely at Ohio State – and end up in the Rose Bowl. It’ll beat Penn State, and it’ll get to Columbus at 10-1. The winner of the rivalry game will likely end up getting in.
Ohio State (7-1)
The Path to the College Football Playoff: It needs a little bit of help.
The Buckeyes have to win the rest of their games, and they need Clemson to lose along the way, or hope for a two-loss Big 12 champ, or hope for Notre Dame to lose a game. If Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma win out, Ohio State is out, even at 12-1 with a Big Ten title.
Realistically, there will be one break from somewhere. The Buckeyes have to take care of themselves, beat Nebraska, win at Michigan State, at Maryland and against Michigan, and then get by Iowa, Northwestern or Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Do that, and they’ll almost certainly get in.
What Will Happen: It’ll all come down to the Michigan game. They’ll survive the Michigan State game in East Lansing, and they won’t slip against the Huskers or Terps. They’ll beat the Wolverines in a classic, win the Big Ten championship, and get into the College Football Playoff as a four-seed vs. Alabama.