Washington State (7-1)
The Path to the College Football Playoff: The Cougars need a whole lot of help, but they might just be good enough to knock on the door with wins over Oregon and Stanford over the last two weeks out of the way.
The non-conference slate is a disaster – there’s absolutely nothing there – so it has to win out against Cal, at Colorado, Arizona and Washington, and then win the Pac-12 title over – most likely – Utah in a rematch of an earlier 28-24 win.
If they’re 12-1, they need Notre Dame to lose, and/or one non-SEC team to be a two-loss Power Five champ. The 12-win Power Five champs are 13-for-13 at getting into the College Football Playoff – but again, it would take some work to get this done.
What Will Happen: The Cougars will come painfully close, but will lose the Apple Cup to a rejuvenated Washington to not only miss out on the College Football Playoff, but also the Pac-12 Championship. However, at 10-2, they’ll be deep in the mix for a New Year’s Six game.
The Path to the College Football Playoff: It’s this simple for the Crimson Tide. Win out, and be the No. 1 overall seed. Go 12-0 and get to the SEC Championship, and it’ll still probably be in even if it loses. That’s how much the College Football Playoff people will love this team., but …
What Will Happen: If Clemson goes unbeaten, and Notre Dame goes 12-0, and Oklahoma goes 12-1 with a Big 12 title, and Georgia or Kentucky goes 12-1 with an SEC Championship, Alabama is probably out if it loses at LSU this weekend and doesn’t get to the SEC title game.
The Crimson Tide will win in Death Valley and go 13-0 to be the No. 1 seed.
The Path to the College Football Playoff: After getting by Florida this week, everything is back on track. Win at Kentucky, beat Auburn, beat UMass and Georgia Tech, and it’s on. Do that, beat Alabama or LSU for the SEC Championship, and it’s in at no worse than the No. 2 seed, and be the No. 1 if Clemson loses.
What Will Happen: The Dawgs will get right on the doorstep only to lose to Alabama in Atlanta and just miss out on the College Football Playoff. They’ll end up in the Sugar Bowl.
The Path to the College Football Playoff: And now they’re in the position to pull off the dream. They’re 7-1, the loss to Texas A&M doesn’t matter, and now, with a win over Georgia, they’re in the SEC Championship. However, they have to go to Tennessee – for this team, that won’t be easy. They also have to beat Middle Tennessee and win at Louisville. Do all of that, and the SEC title game will be for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
What Will Happen: They’ll battle hard, but they’re not getting by Georgia at home. Watch out for that Tennessee game, too – that will be more dangerous than many will think – but the College Football Playoff dream will end against the Dawgs.
The Path to the College Football Playoff: The Tigers got themselves in the position to keep the dream alive. They can’t take the SEC West title with a win over Alabama, but they can get close. Beat the Tide, and survive the road games at Arkansas and Texas A&M – they’ll destroy Rice – and it’s on to the SEC Championship with a shot at getting in as no worse than the No. 2 seed.
What Will Happen: The Tigers will make it a fight against the Tide, but they’ll lose. Even so, they’ll make their way into the New Year’s Six bowl mix, which might seem a bit disappointing, but it’ll still be an outstanding season.