Which top teams have the best chance of getting into the College Football Playoff after Week 9?
As always, here’s how we know the unwritten College Football Playoff rules (sort of) work …
1) Win your Power Five championship and finish 13-0, and you’re in. There can only be four of those this year with all of the Pac-12 teams with at least one loss. There’s no argument … go 13-0 with a P5 title, and you’re in …
2) Win your Power Five championship and finish 12-1, and you’re probably in. Ohio State was the first to miss out last year after doing this, partly because it got blown away by Purdue, and totally because Notre Dame was 12-0.
3) Go 11-1 in the SEC or Big Ten with that one loss coming to a conference champion who’s off to the College Football Playoff. That’s how Alabama got in on the way to a title in 2017. Or, be dominant and have one loss that was by crazy circumstances, like Ohio State did to get in despite losing to Penn State in 2016.
It’s remotely possible that a two-loss Michigan or Auburn might be able to get there with a whole lot of luck, but nah … it’s not going to happen.
This is done on projections and NOT how this would be at the immediate moment. Also, this isn’t a ranking of how good the teams appear to be.
Knocked Out: Auburn, Notre Dame, Wisconsin
13. Wake Forest Demon Deacons 6-1 (ACC)
Last Week: 12
Remaining Schedule: NC State, at Virginia Tech, at Clemson, Duke, at Syracuse
To get to the College Football Playoff, Wake Forest needs to 1) win at Clemson, 2) win the other four games, 3) beat Clemson again, and 4) get some help with both the Pac-12 and Big 12 champs needing two losses.
12. Baylor Bears 7-0 (Big 12)
Last Week: 15
Remaining Schedule: West Virginia, at TCU, Oklahoma, Texas, at Kansas
There’s no strong non-conference win – UTSA is the best of the three – and the Big 12 is just okay. 13-0 absolutely gets Baylor into the CFP, but this year, 12-1 with a Big 12 title probably doesn’t get it done. Going to TCU is a problem, and dealing with Oklahoma and Texas – even at home – won’t be a breeze.
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers 8-0 (Big Ten)
Last Week: 14
Remaining Schedule: Penn State, at Iowa, at Northwestern, Wisconsin
It’s going to be fun. Even if the Golden Gophers lose to Penn State next week, they can still get to the Big Ten Championship, go 12-1, and go to the CFP … easy peasy. It’s more likely that they drop at least two of the final three games, and even if they don’t, good luck against – most likely – Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. Even if the CFP isn’t realistically a play, the Rose Bowl is if they can get by the Nittany Lions.
10. Georgia Bulldogs 6-1 (SEC)
Last Week: 11
Remaining Schedule: Florida, Missouri, at Auburn, Texas A&M, at Georgia Tech
It’s all still right there for the taking. The South Carolina loss looks worse and worse, but the deal is still the same – win out, win the SEC Championship, go 12-1, and in. To do that, though, the team that’s been struggling to find its O has to beat both Florida and win at Auburn – and not lose to anyone else. AND THEN, if everything goes right, beat either Alabama or LSU.
9. Utah Utes 7-1 (Pac-12)
Last Week: 9
Remaining Schedule: at Washington, UCLA, at Arizona, Colorado
The Oklahoma loss to Kansas State changes everything. If the Utes can win out, the loss at USC early on hurts, but isn’t quite as bad. Considering the Pac-12 overall is at least even with the Big 12, if not better, going to 12-1 puts the Utes right on the doorstep.
8. Penn State Nittany Lions 8-0 (Big Ten)
Last Week: 8
Remaining Schedule: at Minnesota, Indiana, at Ohio State, Rutgers
How many more impressive wins does the team need to come up with to start getting some love? The win against Michigan looks stronger now, the blowout win in the rain at Michigan State was great, and beating Pitt and winning at Iowa are solid. Winning at Minnesota isn’t that hard for an elite team, but it’ll be given the credit for being a huge win if the Nittany Lions can do it, and if they win in a blowout, this gets really interesting – there might be a chance to get in even at 11-1 with a close loss at Ohio State.
7. Florida Gators 7-1 (SEC)
Last Week: 7
Remaining Schedule: Georgia, Vanderbilt, at Missouri, Florida State
Considering how Missouri has totally gone off the rails, all of a sudden, this is looking doable. Beat Georgia in Jacksonville, and the Gators almost certainly have a one shot deal against Bama or LSU in the SEC Championship to go to the CFP.
6. Oregon Ducks 7-1 (Pac-12)
Last Week: 6
Remaining Schedule: at USC, Arizona, at Arizona State, Oregon State
The Ducks are looking way too shaky. They needed a desperation drive and last second kick to get by a whatever Wazzu team at home, and they still have to deal with USC and Arizona State on the road, and likely Utah in the Pac-12 Championship if everything else goes right. There’s an opening, though, after the Oklahoma loss to Kansas State.