5. Oklahoma Sooners 7-1 (Big 12)
Last Week: 2
Remaining Schedule: Iowa State, at Baylor, TCU, at Oklahoma State
There’s a big problem. Now, because the Sooners have only beaten one team – Texas – that will likely go bowling, and the rest of the schedule doesn’t look that great even with a date at Baylor, it’s going to be a tough sell to get past a 12-1 Pac-12 champion or an 11-1 Bama-LSU loser. Even so, the hope has to be that history holds. With no unbeaten Notre Dame aberration like last year, 12-1 with a Power Five championship should get the Sooners in.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide 7-0 (SEC)
Last Week: 3
Remaining Schedule: LSU, at Mississippi State, Western Carolina, at Auburn
The Auburn game isn’t a given, but beat LSU, and Alabama will likely be in the same spot Ohio State is with Michigan – the big rivalry game won’t really matter, to a point. For now, the hope is for Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle to get healthy in a hurry and to get by LSU, but throw in a possible SEC Championship appearance, and the schedule is backloaded in a big, big way.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes 8-0 (Big Ten)
Last Week: 5
Remaining Schedule: Maryland, at Rutgers, Penn State, at Michigan
Here’s the punchline … the Michigan game probably won’t matter.
If Ohio State beats Maryland and wins at Rutgers, all it needs to do is beat Penn State, and it’s in the Big Ten Championship. If this team goes 12-1 and wins the B1G, it’s in the CFP no matter what happens against the Wolverines. Win out and go 13-0, and OSU is no worse than the No. 2 seed.
2. LSU Tigers 8-0 (SEC)
Last Week: 4
Remaining Schedule: at Alabama, at Ole Miss, Arkansas, Texas A&M
Just don’t get blasted by Alabama.
The Tigers got by the other Tigers with last week’s win over Auburn, and now, if they can just make it really, really close against the Tide on the road, they might still get in on a four-best-team belief. HOWEVER, that’s if Tua Tagovailoa plays. Beat Bama, and it still might be in at 12-1 if it loses to Florida or Georgia in the SEC Championship.
1. Clemson Tigers 8-0 (ACC)
Last Week: 1
Remaining Schedule: at Wofford, at NC State, Wake Forest, at South Carolina
Clemson will get to just go through the motions in a slew of light scrimmages on the way to the College Football Playoff. It’s going to be a 20+ point favorite against everyone the rest of the way, and that includes whatever survives out of the muck from the Coastal.
There’s a flip side, though. Clemson likely can’t survive a loss. The schedule is so mediocre that one defeat probably knocks it out of the CFP, even if it goes 12-1 with an ACC title.