Path To The Playoff: 4 most likely teams to make the College Football Playoff
4. Clemson Tigers (7-1)
Clemson is in the same position as Florida. It has to win out to get in, but beating Notre Dame – assuming the Irish don’t lose two of their last three games – isn’t as tall as task as beating Alabama, like Florida will likely have to do.
– Beat Pitt and win at Virginia Tech. Beat Notre Dame in the ACC Championship, and get in as the 2 or 3 seed.
– Win the last two regular season games but lose another close classic to the unbeaten Irish. The discussion then becomes – on a four-best team theory – that Clemson might still be a top four team if the two losses are only to Notre Dame.
Will Clemson Make The College Football Playoff? It’s a salty Clemson team in the ACC Championship. Yup – it’ll be back in the College Football Playoff.
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-0)
Thanks to the thrilling 47-40 overtime win over Clemson a few weeks ago, there’s a forgiving margin of error here for the Irish.
– Win out – at North Carolina, Syracuse, at Wake Forest, ACC Championship – and get into the College Football Playoff as no worse than the 3 seed, likely the 2 – even though that doesn’t mean much.
– Lose one of the last three games, win the ACC Championship, get in likely as the 4 seed.
– Win the last three regular season games, lose a close fight to Clemson in the ACC Championship, and hope Alabama rolls through to the SEC Championship and nothing too funky happens in the Big Ten Championship. Even a blowout to the Tigers might still get the Irish in as the 4 seed.
Will Notre Dame Make The College Football Playoff? Yeah, but it’ll have to sweat a bit after a good-fight loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship. Don’t just assume the Irish are beating North Carolina and Wake Forest on the road, by the way.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0)
Ohio State might not be the team it was last year, and the Big Ten has been a total train wreck, but no way, no how, no chance does an unbeaten Big Ten champion not make the College Football Playoff, especially if it’s Ohio State.
– First … STAY HEALTHY, and hope that at least two of the last three opponents don’t have to tap out. Ohio State already missed the Maryland game because the Terps had COVID issues, and if it misses two more games, it’s not eligible for the Big Ten Championship. However, if Ohio State is 5-0 and doesn’t get to six games because other programs couldn’t go, it would still likely be in the CFP.
– Ohio State wins out at Illinois, at Michigan State, Michigan, Big Ten Championship, and it’s off to the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Rose Bowl no matter what the seed.
– Ohio State loses one of its last three regular season games but still wins the Big Ten Championship. It would be a little trickier – an unbeaten Alabama can’t lose to Florida in the SEC Championship and an unbeaten Notre Dame can’t lose to Clemson on the ACC Championship – but assume a 7-1 Big Ten champ Buckeye team is in.
– Unbeaten Ohio State loses to an unbeaten Northwestern in a classic Big Ten Championship, and there are enough multi-loss Power Five champs that the College Football Playoff takes two Big Ten teams. That’s unlikely, but possible.
Will Ohio State Make The College Football Playoff? Yeah, but expect more Indiana-like drama along the way.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0)
Oh Alabama how the College Football Playoff missed you last year. Really, at least you would’ve been more interesting than Oklahoma.
Bama isn’t the mortal lock you might think it is. Auburn has screwed up this program before – like, you know, last year – and going to Arkansas might be a quirky-weird day. Lose one of those two, and dropping a firefight in the SEC Championship to Florida means a second straight season with no CFP. So …
– Win out. Auburn, at Arkansas, (most likely) Florida in the SEC Championship, and be the No. 1 seed in the Sugar Bowl.
– Beat Auburn and Arkansas, lose a close battle to Florida, and most likely, get in as the No. 4 seed. On the plus side, that would still probably be the Sugar Bowl, unless it’s Ohio State at the 1, and then the Tide would be off to the Rose Bowl.
– Lose one of the last two regular season games, beat Florida for the SEC Championship, likely be the 3 seed.
Will Alabama Make The College Football Playoff? Again, it’s not a wild thought to suggest that Bama could lose once and then to Florida, but nah. For now, pencil in the Crimson Tide as the No. 1 seed in the Sugar Bowl.
Path To The Playoff
– The desperate long shots
– Teams that will be told they can make the CFP (but really can’t)
– Teams that can make the CFP … with a LOT of help
– Teams that can make the CFP … with a little help
– Teams that control their CFP destiny