What 16 teams still have a realistic shot at getting into the 2020-2021 College Football Playoff? Here’s our ranking of who’s still in it.
What teams are realistically in the College Football Playoff hunt?
All unbeaten Power Five programs still have a shot, and several one-loss teams do, but lose two games, and no. Pac-12 teams with one loss … no. Group of Five programs with one loss … no, and being unbeaten doesn’t do much, either.
Below is a ranking of teams that have the best chances to get one of the final four spots, and who has the best path to the playoff. This isn’t a prediction of the College Football Playoff rankings – it’s a ranking who has the best shot to get in.
16. Marshall Thundering Herd (7-0)
CFP Week 1 Ranking: 21
Remaining Schedule: Rice, FIU, Conference USA Championship vs. UAB or UTSA
Path To The Playoff: There isn’t one, and it stinks that there’s no real path to a New Year’s Six game considering the Thundering Herd have been as dominant as any Group of Five program. The 17-7 win over Appalachian State is more impressive than it appears, and they handed Florida Atlantic its only loss of the year. However, even with an amazing D and seven double-digit point wins in seven games – the rest of the schedule stinks.
14. BYU Cougars (9-0)
CFP Week 1 Ranking: 14
Remaining Schedule: San Diego State
Path To The Playoff: There isn’t one unless BYU can somehow schedule a few Pac-12 teams who won’t want to take the chance on a loss. The entire world would have to melt down, and even then it would be a tough call to put in a team with one strong win over Boise State on the road – there aren’t any Power Five wins.
14. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (8-0)
CFP Week 1 Ranking: 20
Remaining Schedule: Liberty, at Troy, Sun Belt Championship vs. Louisiana
Path To The Playoff: It might seem crazy, but the College Football Playoff committee can twist this to potentially get Coastal Carolina close.
If the Chanticleers blow out a Liberty team that beat Virginia Tech and Syracuse – especially with the GameDay hype this weekend – and if they can win a rematch against Louisiana – who rocked Iowa State 31-14 in Ames – for the Sun Belt title, and if those are the only two losses Louisiana suffers all year, and if Iowa State is the Big 12 champion, there’s a far, far, far better resumé argument than Cincinnati or BYU could make.
13. Cincinnati Bearcats (8-0)
CFP Week 1 Ranking: 7
Remaining Schedule: at Tulsa, American Athletic Conference Championship vs. Tulsa
Path To The Playoff: There really isn’t one, and it’s not helped by needing to beat Tulsa twice just to go undefeated – there won’t be any real credit for that second win. The Bearcats have been dominant, but there aren’t any Power Five wins, and taking down UCF by three isn’t as impressive as it seems.
However, if they go unbeaten and Florida loses to Alabama, and if Notre Dame beats Clemson, and if Ohio State doesn’t play in or win the Big Ten Championship, and if Miami loses to North Carolina, and if Texas A&M loses to Auburn, and if the Pac-12 champion has one loss … then maybe.
12. Colorado Buffaloes (3-0)
CFP Week 1 Ranking: Not Ranked
Remaining Schedule: at Arizona, Utah
Path To The Playoff: The easy path would be for USC to lose one of its last two games and for Colorado to win out. If that happens, the Buffaloes will be 5-0 in the Pac-12 Championship with a shot at being an unbeaten Power Five champ.
The only reason they’re lower on this list than USC and Washington is the tie-breaker scenario. If they win their last two, and USC wins its last two, USC goes to the Pac-12 Championship because it’ll be 5-0 against all Pac-12 teams, and the Buffs will have a win over San Diego State on its resumé and just three wins over teams from the Pac-12 South.
This goes for Washington and USC, too – they also need Clemson to lose, and an A&M loss would help, too. A Florida loss to Alabama could also be a must.