The College Football playoffs are inching closer, meaning the selection committee will have to pick four teams to compete for a shot at the National Championship. This will be the last year before the playoffs extend to twelve teams in 2024.
College Football Playoff Rankings (Nov. 7)
- Ohio State (9-0)
- Georgia (9-0)
- Michigan (9-0)
- Florida State (9-0)
- Washington (9-0)
- Oregon (8-1)
- Texas (8-1)
- Alabama (8-1)
- Ole Miss (8-1)
- Penn State (8-1)
- Louisville (8-1)
- Oregon State (7-2)
- Tennessee (7-2)
- Missouri (7-2)
- Oklahoma State (7-2)
- Kansas (7-2)
- Oklahoma (7-2)
- Utah (7-2)
- LSU (6-3)
- Notre Dame (7-3)
- Arizona (6-3)
- Iowa (7-2)
- Tulane (8-1)
- North Carolina (7-2)
- Kansas State (6-3)
Five Undefeateds Control Their Own Destiny
Last season, Georgia was the only undefeated team going into the playoffs. Currently, there are five undefeated teams in the FBS including the Bulldogs, Washington, Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State.
The college football selection committee released their initial list of the top 25 contenders earlier this week. Despite ranking third on the AP Top 25 poll, Ohio State is No. 1 in the November 4th edition of the rankings. Georgia followed in second with Michigan in third, Florida State in fourth and Washington in fifth.
Though it’d be easy to assume some combination of these five teams will fill the top five spots, if any of these teams lose another top team can swoop in and take their spot. At least one of these teams will lose, since Michigan and Ohio State have yet to play this season. Whoever wins should have a great chance at becoming one of the final four teams. Michigan won last year and ended up advancing into the playoffs. However, whoever loses isn’t out of the picture either. Both Ohio State and Michigan made it last year even with the Wolverines defeating the Buckeyes.
Outside of Michigan and Ohio State, Georgia should be a lock to make it back to the playoffs so long as they win out. Winning out will be no joke though, as the Bulldogs have games against No. 10 Ole Miss and No. 14 Tennessee. Still, the two-time defending champions should win at least one of those games, if not both. The Bulldogs have been criticized for having an “easy” schedule this season, but that won’t deter them from making the playoff as long as they handle their opponents like they should.
Florida State may have the easiest path to win out, with upcoming games against Miami, North Alabama and Florida, all who are unranked. The Seminoles have impressed and Jordan Travis keeps making great strides at quarterback, but they’ve only faced one ranked team all year when they defeated LSU early in the season. Their strength of schedule could keep them from hitting the playoffs, but it will also be hard to count them out so long as they win out.
Washington currently sits at fifth, which would leave them as the odd man out if the season ended today. With the Pac-12 in its final season before dismantling, it would be great to see a Pac-12 team make the playoffs. The Huskies also have Heisman favorite Michael Penix Jr. which could help their case. However, they have to get by No. 13 Utah and No. 12 Oregon State, who could both threaten their shot at finishing the year undefeated.
Looking into One Loss Teams
Beyond the top five, Oregon, Texas, Alabama, Penn State, Louisville and Ole Miss are the 8-1 teams in contention who are ranked 6-11 on the list. Oregon suffered its one loss at the hands of Washington, but they have a tough defense, run game and Heisman contender in quarterback Bo Nix. Their one loss may cost them a chance at the playoffs, but they are one of the most well rounded teams in college football. They also have to play USC and Oregon State still, both who will provide a challenge.
Texas has managed to hang in there amidst the injury to starting quarterback Quinn Ewers. Their lone loss was to rival Oklahoma and they may have the best chance of any team which isn’t undefeated at making the playoffs given they have an easier schedule with TCU, Iowa State and Texas Tech left.
Alabama is in a similar position to Texas with a soft schedule the rest of the way, but their loss to Texas early on in the season will likely prevent them from edging out any of the other teams. That same logic goes to Ole Miss, who lost to the Crimson Tide early in the year. Unless Ole Miss can pull off a shocker against Georgia, expect them fall short of these playoffs.
Louisville and Penn State have been nice stories this year, but are on the outside looking in at 10th and 11th. Penn State has a lot to look forward to the next couple of seasons, especially if Drew Aller continues to improve. Their loss to Ohio State hurts them, and they’d have to upset Michigan this weekend to have any shot.
Louisville has also had a great year, but their strength of schedule doesn’t quite match up to the rest of the contenders.
Pivotal Matchups Down the Stretch
Overall, these last few weeks of the season will be pivotal in determining the final four teams. Look out for games between Michigan-Ohio State, Georgia-Ole Miss, and Washington-Oregon State to be key in determining the playoff teams.