10 teams still have a shot to make the College Football Playoff with one week to go

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We got a little clarity in Week 13 of the college football season when Ohio State beat Michigan in a double-overtime thriller. But there is still a lot up in the air with one week to go.

At most, only two of the four spots in the College Football Playoff are locked up as we head to championship weekend. With four Power-5 conferences playing championship games and the other (the Big 12) playing a de facto championship game, there are ten teams that can still make a case for being part of the playoff, depending on how those games break down.

Below we take a look at those ten teams and how they can still get in to college football's final four (Vegas odds via Vegas Insider and playoff chances via FiveThirtyEight).

Alabama (12-0)

COLLEGE-FOOTBALL/Photo: Reuters

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 1

Vegas odds to make playoff: 5/8

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 92%

The case for making the playoff: Alabama is the lone undefeated team left among the 66 teams in Power-5 conferences and notable independents. They are also 5-0 against teams currently ranked in the top 25. Ohio State (4-1), Clemson (3-0), and Michigan (3-1) are the only other teams with more than two wins against currently ranked teams.

The case for being left out of the playoff: There is none.

How they can make the playoff: It is hard to imagine a scenario in which Alabama is left out of the playoff at this point. Maybe if they lost to Florida in the SEC championship game by 50 points, you can start to have a conversation. But even then, Alabama would probably still get in.


Ohio State (11-1)

COLLEGE-FOOTBALL/Photo: Reuters

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 2

Vegas odds to make playoff: 5/2

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 90%

The case for making the playoff: Ohio State is the second-best team in the country and it would be hard to leave one of the two best teams out of a four-team playoff. Their four wins against currently ranked teams is second only to Alabama and three of those wins are against teams currently in the top seven (Michigan, Wisconsin, Oklahoma).

The case for being left out of the playoff: Ohio State won't compete for the Big Ten championship. In addition, if Penn State does beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, the Nittany Lions will be Big Ten champs and will have beaten Ohio State head-to-head. How can you put Ohio State in and leave Penn State out?

How they can make the playoff: Ohio State will not play during championship weekend. At this point, the best-case scenario for Ohio State is to have Wisconsin win the Big Ten championship to eliminate Penn State. But even if Penn State wins, it seems more likely that both Ohio State and Penn State gets in, as opposed to Penn State getting in and Ohio State being left out.


Clemson (11-1)

Photo: Getty

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 4

Vegas odds to make playoff: 11/2

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 77%

The case for making the playoff: If Clemson wins the ACC championship (vs. Virginia Tech), they will be the champions of a Power-5 conference and will be one of only three or four teams with fewer than two losses. They are also 3-0 against teams currently ranked.

The case for being left out of the playoff: The three wins against ranked teams are all against teams outside the top 10 (Florida State, Louisville, Auburn) and all were by less than a touchdown. Clemson also has the ugliest loss for any of the top-six teams, a 43-42 loss to Pitt at home and have had several other close calls against weaker opponents.

How they can make the playoff: Clemson's path is simple: win the ACC championship and they are in. Lose to Virginia Tech and they are out.


Washington (11-1)

Photo: Getty

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 5

Vegas odds to make playoff: 9/1

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 65%

The case for making the playoff: If Washington beats Colorado to win the Pac-12 championship, they will be a one-loss champion of a Power-5 conference. In addition, their one blemish would be a 26-13 loss to USC who have arguably been one of the best teams in the country the second half of the season.

The case for being left out of the playoff: The biggest knock on Washington is trying to shed the label of being a champion of a weaker conference. That may have been true earlier in the season, but the Pac-12 has been better of late and currently has three teams in the AP top 10. Still, if Penn State or the winner of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State make a strong case for being included in the playoff, it seems Washington would be the most likely team to be left out.

How they can make the playoff: Washington's path to the playoff is a lot like Clemson's, but with a twist. If Washington wins the Pac-12 championship, they are probably in the playoff. If they lose, they are out. But even if they win, there is going to be a discussion of whether or not Washington should get in ahead of a second Big Ten team (Penn State, Wisconsin, or even Michigan).


Wisconsin (10-2)

Photo: Getty

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 6

Vegas odds to make playoff: 22/1

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 34%

The case for making the playoff: If Wisconsin beats Penn State they would be champions of arguably the best conference in college football this season, the Big Ten. In addition, their two losses were one-touchdown losses to two of the best teams in college football, Michigan and Ohio State.

The case for being left out of the playoff: If Wisconsin wins the Big Ten title, they don't have the head-to-head argument over Ohio State that Penn State has. In that case, it will be easier to give one spot to Ohio State and leave Wisconsin out.

How they can make the playoff: Wisconsin has to beat Penn State and win the Big Ten. Even then, it might not be enough. They would likely need either Washington or Clemson to lose their championship game. If one of those two goes down, it will be a lot easier to get two Big Ten teams into the playoff.


Penn State (10-2)

Photo: Getty

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 7

Vegas odds to make playoff: 55/1

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 20%

The case for making the playoff: If Penn State beats Wisconsin they would be champions of arguably the best conference in college football this season, the Big Ten. They would also have a head-to-head win over the No. 2 team in the country, Ohio State.

The case for being left out of the playoff: If Ohio State is in (and they probably are) and both Clemson and Washington win, it is going to be tough to put two Big Ten teams over a one-loss champion of a Power-5 conference. In addition, the head-to-head tiebreaker only matters if all else is equal. Penn State's overall resume is hurt by a 49-10 loss to Michigan and a 42-39 loss to unranked Pitt.

How they can make the playoff: First, Penn State needs to take care of business and beat Wisconsin to keep the head-to-head argument relevant. If that happens they will have a strong case for making the playoff no matter what happens in the other games. But, that case gets stronger if either Washington or Clemson lose their championship game.


Colorado (10-2)

Photo: Getty

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 9

Vegas odds to make playoff: 75/1

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 10%

The case for making the playoff: If they beat Washington in the Pac-12 championship game, they will be the champs of a Power-5 conference, one that has been much better in recent weeks. Also, their two losses were against top-10 teams (Michigan, USC).

The case for being left out of the playoff: They have two losses and if they beat Washington it will arguably be Colorado's first notable win of the season. They do have a 10-5 win over Stanford and wins over Washington State and Utah. But those last two were against teams that are no longer ranked.

How they can make the playoff: Colorado needs to beat Washington and they need to do it in convincing fashion. Even then, they probably would still need Clemson to lose the ACC championship game and Oklahoma would need to lose to Oklahoma State.


Oklahoma (9-2)

Photo: Getty

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 8

Vegas odds to make playoff: 40/1

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 10%

The case for making the playoff: If they beat Oklahoma State, they will finish the season 9-0 in a Power-5 conference. They have not lost since mid-September and their two losses were to good teams, Houston and Ohio State.

The case for being left out of the playoff: The loss to Ohio State was ugly (45-24) and it was at home. The loss to Houston was made more painful when the Cougars then lost to SMU and Navy. In addition, it has been a down year for the Big 12 as the entire conference is just 3-22 against teams currently ranked and only one those wins belongs to OU (over No. 14 West Virginia).

How they can make the playoff: Oklahoma needs to beat Oklahoma State and then hope either Washington loses to Colorado or Clemson loses to Virginia Tech. It would be even better for the Sooners if both of those teams lost. If one of those teams loses their conference championship, the final spot in the playoff will likely come down to OU, the winner of the Big Ten conference, Colorado (if they beat Washington), and possibly Michigan. The Sooners could benefit if the committee doesn't want two teams from the same conference.


Oklahoma State (9-2)

Photo: Getty

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 10

Vegas odds to make playoff: 75/1

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 2%

The case for making the playoff: If they beat Oklahoma they will be Big 12 conference champs. They also should only have one loss as their second loss came on a play that should have never happened. If that game had been officiated correctly, it is easy to imagine the Cowboys ranked in the top five this week and knocking on the playoff door.

The case for being left out of the playoff: At the end of the day, Oklahoma State still has two losses in a weaker conference, including one to a Central Michigan team that is just 6-6 in the Mid-America Conference.

How they can make the playoff: OSU's road to the playoff is almost identical to Oklahoma's. They need to win the Big 12 and then hope either Washington loses or Clemson loses or both. If that happens, the final spot in the playoff will likely come down to Oklahoma State, the winner of the Big Ten conference, Colorado (if they beat Washington), and possibly Michigan.


Michigan (10-2)

Photo: Getty

Playoff ranking before the weekend: 3

Vegas odds to make playoff: 25/1

FiveThirty Eight's chances to make playoff: 2%

The case for making the playoff: The loss to Ohio State was fluky and did little to disprove that Michigan is still one of the four best teams in college football. They also have three wins against teams currently ranked in the top 10 (Wisconsin, Penn State, Colorado), including both teams competing in the Big Ten championship game.

The case for being left out of the playoff: They won't have a shot to be conference champions and they did lose two of their final three games. Even the one win in that stretch was an unimpressive 20-10 victory over Indiana.

How they can make the playoff: Michigan will not play during championship weekend. But their case would be helped with losses by Washington, Clemson, and Oklahoma (the Wolverines win the head-to-head argument over both Penn State and Wisconsin). But ultimately, the best case for Michigan would simply be the "Best 4" argument. That is, if the committee simply picks the best four teams, Michigan has a strong case.

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