With one week left in the regular season, let’s dive into the latest College Football Playoff rankings…
Notre Dame says ‘checkmate’
It’s not surprising to see Notre Dame ranked in the top four for the fourth week in a row in the College Football Playoff rankings, but the Fighting Irish’s playoff hopes are more real than ever. Their trip to Los Angeles to play USC essentially serves as their conference championship game in the sense that if they win, they’re in the playoff. It’s as simple as that.
If Notre Dame finishes the regular season 12-0, that will also help shape the playoff conversation heading into the conference championship games since we’ll know that the remaining playoff contenders are fighting for three spots, not four.
There’s also a chance that the only debate leading into the final rankings will be which team earns the No. 4 seed in the playoff. If Alabama and Clemson also win out, that’ll guarantee that three undefeated teams will make the playoff and the order of those schools should remain the same – No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Notre Dame.
Don’t count out LSU just yet…
There’s no way that LSU could still make the College Football Playoff, right?
The Tigers are ranked No. 7 in the Week 13 rankings, ahead of No. 8 Washington State and No. 10 Ohio State. Let’s say Ohio State beats Michigan this weekend and Northwestern wins the Big Ten Championship, Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC Championship, Washington knocks off Washington State, West Virginia beats Oklahoma this weekend and Texas wins the Big 12 Championship.
Could a path to the No. 4 seed then open up and allow LSU to back-door its way into the playoff?
UCF is lurking, from a distance
Like LSU, No. 9 UCF is a top-10 team, but one that we could safely disregard from serious playoff contention.
A two-loss team has never made the playoff, so it’s unlikely a 10-2 LSU team would finish in the top four, especially after getting blown out by No. 1 Alabama. UCF went undefeated last year and it finished No. 12 in the final playoff rankings, so the committee has already shown that an undefeated record alone isn’t enough to propel an AAC school into the playoff.
However, if things get weird in the next two weeks, like really weird, could UCF join LSU as a sleeper, but potentially legitimate, playoff candidate?
As a quick reminder, that would take four-loss Northwestern winning the Big Ten Championship, three-loss Texas winning the Big 12 Championship, three-loss Utah winning the Pac-12 Championship and Alabama winning the SEC Championship, which would mean Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, Washington State and Ohio State would all suffer a second loss by the end of the season.