Each week, I will highlight the least convoluted path a team can take to get into the playoff. Granted, many alternate scenarios could result in the same outcome for a given team. In the interest of keeping this concise and easy to follow, I’ll only give the clearest scenario and whether or not the team can afford a loss and still make the field of 4.
Alabama: Win out, win SEC CG. Can lose once before the SEC championship game, but probably needs to win the conference.
Clemson: Win out, win ACC CG. Can lose once before the ACC championship game, but probably needs to win the conference.
Ohio State: Win out, win Big Ten CG AND Michigan doesn’t lose before game with Ohio State OR Penn State loses again. Cannot afford another loss.
Michigan: Win out, win Big Ten CG. Can lose once but not to Ohio State.
Washington: Win out, win PAC12 CG. Can only afford a loss if Louisville loses again.
Penn State: Win out AND Michigan loses twice (would hold head-to head tiebreaker over Ohio State) AND win Big Ten CG.
Wisconsin: Win out, win Big Ten CG.
Louisville: Win out AND Clemson loses to both Pitt and Wake Forest, AND win ACC CG. Alternatively, win out but do not play in ACC CG AND Washington loses.
Auburn: Win out (would hold head to head tiebreaker over Alabama) AND win SEC CG.
Colorado: Win out, win PAC12 CG AND Louisville loses AND winner of Oklahoma/West Virginia game loses again.
Oklahoma: Win out AND PAC12 champion has two losses AND Louisville loses.
West Virginia: Win out AND PAC12 champion has two losses AND Louisville loses.
Only these 12 teams are still in the running for a playoff bid. Unfortunately, Western Michigan started too far back in the initial CFP poll to climb to the top 4; many 2-loss teams are already ahead of them and Western Michigan doesn’t have a strong enough schedule going forward to jump enough teams to get into the top 4.