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 to Auburn, but probably need to win the conference.
Ohio State: Win out, whether that is only one game or two, Ohio State cannot lose again.
Clemson: Win out, win ACC CG.
Michigan: Win out, win Big Ten CG.
Penn State: Win out AND Michigan loses to Ohio State AND win Big Ten CG.
Wisconsin: Win out, win Big Ten CG.
Washington: Win out, win PAC12 CG AND one of Clemson and winner of Michigan/Ohio State loses again.
Colorado: Win out, win PAC12 CG AND two of Clemson, winner of Michigan/Ohio State and Oklahoma loses again.
Oklahoma: Win out AND PAC12 champion has two losses AND one of Clemson and winner of Michigan/Ohio State loses again.
We’re now down to only 9 contenders for the 4 playoff spots. The only conference with a shot at two teams in is the Big Ten, and it would only be if Ohio State beats Michigan but doesn’t play for the conference championship.
The following scenarios would leave the entire Power 5 with no teams with fewer than 2 losses. It would open the door for many possibilities not outlined above.
- Alabama loses to Auburn and loses SEC championship game
- Clemson loses ACC championship game
- Michigan loses at Ohio State or in the Big Ten championship game
- Ohio State loses to Michigan or (if Penn State loses again) in the Big Ten championship game
- Washington loses at Washington State or in PAC12 championship game