Heading into the 2nd week of the College Football Playoff rankings, a lot of movement was expected due to losses in the Top 15. With Oklahoma, they have now risen to #11 in the rankings after starting at #15. In relation, Oklahoma started at #16 last year, and then moved to #12 the week after.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the road to the Playoff is much more difficult in 2016 than it was a year ago. Some chaos would have to take place, even with Oklahoma winning out. A likely date with the Sugar Bowl is looking more like their destination by the week if they win out. However, the chance at the Playoff is still there.
1. Alabama (9-0)
Nov. 12th vs Mississippi State
Nov. 19th vs Chattanooga
Nov. 26th vs #9 Auburn
Dec. 3rd in the SEC Championship game (would play Florida if it were today)
The Iron Bowl is left in the way of Alabama and a perfect season. The Crimson Tide are in right now no matter the outcome of that game. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
2. Clemson (9-0)
Nov. 12th vs Pittsburgh
Nov. 19th @ Wake Forest
Nov. 26th vs South Carolina
Dec. 3rd in the ACC Championship Game (would play #14 Virginia Tech if it were today)
Clemson is starting to look like Clemson again. If that is the case, they should not have a problem the rest of the way. The game against Wake Forest will be competitive, but it does not look like the Tigers should have a problem until the ACC Championship.
3. Michigan (9-0)
Nov. 12th @ Iowa
Nov. 19th vs Indiana
Nov. 26th @ #5 Ohio State
Dec. 3rd in the B1G Championship Game (would play #7 Wisconsin if it were today)
Michigan begins their final stretch after blowing the doors off of everyone besides Wisconsin this season. Can the Wolverines run the table and beat Ohio State in The Shoe? It looks more and more like it everyday.
4. Washington (9-0)
Nov. 12th vs #20 USC
Nov. 19th vs Arizona State
Nov. 25th @ #23 Washington State
Dec. 2nd in the Pac-12 Championship Game (would play #12 Colorado if it were today)
Washington must continue to maneuver their schedule to stay alive. A one-loss Pac-12 Champion is not getting into the playoff over a one-loss Ohio State or a two-loss Big 10 Champion in Wisconsin. The Huskies are currently playing with energy and confidence that should be able to push them over-the-top. Games against USC, Washington State, and then potentially Colorado still loom as those three will push Washington to the edge.
5. Ohio State (8-1)
Nov. 12th @ Maryland
Nov. 19th @ Michigan State
Nov. 26th vs #3 Michigan
Dec. 3rd in the Big Ten Championship (would play #7 Wisconsin if it were today)
Simple. Ohio State loses another game, and they are out. Ohio State wins out, and they are in. The Buckeyes looked phenomenal last Saturday, but games against Michigan and Wisconsin still remain.
6. Louisville (8-1)
Nov. 12th vs Wake Forest
Nov. 17th @ Houston
Nov. 26th vs Kentucky
The last three games for Louisville look a lot tougher than they once did two weeks ago. Kentucky is playing above-average football, and Houston has the athletes to give the Cardinals a game. Even Wake Forest has looked good for the majority of the year. Despite not playing a ranked opponent the rest of the way, Louisville is going to need to be focused each week to get to 11 wins.
7. Wisconsin (7-2)
Nov. 12th vs Illinois
Nov. 19th @ Purdue
Nov. 26th vs Minnesota
Dec. 3rd in the Big 10 Championship Game (would be against #3 Michigan or #5 Ohio State)
Wisconsin has to have a team in front of them lose, specifically in the Top 4, to be able to get in. If they do win out, Wisconsin will have a unique argument for the Playoff and the Committee will have to give them a hard look.
8. Texas A&M
Do what? The Aggies will get jumped by any team below them that wins a Power Five Conference. There is no need to discuss their chances.
9. Auburn (7-2)
Nov. 12th @ Georgia
Nov. 19th vs Alabama A&M
Nov. 26th @ #1 Alabama
Dec. 3rd in the SEC Championship game (would play Florida if it were today)
Auburn must win out, which means getting wins on the road in Athens, Alabama, and a neutral site game in Atlanta. They, like Wisconsin, would have a unique argument for the Playoff. I do not see them winning out, but if they do, Auburn will likely jump anyone who is an at-large hopeful in front of them.
10. Penn State
Nov. 12th @ Indiana
Nov. 19th @ Rutgers
Nov. 26th vs Michigan State
Penn State and Oklahoma are very similar. One loss to a non-ranked opponent, and one loss to a Top 5 opponent. The difference? The Nittany Lions do not have a good chance at conference championship. If Michigan loses a game before Ohio State, and then loses to Ohio State, it would allow Penn State to play Wisconsin for a Big 10 Championship.
Nov. 12th @ Arizona
Nov. 19th vs #23 Washington State
Nov. 26th vs #15 Utah
Dec. 2nd in the Pac-12 Championship Game (would play #4 Washington if it were today)
I add Colorado into the discussion this week based on the fact that they could potentially add three quality wins and a Pac-12 Championship to their résumé. I do not see the Buffs winning out as it stands right now, but an intriguing discussion that may take place if Colorado goes 3-0 in their next three games.
Texas A&M (7-1) Schedule:
Nov. 12th vs Ole Miss
Nov. 19th vs UTSA
Nov. 24th vs #13 LSU The Fighting Aggies have a chance at a College Football Playoff for the first time since the Playoff’s inauguration. They must root for Washington to lose the Pac-12 because Washington would get the nod for being a Power Five Conference Champion. Texas A&M does not control their destiny even though they are at #4, but they sit in a good spot if they can win out.
Nebraska (7-1) Schedule:
Nov. 12th vs Minnesota
Nov. 19th vs Maryland
Nov. 25th @ Iowa
Dec. 3rd in the Big 10 Championship Game (would be against #3 Michigan or #6 Ohio State) Nebraska would have two quality losses, but no quality wins after this weekend. This is all under the assumption that the Cornhuskers lose this weekend to Ohio State. If they can find a way to win in Columbus, Nebraska will be in the thick of the Playoff chase. A Big 10 Championship with one loss would guarantee the Cornhuskers’ spot in the Playoff.
Florida (6-1) Schedule:
Nov. 12th vs South Carolina
Nov. 19th @ #13 LSU
Nov. 26th @#22 Florida State
Dec. 3rd in the SEC Championship game (would play #1 Alabama if it were today) Florida has arguably the toughest stretch of games to end the season. If the Gators can survive trips to Fayetteville, Baton Rouge, Tallahassee, and Atlanta, the Gators won’t only be the SEC Champion, but the best team in the entire country. I do not see this happening, but as a college football fan, you have to see just how tough this stretch of games can be.
Nov. 12th @ Arkansas
Nov. 19th vs #11 Florida
Nov. 24th @ #4 Texas A&M If the Bayou Bengals can survive this stretch of games, they will play in the SEC Championship and then have a chance at the playoff. Three games against teams ranked higher than them stand in the way, but LSU has a chance to make up for their two early losses starting this week in their game against the Crimson Tide.
As you can see, Oklahoma has a long road ahead of them, but the scenarios that have to play out is not as difficult as the common fan would think.
- Win out. Oklahoma must finish 3-0. These next three games will play large into the momentum the Sooners can build heading into the 2017 season with a Playoff or not.
- Washington can not win the Pac-12. If Washington wins out, the Huskies are in, along with the SEC, ACC, and B1G Champions.
- Houston must beat Louisville. Not only would Louisville drop below Oklahoma, Houston would move into the Top 25 and give Oklahoma another data point for strength of schedule.
- Michigan and Alabama must win out. This would knock out at-large bids for Ohio State, Wisconsin, Auburn, and Penn State.
The Playoff scenario is clear for Oklahoma to get in. The likelihood is going down by the week, but the door has not shut quite yet.