Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Some once, and others twice. But yes, falling is never flattering for anybody, especially when you’re an NCAAF odds favorites like Clemson and Alabama.
After both the Crimson Tide and Tigers fell victim to LSU and Notre Dame, respectively, last Saturday, both defeats would end up helping to clear the smoke of a CFP conundrum waiting to happen. Which conundrum you might be wondering? Simple, who would be making their way into the CFP matchups, and who would be left out?
With Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, and TCU all leading the pack in the CFP standings, and with the possibility for any other of the remaining undefeated or one-loss teams beginning to die down more and more as time progresses, could we be looking at the final four candidates already?
Even with Tennessee having fallen to the Bulldogs, taking them to one loss as well, should they be thatching their back from a team like LSU for example?
Let’s break down how the CFP picture is looking right now and how it might continue to shape up in the weeks to come.
Alabama Is Out, So What About the SEC Now?
For a few days, even after Tennessee beat Alabama in one of the best college football games in the past few years, the idea of having three SEC teams making it to the CFP matchups carried weight Now, after the OT loss against LSU, Alabama’s playoff dreams are realistically over.
What does that mean for the other SEC playoff contenders? As of now, three teams stand as the true candidates outside of the Bulldogs to snag a CFP bid, the 8-1 Tennessee Volunteers, the 8-1 Ole Miss Rebels, and lastly, the 7-2 LSU Tigers.
Out of the three, the Vols hold the best case. With their only loss coming against Georgia and with the dominant form they’ve shown all season long, even without playing in the SEC title game, if they reach the end of the season with only one loss, it will be hard to deny them the spot.
For Ole Miss, their chances will all boil down to two factors, if they can beat Alabama on Saturday, and if they can manage to edge LSU out of the SEC title game against Georgia.
With this said though, even if Ole Miss beats ‘Bama at home, it would still need to beat Georgia to have a claim here, and that is a scenario that is hard to imagine with the way the Bulldogs have been performing.
Last but certainly not least, for the LSU Tigers, there’s one route leading them toward playoff conversations. They have to make it to the SEC title game, beat Georgia, and shoot a prayer in the sky.
Will the Big 10 Hold on To 2 CFP Spots?
This is probably the easiest CFP conference riddle to analyze. Why? Because it doesn’t take a genius to see and understand that this conference has become a two-horse race between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines. A lot will be decided on November 26 when the Wolverines and Buckeyes square off in Ohio.
For example, which of the teams will be stamping their ticket to the Big 10 Championship Game, where the winner of this game will be facing the victor of the conference’s other division?
But wait, wouldn’t that mean that one of the two would end up the season as a one-loss team as well? Yes, but given the parameters used by the CFP committee to measure one-loss contenders, if both teams put on the game of the year in the Big 10 conference, that could end up tipping the scale in favor of the loser here, instead of it going to another one-loss team from another conference.
Outsiders Looking In
Even with the Horned Frogs holding the fourth spot in the CFP rankings, their bid for stamping their ticket to the playoffs will lie on how they perform in their next two games, both on the road, against Texas and Baylor.
TCU knows the only way for it to get into the playoffs is by holding a perfect record at the end of the road and winning the Big 12 Conference title and championship game. Out of those two, winning the Big 12 title is clearly the easiest mission, as no team can truly give the Horned Frogs a run for their money in the conference.
With the CFP taking the strength of schedule and the level of competition in wins and losses into consideration to determine who gets in and who gets left out, not only will TCU have to beat both the Longhorns and Bears, but also do it dominantly. Lose one of those games, and even the Big 12 title might not be enough for them to keep the fourth spot, simple as that.
So, Who’s in Right Now?
Two SEC and two Big 10 teams, that’s how the picture looks and that’s how it should end up staying until the end of the season, even with TCU fighting for its claim. If Georgia manages to not lose a game, counting the SEC Championship bout, the Bulldogs would be the No.1 seed.
If they lose their conference title game, a scenario that while difficult to imagine, could happen, they would still be a shoo-in for a spot in the CFP games, but not as number one. That position could end up being taken by either Ohio State or Michigan.
Lastly, considering the strength of schedule, and the fact that LSU, the other worthy SEC candidate for a CFP seed, would have to play against Georgia in a potential conference title bout, Tennessee looks like the best-fitted team to end up taking the 4th seed and moving on to the Peach Bowl.
Sorry TCU, maybe next year?