The CFB Playoff: Alabama & Everybody Else

Posted: 1:08 PM, Nov 29, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-29 14:08:01-05

It's championship week and there's a lot on the line with conference titles and spots in the third annual College Football Playoff on the line.

Heading into the final weekend of the year, here's what we know: Alabama is going to be in the playoff (probably as the no. 1 seed) even if they somehow lose to Florida in the SEC Championship.

But who will join the Crimson Tide in the semifinals? That's a difficult question that the selection committee is going to have to answer next week.

Here are the contenders and the likelihood, in my mind, they're in the final four this time next week.

OHIO STATE (85 Percent)

The Buckeyes got a massive resume boost with Saturday's double overtime win over arch-rival Michigan. Urban Meyer improved to 5-0 against That Team Up North, but most importantly Ohio State got another marquee win. The Buckeyes didn't even win their division thanks to a head-to-head loss against Penn State, but it's hard to imagine they could be left out of the playoff after being ranked no. 2 and winning their final game over the team that was ranked no. 3 by the selection committee. Ohio State's victories at Oklahoma, at Wisconsin and over Michigan are as impressive of a trio of wins as anybody can boast.

CLEMSON (70 Percent)

It's pretty simple for the Tigers; win and you're in. If Clemson goes to 12-1 with a win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship, it will be in the playoff and should be seeded no lower than third (and avoid Alabama until the final). But the Tigers haven't kept the same level of consistency this year that they had in last year's run to the national championship game and will have issues if they're not ready for Justin Fuente's Hokies.

WASHINGTON (40 Percent)

I think the Huskies should be in if they beat Colorado to win the PAC-12 title and finish the season 12-1. But if you want to nitpick the resume, what are the Huskies' best wins? Right now it would probably be a home blowout over Stanford and a seven point road win at Utah. Solid wins, but not on the same level as everybody else on this list. Will the record and the conference title be enough for UW anyway?

WISCONSIN (30 Percent)

Has anybody played a tougher schedule than the Badgers? Wisconsin opened the year with LSU at Lambeau Field, and played Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State from the Big Ten's East division along with games against Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska. The Badgers will have beaten no fewer than three teams in this week's playoff rankings and their two losses came by one score each at Michigan and against Ohio State in overtime. Beat Penn State Saturday in Indianapolis to win the Big Ten title and it may be hard to keep Paul Chryst's team out of the playoff.

PENN STATE (20 Percent)

The Nittany Lions own the best single win on this list having handed Ohio State it's only loss with a stirring fourth quarter comeback in Happy Valley. That win gave Penn State the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Buckeyes to win the division and advance to the Big Ten Championship. If James Franklin's team can beat another team in the playoff mix in Wisconsin and capture the title of the best conference in the country this year, it would have a compelling argument, maybe even over the Buckeyes.

MICHIGAN (15 Percent)

Speaking of compelling arguments, what are the chances Michigan doesn't fall out of the final four after it's heartbreaking loss in Columbus. The Wolverines have finished the season 10-2 with wins over Colorado, Wisconsin and Penn State, and losses on the final play of the game at red-hot Iowa and in double OT at Ohio State. The argument gets even stronger if Penn State, a team the Wolverines pounded 49-10, wins the Big Ten title.

OKLAHOMA (15 Percent)

The Sooners were left for dead after early losses to Houston and Ohio State, but have rebounded for eight straight wins. A win over Bedlam rival Oklahoma State Saturday would give them yet another Big 12 title. Oklahoma has passed the "eye test" in recent weeks, but you could say the same for a lot of OU teams that have gone on to flop in the postseason.

USC (10 Percent)

Another team that is coming on strong down the stretch is the Trojans. It's hard to imagine Clay Helton's team have done enough without having the chance to play for a conference title, but USC does boast wins over both PAC-12 championship game participants.

COLORADO (10 Percent)

The Buffaloes have enjoyed an incredible resurgence under Mike MacIntyre, following up 10 straight losing seasons with a 10-win season to win the PAC-12 South. It would be an incredible story if Colorado could now topple Washington in Santa Clara, but would it be enough to get it into the playoff?


Mike Gundy may just be the best coach in America nobody talks about, and once again he has the Cowpokes competing at the top of the Big 12. OSU is capable of scoring against Oklahoma, but can it's defense slow down Baker Mayfield and company enough to actually take Bedlam? The Cowboys will need a win and a lot of help to reach the final four.