College Football Playoff rankings: How Alabama, Georgia, Miami and Ohio State can make the playoff
The College Football Playoff selection committee released its second-to-last set of rankings on Tuesday night, setting the stage for what could be "the greatest Saturday in college football history." There are four conference championship games between teams ranked in the top 11 of the latest playoff rankings, meaning there could be some major shakeups in the order of the top four on selection day.
If the top four teams – Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma and Wisconsin – win their respective conference championship games, then the committee's job is easy. But if even one, let alone multiple, of those teams lose, it opens the door for a team ranked between No. 5 and No. 8 to jump up. Here are the fan's-eye, "So you're saying there's a chance" arguments for Alabama, Georgia, Miami and Ohio State.
5. Alabama (11-1)
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Speaking of Ohio State, if there's a game circled on Alabama's viewing schedule this weekend, it's the Big Ten Championship at 8 p.m. ET. As blasphemous as it may sound, the Crimson Tide might be the Buckeyes' biggest supporters on Saturday. Wisconsin's best win was against a 9-3 Northwestern team that's ranked No. 21. None of their other opponents are ranked in the latest playoff rankings.
Ohio State might be a flawed team but remember what happened the last time the Buckeyes played Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship? Ohio State won 59-0. If Ohio State beats Wisconsin, Alabama could have a strong argument to get in ahead of the Buckeyes. The 55-24 shellacking Ohio State suffered at the hands of Iowa could prove to be costly. Alabama's only loss was on the road against the team currently ranked No. 2 in the country – Auburn.
6. Georgia (11-1)
So You're Saying There's a Chance: Even though Georgia is ranked behind Alabama in the latest rankings, the Bulldogs have a clearer path to the playoff. If they beat Auburn in the SEC Championship, they're likely in the playoff. A one-loss SEC champ won't get left out of the top four, as Georgia would hurdle both Auburn and Alabama in the rankings.
A win over the Tigers could even give the Bulldogs an argument for one of the top two spots in the playoff. It's as simple as this Georgia: Win and you're in.
7. Miami (10-1)
So You're Saying There's a Chance: Without last week's loss at Pitt, Miami could have potentially allowed the ACC to make a two-team push for the playoff that many had theorized about the SEC earlier in the season. If the Hurricanes entered the ACC Championship undefeated, they could potentially make the playoff despite a narrow loss to Clemson. But now, they have to win to crack the top four.
Clemson made the playoff last season as a one-loss ACC champ with a late season loss to Pitt (granted not this late in the season and Pitt was much better last year), so it's reasonable to believe Miami wouldn't have any issue in hurdling minimally Clemson and two SEC schools with a win on Saturday. Just like Georgia, the message for Miami is this: Win and you're in.
8. Ohio State (10-2)
So You're Saying There's a Chance: Could Ohio State be responsible for another "first" in the College Football Playoff era? Last year the Buckeyes proved that a one-loss power conference team doesn't need to win its conference to make the playoff. A two-loss team has never made the playoff but Ohio State could potentially break that barrier this year.
A win over undefeated No. 4 Wisconsin would be a major resume booster for the Buckeyes, who would also have their Big Ten Championship in their back pocket as a tie-breaker if necessary. They would assuredly leap Wisconsin and likely the loser of the ACC Championship, plus at least one SEC team.
There's a narrative online and on television that Ohio State and Alabama might battle for the final spot if the Buckeyes beat the Badgers (assuming Oklahoma wins the Big 12), and the case for Ohio State would be this: a Big Ten champion with three wins (Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State) that are better than Alabama's best win (LSU) in the committee's eyes. Ohio State's blowouts are often as convincing as any team in the country, so another decisive victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship could punch the Buckeyes' ticket to the playoff.