With Selection Sunday for the College Football Playoff ahead, it is time to examine the prospects for the teams still in the hunt for the four-team field. This has undoubtedly been the chalkiest season of the CFP era. For the first time ever, the top four teams entering conference championship weekend were all undefeated. That allowed for the possibility of the first-ever such playoff field, but it also created the potential for chaos this weekend.
After the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday night, seven teams were still in play for the College Football Playoff. The only sure thing at that point was that the Pac-12 champion would make the CFP for the first time since Washington was the No. 4 seed in 2016, and it is the Huskies returning to the Promised Land after taking down Oregon 34-31.
It is assured that we will have a playoff with only conference champions for the first time since 2019. The question is which conferences will be represented and whether the SEC will get left out despite having at least one representative in every playoff since the event's inception.
Without further ado, here is list of the remaining CFP contenders in order of their penultimate ranking along with an explanation of their status entering Selection Sunday.
College Football Playoff scenarios
|Eliminated. After falling to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, there's was only one chance left for Georgia to get into the playoff. That would have required Michigan and Florida State losing their respective conference title games Saturday evening. Both won. The Dawgs entered Championship Week as one of four undefeated Power Five teams.
|Playoff berth clinched! Michigan won the Big Ten Championship Game in a shutout and will be no worse than the No. 2 seed. It is expected to be No. 1 given how the committee has favored its on-field dominance over Washington's ranked victories all season.
| Playoff berth clinched! Washington got it done Friday night in the Pac-12 Championship Game, completing a season sweep of Oregon, capturing its conference title and clinching a spot in the CFP. Washington will end the season no lower than No. 2 in the CFP Rankings come Selection Sunday. There is an argument that Washington should be ahead of Michigan in the final rankings. The Huskies have played a better schedule and have better wins this season. However, the committee has not been impressed with UW's relatively close wins. Their last nine victories have come by 10 points or less, and Washington's seven one-score victories are the most in the FBS this season. By comparison, Michigan is the No. 1 team nationally in scoring margin. Ultimately, it is unlikely for the committee to make this move if Michigan wins its conference title.
|Playoff berth highly likely. Florida State will be in after beating Louisville to conclude an undefeated season and win the ACC Championship Game. The CFP Selection Committee has never left out an undefeated Power Five champion, but questions about FSU's offense after the season-ending injury to Jordan Travis and two lackluster offensive performances to conclude the season will create discussion about whether the Seminoles should be No. 3, No. 4 or perhaps even out of the field. I see no way in which FSU is left out.
| Eliminated. With one loss already, it was win or go home, and the Ducks lost the Pac-12 title game to the Huskies.
| Eliminated. The Buckeyes were in the same position they were last season: 11-1 and done playing. The difference this season is they had a lot more competition for a spot in the playoff. Ohio State could have backed in but needed a lot of help, including wins by Georgia and Washington and losses by Florida State and Texas. Only the Bulldogs helped the Buckeyes' case.
|Playoff berth highly likely. I don't know that Texas had to make a statement in the Big 12 Championship Game, but make one it did, 49-21 over Oklahoma State. The statement that really mattered was made on Sept. 9 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Longhorns absolutely looked like a CFP-worthy team in destroying the Cowboys. The loss by Georgia should open the door for Texas. The committee has respected the Horns' win over the Crimson Tide all season, and there is no reason to believe that won't still be true come Selection Sunday even with the Tide taking down the Dawgs. Texas could not just get in but perhaps sit at No. 3 if deemed a "better" team at this point in the season than Florida State.
|Playoff berth possible. Alabama beat Georgia -- as it needed to -- and will move up at least three spots in the final CFP Rankings past UGA, Oregon and Ohio State. Neither Florida State nor Michigan lost, meaning Bama should sit behind both as well as Washington and Texas, which beat it head to head. The only chance the Tide have to make the playoff is the committee deciding to exclude an undefeated Power Five team (FSU) or a team that beat it in Week 2 (UT) in order to include an SEC champion. No playoff has ever been held without at least one SEC representative.