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College Football Playoff scenarios: Making sense of all possible outcomes after Week 14

There are still eight teams in the mix for the College Football Playoff and a number of ways things could unfold over the final weekend of the regular season, from ho-hum predictable to burn-it-all-down chaos.

With pivotal matchups still to come − beginning with Georgia and Alabama and a rematch of Washington and Oregon − the playoff race could eventually settle into an easy and uncontroversial top four.

Or things could spiral out of control. Sharpen those pitchforks, just in case.

With the clock ticking on the regular season, these are the big questions facing the playoff and how the top four could look come Sunday:

Can Ohio State get back into the playoff?

A year ago, Ohio State lost to Michigan by 22 points but still backdoored into the playoff and nearly upset Georgia in the Peach Bowl. The landscape this year is dramatically different, leaving the Buckeyes with only a narrow avenue for a top-four finish − but there is a way.

Here are the steps:

Georgia beats Alabama. That takes the Crimson Tide out of the equation.

Michigan beats Iowa. An Iowa win would make the Buckeyes the third-place team from the Big Ten, an easy disqualifier for the committee.

Washington beats Oregon. Losing the rematch would knock the Ducks out of contention.

Louisville beats Florida State. This upset would be the biggest piece of the puzzle for Ohio State.

Oklahoma State beats Texas. This would hand the Longhorns a second loss.

This scenario would leave unbeaten Georgia, Michigan and Washington as the top three seeds. The fourth spot would then come down to five non-conference champions: one-loss teams in Ohio State and Florida State and two-loss teams in Oregon, Alabama and Texas.

The argument would then settle on the Buckeyes and Seminoles. This is a debate that would favor Ohio State, the top-ranked team in the playoff rankings for multiple weeks and the close runner-up in one of the two best leagues in the FBS.

There's even a chance that Ohio State would reach the top four if all the above occurs but Oregon beats Washington, leaving a comparison between the Buckeyes and Huskies. But that's one that might lean toward UW because of a high-quality résumé, an appearance in the conference championship game and the fact the Huskies topped the Ducks earlier in the year.

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Does Georgia get in with a loss to Alabama?

It's hard to say. For one, the Bulldogs would become the second-ranked team from the SEC, and we already know this year's field may be too jammed to include multiple teams from a single league.

There's no doubt the Bulldogs would have a case at 12-1, under one specific condition: that Michigan is the only unbeaten Power Five team at the end of the regular season.

In other words, as above, Louisville beats Florida State and Oregon beats Washington. With a win against Oklahoma State, Texas would secure a spot due in large part to this year's win against the Crimson Tide.

Plugging the Wolverines, Alabama and the Longhorns into the field would leave Georgia in competition with Ohio State and one-loss teams from the Pac-12 and ACC.

We believe Georgia would be picked ahead of Ohio State; the Bulldogs were ahead in the playoff rankings when both were unbeaten and had identical records, and should then remain in front with one additional win and a division crown. The Bulldogs would also come in ahead of Florida State with room to spare.

That would leave the comparison with the one-loss winner of the Pac-12. It would be a very difficult decision: Oregon has been dominant and would have avenged an earlier loss to Washington.

This could be the most difficult choice of the four-team era. Would the committee take a Power Five champion with a résumé that warrants a top-four finish and leave the two-time defending national champions on the outside?

Georgia wide receiver Arian Smith (11) runs after a catch against Georgia Tech during the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field.
Georgia wide receiver Arian Smith (11) runs after a catch against Georgia Tech during the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field.

Does Florida State need to be nervous?

Not really.

Every unbeaten Power Five team has made the playoff during the format's existence, so there's no legitimate reason for concern as long as Florida State takes care of business against Louisville.

Um, almost no reason for concern. With heavyweights looming and the possibility of being compared to one-loss Georgia and Texas should Alabama win the SEC championship, the Seminoles could stand to beat Louisville with some style to prove they can thrive without Travis and to put the committee at ease.

Back in 2014, Ohio State soothed the committee by dominating Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game behind third-string quarterback Cardale Jones. Florida State backup Tate Rodemaker completed 12 of 25 attempts for 134 yards in Saturday's close win against Florida, which finished with a losing record.

What are five possible playoff fields?

While much can change these next two weekends, here are five playoff scenarios:

No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Washington, No. 4 Florida State. This is the dream scenario for the committee: four unbeaten Power Five champions and no reason for any real debate. While the unbeaten teams could hold serve in conference championship games and leave a no-doubt top four, the committee has never gotten this lucky before.

No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Washington, No. 4 Texas. There's some chaos after Florida State loses to Louisville, leaving a path for Texas to claim a top-four finish. In this scenario, the Longhorns would win the debate against the second-place teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12.

No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Washington, No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Alabama. Two Power Five unbeatens and then Texas and the Crimson Tide, with the Longhorns landing ahead because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. Georgia gets squeezed here because of the loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game and the fact that Alabama can't reach the top four without one-loss Texas also making the field.

No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Texas. The Ducks top Washington and Louisville beats FSU, dumping the Huskies and Seminoles from the conversation. Alabama is out due to the loss to Georgia and the Longhorns easily leapfrog Ohio State thanks to one more win, the win against the Tide and the conference championship.

No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Georgia. Michigan beats Iowa. Alabama beats Georgia. Oregon beats Washington. Louisville beats FSU. Oklahoma State beats Texas. While there's no way to get Ohio State into the top four, this would represent one of the most star-studded playoff groups in history.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College Football Playoff scenarios: How will the final weekend shake up