Updated: Nov 8, 2019
Based on the layout of the top 25 in college football, it has been established by the committee that there is a path for each team within the top 9 (maybe 10) to have a legitimate shot at securing a spot in the final four.
When looking at the top four teams, you can’t ignore the fact that these matchups, as they currently stand, are already set in motion to take place before bowl season even kicks off. Let’s take a look at those matchups and how they will affect the rankings going forward. We’ll start with the showdown of the year:
#3 Alabama vs. #2 LSU
If that doesn't get you hyped I'm not sure you're a college football fan. This game has some SERIOUS playoff implications. There’s no question that Alabama is the most talented team in all of college football, that’s why everyone says they pass the “eye-test” despite not having any quality wins. On the other hand, LSU is talented in their own right, and unlike Bama, they are battle-tested. With wins over #10 Florida and #12 Auburn, as well as an early-season road win over Texas (before their season went down the crapper), LSU has shown they aren’t going to back down from a challenge.
Let’s call it like it is here. Yes, Georgia and Florida are the top two teams in the SEC East, but they’re not the two best teams in all of the SEC. We know those titles belong to the Tide and the Tigers.
Committee history has shown that they really don’t give teams two chances to beat Bama, take a look at last year’s SEC Championship game when Georgia lost. However, with LSU’s strength of schedule, and the fact that they’re playing on the road in Tuscaloosa, if they lose close, I still believe there is a CHANCE for them to grab a spot in the top 4. Because they put LSU at number 2, the committee has given themselves an opportunity to either include LSU with a win or close loss or drop them out if they get blown out.
#1 Ohio State vs. #4 Penn State
This game comes up in a few weeks and will no doubt be a great matchup. I had to think for a bit and decipher the committee’s thoughts on including Penn State in the top 4, as opposed to teams like Clemson and Georgia who are probably more talented. I realized that their thought process was similar to LSU. They are allowing the Nittany Lions to control their own destiny going forward, knowing that they face two extremely difficult matchups in the next three weeks. They gave Penn State the benefit of the doubt and left it up to them to prove their worth.
Again, this is all similar to Bama-LSU. The committee recognizes that these two teams are the two best in their conference and despite the fact that they won’t meet in the B1G Championship, they are placing heavy implications on this matchup. Unfortunately for Penn State, and unlike LSU, I don’t see a way that they stay in the top four with a loss, no matter how close it may be.
5 - 9
Taking a look at the teams ranked just outside the top 4, there is a very real possibility that any one of those teams could end up making it into the playoffs. This is truly a first for the CFP because AT MOST in recent years, teams in the top 5-6 had a realistic possibility. In this case, any team in the top 9 has a very realistic shot. As it stands, the #4 spot is very much up for grabs, and taking a look at potential future matchups, any one or two of these teams could very quickly move up or down.
There’s no question that Clemson hasn’t played anybody to this point. They’re loaded with talent and by the 3rd quarter, they pull most of their starters because they’re up by so much. They survived a scare against UNC, but they have a couple of matchups coming up that could slip them up. They take on #19 Wake Forest at home and then rival South Carolina on the road to close out the year. Those will be Clemson’s ~toughest~ matchups of the year and while they should win, it will be about the way they win that will inevitably determine whether they have proved their worth to be in the top 4.
Georgia’s fate will be determined in Atlanta when they play in the SEC Championship game. After taking care of business last week against conference-rival Florida, they have all but punched their ticket to the top spot in the SEC East. Not much else to speak of on that, they just have to win out and pray for South Carolina to play Clemson close, making their loss look a lot better.
Well, folks, this might just be the first time we actually see a Pac-12 team in the playoffs. I am conjoining these teams together because they’re virtually on the same trajectory. If they win out, they will meet in the Pac-12 Championship game, with the winner giving themselves the best opportunity to move up and try and squeak their way into the playoffs. They will need some help, but it all starts with them. Have to take care of business the rest of the way.
Unfortunately for the Sooners, they blew their shot at being in the playoff the second they slept on K-State. The only way I could have seen them swinging into the playoff was to go undefeated. The Big 12 is really just not that strong of a conference, especially with Texas sucking now, and the only way they make it is if every team ahead of them implodes.
To read Laced Up Sports reactions to the top 25 rankings click the article for more information.