Championship Week is upon us (sans Big 12), and there are huge playoff implications on the season's final Saturday. With just one more poll to go, we will discuss only teams with a realistic chance to make the playoff.
1. Alabama (Last Week: 1)
The Tide pulled away in a shootout in the Iron Bowl and now face Missouri (Ha!) with an opportunity to lock up a playoff spot and likely No. 1 seed.
2. Oregon (Last Week: 2)
The Ducks rolled up rival Oregon State and now square off against suddenly alive Arizona — the only team to beat Oregon this season — with a shot at redemption and a certain playoff berth. Might a convincing win over the Wildcats vault Oregon above Alabama? In a reasonable world, perhaps. But this is an SEC world.
3. TCU (Last Week: 5)
I don't really have a problem with TCU at this particular spot, because I think they are one of the four best teams, but I still have issue with this many teams being ranked ahead of undefeated Florida State. Does this ranking guarantee TCU a spot with a win this weekend over Iowa State, or must they win in overwhelming fashion against an awful team?
4. Florida State (Last Week: 3)
When they dropped to No. 2 it was mildly amusing. When they dropped to No. 3 it was a bit worrisome. Now the Seminoles have to be in all-out panic mode after another lackluster win has dropped them into the final playoff slot. Could a major-conference team really go undefeated, win its conference championship, and lose out to FOUR one-loss teams in the playoff race? I think a win over now-No. 11 Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship would be enough to get them in, but the committee is sending quite the message about its thoughts on Florida State and, more broadly, the ACC.
5. Ohio State (Last Week: 6)
The Buckeyes beat Michigan but were dealt a huge blow in the process, losing quarterback J.T. Barrett for the season with a leg injury. Interestingly enough, the committee didn't seem to punish Ohio State for the loss of its star quarterback, so a win over Wisconsin could still place the Buckeyes in the playoff with losses by another team or two. It's frankly ridiculous to rank the Buckeyes above Baylor in my opinion, but I don't see them beating Melvin Gordon and the Badgers anyway.
6. Baylor (Last Week: 7)
The Bears got into an unnecessary shootout with a terrible Texas Tech team and may have really damaged their playoff hopes in the process. It's pretty clear at this point that the committee believes TCU is superior to Baylor (despite the head-to-head result between the two), and although the Bears could still make the playoff, I'm not even sure a win over Kansas State could put them in at the Frogs' expense.
7. Arizona (Last Week: 11)
The Wildcats took care of Arizona State and are all of a sudden in the thick of things. They get a shot to notch a second win against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship, and with a win there and a couple conveniently placed losses elsewhere, the Wildcats could actually find themselves in the playoff, seemingly out of nowhere.
8. Michigan State (Last Week: 10)
I'm not even sure utter chaos could help the Spartans find their way into the playoff, but there may still be some kind of crazy scenario. Several losses ahead of them would be involved.
9. Kansas State (Last Week: 12)
The Wildcats still have a shot to knock off Baylor, and losses by enough other teams could feasibly allow the Wildcats to backdoor their way into the playoff.
10. Mississippi State (Last Week: 4)
11. Georgia Tech (Last Week: 16)
12. Ole Miss (Last Week: 19)
13. Wisconsin (Last Week: 14)
14. Georgia (Last Week: 9)
15. UCLA (Last Week: 8)
16. Missouri (Last Week: 17)
17. Arizona State (Last Week: 13)
18. Clemson (Last Week: 21)
19. Auburn (Last Week: 15)
20. Oklahoma (Last Week: 20)
21. Louisville (Last Week: 22)
22. Boise State (Last Week: 23)
23. Utah (Last Week: 25)
24. LSU (Last Week: NR)
25. USC (Last Week: NR)