With just two weeks left in the season, we will now begin to examine ONLY teams that have a realistic shot to make the playoff.
1. Clemson (Last Week: 1)
Clemson did what it needed to do in dispatching of Wake Forest to finish the ACC regular season 8-0 and now faces South Carolina in the annual rivalry.
2. Alabama (Last Week: 2)
Alabama continues to get the benefit of the doubt over other one-loss teams and even undefeated Iowa. The Tide are the only team in the top 12 that doesn't have a top-20 win, but we know the "eye test" overrides results when convenient.
3. Oklahoma (Last Week: 7)
Oklahoma makes an inexplicably huge jump after outlasting TCU by 1 at home. You would have to think a win over Oklahoma State would ensure a spot in the playoff for the Sooners at this point. We told you three weeks ago to keep an eye on Oklahoma, and since then they have moved up 12 spots and invaded the top 4.
4. Iowa (Last Week: 5)
Still not getting the respect they should for being undefeated, but the Hawkeyes are now positioned to make the playoff if they finish the season without a loss.
5. Michigan State (Last Week: 9)
We told you they were far from done when they lost to Nebraska, and here we are. While we can pretty safely label Ohio State as overrated prior to this week, Sparty still owns the best trio of wins in the nation after beating the Buckeyes in Columbus. Considering Oklahoma's loss is worse than Michigan State's, I'm not sure how you can rank the Sooners above the Spartans. It appears the committee is treating Oklahoma as it treated Alabama earlier in the season, when it ranked the Tide No. 2 based seemingly on the assumption that it would win out rather than their actual resume to date. It's almost as though the committee is saying, "This is where Oklahoma will be ranked if it beats Oklahoma State, so we are going to go ahead and slot them there."
6. Notre Dame (Last Week: 4)
Notre Dame's sloppy play the past two weeks has caught up to the Irish. A win over Stanford would help plenty, but they still may need additional help if they want to sneak into the playoff field.
7. Baylor (Last Week: 10)
Left for dead after its loss to Oklahoma, Baylor bounced right back with its backup (and third-string) quarterback to upset Oklahoma State on the road. They need a little assistance, but it's not inconceivable that the Bears could find their way into the playoff.
8. Ohio State (Last Week: 3)
We heard all season that Ohio State's best football was ahead of it and we should ignore the sub-par performances and lack of quality wins. But a dreadful performance at home against Michigan State in which the Buckeyes amassed just 132 yards of offense has finally put all that nonsense to bed. Ohio State technically isn't out of the playoff hunt, but they are still ridiculously overrated at No. 8.
9. Stanford (Last Week: 11)
Stanford can still make a run at the four-team field, starting with a win over Notre Dame this weekend. The biggest problem is that Stanford's supposed showdown with a highly ranked Utah in the Pac 12 championship is now nonexistent, and instead the Cardinal will instead face the winner of the USC-UCLA game, which won't provide as hefty of a resume boost. So Stanford needs more carnage than we thought it might just a couple weeks ago.
10. Michigan (Last Week: 12)
The only other two-loss team with any possible shot at the playoff is Michigan, which could make the Big Ten championship by beating arch-rival Ohio State (coupled with a Michigan State loss to Penn State), where it would get a shot at a potentially undefeated Iowa. A win there, and we wouldn't quite rule out the Wolverines should necessary chaos occur.
11. Oklahoma State (Last Week: 6)
Oklahoma State's home loss to Baylor knocked it from the ranks of the unbeaten, but there is still a path for the Cowboys to return to the discussion. Beating Oklahoma in the Bedlam game and getting a TCU upset over Baylor would give Oklahoma State the outright Big XII crown, and the Cowboys would have to at least merit consideration for a playoff spot. Honestly, I'm not sure how they are ranked this low and would have them above Ohio State, Stanford and Michigan.
12. Florida (Last Week: 8)
The Gators' drop is deserved after they barely beat 2-9 (!!!) Florida Atlantic in overtime. Florida's defense is good, but that offense is a train wreck with Treon Harris at the helm. Despite that performance, they're still not out of the playoff race because of the opportunities that lie ahead, but it's impossible to have any faith in Florida right now.
13. Florida State (Last Week: 14)
Florida State being ranked ahead of North Carolina continues to baffle me and is one of those unjustifiable things that makes you wonder if the committee really has any idea what it's doing on the whole. I really don't see a path for the Seminoles, but I guess there may be some sort of apocalyptic way for them to get into the conversation.
14. North Carolina (Last Week: 17)
The committee has made it clear that it simply does not respect North Carolina. That's fine, but it doesn't mean the Tar Heels don't still have an outside chance at the playoff. There is plenty that would need to happen, and even beating Clemson in the ACC championship to finish 12-1 would still far from guarantee them a slot. But we can't rule them out at this point.
15. Navy (Last Week: 16)
16. Northwestern (Last Week: 20)
17. Oregon (Last Week: 23)
18. Ole Miss (Last Week: 22)
19. TCU (Last Week: 18)
20. Washington State (Last Week: NR)
21. Mississippi State (Last Week: NR)
22. UCLA (Last Week: NR)
23. Utah (Last Week: 13)
24. Toledo (Last Week: NR)
25. Temple (Last Week: NR)