Teams still alive for the College Football Playoff

WASHINGTON — We’ll get the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday evening, and we’re sure to see some movement after last weekend’s results. But at this point in the game, there are only a select group of teams with any realistic chance of making the final four. Let’s look at who they are and what they need to do to earn a chance to play for the national championship.

Alabama (12-0) Games remaining: SEC Championship vs. Georgia What they need: Nothing Alabama is so far ahead of the pack that even a loss in the SEC Championship Game will likely not be enough to derail a top four finish and a playoff appearance. As it has been all season, it’s Alabama and everybody else. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Notre Dame (12-0) Games remaining: None What they need: Nothing Notre Dame’s in. You don’t like it, I don’t like it, but it’s the truth. Wins over Stanford and Virginia Tech don’t look nearly as impressive as they may have earlier in the season, but there are solid teams like Pitt and Northwestern sprinkled around a perfect 12-0 slate. They’re in. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Clemson (12-0) Games remaining: ACC Championship vs. Pittsburgh What they need: To win ACC title; if they lose, they need Ohio State and Oklahoma both to lose too Clemson has dominated every opponent except two, squeezing past a solid Texas A&M team in College Station and a game Syracuse squad at home. But they won’t be afforded a spot in the final four without putting away Pitt unless we see total chaos this weekend. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Georgia (11-1) Games remaining: SEC Championship vs. Alabama What they need: To win SEC Championship Georgia’s schedule is loaded with lots of good-but-not-great wins, thanks to the SEC’s self-cannibalization — Florida, Kentucky and LSU each finished 9-3, each with three conference defeats. As the second team in its own conference, Georgia needs to beat Bama to get in. The Bulldogs have had a great season, but there’s just no other way. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
Oklahoma (11-1) Games remaining: Big 12 Championship vs. Texas What they need: To win Big 12 Championship; Alabama to win; the CFP committee not to be hypocritical The Big 12 is thanking its lucky stars that it implemented a championship game right about now … and is also likely pulling very hard for OU. A chance to avenge its only loss — a field goal difference on a neutral field — to its biggest rival? Oklahoma has lived on the edge all year long, with four wins by a touchdown or less, but can make that all ancient history by beating Texas. Both OU’s individual RPI and Conference RPI are better than Ohio State’s (and Texas’ RPI is well above Northwestern’s). The Sooners were four spots ahead of OSU before their road win in Morgantown. A win Saturday (and no Georgia upset) and they should be in. (AP Photo/Cooper Neill, FIle)
Ohio State (11-1) Games remaining: Big Ten Championship vs. Northwestern What they need: To win Big Ten Championship; Alabama to win; OU or Clemson to lose If you’ve been doing the math from the above teams, you’ll note that we have exhausted our “winner in” scenarios. Yes, the Buckeyes are 11-1. Yes, they demolished (an overrated) Michigan. But they’ve got the dreaded “bad loss,” a 29-point humiliation in West Lafayette, and close calls against bad Nebraska and Maryland squads. Northwestern also doesn’t offer a marquee win opportunity. We’ve seen Ohio State get in on a questionable call in the past. Unless a door opens for them, the Buckeyes shouldn’t again. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
UCF (11-0) Games remaining: American Championship vs. Memphis What they need: To win American Championship big; Alabama to win; two of OU, Clemson and Ohio State to lose The longest winning streak in the country and a snub last year aren’t enough to get UCF in the conversation without some serious help. They’ve passed all the tests in front of them, but after losing starting QB McKenzie Milton last week, they’ll need to beat Memphis convincingly and see two of the favored big boys get knocked off to open up the door to sneak into the 4-spot behind Alabama and Notre Dame. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Teams with no shot Michigan (10-2) blew its shot against its rival, and there doesn’t seem to be a combination of events that can get them in. Same with Washington State (10-2). Texas (9-3), Northwestern (8-4) and Washington (9-3) all have too many losses to be overcome by conference titles. Pity Boise State (10-2), which could win its third game in four weeks over a ranked opponent to take the Mountain West title, but has no whiff of a chance. This is your yearly reminder that an 8-team playoff — eliminating the OU/OSU controversy (what a great 4-5 game!); including an undefeated UCF; giving a gamey, two-loss team a second chance — would be infinitely more fair and entertaining. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
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