College Football Playoff Scenarios with Expert Predictions
There are two weeks of regular-season action and conference championship games standing between us and the field for this year's College Football Playoff. It doesn't seem like much, but everything can change in a flash - just ask Georgia. As we get ready for a pretty dull slate of games from a playoff perspective this week, and a pretty thrilling one next week, it's a good time to assess where we are at, what could happen, what the odds say, and so on (odds to make the CFP are from BetOnline ):
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Alabama ("yes" -500, "no" +350): As has always been the case in the playoff era, the Tide control their own destiny. All they need to do to make it is win out. And it says here that that is just what is going to happen. They have not had a particularly challenging schedule this year, but they have done what they need to do, and they look very good - especially on defense. The odds suggest they are in. I would go one further and say they will win it. That's not going out on a limb, though - they are the +140 favorite to win the title, with Clemson the second choice way back at +450.
Oklahoma (yes -350, no +260): They win out and they are in - and Baker Mayfield likely wins the Heisman, too. Not bad for Lincoln Riley's first year in charge. They have games against Kansas and West Virginia, then the inaugural Big 12 Championship Game, which will likely feature a rematch with Oklahoma State or TCU - two teams the Sooners just dismantled. Sooners fans can book their tickets now - they are heading to the playoff.
Clemson (yes -260, no +200): They have already booked their date with Miami in the ACC Championship Game even though both teams have two games left - that's how top-heavy the ACC is right now. They already have a loss, so they couldn't afford to lose another - no two-loss team has made the playoff, and though one potentially could this year it wouldn't be Clemson. The last two games of the regular season aren't particularly concerning, but Miami is playing tough and will be a real fight. These odds suggest that Clemson is favored in that game, and based on experience alone they probably should be.
Miami (yes +130, no -160): The Canes have two tough-ish but manageable games left to close out the season and then that date with Clemson. What is interesting is that Miami could potentially lose that Clemson game and still make the playoffs. They would have only one loss, and it would be against a playoff team. They have that win against Notre Dame, which is better than most teams have. They would likely need Alabama to lose to Auburn, and then a lot of biases would have to be overcome for Miami to pass Alabama, but it could happen. Or they could just beat Clemson and take it out of the hands of the committee.
Wisconsin (yes +145, no -175): The Badgers need help because they sit fifth, but they are in reasonably decent shape. They have to get past Michigan this weekend in the most significant game being played, then they need to win at Minnesota before beating likely Ohio State in the conference championship game. If they are the undefeated Big Ten champs it will be very tough to keep them out. They just need to do their work. They likely have zero margin for error, though.
Auburn (yes +240, no -300): This is how things could get really interesting. If Auburn were to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl then the Tide would miss out of the SEC Championship Game. Auburn would have two losses, but if they were to win the championship game they have wins over Alabama and two over Georgia, and a loss to Clemson - which could be a playoff team. Auburn could not only be a spoiler but potentially the first two-loss playoff team.
Georgia (yes +350, no -500): One loss can cost a team everything if it comes to the wrong team in the wrong way. Georgia was humiliated by Auburn, and it left them with a seriously uphill battle. They sit seventh now, so they need to win out, beat Alabama (handily would help) in the SEC Championship, and then hope that things fall apart ahead of them. Wisconsin losing would really help Georgia. And Miami beating up Clemson would be a big bonus, too.
Ohio State (yes +325, no -450): Remarkably, Urban Meyer and company aren't dead yet. In fact, there is a pretty clear path for them to sneak into the playoff again. They need Alabama, Miami and Oklahoma to all win out, and they need Georgia to get beaten up by Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. And they need to win the Big Ten Championship Game convincingly by crushing the Badgers - ideally giving Wisconsin their first loss. Stranger things have happened. The Buckeyes are like a cockroach that you can't kill.
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