The college football playoff committee has only eight days remaining before naming their top four teams in 2015, but Oklahoma made that decision significantly easier after their performance Saturday night.
Oklahoma finished its season with a 11-1 record after easily beating in-state rival Oklahoma State 58-23. The Sooners hung 44 points on the Cowboys, and Baker Mayfield and Samaje Perine make a powerful 1-2 offensive punch for the No. 3 ranked Oklahoma squad.
With no more opportunities for Oklahoma to lose -- or win, for that matter -- the college football playoff committee can judge their full body of work and place Oklahoma where they see fit. A ranking outside the top four would be a shock, however.
Believing the Sooners have one of the four spots locked down, another will be sewn up by the Big Ten Championship game winner. Either undefeated Iowa or an 11-1 Michigan State team will occupy a second slot as the Big Ten Championship serves as a defacto quarterfinal match-up for the college football playoff committee.
If the presumed favorites win their games this weekend, the college football playoff will be filled with Oklahoma, the Iowa/Michigan State winner, Clemson, and Alabama. Yet, college football rarely is that easy to sort through, meaning that an upset by either Florida or North Carolina in their respective championship game would hamper or eliminate their opponent's playoff selection.
Assuming Oklahoma is in, here are the chances the remaining contenders earn one of the three remaining college football playoff spots.
Alabama Crimson Tide Current Rank: 2 College Football Playoff Chances: 80 percent
After finishing the regular season with the SEC West title, Alabama is a sure bet to earn a selection come next Sunday with a victory over Florida Saturday. An upset by the Gators in the SEC Championship game would not eliminate them from contention, but the Crimson Tide would certainly need Michigan State to lose to leave the committee with a choice. That's also assuming Florida doesn't do enough to impress the college football playoff committee in their win, becoming the SEC team chosen with two losses.
Clemson Tigers Current Rank: 1 College Football Playoff Chances: 90 percent
Win or lose their championship game against ACC foe North Carolina, Clemson has a legitimate argument to be included in the college football playoff tournament. A victory over Florida State looks even better now the Seminoles have knocked off the Florida Gators in stunning fashion. A victory would seal the undefeated Tigers first playoff berth, but their worst-case scenario is losing their game plus Alabama and Iowa losing their respective championship games. Would the committee pick a one-loss Ohio State or a two-loss PAC 12 Champion Stanford Cardinal over them? Both seem unlikely, but college football can be just as unpredictable.
Iowa Hawkeyes Current Rank: 4 College Football Playoff Chances: 65 percent
Iowa is a sure bet to be included in the playoff with a win over Michigan State Saturday in the Big Ten Championship by virtue of finishing undefeated. But a loss isn't a guaranteed elimination. A one-loss Hawkeye team still has a chance with a strong regular season profile that includes wins over soon-to-be ranked Wisconsin team and a top-15 caliber Northwestern squad, not to mention an 8-4 Pittsburgh Panthers team. But they would need Alabama to lose and the college football playoff committee to not fall in love with a potential PAC 12 Champion Stanford Cardinal.
Michigan State Spartans Current Rank: 5 College Football Playoff Chances: 50 percent
Again, Michigan State is a sure bet with a win over Iowa Saturday. But what if the Spartans lose to the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship? The college football playoff committee has been keen on the Michigan State squad, ranking them as second-highest one-loss team in the current college football poll. A loss by Alabama in the SEC Championship leaves the committee with a difficult decision as both teams (and possible Stanford) would loom as two-loss contenders.
North Carolina Tar Heels Current Rank: 14 College Football Playoff Chances: 15 percent
After the losses Oklahoma State, Florida, Notre Dame, and Baylor suffered this week, North Carolina should either break into the top 10 for the college football playoff committee's ranking or be on the cusp. Beating Clemson in the ACC Championship Game doesn't guarantee their inclusion into the tournament, however, as an upset by Michigan State would leave five teams with a single loss. The Tar Heels need to win in convincing fashion and have Iowa win to feel comfortable about their playoff chances.
Ohio State Buckeyes Current Rank: 8 College Football Playoff Chances: 5 percent
Ohio State needs loads of help to have any chance at the college football playoff this season. Any potential scenarios for their inclusion start with both Clemson and Alabama losing their respective championship games. Then, and only then, does an 11-1 Buckeyes squad has an outside shot of unseating these favorites if the loss in the title game is humiliating. But that's also assuming the college football playoff committee feels Ohio State is more deserving of the playoff spot than the loser of the Big Ten Championship game, which will either be a 12-1 Iowa team or the 11-2 Michigan State squad that owns the head-to-head over the Buckeyes. With their own quality win coming against rival Michigan on Saturday, the chances of that happening are slim.
Stanford Cardinal Current Rank: 9 College Football Playoff Chances: 10 percent
Stanford has been on the wrong side of this coin numerous times in the past decade. To even have a conversation about their chances, the Cardinal must take care of USC Saturday at Levi's Stadium in the PAC 12 Championship game. After that, Stanford needs to have caught the college football playoff committee's attention while hoping for Alabama to lose in the SEC Championship. That's really the only way a two-loss team vaults past the Crimson Tide or Florida Gators to play for the college football championship.
Who do you think will be in the second college football playoff tournament? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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