The College Football Playoff committee is still one week away from unveiling its first ranking of the season, at which point we will finally get some clarity on what teams have the inside track at reaching the four-team playoff at season’s end. As of right now, there are still seven undefeated teams among college football’s Power 5 conferences, and those seven teams would appear to be the favorites to reach the four-team playoff.
However, with a little more than half the season left to play, not to mention conference championship games, there’s more than enough time for some one-loss teams to work themselves back into the conversation for a playoff spot, especially if some of those undefeated teams start to lose. Heading into Week 9 of the college football season, here is a handful of one-loss teams that are very much alive for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The College Football Playoff is a long shot for Utah, but don’t count the Utes out just yet, even though they are no higher than no. 16 in any of the polls. Utah hosts undefeated Washington this weekend, in a game the Seattle Times believes could help Washington impress the playoff committee. But a win by Utah could also put them on the playoff committee’s radar. A loss to Cal earlier this year won’t look good on their resume, but if the Utes win out, they’ll have wins over Washington, Colorado, USC, Arizona State, Oregon, and possibly a second win over Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game, which is an impressive collection of wins. Such a scenario may seem unlikely, but remember that Utah won 10 games last year, including a win over Michigan, so this is a program that has the potential to surprise some people.
The Gators haven’t played great this year (see a 13-6 win over Vanderbilt), but they still control their own destiny with regard to winning the SEC East and playing in the conference title game, so they are still in the playoff picture. A second loss would rule them out of a playoff spot, but if Florida wins all of its remaining games, including road games against Arkansas, LSU, and Florida State, they’ll have a great resume on paper heading into the SEC Championship Game. The Florida defense is one of the best in the country, and if quarterback Luke Del Rio can stay healthy, the Gators have to be looked at as a serious contender.
Despite a lopsided loss at Alabama last week, the Aggies could still crash the College Football Playoff party. Fox Sports actually calls Texas A&M the most controversial team in the playoff discussion. The Aggies will need Alabama to lose twice to have a chance to make the SEC Championship Game, but Alabama not losing could actually work in A&M’s favor. A team that’s 11-1, whose lone loss was away at Alabama, would look good in the eyes of the playoff committee. With wins over UCLA and Tennessee and an opportunity to win games against Ole Miss and LSU later in the year, the Aggies could still sneak into the College Football Playoff if they win the rest of their games, whether they play in the SEC Title Game or not.
The College Football Playoff committee may not look kindly at Ohio State’s loss to Penn State last week, but the Buckeyes could still control their own destiny. Ohio State can get back into the playoff committee’s good graces by defeating previously unbeaten Nebraska and Michigan later this year.
Remember, as long as Penn State doesn’t run the table, Ohio State can clinch a spot in the Big 10 Championship Game by winning the rest of their games, including that showdown with Michigan during the final week of the season. A one-loss Big 10 champion with a slew of quality wins would be tough to keep out of the College Football Playoff.
Crashing the College Football Playoff party is still on the table for Louisville. Much like Texas A&M, the Cardinals have a chance to become the first team to make the playoff without winning its conference championship. All Louisville can do is take care of its business and hope that Clemson does the same. If Clemson is an undefeated ACC champion, they would undoubtedly be in the College Football Playoff, and if Louisville is 11-1, with its only loss being a close game at Clemson, their resume would stack up well with any other team in the country. The Cardinals play Houston and Kentucky late in the season, but other than that, no one on their schedule should be able to challenge them on the field, keeping them very much alive for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
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