The College Football Playoff rankings have been released for Week 11, and if the season ended today (which it clearly doesn’t), the Alabama Crimson Tide, Clemson Tigers, Michigan Wolverines, and Washington Huskies would all be crashing the party.
Entering the season, Alabama, the team that won the national championship last season, Clemson, the team that lost in the title game last season, and Michigan, a team that is back to being a powerhouse in college football, were all expected to compete for a playoff spot. Washington… well, Washington wasn’t. Okay, if nothing else, the Huskies were a dark-horse contender entering the year.
One might wonder if there are any other teams that could still sneak into the playoff. The simple answer is yes. There is still plenty of football that needs to be played, and anything can happen in this sport. In the spirit of that thinking, let’s take a look at some teams that could still make the playoff.
The Ohio State Buckeyes (ranked No. 5 in the latest playoff rankings) and Louisville Cardinals (ranked No. 6) have the best chances of sneaking into the playoff, if you will. After all, both teams have only one loss. In this day and age, one-loss teams are still very much alive when it comes to making the championship game. Last season, three one-loss teams crashed the party. In 2014 — you guessed it — three one-loss teams made the playoff.
The real question is could a two-loss team ever make the playoff. Eventually, but who knows if that occurrence will go down in the 2016 college football season.
If a two-loss team was going to make the playoff this year, then teams like the Wisconsin Badgers (ranked No. 7), Texas A&M Aggies (ranked No. 8), Auburn Tigers (ranked No. 9), Penn State Nittany Lions (ranked No. 10), and Oklahoma Sooners (ranked No. 11) are all still alive. With that said, complete chaos is going to have to ensue for any of these teams to make the ultimate party.
Out of these two-loss teams, Texas A&M seems to be the only team that doesn’t have a shot at making its conference title game, and that would be a major blemish, especially for a two-loss team. Of course, Penn State would have to jump Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten East standings if it plans on making the Big Ten championship. Auburn has to knock off Alabama to make the SEC title game.
Nothing is impossible in this sport, especially with so much time left, but two-loss teams shouldn’t exactly be thrilled about their chances of making this year’s edition of the playoff.
While the West Virginia Mountaineers only have one loss in 2016, they have yet to beat a ranked opponent, which likely doesn’t excite the College Football Playoff committee.
If this was any other year, then the Colorado Buffaloes, despite having two losses, might still be in the race as well. The Buffaloes have knocked off the Oregon Ducks, Stanford Cardinal, and UCLA Bruins, and their only losses have come against Michigan and the USC Trojans. This is not any other year, though, and while Colorado has taken down some serious heavyweights in the Pac-12, said heavyweights have been rather disappointing in 2016.
Keeping this conversation in the Pac-12, the Washington State Cougars could certainly make a lot of noise by knocking off the Buffaloes and Huskies in their final two games. However, their two losses have come against the Eastern Washington Eagles and Boise State Broncos.
More likely than not, the only teams that could sneak into the playoff are the Buckeyes and Cardinals. Speaking of which, Ohio State’s lone loss came against Penn State, which is now ranked No. 10 in the playoff rankings. Louisville went down to Clemson. Both losses came on the road.
How Ohio State Gets Into The Playoff: The Buckeyes win their last three games of the regular season, which would include a victory against Michigan, and then win the Big Ten championship game as well.
How Louisville Gets Into The Playoff: Louisville simply needs teams in front of it to lose. More likely than not, the Cardinals will not be playing in the ACC title game, which will hurt their College Football Playoff case.
How A Two-Loss Team Gets Into The Playoff: Complete chaos goes down, and upsets start taking over the college football scene.
The biggest problem for the two-loss teams is the fact that the top four teams in the rankings are undefeated.
Of course, the Western Michigan Broncos are also undefeated, but their schedule, to put it lightly, isn’t crawling with ranked opponents or powerhouses.
Plenty of football still needs to be played (it’s only Week 11, after all), but the two-loss teams seem to be doomed when it comes to crashing the College Football Playoff party. As for Ohio State and Louisville, they both still have a great shot of playing on the sport’s biggest stage.
Stay tuned, folks.
[Featured Image by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images]