FOX Sports College Football Analyst
There was nothing spectacular about the College Football Playoff selection committee’s Week 12 offers on Tuesday night, not on the surface.
For back-to-back weeks, the Suits opted to go chalk, and we could only wonder how far Oregon (No. 12) would fall after its thrilling loss to Washington, and if this might be the first time in recent memory that the Pac-12 boasted more ranked teams than the SEC (yes).
With just two weeks left in the regular season and an increasingly important conference championship weekend to play before the final standings are set, we have some answers.
Four control their destiny
No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 TCU are not only the top four teams in the Week 12 rankings, but the only teams in complete control about his route to play in the CFP. And it’s a very simple formula.
Win, and they are there.
Of those three, Georgia is the only one that could suffer a loss in its conference title game and likely still make it to the CFP. The defending national champions have been so dominant in games against ranked opponents, and so dominant in the sport’s best league.
Ohio State and Michigan square off Nov. 26 in the Shoe on “The Game” (noon ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app). If the Buckeyes and Wolverines take care of business against Maryland and Illinois, respectively, this coming weekend, they will find themselves as undefeated opponents for the first time since 2006.
Like the winner of “The Game,” TCU can’t afford a loss and still make the CFP.
There are nine left
There are only nine teams with a real chance to advance to the CFP Final Four: No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 TCU, No. 5 Tennessee, No. 6 LSU, No. 7 USC, no. 9 Clemson and no. 13 North Carolina.
With the exception of Tennessee, all of these teams have clinched or could clinch a spot in their respective league title games over the next two weeks. And that’s as clear as the playoff picture.
Just like in 2017, Alabama, Tennessee could take the CFP’s No. 4 spot as a matter of practicality to the Ohio State-Michigan loser. In that scenario, the Vols would become the second SEC team to make the CFP without playing for the league championship.
While the CFP criteria states that conference titles are indeed one of its important data points, that hasn’t stopped the committee from including Notre Dame in the CFP, twice. With the best resume in the sport among one-loss teams, the Vols are in a position to give us a dose of déjà vu.
If UGA is the No. 1 seed and the Vols are the No. 4 seed, Tennessee would be forced to play UGA for the second time this season in what would essentially be a road game in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. It would also cap what has been a magical season for the Vols, who were ranked No. 1 for the first time this century and beat Nick Saban’s Alabama for the first time.
Can TCU, Tennessee, USC or UNC make the CFP?
RJ Young breaks down the route to the CFP for the Horned Frogs, Trojans, Tar Heels and Volunteers.
It could also be the Vols’ year to be David to Georgia’s Goliath.
It would be just as fun to see TCU end their undefeated season with a CFP appearance as well. The Horned Frogs were in a three-way tie for the final spot in the 2014 CFP with conference rival Baylor and Ohio State.
The committee selected the Buckeyes, and OSU made that decision to stay in the running for the national title. But it hasn’t looked that way in Fort Worth.
For seven years, TCU fans have believed the Horned Frogs would have accomplished what the Buckeyes did, or at least should have had a chance. Now the small Christian college surrounded by barnyards has a chance to rodeo right into the Show.
And there’s nothing more Texas than kicking in the door because you were once turned away after a polite knock.
Clemson could sneak into the playoff if three teams in front of the Tigers have an extra loss, most notably TCU, Tennessee and USC.
If North Carolina were to run over Clemson to win the ACC title game, it would certainly get the attention of the CFP committee, but the Heels’ low ranking, below USC, the Pac- 12 to take the CFP for the first time. from 2016, it just doesn’t make it seem realistic.
What this all looks like is an excuse for the committee to enter three SEC teams into the CFP for the first time. If LSU upsets Georgia in the SEC title game, the committee might have to weigh the Bayou Bengals (and LSU’s two losses) against an undefeated Big 12 champion (TCU), an undefeated Big Ten champion (Ohio State or Michigan), one-loss Pac-12 champion (USC) and one-loss ACC champion (Clemson or North Carolina).
And if TCU comes in on a losing streak, it’s hard to see how the CFP wouldn’t pick 1-loss Georgia, undefeated Big Ten champion, 1-loss Tennessee and SEC champion LSU for their Final Four, all hell would be released
The extended playoffs can’t come fast enough.
Here are the latest College Football Playoff rankings:
1. Georgia (10-0)
2. Ohio State (10-0)
3. Michigan (10-0)
4. TCU (10-0)
5. Tennessee (9-1)
6. LSU (8-2)
7. USC (9-1)
8. Alabama (8-2)
9. Clemson (9-1)
10. Utah (8-2)
11. Penn State (8-2)
12. Oregon (8-2)
13. North Carolina (9-1)
14. Ole Miss (8-2)
15. Kansas State (7-3)
16. UCLA (8-2)
17. Washington (8-2)
18. Our Lady (7-3)
19. Florida State (7-3)
20. UCF (8-2)
21. Tulane (8-2)
22. Oklahoma State (7-3)
23. Oregon State (7-3)
24. NC State (7-3)
25. Cincinnati (8-2)
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The number one college football show.“Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young i subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.
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