Ranking The 24 Teams Still Alive After Week 7

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Who’s still alive in the chase to get into the 2021-2022 College Football Playoff? After Week 7, here’s our ranking of the 24 teams still in the chase.

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Now that we’re halfway through the season – and with the first round of College Football Playoff rankings coming in the first week of November – who’s still alive?

Out of the 130 teams that play FCS college football, 24 of them still have a reasonable dream of getting into the final top four.

Some control their own path to the playoff, and others needs some help, and others need the meltdown of college football to even watch the playoff.

The ground rules that aren’t set in stone, but they’re reasonably established eight years in. To get into the College Football Playoff, for the most part, you need to …

1. Win your Power Five conference championship. Go unbeaten, and you’re a 100% lock. Do it with one loss, and you’re in unless there’s another obvious team that makes the cut, like 2018’s 12-1 Big Ten Champion Ohio State team that got left out for an unbeaten independent Notre Dame. OR …

2. Be a one-loss Power Five team that doesn’t win the conference championship, and hope at least two of the Power Five champs have two or more losses. Notre Dame got in last year as an ACC member despite losing the conference title to Clemson, and 2017 Alabama ended up winning the national title despite not even winning its own division. OR …

3. Go unbeaten as a Group of Five team – from the American Athletic, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, or Sun Belt – and hope for a whole ton of breaks. If you lose just one game as a Group of Five program, forget it. Go unbeaten as a Group of Five program and – let’s be honest – forget it, but this year might be different.

Among the 24 teams that appear to be still alive for the College Football Playoff, we break this down into five categories.

1. Teams in total control. Win out, get in no matter what – at least with the way things are shaking out this year.

2. Teams that control their own paths … sort of. There’s a loss, or it’s going to take some work, but go unbeaten the rest of the way and all should work out just fine.

3. Teams that need help. It’s possible, but even if they win out they’d need a slew of things to fall the right way to get in.

4. Two loss teams that still have a path. It would take something major – and historic – since the College Football Playoff has never taken a two loss team, but it’s possible by winning out.

5. Unbeaten, but no chance. These teams would need the entire college football world to collapse to be considered.

The rankings are based on relative control and likelihood of getting into the College Football Playoff.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

Unbeaten teams that have no shot at getting into the College Football Playoff

They’re unbeaten, and they’re in the hunt for one of the New Year’s Six games, but it would take several multi-loss Power Five champions and a whole lot of luck, thoughts, and prayers to get in.

24. UTSA Roadrunners (7-0)

UTSA is in the College Football Playoff if … asteroids hit Athens, Norman, Tuscaloosa, Cincinnati, and Columbus all at the same time, and even then it’s not happening.

However, if America really is desperate to push the narrative that its time for a Group of Five program to get into the CFP, UTSA has a win at Illinois, it beat Memphis, and going 13-0 would at least be a talking point if we get the most chaotic second half of a college football season ever.

It’s all going to go wrong against … UAB is the most dangerous team left on the slate, but all of a sudden, going to UTEP isn’t a layup. However, the Roadrunners are playing like the best team in Conference USA.

Will UTSA get into the College Football Playoff? Of course not, but it could be the first Conference USA team to make a New Year’s Six bowl in the College Football Playoff era by winning the remaining games and getting a loss by Cincinnati, San Diego State, and Coastal Carolina.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 23. San Diego State Aztecs

23. San Diego State Aztecs (6-0)

San Diego State is in the College Football Playoff if … Utah wins the Pac-12 Championship and a whole slew of things go wrong for the Power Five conferences.

The ACC and Pac-12 need to have multiple losses, Cincinnati has to lose once, and it would be a big positive if there weren’t any teams that are all that close to being thrown into the Four Best Team theoretical consideration.

San Diego State beat Utah and Arizona, and if it goes unbeaten and wins the Mountain West title, it should at least end up in the final CFP top 15.

It’s all going to go wrong against … Fresno State? Boise State? Maybe at Hawaii? The Aztecs don’t have a true home – they play in Carson, California, while their new stadium is being built – and they showed last week against San Jose State that they can struggle against anyone. But …

Will San Diego State get into the College Football Playoff? No, but watch out for some consideration for the New Year’s Six bowl slot from the Group of Five conferences if Cincinnati loses.

The two wins over Power Five programs – especially the win over Utah – might push San Diego State past Coastal Carolina if the two are the lone unbeatens outside of the Power Five.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 22. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

22. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (6-0)

Coastal Carolina is in the College Football Playoff if … absolutely everything goes weird.

Beating Kansas as the one win over a Power Five program isn’t enough to move any needle, but after ripping through last season – and with the team hangin 50+ on the board every time out now – it could be in the discussion for a moment if it wins everything and there are three or more multi-loss Power Five champions.

It’s all going to go wrong against … the College Football Playoff committee. Coastal Carolina will go 13-0 – if it gets by the road game at Appalachian State this week – and it still won’t register a College Football Playoff blip. However …

Will Coastal Carolina get into the College Football Playoff? Not a chance, but if Cincinnati and SMU both lose, it’ll likely be first in line to get the New Year’s Six bowl cookie the CFP throws the Group of Five.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 21. SMU Mustangs

21. SMU Mustangs (6-0)

SMU is in the College Football Playoff if … it rolls through the rest of its schedule and everyone sees it beat Cincinnati twice. The world is fawning all over the Bearcats, but the Mustangs get to show what they can do on November 20th. They go to Houston and Memphis, too.

Throw in the win at TCU, and while there’s not a road win over Notre Dame like UC has, all of a sudden, the Group of Five In Playoff love would move to Dallas.

It’s all going to go wrong against … at Cincinnati, and/or at Houston, and/or at Memphis, and/or against Cincinnati or Houston if things go well and SMU gets to the American Athletic Conference championship game.

Will SMU get into the College Football Playoff? No way, but it’s the one Group of Five program other than Cincinnati that really could get into the discussion by going 13-0. For good and bad, the rest of the schedule is a bear. On the plus side, the Mustangs have an opportunity to prove what it can do.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: Two loss teams that still have a path to the College Football Playoff

Two loss teams that still have a path to the College Football Playoff

They’ve already lost two games, but the respect of winning out against a tough final schedule might be enough to get it done. There are just two of them, and they’re only here because they play in the SEC.

20. Texas A&M Aggies (5-2)

Texas A&M is in the College Football Playoff if … it rolls through the rest of the schedule and Alabama loses once more. There are just enough landmines that an unfocused Tide team could trip on to make this all possible.

First, though, A&M has to take care of home by beating South Carolina, Auburn, at Ole Miss, and at LSU. Do that – and survive the showdown against Prairie View A&M – get one more Bama loss, go to the SEC Championship, beat Georgia, and A&M should be in.

It’s all going to go wrong against … at Ole Miss. If it’s not there, then it could come in what might be the last game of the Ed Orgeron era at LSU, or against Auburn. But on the plus side, it’s a good enough remaining slate that …

Will Texas A&M get into the College Football Playoff? No, but …

Arkansas and Mississippi State beat A&M, but they each have three losses.

If A&M could somehow win its remaining games, and Alabama really does lose once more, it’s off to the SEC Championship. Win that, too, go 11-2, and dare the College Football Playoff committee to keep out the team that beat both Alabama and – most likely – Georgia.

But the Bama loss is a must, and that means A&M needs help, unlike …

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 19. Auburn Tigers

19. Auburn Tigers (5-2)

Auburn is in the College Football Playoff if … it wins out. Auburn and Texas A&M are in the same boat – sort of.

To win all the remaining games and take the SEC Championship would, should, and could be enough to get in. However, Auburn is in better shape because its second loss was at Penn State, not to another SEC team.

Beat Ole Miss, and win at Texas A&M, and beat Mississippi State, and South Carolina, and take down Bama, and it’s on to the SEC Championship. Beat – most likely – Georgia in a revenge game for the 34-10 loss, and it’s almost a lock to be the first two-loss team to get in.

It’s all going to go wrong against … any one of those games just listed. It would take something unbelievable for everything to work out, but that’s the point. It’s such a brutal slate that finishing 11-2 with an SEC Championship should make the Tigers a lock.

Will Auburn get into the College Football Playoff? Not even close, but at least the opportunity is there. Unlike every other multi-loss team, there actually is a path. It’s not a realistic one to get in, but it’s there. Unlike Texas A&M, Auburn might control its own destiny.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: Teams that have a shot to get into the College Football Playoff by winning out, but they need a lot of help

Teams that have a shot to get into the College Football Playoff by winning out, but they need a lot of help

Think Texas A&M of last year – it lost once at Alabama, but it still didn’t get in. These teams can be in the discussion for one of the four spots by winning out, but they’re going to need a whole slew of breaks.

18. Ole Miss Rebels (5-1)

Ole Miss is in the College Football Playoff if … Georgia loses twice. It’s asking for a lot but the Rebels have to win out – they have tough games at Auburn and Mississippi State and at home against LSU and Texas A&M – Georgia has to drop a game, and Alabama rolls to the SEC Championship. If there are a few multi-loss Power Five champions, an 11-1 Ole Miss whose only loss is at Alabama might slip in.

It’s all going to go wrong against … at Auburn or against Texas A&M. The rest of the schedule is too tough.

Will Ole Miss get into the College Football Playoff? It would be fascinating if the Rebels could get to the Egg Bowl at Mississippi State at 10-1 and with a major CFP theoretical discussion on the table. There will be one other loss along the way, but it’ll be a fun ride.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 17. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

17. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-1)

Notre Dame is in the College Football Playoff if … it runs the table and does so impressively – and then everything has to go wrong in a slew of Power Five championships. It would also be a huge help if Cincinnati goes 13-0, making the loss in South Bend more palatable … maybe. It might be better if the Bearcats lose twice and get out of the CFP way.

It’s all going to go wrong against … Virginia? Stanford? USC? North Carolina? Georgia Tech? This team plays like it should lose at least one of those games, but it keeps on winning against everyone but the Bearcats.

Will Notre Dame get into the College Football Playoff? No, but put the Irish in a New Year’s Six game against – say – Michigan, or Ohio State, or someone else fun.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 16. Kentucky Wildcats

16. Kentucky Wildcats (6-1)

Kentucky is in the College Football Playoff if … you stop laughing and realize it’s more possible than you think. Kentucky wins out against a more-than-manageable schedule – at Mississippi State is the most dangerous game left – goes 11-1, and that one loss is last week’s tasteful 30-13 defeat against the be-all-end-all No. 1 Georgia team.

It’s all going to go wrong against … it might not. If it does, it’ll be in Starkville, but that’s in two weeks after getting time off to rest up. Either that, or the Tennessee offense goes off on November 6th.

Will Kentucky get into the College Football Playoff? No, but let’s just say you’ve been warned. Kentucky won’t get the 11-1 didn’t-win-its-own-division benefit of the doubt like Alabama did a few years ago, but if Cincinnati loses along the way, and if there are at least two multi-loss Power Five champions, it’s more possible than you might think.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 15. Cincinnati Bearcats

15. Cincinnati Bearcats (6-0)

Cincinnati is in the College Football Playoff if … it goes 13-0 without even a hint of a blip. It would also be a big plus if Notre Dame ran the table, and everything around the rest of the college football world has to melt down a bit. The ranking is this low because 1) the schedule is WAY soft and 2) the Bearcats need some help.

The rankings here are based on control in the College Football Playoff chase, and Cincinnati still needs help no matter how good it is.

It’s all going to go wrong against … it’s not. However, if it does, it might be against SMU late in the season, and watch out for a trip to East Carolina against a program with an offense that’s been known to rise up and rock the it gets a chance to screw someone up. Even then, if Houston gets to the AAC Championship, that could be dangerous.

Will Cincinnati get into the College Football Playoff? Yeah – the guess is that the chips will all fall into place.

The problem really is the schedule – there’s nothing worthy of making the College Football Playoff. One win over Notre Dame, beating a mediocre Indiana, and a possible win over SMU isn’t going to be enough, but the Bearcats should still get in.

If an unbeaten Georgia beats Alabama, then Bama is out – probably.

If Oregon loses once more, the Pac-12 is out, and the ACC is almost certainly going to beat itself up on the way to a two-loss champion.

Let’s say Georgia, a Big Ten champion, and a one-loss or unbeaten Big 12 champ are in. 13-0 Cincinnati takes the fourth spot.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: Teams that will almost certainly get into the College Football Playoff by winning out

Teams that will almost certainly get into the College Football Playoff by winning out

They already have a loss, but they control whether or not they get to their respective Power Five conference championships. So, win out, and it’s a near-lock to get into the College Football Playoff.

14. Baylor Bears (6-1)

Baylor is in the College Football Playoff if … it rolls through the rest of its schedule, goes 12-1, and wins the Big 12 Championship.

We did this two years ago, and it seemed ridiculous. Yeah, ha ha ha, Baylor was going to be in the College Football Playoff mix, that’s rich.

And then everything broke right and it almost happened.

The loss at Oklahoma State earlier this year is more than acceptable, but …

It’s all going to go wrong against … Oklahoma on November 13th, or against Texas in two weeks, or at Kansas State on November 20th. Even if all of that works out, one more loss – even in the Big 12 Championship – ends it.

Will Baylor get into the College Football Playoff? No, but getting to a second Big 12 title game in three years would be fantastic. No matter what, the team will go to a good bowl in a huge turnaround season under Dave Aranda.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 13. Pitt Panthers

13. Pitt Panthers (5-1)

Pitt is in the College Football Playoff if … it rips through the rest of the schedule. The win over Tennessee helps, and if it goes 11-1 and gets to the ACC Championship, it’ll have also beaten Clemson, Miami, North Carolina, and Virginia. That might not seem like anything amazing, but 12-1 with an ACC title would get the Panthers close. However …

It’s all going to go wrong against … Clemson, or North Carolina, or in the ACC Championship. Pitt will likely drop a date somewhere, but even if it doesn’t the 44-41 loss to Western Michigan will be an anchor with the College Football Playoff committee.

Will Pitt get into the College Football Playoff? No, but it should get to the ACC Championship with a trip to a New Year’s Six bowl on the line.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 12. NC State Wolfpack

12. NC State Wolfpack (5-1)

NC State is in the College Football Playoff if … it wins out and gets plenty of help. Among the possibilities, a 12-1 ACC Champion NC State would probably be fifth among the Power Five champions thanks to the loss to Mississippi State, but the win over Clemson at least seems decent.

It’s all going to go wrong against … it might not. The remaining ACC schedule isn’t bad, with the showdown against Wake Forest on the road the most dangerous date. However …

Will NC State get into the College Football Playoff? No, but it might win the ACC Championship. It’ll drop a date along the way – watch out for at Florida State on November 6th – but it should end up in a New Year’s Six game. With that said, there’s a terrific chance the Wolfpack are in the hunt deep into November.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: Win out, get in – but there’s no margin for error

Teams that will almost certainly be in the College Football Playoff by winning out

It would take a whole lot of bad luck for any of these teams to be left out if any of them don’t lose the rest of the way. However, that’s not a 100% sure thing – and almost all of them almost certainly won’t go unscathed. Again, these rankings are about how much control each team has.

For the five teams win one loss, they all need Alabama to lose again. It doesn’t matter where, but there’s a massive problem if both Georgia and the Tide are 12-1.

11. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-0)

Wake Forest is in the College Football Playoff if … it goes 13-0 and wins the ACC Championship. Considering there’s no unbeaten Pac-12 team, there’s no way, no how, no chance the College Football Playoff committee would leave out an unbeaten ACC champ – unless there’s an unbeaten Big Ten champion, a 13-0 Oklahoma, and if both Alabama and Georgia are 12-1, but …

It’s all going to go wrong against … at North Carolina on November 6th, or against NC State on November 13th, at Clemson, and/or at Boston College. Take your pick, but it’s possible the Demon Deacons win a slew of those.

Will Wake Forest get into the College Football Playoff? No, but don’t leave out the possibility of slipping into the ACC Championship with a New Year’s Six bowl on the line.

Again, though, 12-1 as a Power Five champion would make things interesting.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 10. Ohio State Buckeyes

10. Ohio State Buckeyes (5-1)

Ohio State is in the College Football Playoff if … it wins out and Oregon loses. The College Football Playoff committee has a thing for talent – whether its real or perceived. The Buckeyes will get a benefit of the doubt break if it wins out and takes the Big Ten title.

However, if there are three other viable options, and Oregon wins the Pac-12 title, the committee might have to go with the winner in Columbus on September 11th.

It’s all going to go wrong against … it probably won’t. Penn State, Purdue, and Michigan State have to come to Ohio State, and the road dates at Indiana and Nebraska aren’t that bad. The Michigan game is in Ann Arbor, but … it’s Michigan. We all know how that works.

Will Ohio State get into the College Football Playoff? Yeah. Again, unlike other Big Ten teams, Ohio State has a problem thanks to the loss to Oregon. But the Ducks will lose once more, and the committee probably won’t put in an unbeaten Cincinnati over a 12-1 Big Ten champion Ohio State.

That won’t be a concern if Alabama loses again.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 9. Oregon Ducks

9. Oregon Ducks (5-1)

Oregon is in the College Football Playoff if … it wins out and gets a little help from Ohio State. The only reason the Ducks aren’t higher is because 1) they’re not playing well, and 2) they might need the Buckeyes to take the Big Ten title. Here’s the problem …

It’s all going to go wrong against … at UCLA on October 23rd, or at Utah on November 20th, or anywhere else along the way other than against Colorado.

However, 12-1 Pac-12 Champion Oregon – if that happens – doesn’t get in if Oklahoma wins out, Georgia and Alabama are both viable, and if someone other than Ohio State – who Oregon beat 35-28 in Columbus – takes the Big Ten title. A 12-1 or unbeaten Big Ten champion other than OSU more than likely gets in over the Ducks.

Will Oregon get into the College Football Playoff? No, but it’ll overcome one more loss along the way to get to the Pac-12 Championship. It’ll win its third title in a row to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 8. Penn State Nittany Lions

8. Penn State Nittany Lions (5-1)

Penn State is in the College Football Playoff if … it runs the table. Like all the one-loss Big Ten teams, it will take a wee bit of help when it comes to getting another Alabama gaffe, and a loss by Oklahoma or Oregon would be wonderful.

However, Penn State’s loss to Iowa on the road will be more than acceptable if it goes on to win at Ohio State, at Michigan State, and at home against Michigan to go along with a Big Ten title.

It’s all going to go wrong against … at Ohio State, or at Michigan State, or against Michigan. One more loss ends it.

Will Penn State get into the College Football Playoff? No, but it if it wins two of the three big games and doesn’t get tripped up by Illinois, Maryland or Rutgers it should be in a New Year’s Six bowl.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 7. Iowa Hawkeyes

7. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1)

Iowa is in the College Football Playoff if … it wins out and gets a wee bit of a break. The Purdue loss is hardly a plus, but if it runs the table and wins the Big Ten Championship at 12-1, everything should be okay.

The College Football Playoff committee has left out Big Ten champions before, but the league is too strong to keep the conference out this season.

It’s all going to go wrong against … at Wisconsin on October 30th is scary, and it’s possible Nebraska’s bowl game/season finale will be on November 26th when the Hawkeyes come to town.

Will Iowa get into the College Football Playoff? If it doesn’t get bitten somewhere else along the way, whatever is lurking in the Big Ten Championship will probably be the end.

However, the program was a goal line stop away from getting into the CFP in 2015 – and it would’ve been annihilated by Alabama – and might just be in that position again.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: Win out, and get into the College Football Playoff no matter what

Teams that are in the College Football Playoff no matter what if any of them win out

Don’t lose the rest of the way, get into the College Football Playoff no questions asked and with absolutely no debate.

6. Michigan State Spartans (7-0)

Michigan State is in the College Football Playoff if … it wins out, or – like Michigan – it loses once along the way as long as it’s not to Ohio State, and then gets some help.

It’s all going to go wrong against … Ohio State on November 20th. The Spartans actually have a favorable slate with Michigan and Penn State coming to East Lansing. However, they have yet to face a team with a winning record. There’s still a prove-it factor with the Spartans.

Will Michigan State get into the College Football Playoff? No, but it’ll win at least one of its big three games against Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State and end up in a snazzy bowl.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-0)

Oklahoma State is in the College Football Playoff if … it goes 13-0 with a Big 12 Championship. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does, it would be in, getting more credit than an unbeaten Wake Forest – which won’t happen – or a two-loss Alabama, or a 13-0 Cincinnati.

It’s all going to go wrong against … at Iowa State this weekend? Even if it does, if the Cowboys can roll the rest of the way and beat Oklahoma twice – or get a revenge win over the Cyclones in the Big 12 Championship – it’ll be knocking on the door.

Will Oklahoma State get into the College Football Playoff? If it beats Iowa State, it might get a whole lot closer than anyone is talking about.

After the Cyclones is the Kansas free space, then at trip to West Virginia, then TCU, then Texas Tech. All of those shouldn’t be a problem, and then Oklahoma has to make the short drive to Stillwater.

Don’t be totally stunned if the Sooners are 11-1 and needing the win over an unbeaten Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 4. Michigan Wolverines

4. Michigan Wolverines (6-0)

Michigan is in the College Football Playoff if … it wins the rest of its games. The ranking here is about control among the top unbeaten teams, and a 13-0 is in no matter what.

However, one loss doesn’t get it done unless Michigan is able to still go on to win the Big Ten Championship. A 12-1 Wolverine team is in if it takes the title, but again, that loss can’t be against …

It’s all going to go wrong against … Ohio State on November 27th. The one other Buckeye loss came outside of the Big Ten to Oregon.

There could be a loss at Michigan State or at Penn State and still be fine if the Spartans lose twice or if the Nittany Lions lose once more, but losing to the Buckeyes would be a disaster – OSU won’t likely lose two Big Ten games.

Will Michigan get into the College Football Playoff? No, but a New Year’s Six bowl will happen if the Wolverines finish 11-1. The Rose Bowl is possible even at 10-2.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 3. Alabama Crimson Tide

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1)

Alabama is in the College Football Playoff if … it wins out. The Texas A&M loss left no margin for error, but win out, take the SEC Championship over – almost certainly – Georgia, and get in no matter what.

It’s all going to go wrong against … Georgia. There’s an outside shot the Tide could still get in if they lost to the Dawgs in an all-time classic, but that didn’t work the other way around in past SEC Championships for the loser – like in 2018 when Bama beat Georgia, and 2012 when Bama beat Georgia. Also, don’t look past the regular season finale at Auburn.

Will Alabama get into the College Football Playoff? For anyone else, no, but let’s just call it a 50/50 shot against Georgia in the SEC title game. Nick Saban has won several national titles after losing a regular season game along the way. One loss doesn’t shake this program.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 2. Oklahoma Sooners

2. Oklahoma Sooners (7-0)

Oklahoma is in the College Football Playoff if … it wins the Big 12 Championship with no more than one loss.

An unbeaten OU is in no matter what and is no worse than the No. 2 seed. However, lose the Big 12 Championship and things start to get a tad dicey.

It’s all going to go wrong against … at Oklahoma State at the end of the regular season could be a problem. The date against Iowa State the week before is scary, and going to Baylor isn’t a sure thing. Lose twice, and that’s it.

Will Oklahoma get into the College Football Playoff? Yes. There’s probably going to be a loss somewhere in the regular season – watch out for that date in Stillwater – but the Sooners will rise up and take the Big 12 title yet again, be at least 12-1, and be either the it-doesn’t-matter-which 2 or 3 seed.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings

NEXT: 1. Georgia Bulldogs

1. Georgia Bulldogs (7-0)

Georgia is in the College Football Playoff if … it doesn’t lose twice. Go unbeaten the rest of the way, be the No. 1 seed without any issues. It’s also possible to lose once and be just fine, even if it’s in the SEC Championship.

It’s all going to go wrong against … it’s not. However, if the Bulldogs lose to Florida in two weeks, or at Tennessee, or even on the wrong day at Georgia Tech, then there’s no margin for error. Losing once isn’t a problem. Losing once and then losing in the SEC Championship, however, would be a total disaster.

Will Georgia get into the College Football Playoff? If QB JT Daniels doesn’t come back healthy there might be one blip along the way, and it could certainly lose to an Alabama in the SEC Championship game, but the team is playing too well.

There’s a long, long way to go, but we might be looking at 2019 LSU or 2020 Alabama here.

Ranking the teams alive for the College Football Playoff
UTSA | San Diego State | Coastal Carolina
SMU | Texas A&M | Auburn | Ole Miss
Notre Dame | Kentucky | Cincinnati
Baylor | Pitt | NC State | Wake Forest
Ohio State | Oregon | Penn State | Iowa
Michigan State | Oklahoma St | Michigan
Alabama | Oklahoma | Georgia
Bowl Projections | CFN Rankings





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