Looking at which Big 12 Conference team has the best chance of making this year’s College Football Playoff, the likely pick would be Oklahoma, which currently sits at No. 8 in the initial poll for this year. The Sooners, at 9-0, has their toughest stretch of the schedule to come with road games at Baylor and Oklahoma State and a home test against Iowa State.
The Bears currently rank 11th in the initial CFP poll, and the Cowboys are just a notch below. Both have 7-1 overall records and are likely a stretch to make the top four for the playoffs. Why? Because of where things stand with the SEC and the Big Ten, and we know the committee’s obsession with those two conferences.
SEC Hopes for Two
No. 1 Georgia (8-0) appears to be a lock to run the table for the final four as the Bulldogs have Missouri, Tennessee, Charleston Southern, Georgia Tech left on the schedule. Alabama (7-1) sits at No. 2, and the Sooners, or Baylor and Oklahoma State, would have to hope that the Crimson Tide gets a second loss at No. 13 Auburn (6-2) or lose to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. Bama appears to have three easy wins against LSU, New Mexico State, and Arkansas. If Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, and both teams end with one loss, we all know what the committee will do, right? Put them both in.
But So Does the Big Ten, Potentially
No. 3 Michigan State’s toughest test remaining is November 20 at No. 5 Ohio State. Win out and the Spartans are in provided they win the conference championship game. If the 7-1 Buckeyes knock off the 8-0 Spartans, then OSU has a date against No. 7 Michigan (7-1) at the Big House on November 27. If Michigan State or Michigan beat Ohio State, the Buckeyes are out with two losses. If OSU beats Michigan State and then defeats Michigan, the Wolverines are out with two losses.
If Oklahoma wins out, it would be nearly impossible for the committee to leave an undefeated Oklahoma out of the picture, even if one of the three Big Ten teams have one loss.
The Spartans, Buckeyes, and Wolverines don’t appear to be in jeopardy of losing another game with their remaining schedules. MSU also plays Purdue, Maryland, and Penn State. Ohio State also has Nebraska and Purdue remaining on its schedule. U-M has Indiana, Penn State, and Maryland left.
Of course, things could change if the Spartans Buckeyes or Wolverines lose in the Big Ten Championship Game.
No. 4 Oregon, which beat Ohio State in Columbus earlier this year, has easy encounters with Washington, Washington State, Utah, and Oregon State. The Ducks did lose to Stanford earlier this year. Oregon also has a championship game, too.
That leaves us with 8-0 Cincinnati. The Bearcats, at No. 6 in this week’s poll have some tough competition remaining. They have contests coming up against Tulsa, South Florida, SMU, and East Carolina. The 7-1 Mustangs appear to be the toughest test, and that game will be in Cincy. The Bearcats will also have a tough matchup in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game against 7-1 Houston or a rematch with SMU. The Bearcats and Cougars did not meet during the regular season. Could the Bearcats be the first non-Power 5 team to make the playoffs?
Wake Forest (8-0) and Notre Dame (7-10 sit above Baylor and Oklahoma State at No. 9 and 10, respectively. The Demon Deacons have three of their last four games on the road—North Carolina, Clemson, and Boston College. They also host No. 19 North Carolina State on November 13. Wake also might have an extra game in the ACC Championship.
The Fighting Irish appear to have an easy slide to finish their season against Navy, Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Stanford. At 6-3, the Cavaliers look to be the only possibility to knock off Notre Dame on November 13.
The Sooners haven’t lost in November since 2014. The 11th month on the calendar is going to be a lot of fun.